StoryCorps 452: The First Great Listen

UPDATE 11/17/16: With the 2016 Great Thanksgiving Listen a week away, here are highlights and lessons learned from the inaugural Great Thanksgiving Listen in 2015. (This podcast originally aired in December 2015.)

In this podcast, we hear stories recorded over the last few weeks by people who participated in the Great Thanksgiving Listen.

When we announced in September our plan to hold a Great Thanksgiving Listen, we introduced it as our dream, that over the course of a single holiday weekend in November, teens across the nation would take the time to sit down with an elder, a loved one, a friend, or anyone else they wanted to know more about, and have a meaningful conversation.

11010295_10153163668388622_3809697997272856092_nStoryCorps has done this before; in 2008 we launched the National Day of Listening. That was our answer to the day after Thanksgiving becoming widely recognized as a national day of shopping—“Black Friday.” The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a continuation of that project.

One major difference between the two initiatives, the National Day of Listening and the Great Thanksgiving Listen, is that we now have the technology to make listening and preserving your stories in the Library of Congress easier than ever. When we debuted the free StoryCorps app in March, it gave all people with access to a smartphone the ability to easily set up an interview, record it, edit it, share it, and then have it archived.

By any measure, the Great Thanksgiving Listen was a success. Over the course of a few days, tens of thousands of conversations were recorded, and more than 50,000 of those have been uploaded to the StoryCorps.me website and archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The stories that came in were revealing and funny and intense and personal. As we hoped, an incredible number of people sat down with their grandparents or another elder, who with a little prompting, shared their happiest and proudest memories, as well as difficult moments they overcame over the course of their lives. They also shared advice for younger generations that no matter how it was worded, essentially boiled down to a few simple recommendations: Treat others with respect, do a lot of different things with your life, be adventurous, and have a lot of fun because time moves quickly.

So before you know it, it will be time for the Great Thanksgiving Listen II. But until then, enjoy just a small bit of the great audio uploaded over the past few weeks.

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All of the above photos were uploaded to the StoryCorps.me website by participants in the Great Thanksgiving Listen.
Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Like Swimming” by Broke for Free from the album Leaf.
“FLT” by Pullman from the album Viewfinder.
“Thinking of You” by Gillicuddy from the album Gillicuddy Plays Guitar.
“Cass County Beauty Queen” by Alan Singley from the album Cold Truth.
“Chimera,” “Buddy Guy,” and “Light Touch” by Podington Bear from the collection Sound of Picture Production Library.
“Folk Psychology” by Nic Bommarito from the album Harp Fragments.