About Me: Von Diaz is an Emmy Award–winning documentarian, a food historian, and the author of Islas: a Celebration of Tropical Cooking, and Coconuts & Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, GA, she explores the intersections of food, culture, and identity. She has contributed recipes and essays to a number of cookbooks and anthologies, is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, as well as the Washington Post, NPR, StoryCorps, Food & Wine Magazine, and Bon Appétit, among many others. In addition, she taught food studies and oral history at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and she is also an editor and radio producer at StoryCorps, where she edits broadcasts for NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition.”

What is your role and how long have you been at StoryCorps?

I’m a Senior Producer. I first came to StoryCorps ten years ago as a Production Assistant before becoming an Initiatives Producer, a role that no longer exists. I oversaw the Military Voices Initiative (MVI) and Outloud and about a year later, I became a Producer for our broadcasts on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” 

In 2017, I stepped away to head up documentaries for Google Brand Studio and began to teach at Duke University. At the beginning of the pandemic, I came back to StoryCorps just as we transitioned to remote recordings. In 2022, I came back full-time here and was lucky to be part of the PBS “Frontline” collaboration Un(re)solved, which won an Emmy.

What does your job entail?

As Senior Producer, I edit the “Morning Edition” broadcasts with Annie Russell and we choose which recordings to air. For each potential broadcast, we’re usually looking at three to five options. I also oversee MVI, which runs on “Weekend Edition” and contribute to other audio projects across StoryCorps, as well as supervising a few producers. 

What are the rewards of your job?

Working at StoryCorps is immensely formative and gratifying. I wrote my first cookbook while at StoryCorps, and I would have people in the office taste the different recipes I’d bring in. Part of my job is to listen to interviews that could become broadcasts and the process has made me more empathetic and a much stronger storyteller. It has also informed my writing on food.

As a producer, working with people’s stories through their recordings is such a pivotal experience and you realize how meaningful the act of listening to someone’s story can be. We have to edit recordings down quite a bit for broadcast, so when participants tell us “You got me” or “You got it all in there,” it’s so meaningful and satisfying to hear. 

What are the challenges of your job?

There is so much wonderful content but we always have a number of considerations, including ensuring that each piece is fact checked—we have to meet the level of excellence that listeners expect from StoryCorps. 

Why should everyone record a conversation with StoryCorps?

StoryCorps has the largest single collection of voices on the planet—it was created as an oral history project for our country. Our archive contains so many different voices with amazing metadata. It’s really a remarkable resource. 

What’s your favorite StoryCorps story?  

I love this oldie but goodie: an animation called “The Bookmobile” about Storm Reyes who grew up in migrant farm worker camps and whose life was changed by a bookmobile. More recently, I’ve enjoyed this interview with Stephen Quandt about his work helping the dogs of Chernobyl—it’s a great example of amazing storytelling.