Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special offers a couple of greatest hits, new treats, dramatic “reveals” and StoryCorps founder Dave Isay’s telling of how StoryCorps began. He explains to Benji that he found an old tape recorder one Thanksgiving when he was a boy and began playfully taping the talk of his grandparents and aunts—an undertaking that made an unexpectedly deep impression on him, especially when he saw the pleasure his loved ones found in just being listened to. The tapes were lost, but to this day Isay keeps looking for them. In typical 9-year-old fashion, Benji doesn’t quite get it. “I’d love to play the tape for you,” Dave tells him. “Doing that recording really taught me something: You can find the most amazing stories from regular people. All you have to do is ask them about their lives—and listen.”
Here are the new animated stories in POV’s Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special:
- Making It: Noe Rueda grew up poor in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. At the young age of 8, he already relied on his entrepreneurial talents to help his mom and three siblings make ends meet; even $20 would make his mother cry with gratitude. Noe tells his high school teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood, and Alex shares his dreams for Noe’s future.
- Marking the Distance: When Gweneviere Mann, a San Francisco native living in New York, lost her short-term memory following surgery to remove a brain tumor, she was forced to navigate life in a new way. Every day brought new puzzles: Where was she? Who was the person talking to her? But she wasn’t alone. With the support of her boyfriend, Yasir Salem, she found she could tackle the challenges her condition threw her way—and a few more.
- The Road Home: Eddie Lanier ignored his prominent father’s warning about the family’s disposition to alcoholism and struggled for over 40 years, until his 28th stint in rehab finally led to sobriety. Homeless and hungry, he roamed the streets of his native Chapel Hill, N.C., and found a friend in David Wright, a passerby whose frequent donations stood out. The two friends discuss Eddie’s remarkable journey.
- Me & You: In New York, 73-year-old Jackie Miller talks to her adopted son, Scott, revealing something about her early life that puts his adoption in a new and dramatic light. As they express their profound love for one another, Scott touchingly recalls how he came out to her and expresses his trepidation about the future.
The StoryCorps special includes two favorites from previous POV seasons:
- Miss Devine: In Bradenton, Fla., cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson hilariously recall their fearsome Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine, the only woman who scared them more than their grandmother. There was no earthly excuse to miss Sunday school, even if it meant arriving in your pajamas and tennis shoes, as James personally attests.
- No More Questions!: Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps booth in San Francisco by her son Cheng and granddaughter Chen. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors in China to her adventures as a Bloomingdale’s store detective. Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side.
Intimate, surprising, frank, comic, moving—Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special is a wonderful doorway into the StoryCorps archive and into profound questions about memory and its legacy across the generations. “So, maybe this year, I’ll ask Grandma some questions,” Benji tells his uncle Dave after hearing people tell their stories, “just like you did when you were a kid.”