Moses Lake, WA – July 13, 2022

Hi again from Moses Lake! Sarah here. Today, I’m going to show you what a recording day looks like!

Our schedule runs 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM in whichever time zone we find ourselves. Two of us facilitate per day, and we usually have a total of six recordings (three each). However, today we only have 5, which will give me a bit of wiggle room to write to you all!

10:00 AM – When we arrive at the recording space, we set up our equipment, review our schedule notes about each recording, and wait for our first participants. 

10:00 AM – While Teriyana is facilitating the first recording, I catch up on databasing previous conversations. For every public recording, we input locations, descriptions, log notes, and keywords, amongst other information, so that archive visitors can use it as a resource. It looks like this:

For me, databasing is a great way to process what happened in a recording. After hearing so many meaningful conversations, it’s easy to feel oversaturated with emotion every now and again. Putting conversation topics into words really helps. Sometimes I also fear that I’ll forget some of the impactful moments to which I’ve had the privilege of bearing witness. However, writing down summaries etches stories a bit more deeply into my memory, and participants’ wisdom always pops back into my mind at the randomest of times–for example, this morning I was working out when I remembered the advice of 10-year-old Sebastian: “You should be helpful to yourself and say, ‘You can do this! Can’t give up!’”

11:00 AM – Time to prepare for my first recording of the day! Teriyana and I hang out here while we wait for participants. 

When participants arrive, we walk them through the required paperwork so that we can get to the fun part–recording! After letting participants know how the process is going to look, I adjust their microphones.

Here’s me adjusting the mic for an extra sweet participant in Pensacola:

Next, we do a sound check. I usually ask, “What’s your favorite thing to do in [insert current city]?” and get some ideas of what I should do around town as I adjust their sound levels.  

Then, we hit record!

Recordings are 40 minutes long. While participants talk, I take notes for our archive, keep time, check sound levels, and, of course, listen. While I also jump in with a question or two every so often, I try to keep the majority of the conversation between participants, as they know one another’s narratives better than I do, and it’s often their relationship dynamic that makes a story special.

Note: We wear masks while facilitating (this photo is staged).

After recording, participants can choose whether they want to keep their conversation private or share it publicly. There are so many places where StoryCorps conversations can be shared, depending on participants’ preferences and life experiences, but I won’t dive into the details for now (unless, of course, you write on our survey that you’re particularly interested in this)!

Finally, it’s time for photos! It might seem counterintuitive to take photos of people after an experience that often evokes both laughter and tears–people might not look like their most polished selves. However, there is something special about documenting what people look like after sharing a deeply meaningful conversation. Unlike the nerves that so often precede recordings, there seems to be a kind of post-recording euphoria. I didn’t realize the full extent of this feeling until I participated in a StoryCorps signature recording myself. If you take a peek at our online archive, you might notice the glow people seem to carry with them after recording. 

This is what our photo backdrop looks like. This picture is from when the new backdrop first arrived in the mail and, if you can’t tell, we were excited!!

And here is what our backdrop looks like in photos: 

Left: Eunice Cho, Participant Relations Associate (former Mobile Tour Site Manager).

Of course, before leaving participants can feel free to make a donation or grab a StoryCorps pin!

12:30 PM – What a joyful recording! Margaret, the interviewee, both has a fascinating family history and has done so much volunteer work in the Moses Lake area. I always find it so inspiring to hear about how others engage with their communities! Now, it’s time to database while Teriyana facilitates the next recording.

1:00 PM – Lunch time! There’s a sweet park outside of the Civic Center where I like to catch some sun while I eat. 

2:00 PM – Time to prepare for my next recording!

3:30 PM – My participants are heading out to take pictures of the StoryCorps airstream. I really adore conversations that remember loved ones. In this one, Chelan and Michael talked about Paul Lauzier, who created the foundation for which they both work. There was a lot of laughter and a few tears too.

…Aaand back to databasing!

4:15 PM – I’m all done archiving both conversations, and this is around the time I’d be ready for my third recording of the day. However, there were only five recordings today, so, instead, I’ll leave you with a few sneak peeks of today’s conversations:

Margaret Schiffner (84) and Ann Schempp (45)

Michael Rex Tabler (76) and Chelan Kleyn (48)

Click here to read our previous installment of the Mobile Tour series.

Click here to read our next installment of the Mobile Tour series.