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!