NPR’s Story Corps stops in Moab this week

Part of ‘One Small Step’ project

Utah Public Radio is one of six public media stations that has been selected for facilitated interviews that will help to bring local stories to a national audience. The goal is to promote positive conversations across American political divides.

UPR, based at Utah State University in Logan, is working with what is being called “One Small Step Communities,” working with radio program StoryCorps on an initiative to facilitate and broadcast conversations with Americans of opposing viewpoints. The One Small Step initiative, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, aims to counteract intensifying political divides by enabling those who disagree to listen to each other with respect, according to a press release from UPR.

“It’s summed up well in the title of the program,” said UPR Program Director Tom Williams. “It’s not a huge step, but it’s a small step in the right direction to sponsor, to arrange conversations with people. UPR Assistant News Director Dani Hayes and Williams will be in Moab Friday, May 31 from 7 to 9 a.m. for a breakfast reception at the USU-Moab campus.

StoryCorps has been curating conversations between loved ones for years; now they are attempting to put strangers together–folks who are on opposite sides of the political aisle–to have a conversation. UPR will be traveling around the State of Utah collecting these conversations “with the hope of helping people realize that we have much more in common than we think we do,” said Williams.

The project pairs people with differing beliefs to try to find common ground through questions like, “Was there a moment, event, or person in your life that shaped your political views?” and “What scares you most when you think about the future?”

With One Small Step, UPR is seeking to counteract intensifying political divides by facilitating and recording conversations that enable people who disagree to listen to each other with respect. Anyone who is interested in having a One Small Step conversation is invited to visit upr.org and fill out the questionnaire. UPR will then take your responses and, if selected, match you up with a conversation partner. Go to upr.org and click on the One Small Step link.

Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps said: “Our dream, which is lofty, is to try and convince the country that it’s your patriotic duty to see the humanity in people we disagree with. StoryCorps stokes trust, stitches us together, and brings out our best and highest selves.”

The other stations participating in the campaign are KCUR – Kansas City; Texas Public Radio – San Antonio; Arizona Public Media – Tucson; WUSF – Tampa; and WBHM – Birmingham.

Public radio stations have played an integral role in helping StoryCorps to realize its aspiration to touch the lives of every American, said a statement in the press release. Since 2005, more than 145 stations in all 50 states have hosted the StoryCorps Mobile Tour, providing local access to a mobile recording booth that travels the country, reaching people of all backgrounds and providing opportunities to capture stories in communities that might otherwise go untold.

Utah Public Radio, a service of USU, broadcasts news, information, public affairs, and cultural programming 24 hours a day. It is heard by listeners across Utah and in southern Idaho via a network of six full-power HD-enhanced stations and 30 translators. More than half of Utah’s population resides within the station and translator network coverage area.

The station commenced operation in 1953 as KVSC, the Voice of the State College, the call letters changing to KUSU-FM in 1961 to reflect the change from Utah State Agricultural College to Utah State University. Utah Public Radio is Utah’s oldest non-commercial, educational radio service. UPR is a member of National Public Radio and an affiliate of Public Radio International and of American Public Media.

Story Corps was founded in 2003, and has given 500,000 people—people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states—the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its special StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books, according to the press release.

“These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom and values; engender empathy and connection; and remind us how much more we have in common than divides us,” said a statement in the press release.

StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices of everyday people least heard in the media. The StoryCorps MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer the organization has transformed into a traveling recording booth, crisscrosses the country year-round in order to gather the stories of people nationwide. With the 2015 TED Prize awarded to Dave Isay, StoryCorps launched a free mobile app that puts the StoryCorps experience entirely in the hands of users and enables anyone, anywhere to record meaningful conversations with another person and upload the audio to the Library of Congress. StoryCorps also records interviews in its permanent StoryBooths, in New York, Chicago and Atlanta.

“Recording an interview in a StoryCorps booth couldn’t be easier: You invite a loved one, or anyone else you choose, to a StoryCorps recording site. There you’re met by a trained facilitator who explains the interview process, brings you into a quiet recording room and seats you across from your interview partner, each of you in front of a microphone. The facilitator hits ‘record,’ and you share a 40-minute conversation. At the end of the session, you walk away with a copy of the interview, and a digital file goes to the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved for generations to come,” said the press release.

“StoryCorps is working to grow into an enduring national institution that fosters a culture of listening in the United States; celebrates the dignity, power and grace that can be heard in the stories we find all around us; and helps us recognize that every life and every story matters equally.

In the coming years StoryCorps hopes to touch the lives of every American family.”