StoryCorps on “60 Minutes”
We hope you were able to tune into “60 Minutes” on Sunday, January 9, 2022. StoryCorps—a nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs—was honored to be the subject of a feature on the premier newsmagazine program. But, if you missed it, you’re in luck–we’ve included it below. You can also watch StoryCorps on “60 Minutes” Overtime here.
Watch the full “60 Minutes” segment here.
The segment, hosted by correspondent Norah O’Donnell, profiles the growth of StoryCorps from its inception in 2003, when founder and award-winning journalist Dave Isay established a single recording booth in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, to today. As of 2021, more than 600,000 Americans have participated in a StoryCorps interview, preserving a piece of personal history in the archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and contributing to the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.
Norah interviews a number of people associated with the organization, including Dave, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, and award-winning author and former StoryCorps facilitator Jason Reynolds. “60 Minutes” also visited StoryCorps’ headquarters in Brooklyn, where they filmed Dave leading an advisory meeting and a StoryCorps facilitator training, among other activities.
The feature also spotlights one of StoryCorps’ more recent and ambitious projects, One Small Step. Piloted in 2018, One Small Step brings people with different political views together to record a 50-minute conversation with each other about their lives, not politics and to date, more than 2,000 people in 40 cities have participated.
One Small Step is anchored in four U.S. cities, with an aim to connect people and reinforce the notion that we have much more in common than what divides us. StoryCorps gave “60 Minutes” unprecedented access to One Small Step conversations as they unfolded in Richmond, Virginia this fall and they also caught up with Dave in Charlottesville, Virginia, as he gave a speech at a kick-off event for the organization’s partnership with the UVA Democracy Initiative.
One Small Step is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute.
Introducing Our New CEO: Sandra M. Clark
StoryCorps is delighted to welcome Sandra M. Clark, who will join the organization as our new CEO in mid-February 2022. Sandra has built a distinguished career in media and currently serves as vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY, the main PBS and NPR affiliate in the Philadelphia area where she manages all news operations across radio, TV, web, and digital media. At WHYY, Sandra led the newsroom’s audience growth and diversification strategies, community engagement initiatives, and managed local news partnerships and funding opportunities. During her five-year tenure, she also led the station’s diversity, cultural competency, community engagement, and trust-building efforts.
As StoryCorps’ second-ever CEO, Sandra—together with Founder and President Dave Isay—will lead all aspects of the organization. Dave said, “Sandra’s vast experience, extraordinary leadership, strong moral core, and deep understanding of our nation and its media and social landscape make her the perfect person to serve as StoryCorps’ next CEO. I can’t wait to work alongside her in the evolution of this organization.” The search was conducted by Ann Blinkhorn of Blinkhorn, a firm that specializes in identifying and attracting transformative leaders.
A Pulitzer Prize
Prior to WHYY, Sandra served as managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer where, among other accomplishments, she implemented two of the paper’s most successful reader engagement initiatives and led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2014. In 1983, she began her career at the Inquirer and served in various roles there over the years.
Sandra is a long-time advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity and last year was named one of The Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential African American Leaders. She also serves on a number of boards, including the News Leaders Association and the advisory board for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication.
Shining a Light
Having grown up in a military family, with an African-American father from Louisiana and a Japanese mother, one of Sandra’s greatest joys is cooking—what she calls a “treasured inheritance” of history and food for the soul from her rich multicultural upbringing.
Sandra has always loved hearing the stories of everyday people and learning new places and cultures, having lived in Kansas, Louisiana, Japan, West and Southern Africa, and now Philadelphia, and traveled to many more places. She says one of her most “humbling and life-altering experiences” was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Her two-year assignment was on an island with no running water or electricity, but what was most memorable were people with “an abundance of ingenuity and incredible generosity, and so much more to teach me than I could leave them.”
Throughout her life and career, this fundamental belief in the potential of every person has led Sandra to shine a light on those within organizations and the larger communities in which we live, who have much to contribute but are too often unseen and unheard. StoryCorps’ core belief in the power of people’s stories is what attracted her to the organization.
She remarked, “StoryCorps is a national treasure with unlimited potential to grow and reach more diverse audiences…we are living through unprecedented times and StoryCorps is well positioned to help heal the divisions by reminding us all of the power of empathy and our shared humanity.”
She added, “I am not a crier–never have been. But I confess, StoryCorps [stories] get me every time.”
“My StoryCorps experience” – A letter from Jason Reynolds
If you’re following StoryCorps, it’s because you understand the importance of stories. You know that they cultivate our wisdom, decrease our fear of the other, and inspire us in every possible way.
StoryCorps has taken its belief in the power of stories and amplified it to an unbelievable scale. The StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress is already the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and it’s still growing.
Sharing my story with StoryCorps more than fifteen years ago gave me a chance to talk about my dreams out loud. And working as a StoryCorps facilitator was a constant source of inspiration. My time with StoryCorps showed me that every single person has a story, and every one of our stories has the potential to change somebody’s outlook on life.
I don’t care who or where you are…this year was hard for you. This year was complicated for you. We’re all seeing ourselves in different ways, communicating in different ways, and our stories have evolved. Now, more than ever, they need to be told. Division, otherness and fear are ripping our social fabric into jagged pieces. To restitch and repair our nation we must dig deep into our wells of understanding and compassion, and reconnect through the kinds of stories produced only by authentically sharing the most meaningful and authentic parts of ourselves with each other.
That’s what StoryCorps does. They use stories to sew our national tapestry of hope, trying to keep us whole in the face of hatred and division. That’s why I’ll always be a StoryCorps supporter.
Storytelling is about bearing witness. It’s about seeing and being seen. It’s about hearing and being heard. And there’s no person I’ve ever met who doesn’t want, at least a little bit, to be understood by someone else. StoryCorps gives us a platform upon which to build that understanding. They’ve even adapted to the demands of the pandemic by creating a virtual storytelling platform, giving even greater reach and accessibility to this important work.
Will you join me in supporting StoryCorps? Their work has never been more vital. Despite their awesome accomplishments so far, there are still tens of millions of Americans who feel unseen and unheard, at great cost to us all. With your help, StoryCorps can continue to grow their reach to preserve and share humanity’s stories, providing us all with inspiration, courage, and hope.
StoryCorps Board Member
Listen to an excerpt from Jason Reynolds’s 2006 StoryCorps interview.
Photo Credit: James J. Reddington
Return to In-Person Recording
StoryCorps is excited to welcome you back to our recording booths in-person starting in Fall of 2021. Here’s what you can expect after reserving your appointment.
Prior to your recording date StoryCorps staff will be in touch with you to confirm your in-person appointment and to brief you on our safety protocols. If you decide to record your interview virtually instead, that’s perfectly all right. We will continue to offer virtual appointments in addition to in-person appointments. If you would like to record in person, please review our safe community agreements below. If you are not willing to comply with these agreements, we will require you to record virtually.
StoryCorps Safe Community Agreements
- -All participants and StoryCorps staff will wear masks fastened snugly over their noses and mouths when interacting in the greeting area and while in the recording space. StoryCorps will provide masks if needed.
- -All non-household groups agree to maintain social distancing. Participants who choose not to distance, do so at their own risk. All StoryCorps staff will maintain a 6-foot distance from participants at all times.
- -Prior to their interview, all participants will be asked to complete a health acknowledgment form to screen for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms and sign an acknowledgment of risk form.
- -All participants agree to cancel their interview (or switch it to a virtual interview) if they are feeling ill, have tested positive for COVID-19 within five (5) days of the Recording Day, and/or have been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms within the last five (5) days. If a participant is exhibiting symptoms upon arrival, StoryCorps staff will be required to cancel the interview appointment.
At any point in time, you can switch your in-person appointment to a virtual appointment. To do so, please contact your recording team. If you need to cancel your appointment for any reason, we invite you to sign up for a future virtual or in-person recording appointment if slots are available. If there are no appointment slots available, please join our waitlist, or we encourage you to record at your convenience using one of our free digital platforms: the StoryCorps App or StoryCorps Connect.
On your recording date, here’s what StoryCorps is doing to keep you safe:
- -StoryCorps staff will disinfect all surfaces and door handles in our greeting and recording areas, including all chairs and tables as well as all equipment and supplies such as pens and clipboards, with products that are at least 70% alcohol. The recording booth will be sanitized in between recordings.
- -StoryCorps will provide masks for anyone who needs one and will provide hand sanitizer for all participants.
- -StoryCorps will prioritize recording and greeting spaces that allow for social distancing, have HVAC systems that meet COVID-19 standards, and/or that allow for open windows.
- -StoryCorps will prioritize spaces with nearby bathroom facilities that allow facilitators and participants to wash their hands between engagements.
- -StoryCorps will ensure that the recording and greeting space are large enough for three (3) people to sit at least 6” apart from one another—including the facilitator. (StoryCorps recommends two (2) participants in each interview, but if there are three (3) participants, you should expect to share a microphone at your own risk.
- -We’ll prioritize surfaces (desks, chairs, etc.) which are solid (non-cloth/non-porous) so they can be properly sanitized.
- -StoryCorps will make sure that no external visitors or contractors are allowed in the recording space during the recording day, including family members, other staff members, and members of the press.
Please note that these recommended guidelines are subject to change at the discretion of StoryCorps, and in accordance with updates to local, state, and federal regulations and policies. If the requirements above are not met, StoryCorps staff will be able to end the recording. If health guidelines inhibit StoryCorps from recording interviews in-person, StoryCorps staff will reschedule in-person appointments to take place virtually.
Thank you for your interest in sharing your story. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Growing One Small Step — When It’s Needed Most
“Recent polls demonstrate what most of us have already experienced first-hand: that there is a pervasive culture of contempt that threatens the very foundations of our democracy,” said Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder and President.
With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and in partnership with local public media stations, StoryCorps is expanding One Small Step to six additional communities in 2021.
The six stations and communities selected are:
- Alaska Public Media, Anchorage, AK
- High Plains Public Radio, Garden City, KS, and Amarillo, TX
- KOSU, Oklahoma City, OK
- KUNR, Reno, NV
- Valley Public Media, Clovis, CA
- Vermont Public Radio, Colchester, VT
We’ll provide training and production assistance to public media stations to facilitate and broadcast conversations with people in America of opposing viewpoints, sitting down to find common ground.
Watch highlights from 2020 and hear voices from across the country in this short video:
According to a CBS News poll released earlier this year, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America’s way of life comes from their fellow citizens. One Small Step aims to remind people of the humanity in all of us and that it’s hard to hate up close. These communities can model this change for the rest of the country.
Two members of each participating station will take part in a training to facilitate and record conversations between community residents of differing political views, and selected interviews will be shared across each station’s media platforms.
Stations will also team up with a variety of community organizations to spread the word and collaborate with the StoryCorps team to match participants and record conversations through the end of the year. The project will include a series of public listening events that will be streamed online in the fall of 2021.
Station participation in the One Small Step Communities project is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. StoryCorps’ national One Small Step initiative is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute.
Celebrating the Stories of Chicago
Goodbyes are bittersweet. After more than eight years — and many wonderful interviews — in the region, StoryCorps is closing its operations and recording booth in Chicago in September 2021.
We’re proud to have had a booth and exhibition space at the Chicago Cultural Center and to have partnered with WBEZ 91.5 FM to preserve, share, and broadcast this city’s stories.
We want to especially thank our Chicago-based staff for their thoughtfulness, care, and excellence throughout the years.
Listen to the voices of Chicago
Since we first opened the recording booth, we’ve been bowled over by the heart of our Chicago storytellers. We’ve rounded up a few favorites below, but there are so many more to listen to in the Chicago Collection.
Jessica Valdivia and Jorge Valdivia
Jorge Valdivia and his sister Jessica Valdivia honor the memory of their older brother Mauricio Valdivia who died in Chicago of COVID-19. They reminisce about their favorite memories growing up with someone full of life who “went out of their way for their family.” They also discuss their experience with grief and loss during the pandemic. Read the full transcript here.
From the Archive: More Voices of Chicago
“A lot of kids don’t have a crazy dad to keep pushing them”Garry Scott Mitchell Junior, better known as Scottie, is currently attending Harvard for his doctorate in Education. His father, Garry Scott Mitchell Senior, was there every step of the way, guiding his son through his journey. Scottie and Garry sit down and reflect on the moments that forged his path today.
“Being able to forgive makes more life possible”Lisa Daniels’ son Darren was killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Lisa sits down with her friend Sherri Allen-Reaves to discuss the violent circumstances of her son’s death. She revisits the events of the night when she lost her son in hopes of redefining his legacy.
“We hope we do a good job”Meg and Bobby Hart met in the Peace Corps when they both were serving in West Africa. They fell in love and got married. Bobby and Meg come to StoryCorps as they share their journey of becoming parents. They discuss their hopes and fears of their unfolding future.
“Nobody else does what you do”Ellen Hughes feared for the life of her son Walker, who has autism, after he had an adverse reaction to a new medication. Then they met Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller in the ER, who helped Ellen’s son — and herself — get the care they needed.
“Know that they are seen”Sonia Wang was a child of immigrants who had hopes of their daughter living the American dream as a doctor or a lawyer. Instead, she became a teacher on the south side of Chicago. Through her passions and dedication to work that supported a community she loved, Sonia was able to share the joy that her work brought her with her parents. She comes to StoryCorps to share how her parents handled her career choice.
“My disabled body is my happy ending”Anja Herman spends most of her time playing piano, taking Chinese classes, and doing ballet. On top of an already hectic schedule for a nine-year-old, Anja has another hurdle that most kids her age do not face—a physical disability. She opens up to her aunt Andrea Korovesis as they discuss the difficulties of juggling these challenges.
“I can’t wait to build a future with you”Arianna Hermosillo is a journalist who was covering a protest about the anti-immigration legislation when she met Irakere Picon, an undocumented immigration lawyer. The pair hit it off and went on their first date a few months later. Arianna and Irakere came to the Chicago booth to discuss their fears around Irakere’s work but left with their future in mind.
“Coming out at age 12”Carter Wagner knew he was gay from a young age but did not come out to his parents. When he was twelve years old, Carter decided that he could no longer keep such a large part of his life a secret. He and his mother Nicole sat down with StoryCorps to discuss the feelings and emotions leading up to coming out.
How a Streets and San man saved the day when the Chicago River flooded the LoopJohn Wahlfedt played an important role in a dramatic piece of Chicago history—the devastating flooding of underground tunnels in the Loop. His love for trains led him to learn about a forgotten train tunnel system beneath downtown Chicago. Knowing the underground tunnel, John was able to limit the damage caused by the flood. He came to StoryCorps to share his side of the story.
“You believed in me when you didn’t know me”Tiffany Baker was a troubled youth when she met Terri Treiman. Terri was one of the many social workers assigned to Tiffany. Unlike the other adults in Tiffany’s life, Terri remained patient and compassionate with the difficulties that came with their relationship. Years later, the impact of Terri’s approach inspired Tiffany to pay the kindness forward to kids in a similar position as her. They sat down with StoryCorps to reflect on the blessings that leap of faith brought them.
Our booth in Chicago may be closed, but it’s never been easier to record a StoryCorps interview with the important people in your life. Find out how to record your conversations remotely with Storycorps Connect.
Teacher Appreciation Week #GoogleDoodle Featuring StoryCorps Stories
We are kicking off Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 in partnership with Google to honor educators and highlight the voices of teachers and students.
You can find five StoryCorps stories in an interactive, animated Google Doodle here. These stories feature voices from across the country, and touch on everything from the struggles a young man faced as one of the first Black students to integrate his high school to two teachers reflecting on how COVID-19 has affected their work. The common thread across all of them is the incredible and lasting impact that these educators have had on their students’ lives.
Listen to all five original stories below.
From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, Dr. William Lynn Weaver was targeted and harassed by the faculty of his previously all-white high school. Then a former teacher stepped in and saved his life. Read the full transcript here.
#ThankAnEducator this May and June
This Doodle kicks off our #ThankAnEducator effort. This May and June, StoryCorps wants to spark a moment of gratitude for the educators who have been working tirelessly to adapt to our collective new normal while supporting and teaching students of all ages and needs.
It hasn’t been easy, but educators have continued to change millions of lives every day in virtual and in-person classrooms. Honor an educator in your life with a StoryCorps interview and show them just how much they mean to you. You can record a conversation remotely using StoryCorps Connect, or record in person with the free StoryCorps App. Find out more about our Thank an Educator effort here.
To discover more stories featuring teachers and students, explore a collection of interviews from the 2021 State Teachers of the Year. You can also read reflections on recording by Tabatha Rosproy, 2020 National Teacher of the Year, and listen to her conversation with her best friend about one of their favorite teachers here.
Thank you to the participants for sharing your stories with us, and thank you to teachers across the country for the tireless work and support over the past year.
Thank you to our partners at Google for celebrating teachers during a time when their work and dedication has never been more important.
StoryCorps is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.