KOSU partners with StoryCorps to foster conversations across US ideological divides

Nationwide One Small Step Initiative offers opportunity for people to talk about life experiences that formed their values and listen with respect

Story provided by OSU

Talking and listening is the best way to reunite a sorely divided America. In a partnership with StoryCorps, KOSU is inviting people across Oklahoma to take part in meaningful conversations being recorded for history. 

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Oklahoma is one of six locations across the country selected to take part in StoryCorps’ nationwide One Small Step initiative to facilitate and broadcast conversations with Americans of opposing viewpoints. With participant permission, these conversations are preserved for future generations at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is a national nonprofit dedicated to recording and preserving personal stories,

KOSU plans to broadcast edited versions of some of the Oklahoma submissions.

“After a year of isolation and division, it’s time to remember what we have in common. At KOSU, we are honored to facilitate these conversations,” said Rachel Hubbard, KOSU executive director. “It is important to us that all Oklahomans feel heard and valued, no matter their life experiences or what shaped them.” 

Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps, agrees. 

“Recent polls demonstrate what most of us have already experienced first-hand: that there is a pervasive culture of contempt that threatens the very foundations of our democracy,” he said. “According to a CBS News poll released earlier this year, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America’s way of life comes from their fellow citizens. One Small Step aims to remind people of the humanity in all of us and that it’s hard to hate up close. These communities can model this change for the rest of the country.”

President and CEO Patricia Harrison says the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is very pleased to support this effort. 

“StoryCorps uses its innovative approach to sharing stories in its One Small Step Communities initiative to foster understanding and respect, even among people who deeply disagree,” she said. “By working with local public radio stations to connect people with different backgrounds and political beliefs, One Small Step is helping stations strengthen their communities, one step at a time.”

Launched by StoryCorps in 2018 in response to growing division in the country, One Small Step is a national initiative that pairs two strangers who hold different views in facilitated and recorded conversations to counteract intensifying hostility and enable those who disagree to listen to each other with respect. 

Rather than spark additional partisan debates, One Small Step encourages answers to questions such as, “Was there a moment, event, or person in your life that shaped your political views?” and “What scares you most when you think about the future?”

KOSU encourages Oklahoma residents to take part in this limited-time opportunity:

            •           Information about how to participate is at kosu.org/onesmallstep.

            •           To accommodate participant comfort levels with in-person recording sessions, KOSU may use StoryCorps’ remote recording platform over video.

KOSU will also team up with a variety of community organizations to spread the word and collaborate with StoryCorps to match participants and record conversations through the end of the year. The project will include a series of public listening events, streamed online, in fall 2021. Find out how your organization can partner with KOSU at kosu.org/onesmallstep.

KOSU’s participation in the One Small Step Communities project is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. StoryCorps’ national One Small Step initiative is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Charles Koch Institute.