I just heard about StoryCorps through a wonderful segment on the BBC World Service Outlook programme.
"You bring a loved one to our booth - a parent, a friend or someone you have just met on the bus whose story you want to get to know - and for forty minutes you just talk. Most people ask the big life questions like: "What are the most important lessons you have learnt?", "How do you want to be remembered?" or "What did your grandmother sing to you when you were a child?" Then at the end of 40 minutes two CDs have been burnt, one stays with you and the second goes to us and we put it in the Library of Congress and it becomes part of the oral history of America."
Listening to the piece reminded me of the inspiration for this project. I was talking to my friend Cynthia and she mentioned how she often asked her Grandmother for advice and inpiration; it was something I had never done and immediately regretted.
I wrote down two phrases from Mathew Bannister's conversation with StoryCorps founder David Isay:
"Forty minutes to transmit wisdom from one generation to the next."
"Turn off your computer and cellphone, look a loved one in the eye and tell them how much they mean to you by listening to them."
There is a wonderful conversation between Seymour and Marcia Gottlieb in the Outlook piece and these three compilations are an introduction to the breadth and emotion of the recordings. The talk below by founder David Isay gives an overview of his career as a Radio Producer and the ideas and passion behind the StoryCorps project (apologies for posting such a long video, but I enjoyed it so much I would feel I was cheating to post anything shorter).
Finally, if you have the chance, I throughly recommend listening to as much of the World Service as you can.