Collecting Stories of Chattanooga

Story Corps preserves human history through the oral storytelling of its participants. With a travel trailer converted into a recording studio, Story Corps road trips to 10 cities around the country to record and broadcast the stories of local residents. This year, Story Corps has partnered with WUTC to showcase the untold histories of Chattanooga. Participants can tell anystory they want, and it can be told alone or with a partner.

Jacqueline Van Meter, Story Corps mobile tour manager, is the only staff member who travelswith the trailer full time. Van Meter facilitates the interview process with participants, and she also supervises the other staff members who come on and off the road to work with participants, she said.

“We’re kind of creating this democratized oral history collection,” Van Meter said. “We’re putting the documentation of the people’s history into the hands of the people themselves talking about it in the way that means the most to them.”

Participants can come up with their own questions to ask their partner or they can utilize the question cards provided by Story Corps. The recording sessions last for 40 uninterrupted minutes. Once the session ends, participants can choose to keep their recordings private or they can allow them to be aired on WUTC. The public recordings are archived at the Library of Congress.

“We think that listening is an act of love,” Van Meter said. “The experience of being asked
questions about your own life can be a really empowering experience especially for people who have walked through life feeling like their stories didn’t matter or they didn’t have a story to tell.”

Will Davis, outreach manager and producer at WUTC, prompted Story Corps to partner with the station knowing the impact it could have on the community. Story Corps was immediately interested in coming to Chattanooga when Davis contacted them, he said.

“I was really prepared to be like okay, these are the hundred reasons why you should come
here, but it never came to that,” Davis said.

Around 100 to 150 interviews will be recorded and shared with the station for broadcast, Davis said.

“That’s a ton of content,” Davis said. “Professionally recorded, professionally facilitated. That’s huge for the station, so it’s great PR, but it’s also a lot of content. That’s the reason I wanted to do it.”

The travel trailer is parked beside Miller Park on E MLK Blvd. The recording process will take place from March 19 to April 17. Those who wish to sign-up can do so through the Story Corps website. There is currently a waitlist, but participants can still secure a spot by signing up for it.

WUTC Brings StoryCorps to Chattanooga

As the outreach manager for WUTC, Will Davis, has worked the past eighteen months
since moving here to bring StoryCorps to Chattanooga. He was surprised to find out that they had never been to his new home and immediately knew he wanted to make it happen.

StoryCorps will do over 150 stories while in town which are available to WUTC to use
for future projects. Many of the stories the people of Chattanooga have told share common themes of the city changing and the celebration of it.

All of the slots to sit down and talk have been filled and there is a waiting list that Davis
encourages others to sign up for, but he says that he hasn’t decided if he will sit down himself. He has put months of work into this project and has numerous ideas of what he will use the stories for in the future. Even if he decides not to sit down in the airstream for a recorded talk his impression on Chattanooga through WUTC and StoryCorps coming together will last forever.

Meet the Storytellers

Elian Richter

Elian Richter works as a photojournalist and action photographer. He has experience covering events such as USA Boxing qualifiers and Presidential arrivals on Air Force One. Elian has had works published on Rising Rock Media and the UTC Echo. In his free time, Elian enjoys rock climbing and being outdoors. Contact Elian Richter at

Justin Metcalf

Justin Metcalf is a junior at UTC who studies communication and psychology. Justin enjoys writing for the university newspaper, and their favorite pastime involves curling up with a warm tea and watching horror movies. They hope to continue their education in psychology and become a counselor for LGBTQ youth.

Max Hanson

Max Hanson is a videographer and video editor pursuing a degree in communication at UTC. He has experience in live broadcast, news media, and has extensive work in short films. His passions are in vintage camera equipment, science, and the more bizarre stories in the world.

McKenzie Scott

McKenzie Scott is a junior at UTC studying communication with a minor in women’s studies. She is a writer for rising rock and has experience with telling stories through photos. She is passionate about volunteering in her community and recently rescued a dog named Hank. Contact her at


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