SANTA MONICA, CA ─ History is recorded everyday in a small van in between deep gazes and quiet intimate revelation. This is the brain child and personal mission of award winning documentary radio producer, Dave Isay, to record and preserve individual stories, affirming and informing our collective one.
In New York City and in mobile recording booths that travel the country, StoryCorps, one of the fastest growing nonprofit organizations, documents stories from everyday people from all backgrounds.
One copy of the audio CD is for the interviewer to take home; a second copy of the interview is archived at the American Folklife center at the Library of Congress. Some of these pieces of oral History are broadcast on public radio on NPR's Morning Edition, or available through podcast on iTunes, or some excerpts end up compiled into a book, such as "Listening is an Act of Love," the first StoryCorps book just released from Penguin Press.
When he was 13, Dave Isay interviewed one of his grandparents who died a year later. The tape, however, was lost, and Isay was never able to recover it. Through his efforts, Isay says, "no one will lose a voice of a loved one."
"Listening is an Act of Love" is a selection of Isay's most emblematic and favorite interviews. The conversations are between people who matter to each other or share a significant connection. These may include grown children interviewing parents about life as an immigrant, grandparents on their experiences during WWII, friend to friend, spouses, or any combination of people.
One young man, Seth Fleishman, 25, interviewed his 83 year old grandfather saying, "Throughout my life you've been a source of inspiration to me, and I think the biggest thing you did in my life was the dedication I saw you give to Grandma in those last seven years that she had Alzheimer's. Seeing that example of true love and dedication, especially for someone like me, a child of divorce, that's the biggest thing you've brought to my life."
"Thank you Seth", William, Seth's Grandfather responds, "I found it absolutely painless taking care of her, so I guess I did have true love for her."
A young woman passing by the StoryCorps van stationed at the third street promenade in Santa Monica enthusiastically confessed that she "loves StoryCorps" and went on to explain that when she was studying abroad and became home sick, she would listen to the personal stories recorded by StoryCorps and she felt immediately comforted and "connected."