Dave Isay : A Bank That Will Change your Life

Over thousands of archived and broadcast interviews, StoryCorps has created an unprecedented bank of dreams and fears that will touch us all.

Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honour someone by listening to their story.

2Since then, StoryCorps has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded. His TED Prize wish: to grow this digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity. Hear his vision to take StoryCorps global — and how you can be a part of it by interviewing someone with the StoryCorps app.


Why you should listen

From the first interview he recorded, 2015 TED Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay knew he’d found his calling: preserving the stories of everyday Americans.

3Since then, Isay has amassed hundreds of thousands of recordings, most of previously unheard or ignored voices, all speaking in their own words. The archives of StoryCorps, which Isay founded in 2003 are included at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, and now constitute the largest single collection of recorded voices in history.

StoryCorps invites friends, loved ones and strangers to conduct 40-minute interviews at intimate recording booths in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and (until 2011) New York, as well as in mobile studios nationwide.

Offering moving and surprising glimpses into the hearts of often marginalized and forgotten subjects, the interviews are a familiar feature of NPR’s Morning Edition and Storycorps.org.

At TED2015, Isay shared an audacious wish for StoryCorps: to open up the format from its signature booths with a StoryCorps app that allows anyone to add to this “digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity.” The vision: to take this idea global, and begin collecting stories around the world.

4What others say

There’s nothing quite like StoryCorps in the American media. It’s an antidote of sorts to an oft-bemoaned media climate that rewards celebrity excess, political extremism and bad behavior. It celebrates normalcy.” — The New York Times