The National Day of Listening is a new national holiday started by StoryCorps in 2008. On the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks everyone to take a few minutes to record an interview with a loved one. You can use recording equipment that is readily available to you, such as computers, iPhones, and tape recorders, along with StoryCorps’ free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide.
In years past StoryCorps provided instructions and encouragement on its NDL site but this year the organization has partnered with SoundCloud to provide an additional incentive to participate: a new and improved “Wall of Listening” to which participants can post their stories. I talked with Dean Haddock, Manager, Information Technology and Krisi Packer, Associate Manager, Marketing and Communications at StoryCorps to learn more.
Jeremy: Can you tell me about the inspiration for National Day of Listening and how it fulfills StoryCorps’ mission to provide Americans of all backgrounds to preserve the stories of our lives?
Krisi: It’s a simple idea—we ask that everyone sit down with a loved one and record their story on the day after Thanksgiving. The National Day of Listening amplifies StoryCorps’ mission that every voice matters, every story counts. People tell us all the time they would love to record their story, but the MobileBooth hasn’t come to their state, or they don’t live in a city where our StoryBooths are located. The National Day of Listening’s DIY method gives everyone a chance to tell their story. StoryCorps looks to reach every person in the U.S. and the National Day of Listening helps us get closer to that goal.
Jeremy: What inspired this new development with SoundCloud?
Dean: Over the last five years, we’ve seen interest in National Day of Listening take off, and this has really motivated us to look deeply and explore how we can make the experience even more meaningful to people.
When National Day of Listening started, it didn’t matter so much whether anyone was recording their stories–we just wanted to inspire people to take the time to listen to a friend or loved one. This eventually manifested as our first “Wall of Listening,” which was a place for people to leave a record of their conversation and what they talked about. We also gave them a certificate to print out and keep as a memento.
Hundreds of people have signed the Wall over the years, but they also told us what was really missing from the experience: the ability to record, upload and share their conversations. It should come as no surprise, I hope, that an organization whose mission is to inspire listening did just that–we listened to our participants and gave them, hopefully, something that will add more value to their experience this year.