Fayette County

StoryCorps begins six weeks of collecting stories in Lexington

Lexington Legends President Alan Stein and his wife, state Sen. Kathy Stein, sat in StoryCorps' MobileBooth on Thursday to record recollections of their lives. StoryCorps' Dana Glass, left, was on hand for the first day of the non-profit group's stay in Lexington.
Lexington Legends President Alan Stein and his wife, state Sen. Kathy Stein, sat in StoryCorps' MobileBooth on Thursday to record recollections of their lives. StoryCorps' Dana Glass, left, was on hand for the first day of the non-profit group's stay in Lexington.

It might seem that Kathy and Alan Stein were sharing an intimate conversation around a table in a kitchen or a low-lit diner. On the table, however, sat two microphones, into which all Kentuckians have a chance to share the stories of their lives.

State Sen. Kathy Stein and her husband, Lexington Legends President Alan Stein, kicked off six weeks of Lexington interviews for StoryCorps, a non-profit group that travels the country documenting conversations and stories told between friends and loved ones.

StoryCorps has collected stories from more than 60,000 people nationwide, and each interview is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, with participants' permission. Some are broadcast on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and more will be featured on WUKY-91.3 FM.

Conversations typically take place between two people, who interview each other, while a facilitator remains in the booth to control recording equipment. Each conversation is recorded for 40 minutes. At the end of a session, participants receive a CD copy of their interview.

"We never have a theme," StoryCorps MobileBooth site supervisor Eloise Melzer said. "We show up and open ourselves up and give them ... an opportunity to tell the stories of their lives. The archive is kind of like a people's history of the United States."

Kathy Stein said she and her husband began by telling stories about their lives together before discussing personal achievements.

"We started out from the day we met each other 24 years ago," she said. "We went forward with the significant moments of our lives."

She said that the atmosphere inside the booth was cozy and that the two had no problems opening up.

"Alan and I are very accustomed to opening up and speaking into a microphone," she said.

Keeneland CEO Nick Nicholson and his brother, Kentucky Horse Park director John Nicholson, recorded the second conversation.

John Nicholson said it was great that StoryCorps is in Lexington during this time in history.

"This is such a transformative time for us, but such a great time for us," he said. "It will be good to memorialize what we're doing here."

After the conversation, Nick Nicholson said the brothers reminisced about their childhood in addition to talking about their jobs.

"We even had a couple of conversations we had never had before," he said.

He said the setting was intimate, like being around a kitchen table.

"It's amazing how quickly you forget you're being recorded," John Nicholson said.

Lexington residents Glen Krebs, an attorney, and his son, Matt, also shared stories with StoryCorps.

"He has a story worth sharing," Matt Krebs said of his father. "He's raised seven kids in Lexington and now has seven grandkids."

Matt Krebs' wife, Corinda, interviewed his mother, Donnia Krebs. She said they talked about what life was like for her mother-in-law, religion and "just life."

"I've been a big fan of StoryCorps for a long time," Corinda Krebs said. "I just think it's such a valuable and worthwhile project."

StoryCorps conducted interviews for 3 ½ weeks in Whitesburg before coming to Lexington.

Whitesburg "was such a special place," Melzer said. "It was unlike any place I've ever been before."

She said she enjoyed the self-sufficiency of people in the mountains, the vivid memories and rich storytelling StoryCorps was able to capture.

"It was very eye-opening in a lot of ways," Melzer said.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was scheduled to record a conversation Thursday, but had to cancel. He is rescheduled for June 25, StoryCorps' last day in Lexington, and will interview with former Lexington Mayor Foster Pettit.

The StoryCorps MobileBooth will be parked outside the Lexington History Museum for six weeks, through June 25, collecting locals' stories. Melzer said the group will record more than 200 conversations while in Lexington. Recording will take place daily except for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

StoryCorps will send a batch of clips to WUKY each week, and the station will begin editing and airing them soon during special time slots, WUKY marketing director Gail Bennett said. Melzer said about 1 percent of the recorded stories are considered for broadcast on NPR.

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