Monday, October 21, 2013

Cue the tears for oral history?

What do you think of Story Corps, the nonprofit oral history program that turns 10 years old this week? Do you cry, laugh, or change the station when NPR airs a segment on Friday mornings? If you didn't catch Steve Inskeep's feature on Story Corps today, check it out here. The online comments are as fascinating as the coverage, ranging from timfxf11's slam ("Everybody has a sad story. Everybody has a blog too. That doesn't mean I want to hear it or read it. It reminds me of the old TV show Queen for a Day.") to SpanishPipeDream's praise ("There seems to always be a lot of grace, compassion, forgiveness, love, commitment and atonement in the stories. And, with the news the way it is today, it is a welcome reminder of the other side of humanity.").

Oral histories are the backbone of the business history work we do here at ... but we try not to turn them into "Queen for a Day" (a show that actually predates yours truly, but I get the drift). In the Story Corps model, friends or family interview each other. That's perfect for highly personal  remembrances, but in business history an informed third-party interviewer can make a big difference. 

Glad to see that Story Corps opted for a book for its 10th anniversary!