NPR’s StoryCorps trailer makes stop in Austin

KUT host Nathan Bernier welcomes visitors to the StoryCorps trailer outside the Bullock museum on Monday.
KUT host Nathan Bernier welcomes visitors to the StoryCorps trailer outside the Bullock museum on Monday.

For more than a decade, the StoryCorps team has crisscrossed the country, collecting interviews with more than 80,000 Americans in partnership with National Public Radio.

Now, they’re looking to hear from Austinites. The mobile recording studio will be parked outside the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, at 1800 Congress Ave., through Jan. 30.

Signups begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. To get one of the 40-minute spots, call 1-800-850-4406 or visit storycorps.org.

A donation of at least $25 per interview is requested, but not required.

Portions of some of the interviews, which can be on any topic, may air on local NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM, either during local programming or during NPR’s national “Morning Edition” broadcast, the station said. All interviews – even those not aired – are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Participants also get a copy of the interview on a CD they can take with them.

“This trailer travels to all corners of the country,” said KUT host Nathan Bernier. “They’re trying to paint a portrait of America.”

While StoryCorps serves as a facilitator, it relies upon everyday people “who know and care about each other” to conduct the actual interviews.

“You get a level of intimacy you wouldn’t be able to obtain if a reporter was asking the questions,” Bernier said.

Former University of Texas women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt was among the first people to step into the StoryCorps trailer on Monday, its first day in town. She was interviewed by one of her former athletes, Amie Bradley.

“It was fun, a very comfortable environment,” Conradt said. “We just talked about how the women’s athletics program has developed on campus over the years. To have the opportunity to do that one-on-one made it special.”


NPR’s ‘Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!’ originates from Austin this week

Host Peter Sagal
Host Peter Sagal

Listen for some Texas twang on the next edition of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”

The popular show, which quizzes participants on current events, was taped in front of a capacity crowd Thursday night at the Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus and is scheduled to air on NPR affiliates nationwide this weekend.

Guests included local musician Dale Watson.

In Austin, “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday on 90.5 KUT-FM.

It’s not the first time the Chicago-based show has visited Austin – and host Peter Sagal said he hopes it won’t be the last.

“We love Austin,” he said. “Austin represents everything that’s best about America – and Texas. It’s this wonderful amalgamation of politics, the Mexican culture, food, tattoos … you name it.”

“Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” is a bit of an oddity on the news-heavy NPR schedule. In fact, when Sagal was first tapped to serve as host, he said he didn’t expect the gig to last very long. He was wrong. The show’s been on the air for 16 years and counting.

“People who listen to public radio need humor, just like the rest of us,” Sagal said. “There’s very little comedy on public radio. We almost have that to ourselves. It’s nice that there’s one hour a week where NPR isn’t serious.”

Taking the show out of the studio and recording it in front of a live audience from time to time is something Sagal, who has a background in theater, said he pushed for after taking over as host.

“For me, it was weird to be stuck in a studio,” he said. “I need to see people in front of me to see if they’re laughing, if we’re connecting. You need people to laugh, you need them to respond. If there’s someone who might reward you with a laugh, we all become these leaping porpoises in search of attention.”


‘Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!’

10 a.m. Saturday

7 p.m. Sunday

90.5 KUT-FM

On the Web: kut.org