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2010-11-24

StoryCorps Declares Friday a National Day of Listening

Guests

Studs Terkel, oral historian, radio broadcaster and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

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To mark the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, StoryCorps is declaring Friday a National Day of Listening. StoryCorps is a national social history project created by the award-winning radio producer Dave Isay. Over the past seven years, more than 30,000 interviews have been recorded, making StoryCorps one of the largest oral history projects in U.S. history. We play one of StoryCorps’ most famous interviewees, the late, great oral historian, Studs Terkel. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: To mark the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, StoryCorps is declaring Friday a National Day of Listening. StoryCorps is a national social history project created by the award-winning radio producer Dave Isay. People enter a recording booth on streets all over America and tell their stories to one another. Over the past seven years, more than 30,000 interviews have been recorded, making StoryCorps one of the largest oral history projects in U.S. history.

Here’s a taste of one of StoryCorps’ most famous interviewees, the oral historian, radio broadcaster and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. This is the animated voice of Studs Terkel.

STUDS TERKEL: What has happened to the human voice, vox humana — hollering, shouting, quiet talking, buzz? I was leaving the airport — this is in Atlanta. You know, you leave the gate, you take a train that took you to the concourse of your choice. And I get into this train. Dead silence. A few people are seated or standing. Up above, you hear a voice, that once was a human voice, but no longer. Now it talks like a machine. "Concourse 1, Fort Worth, Dallas, Lubbock." That kind of voice.

Just then, the doors are about to close, pneumatic doors, when a young couple rush in and push open the doors and get in. Without missing a beat, that voice above says, "Because of late entry, we’re delayed 30 seconds." The people looked at that couple as if that couple had just committed mass murder, you know. And the couple is shrinking like this, you know?

Now, I’m known for my talking. I’m gabby. And so I say, "George Orwell, your time has come and gone!" I expected a laugh. Dead silence. And now they look at me.

And I’m with the couple, the three of us, at the head of Calvary on Good Friday. And then I say, "My god, where is the human voice?"

And just then, there’s a little baby. Maybe the baby’s about a year old or something. And I say, "Sir or Madam," to the baby, "what is your opinion of the human species?" Well, what does a baby do? Baby starts giggling! I say, "Thank God! The sound of a human voice."

AMY GOODMAN: That was the late, great Studs Terkel, directed and produced by Mike and Tim Rauch. And if you want to see the animation, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. On Friday, StoryCorps is holding its National Day of Listening, when they ask people to take a day out of their day to record a conversation with a loved one. Their website is nationaldayoflistening.org.

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