Moury Khan – StoryCorps
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Staff Spotlight: Patrick McNameeKing, Manager of Recording Operations at StoryCorps

Patrick McNameeKing has been an audio fanatic since he started playing music and building radios around age seven or eight. He enjoys finding secret climbing spots around the country, playing music with friends, traveling by foot and bicycle, learning new instruments, studying languages, and creating nonfiction audio stories.

What does your job entail at StoryCorps?

I’m the manager of recording operations. There isn’t one way to say what I do, but broadly, I make sure that StoryCorps is equipped to collect photos and audio that are of the highest possible quality. These media assets are archived at the Library of Congress and from a technical perspective, I want to ensure we are able to take the highest-fidelity snapshot of life in America that we can. Some of the ways I do this include: training staff to use our recording equipment, managing the functionality of our five recording venues, and designing recording workflows for one-off projects and installations.

During a given week, what activities might you be engaged in?

I could be building recording kits for the L&E [Learning and Engagement] team, learning about design constraints from acoustical materials fabricators, and then catching a plane to set up an Airstream trailer at a Custom Services engagement.

What drew you to work at StoryCorps?

A few years ago, while juggling a number of different jobs, I was volunteering at a local radio station and also with an advocacy group. I started to bring those two worlds together and saw firsthand, the power of compassionate listening has to remind us of the throughlines across the human experience and how this can lead to a celebration of the things that make us different. 

A friend saw the listing for this job online, and forwarded it to me, thinking I’d be a good fit. She was right!

What’s most fulfilling about your job?

Every day is different and while I’m based in Brooklyn, I get to spend a lot of time on the road. I love that I get to travel all over the country. 

What’s the biggest challenge of your job?

I find it challenging when things slow down and I don’t have enough puzzles to solve. I once saw an interview with Jack White where he said that on stage, he places the organ one step further away from his main vocal microphone than is comfortable. He said that because of the distance, he has to work harder to get to the instrument in time to play the right notes and that extra effort is what makes the music sound cool. This resonates with how I like to live my life and I feel lucky to have a job where that approach fits nicely.  

What have you learned about America since you started this job?

There are so many slices of life and facets to this country. I can be sitting at a diner at 5 am, somewhere in the middle of the country, eavesdropping on conversations and just be completely happy. Meeting new people never gets boring for me and it’s been humbling. You realize how much we all have in common even if we seem very different.

Why should everyone record a StoryCorps conversation?

Recording a conversation with someone is such an intimate way to honor both your individual and shared experiences of moving through the world. When that conversation gets archived, your particular experience becomes a tile in a mosaic that depicts life in America. How cool is that?

What is your favorite StoryCorps story and why?

I got really into BMX biking when I was living in China, so one day I searched “BMX” in our online archive and a story about the oldest female BMX biker, Kittie Weston-Knauer, popped up. It’s my favorite because really, it’s a love story about someone who is pursuing her passion, despite the odds. At the time of the recording, she was in her 70s and still racing!

In Conversation: IDW’s Leigh Okies Talks About Creating the New One Small Step Ad Campaign

Piloted in 2018 and launched in 2021, StoryCorps’ One Small Step is an effort to mend the fraying fabric of our nation–one conversation at a time. This past fall, StoryCorps partnered with IDW (Image Design Works), a creative agency based in Oakland, California, to develop an advertising campaign that launched this month in the four markets where our One Small Step initiative is intensively focused. 

Here Leigh Okies, a partner at the agency, talked to us about why her team was excited to work on One Small Step and what surprised her during the campaign development process.

Leigh Okies

Who is IDW and what sort of work do you do?

We are a creative studio of about 15-20 designers, strategists, artists, and storytellers that work with institutions and companies to develop their brands. Our clients are in many different sectors: from healthcare, to the arts and politics. We recently designed a new brand for Axiom Space, the first private space station that will be replacing the International Space Station in 2028—so now our work can even be seen in space. We essentially help others tell their stories, and for us, the human element is always the throughline in our perspective.

Why was this project of interest to you?

One Small Step’s mission of bringing people together and helping tackle this huge problem of toxic polarization was immediately appealing to our team since, like many people, we want to see political polarization dialed down in America. IDW is committed to taking on projects that we care deeply about and are personally invested in, so this was a great fit.

How did you develop the campaign?

StoryCorps provided us with a lot of initial resources and research which was a great foundation to build out our strategy from. With all of our projects, the end product is always deeply informed by solid strategy. With this campaign, we explored a range of messaging to find the sweet spot between inspiring people to sign up for a conversation by sparking their moral imagination versus leading with a more urgent tone that made them feel like signing up for a conversation was a moral imperative.

A wild posting mock-up of the new campaign.

Based on our initial research, we created five separate campaign directions that filled in the space between these two extremes. We conducted focus groups and got feedback from potential audiences which really validated leading with messages that spoke from the heart on the moral imagination end of the spectrum. This was a natural fit for StoryCorps which is a very warm and personal brand. For One Small Step, it made sense to turn up the volume in the right ways, like conveying urgency with bold colors and typography, but we had to balance that out with heart-felt messages.

Can you talk about the strategy behind the campaign imagery?

The folks who participated in the focus groups had a lot of civic and local pride. They really wanted to see their communities represented, so we localized the photo shoots in each of the four One Small Step regions, with real One Small Step participants in recognizable local spots. For example, in Oklahoma City we photographed our participants at the Skydance Bridge which is inspired by Oklahoma’s state bird. In Fresno, we shot at Full Circle Brewing which is also well-known locally and has a big, colorful outside mural that reads “City of Fresno.” 

Because authenticity is core to StoryCorps’ brand, and to our studio, it felt important to photograph real One Small Step participants. They were all so enthusiastic about the program and excited to be part of the photo shoots. Participants were incredibly generous with their time and we are grateful; including them in the campaign makes the work more meaningful.

As your team developed the campaign, what surprised you?

It was interesting to see how the focus groups reacted to some of the messaging. For example when we tested the headline “Let’s not talk politics,” people hated it. They called it out as feeling disingenuous. But when we crossed out “not” and “politics”—so the message reads, ‘Let’s talk”—that tested really well. That one simple piece of art direction really changed how people perceived the message. 

I was also struck by how much our conservative participants, in particular, feel so under attack–there was a lot of tenderness and vulnerability there. I did my own One Small Step interview and even though my conversation partner and I have different political views, it was surprising how much we could agree on and how easy it was to relate to her perspectives.

What are your hopes for the new campaign?

I think we created a heavy hitting campaign that will help build momentum for this important effort. It’s really a David and Goliath story of trying to bring people together while so many forces are trying to pull them apart. My hope is that people sign up, and have this experience. I think our country will be better off for it.

Q&A With StoryCorps CEO Sandra M. Clark

Since assuming the CEO position at StoryCorps in February, Sandra Clark has been commuting from her home in Philadelphia to StoryCorps’ Brooklyn headquarters each week. We sat down with her to hear more about how she’s settling into her new role and the appliance that is bringing new-found joy to her favorite hobby.

What attracted you to apply for this position?

Throughout my whole career, I’ve always focused on spaces where certain voices aren’t seen or heard, and elevating and amplifying those voices. There are people in our organizations and our communities who have a lot of knowledge and wisdom, but often they aren’t seen or asked what they think. In journalism especially–which is my background—many of those voices aren’t always represented. 

That’s why StoryCorps means so much to me. It’s dedicated to the idea that everyone’s story matters and the organization has a solid track record of lifting up the stories of people who aren’t typically represented in most media. What I love is that people from all backgrounds come to us to share their stories—we offer a rare space to absorb humanity. We all experience our families, lives, work, and communities differently. StoryCorps is of, by and for the people and since two of my passions are community and connection, I am personally interested and professionally committed to helping StoryCorps expand its profile and become a force for personal and community transformation. 

What have you learned about StoryCorps since starting as CEO a few months ago?

Since coming to StoryCorps two months ago, I have spoken to almost everyone on staff one-on-one. 

Through these conversations, I’m learning that StoryCorps staff are incredibly passionate about connecting people through the power of listening and they are deeply invested in StoryCorps’ mission. As CEO, this is a wonderful foundation. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone a little personally and learning about what each person does to make StoryCorps the special organization it is.

As you start to settle into this new position, what are your priorities and what do you hope to accomplish?

StoryCorps’ time is now and I look forward to working with staff to secure an enduring future for this extraordinary organization, dedicated to capturing the voices of everyday people. One of my goals is to have StoryCorps become a household experience more broadly, especially in diverse communities. I can’t say enough about how moving and transformative it is to hear the stories of everyday people. So far, about 600,000 people across the country have recorded their stories with us. I also want to create more educational opportunities in primary and secondary schools to help foster compassion, justice, and the ability to really listen, in the next generation.

I’m also excited to continue raising the visibility of our One Small Step initiative, which combats the current culture of toxic polarization, one conversation at a time and I hope more Americans recognize that they can be part of the solution simply by participating.

As we approach our 20th anniversary in 2023, it’s also important for StoryCorps to grow revenue streams like our StoryCorps for Hire program and focus on expanding our community of individual supporters. We also need to do a better job telling our own story and I look forward to doing this work as part of an upcoming brand refresh project. Finally, it’s important for me to build on our internal culture of “people first” and ensure that every employee feels seen, heard, and valued.

Now that you’re commuting to Brooklyn every week, what’s your favorite neighborhood spot to grab a bite?

I don’t have a favorite spot yet. I love discovery so I’ve been walking through lots of neighborhoods and exploring this wonderful international food scene. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hopefully the world is opening up a bit so I’m looking forward to live theater and live music. Experiencing the creativity of other people is a real joy. And I love cooking, something I got from my dad, who was from Louisiana. I admit to having just discovered the air fryer, which delivers every time. My dad would not approve.

Staff Spotlight: Jasmyn Morris, Executive Editor at StoryCorps

This entry kicks-off a new blog series that will spotlight our hard-working staff, from all different corners of the organization, who put the “corps” in StoryCorps.

A headshot of StoryCorps Executive Producer
A headshot of Jasmyn Morris, Executive Editor at StoryCorps.

About me

I went to college for broadcasting and only ever wanted to make radio. I got my start in 2006, working as a reporter for an NPR member station in upstate New York and never looked back. Outside of work, I spend most of my time with my family (I’m the mother of a toddler!) and I serve on the board of my identical twin sister’s animal sanctuary, Mockingbird Farm Animal Sanctuary. I also try to make music and art when I can.

What is your role at StoryCorps?

As executive editor, I oversee all of our audio content, including our broadcasts on NPR and our podcast.

How long have you been at StoryCorps?

In July, I’ll have been here for 12 years. I started as an associate producer and worked my way up to producer, then lead producer, senior producer, and now executive editor. 

What is a typical week like for you?

I work with our Production team to put out one (sometimes two) national broadcasts a week and two seasons of the podcast per year. So in a given week, I’m editing the producer and senior producer on the broadcast, and overseeing development of the podcast. In general, I co-lead the department and make sure our content meets the highest of editorial standards.

Can you give an example of a time when world news made you change course on either the podcast or a national broadcast?

In February, we were working on a broadcast that was almost finished, but on Tuesday of that week, I knew the Russian invasion of Ukraine was likely and I was thinking: “What Ukrainian voices do we have in the StoryCorps archive?” I wanted to be prepared with a timely story that could be meaningful to both the participants and our listeners. So I searched and found Halyna Hrushetsky’s story. I flagged it for Annie Russell, one of our senior producers, who then assigned it to one of our interns, Max Jungreis. He made a quick cut of Halyna’s story, so we could hear more of what she talked about in her interview.

On Thursday morning, when it was clear the invasion was happening, we made the call to push our previously scheduled broadcast so we could air this one. It was a very fast turnaround. We produced it and fact-checked it in a day—a process that usually takes weeks. But it was a powerful story and very timely, so we were honored to make it happen.

Two people sitting across from two people recording a conversation.
Photo (c) Brian Mogren. Jasmyn with Facilitator Gaspar Caro during an interview with Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel in Minneapolis in 2011.

What’s most fulfilling about your job?

Working with our amazing team in Production: I have the most collaborative, thoughtful, smart, and kind colleagues. Also the participants. In my current role, I don’t get to speak with them as much as I used to, but I do get to help others make the beautiful, lasting work that StoryCorps is known for. 

What’s most challenging about your job?

The most important thing is that we get it right for our participants, who are sharing intimate, sometimes vulnerable, parts of their lives with us.

Why should every American do a StoryCorps interview?

There’s something special that happens when you take the time to talk with someone you love and like [StoryCorps Founder & President] Dave Isay says, “The microphone gives you license to say the things that you want to say but never have the chance.” I’ve heard this from participants time and time again. After a loved one has passed, that StoryCorps recording is such a balm because you’ve documented their story for posterity. To have their voice preserved in the Library of Congress is such a special thing.

What is your favorite StoryCorps story and why?

I would have to say Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel’s story. I had the pleasure of recording their conversation back in 2011 and their remarkable relationship still sticks with me today.

Press Release: StoryCorps’ 2022 Military Voices Tour to Record and Preserve the Stories of Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and Military Families

StoryCorps, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs, today announces its 2022 Military Voices initiative tour, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and undertaken in partnership with veteran service organizations (VSOs) across the country. This spring and summer, StoryCorps will honor veterans and members of the military community by gathering and preserving their stories in three locations: Washington, D.C.; Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii; and Cheyenne, Wyoming. The organization will offer both in-person and  virtual recording opportunities.

Millions of American men and women have served in the armed services, while their family members have stood behind them at home. The military community knows well the challenges of multiple deployments, combat injuries, and long-awaited homecomings, yet few civilians have been exposed to the unique challenges. The Military Voices initiative illuminates these lived experiences and contributes to StoryCorps’ diverse collection by recording and preserving the stories of veterans of all wars, service members, and military families—in their own words. 

“Veterans and their families make an invaluable contribution to our country through their courage and sacrifice. The Military Voices initiative aims to honor them by recording, amplifying, and preserving their stories,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps

“By recording and preserving the stories of our brave military veterans and their families, we hope that future generations can learn about what it takes to sustain and defend democracy and our daily freedoms,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “CPB is committed to supporting StoryCorps as it documents the words and memories of these men and women who have served our country with courage and dedication.”

Since its launch in 2012, the Military Voices Initiative has gathered over 2,800 of these stories. With participant permission, the recordings are preserved for posterity in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, an unparalleled world resource for over two-hundred years. This year, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will host the culminating listening event of the 2022 Military Voices tour, where stories from the Military Voices Initiative will be presented alongside interviews from the Veterans History Project. Participants from all three tour locations, and members of the general public, will be invited to this hybrid virtual and in-person event. Details to be announced.

We look forward to the continued relationship with StoryCorps which, through its Military Voices Initiative, complements the Library’s over 112,000 first-person narrative collections in the Veterans History Project,” said Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. “With approximately 19 million veterans among us today, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s support of this StoryCorps initiative amplifies a timely need to preserve these treasured stories so that together these two efforts may enrich our nation’s understanding of US military service.”  

2022 Military Voices Tour

The 2022 Military Voices Tour will visit Washington, D.C. from April 11-22; Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii from June 6-17; and Cheyenne, Wyoming from July 18-29

In each location, StoryCorps will partner with a local public radio station, which will air a selection of the interviews recorded and, in many cases, create special programs around the project. In addition,  virtual listening events will be held locally, to give civilians opportunities to engage with veterans and service members in their communities. 

Additionally, StoryCorps may share edited versions of interviews collected throughout the tour via its NPR broadcasts, podcast, animated shorts, and digital platforms. Reservations are free and available to the public, and can be booked online at storycorps.org/military-voices

StoryCorps fosters an environment of comfort and intimacy for its interviews, with a trained facilitator guiding participants throughout the process. For those who choose to record virtually, the interview process and experience will be conducted via StoryCorps Virtual, a browser-based platform that allows both participants to see and hear one another during their conversation, which is guided remotely by a facilitator. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary copy of their interview, and a second copy is archived at the Library of Congress with the participant’s permission. 

Location Partner Dates
Washington, D.C. WAMU April 11–22
Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii Hawaii Public Radio June 6-17
Cheyenne, Wyoming UWYO July 18-29

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has given nearly 600,000 people, in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The award-winning organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, engender empathy and connection, and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices least heard in the media. The StoryCorps MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer that has been transformed into a traveling recording booth, crisscrosses the country year-round gathering the stories of people nationwide. Learn more at storycorps.org.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for email updates.

StoryCorps Announces 2022 U.S. Mobile Tour

StoryCorps’ MobileBooth Visits Ten U.S. Locations, Capturing Personal Stories for Posterity at the Library of Congress

This month, StoryCorps hit the road with its MobileBooth—an Airstream trailer converted into a mobile recording studio. The 2022  Mobile Tour began on January 5 in Tampa, Florida, and will visit a total of 10 U.S. cities, before ending on December 19 in San Antonio, Texas. In each location, the Mobile Tour partners with local radio stations to help spread the word and invite local community members to record conversations.

Since 2005, the StoryCorps Mobile Tour has facilitated tens of thousands of meaningful conversations between people who know each other, and every year, StoryCorps’ MobileBooth crisscrosses the country to record residents in 10 communities  nationwide. In addition to local radio stations, StoryCorps partners with cultural institutions and community-based organizations to help spread the word locally.

“In its travels to communities across America, the Mobile Tour honors our nation’s stories and reminds us of the beauty, poetry and grace in the voices of everyday people that are hiding in plain sight all around us. During these challenging times, the value of preserving and strengthening connections between people who may feel physically isolated—is more important than ever.”

— DAVE ISAY, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF STORYCORPS

The Mobile team in Tallahassee, FL.

2022 Mobile Tour Schedule

Click here for a complete tour schedule; reservations can be booked online. For the general public, reservations are usually available about two weeks before the Mobile Tour’s arrival in each location.

For this year’s tour, participants can record in-person at a local community location selected by our radio partner or via the “virtual recording booth,” allowing participants to record remotely using StoryCorps’ free recording tools. During a StoryCorps interview, two people record a meaningful conversation about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process and after each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a downloadable link to their interview. With their permission, the conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations. 

In each tour stop, StoryCorps’ local public radio station partner will air a selection of the interviews recorded and, in many cases, create special programs around the project. StoryCorps may also share edited versions of select interviews collected throughout the tour via NPR broadcasts, podcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. Overall, the Mobile Tour plays a critical role in bringing the StoryCorps experience directly to individuals and communities where they live.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is the Founding Partner of the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. CPB’s support has enabled the StoryCorps Mobile Tour to visit 180 towns and cities nationwide since 2005, recording tens of thousands of stories.

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.”

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 

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:

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!

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