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.