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The Mobile Lowdown: Gainesville Edition

Posted on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014.


Among the many vehicles in which StoryCorps collects stories, there is only one that is actually a…well…vehicle. We are talking about the MobileBooth–our iconic airstream trailer that travels the country from East to West, North to South, rural to urban, collecting the stories of everyday people. This week, the Mobile tour visits Gainesville, FL and we are giving you the inside scoop.

Jesse Gutierrez (Associate Manager of Mobile Tour) and Diana Velez (Associate Manager of Marketing and Communications) are the pair on the front lines working with community partners, radio stations, and city officials for every stop. They can give you the 4-1-1 on how a Mobile tour is planned and what you need to know about any stop.


Ladies and Gents, this is The Mobile Lowdown.

How are locations normally chosen for a Mobile tour?


“Weather–we need to be in warmer climates during the winter and cooler climates during the summer. This is really for the comfort of our staff and participants. The HVAC system can only help up to 20 degrees one way or the other. If it’s 90 degrees outside, it will only cool down the booth to 70 degrees. If it’s 30 degrees outside, the booth will only heat to 50 degrees. So it’s pretty important that we take weather into consideration.

Diversity–it’s very important that we capture the widest array of voices so our archive is diverse as possible. We plan our tour to visit towns and cities that vary in size and are in different regions throughout the country.

Radio Stations–in each city, we partner with local public radio stations that are willing to host us for 5 weeks and air locally produced content.”

When StoryCorps firsts arrives at a location for the Mobile Tour, we always have a day to celebrate that we call “Opening Day.” What is the secret to a successful Opening Day?

Diana: “Planning, flexibility and the ability to shapeshift. Adapting to last minute changes and being able to make adjustments. Food is key and Mariachi Bands are key.”

The key to a successful Opening Day--a Mariachi Band at our Los Angeles MobileBooth stop this past October (2013).

The key to a successful Opening Day–a Mariachi Band at our Los Angeles MobileBooth stop this past October (2013).

What are the some “life lessons” you’ve learned promoting/planning a Mobile Visit?

Diana: “Things change rapidly. VIPS drop in and out. Good sunny weather can make for a more fun event, but we don’t always have sunshine obviously. Essentially: planning is good, but being able to adapt is better.”

Jesse: “Setting up clear roles and expectations. Always being open to a plan B. Over-communication is better than no communication. Be grateful to our partners, and enjoy the people you have around you in the office.”

You both travel a bit for these Mobile stops. What is a memorable moment that stands out to you?

Diana (middle) with Cheech Marin (right) at L.A Opening Day.

Diana (middle) with Cheech Marin (right) at L.A Opening Day.

Diana: “Listening to Cheech Marin speak at the LA opening day 2013 event and meeting the president of the United Farm Workers of America, Arturo Rodrigues, at Historias launch in Washington DC in 2009. He’s a rock star.”

Jesse: “Working with wonderful organizations like La Campesina in Phoenix, CLAVE and the Arab American National Museum in Detroit, and most recently Sevell Brown III in Tampa, Florida.”

Give us a heads-up–what should we be looking forward to in the 2014 tour?

Diana: “Tulsa, OK, of course! Definitely because of the song, the play, the movie, and the corn dogs. Business Week also named it one of the top 50 cities to live, so I am intrigued.”

Jesse: “Marquette, MI. It’s such a remote location and the radio station is excited for the MobileBooth to roll into town.”

Jesse (middle, glasses) and StoryCorps staff on with La Campesina staff, KJZZ staff,and members of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, and Mi Familia Vota.

Jesse (middle, glasses) and StoryCorps staff with La Campesina staff, KJZZ staff,and members of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, and Mi Familia Vota.

OK, now let’s get down to it. Opening Day in Gainesville, FL is this Thursday, February 6th. Give us the Lowdown.

What: MobileBooth Visit to Gainesville, FL

When: February 6 – March 7, 2014

Where: The Booth will be parked at Alachua County Library 401 East University Avenue Gainesville, Florida 32601

Opening Day: February 6, 2014

Radio Partner: WUFT

City Highlights:

Diana: “Gators. U of F Gators. All gators, all the time. Go to a game.”

Jesse: “Yep. Gator Nation in Gainesville. I also hear that the Graffiti wall on 34th street is cool. There are some fresh water springs (Ginnie Springs) in the area that are great for summer sports and Gator Tacos are tasty.”

Opening Day Insider Information:

Diana: “Our inaugural interview will be with Sister Hazel Williams, a prominent nonprofit leader in Gainesville, and Ken Block, lead singer of the 90’s rock band Sister Hazel*. The band, as you can tell, was named after the Sister herself. This is not a joke!”
*subject to change


And on that note, we end. After all, Jesse, Diana and the Mobile Team’s work is really “all for you”–the wonderful StoryCorps fans!


3 Responses to “The Mobile Lowdown: Gainesville Edition”

To preserve the StoryCorps mission and experience for our readers and participants, comments are subject to the StoryCorps Terms of Service. Comments may be held for moderation or removed if deemed offensive or off-topic. Please do not resubmit your comment if you don't see it right away, it will be approved as soon as possible. Thank you.

  • When you travel with the airstream… do you sleep there as well?

    Comment from Cathy on February 10, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply to this Comment
    • Great question! The Mobile Facilitators actually find lodging in the local community during each stop. Usually, the local radio stations we partner with help set-up the housing situations.

      Comment from StoryCorps on February 11, 2014 at 10:13 am - Reply to this Comment
  • I love what you do – both components; helping people tell their stories and traveling around meeting people.

    Comment from Richard Reese on February 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply to this Comment

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