Kansans Take One Small Step with KMUW and StoryCorps

In 2020, KMUW—in collaboration with the national nonprofit StoryCorps—invited residents to have a conversation with another member of our community who they might not otherwise have a chance to talk with and with whom they might even disagree politically.

It's part of One Small Step, a nationwide project launched by StoryCorps to break down boundaries created by the difficult time in America right now. KMUW is one of six stations across the United States chosen to lead in the initiative in 2020.

KMUW recorded 25 interviews, some of which are featured below.

In October, it was announced that Wichita is one of 4 cities in which StoryCorps is anchoring One Small Step in 2021 with more opportunities to record, share, and preserve conversations that show the country how Kansans can listen to each other in spite of their differences of opinion. Read about the continued effort here.

StoryCorps' One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps has given people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps' podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom and values; engender empathy and connect; and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. Learn more at storycorps.org.

Ways to Connect

For the past year, KMUW has been part of a new project from StoryCorps called One Small Step—conversations between strangers across the political divide. Today we hear from two people who experienced very different "Americas" growing up.

Here's part of the conversation between Alejo and Lisa:

StoryCorps’ One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

For the past year, KMUW has been involved with StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative, which brings people together with opposing political beliefs to have open respectful conversations. One Small Step is not about politics. It's an opportunity to talk about the life experiences that formed your values. In many instances, the participants discover they had more in common than they thought.

Today we hear from Jennifer, a conservative, and Elise, a liberal. Here is part of their conversation:

For the past year, KMUW has been part of a new project from StoryCorps called One Small Step—conversations between strangers across the political divide. Most of the participants discovered that they had more in common than they would have thought. Today we hear from Liz, who identifies as Christian, gay and liberal, and Alyssa, who identifies as Christian and conservative.

Here's part of their conversation:

StoryCorps’ One Small Step is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

KMUW's Engage ICT: Digital Democracy on Tap and Kansas Leadership Center partnered to present One Small Step: Courageous Political Conversations on Tuesday, November 17.

This special collaboration with StoryCorps' One Small Step featured a conversation Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, on the importance of coming together during a divisive time in our history. We also spoke with Wichita's One Small Step participants about how they felt bridging an ideological divide with a stranger.

Wichita is one of four cities in which StoryCorps is anchoring One Small Step in 2021 with more opportunities to record, share, and preserve conversations that show the country how Kansans can listen to each other in spite of their differences of opinion. Read about the national effort in The Wichita Eagle.

How One Small Step Works

  • People interested in taking part in a One Small Step conversation should fill out our Questionnaire for potential participants. The responses help our team to pair people together to facilitate the best conversation possible.
  • If you are paired, KMUW staff will reach out to each participant to set up a mutually convenient time for the conversation. We will also share information to help both participants think about their questions for each other and feel prepared. 
  • You can take part in a StoryCorps conversation "virtually," on a computer. Requirements: a reliable internet connection and a computer with a video camera and a microphone. For "virtual" recording, the producer will do a short "tech check" with each participant a day or two before the recording appointment. 
  • During your One Small Step appointment, a facilitator will share some brief paperwork and explain how the recording will happen. Once recording begins, the facilitator will help start the conversation with 1-3 kick-off questions. After that, participants drive the conversation with questions of their own.
  • The recording lasts about 40 minutes. The whole process takes 60-75 minutes.
  • Each participant will receive a digital copy of the recording.
  • If both participants choose, the recording is also preserved in the StoryCorps collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
  • Some recording, with participants' permission, will be edited and broadcast on the radio.
  • Recording start in July and continue through November 2020.

Ground Rules

  • DON'T: Interrupt your partner or raise your voice.
  • DO: Listen carefully, with curiosity and an open mind.
  • REMEMBER: It's a two-way conversation. Be prepared to ask and answer questions. Don't debate political issues. The goal is to talk with civility and get to know each other—not as stereotypes or talking points—but as neighbors and human beings.

Whom should I bring for the One Small Step conversation? KMUW is asking potential participants to fill out a Questionnaire and based on the responses, we will find a conversation partner for you. If you already have a potential partner in mind, you can let us know in the Questionnaire.

How can I prepare for my conversation? One Small Step sessions are not scripted. They are intended to be natural conversations. It is a good idea to spend some time before your appointment thinking about what questions you want to ask or topics you want to explore. We will provide some suggested questions, and invite you to think of other questions you'd like to ask. But do not over-prepare. Just come with an open mind and ready to be yourself.

How long is the conversation? The recorded conversation itself is 40 minutes long. There is a short orientation and some paperwork you will need to fill out before and after the interview, so the entire process takes 60-75 minutes.

Is KMUW staff present during the recording session? A trained facilitator is present throughout the entire interview process and handles all technical aspects of the recording. Facilitators also help ensure that you have a comfortable and meaningful experience.

What will happen to the recording of my conversation? With your permission, a copy of the recording will be archived with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Within a few weeks of your appointment, you will receive a digital download link of the audio. We encourage you to make copies of your interview to share with your friends, family and colleagues.

Will my story be excerpted for the public to hear? With permission from participants, KMUW or StoryCorps may choose to edit your conversation for broadcast, however, only a very small percentage of recording ever broadcast on the radio.

How much does it cost to participate? You may participate free of charge.

What if I don't want my story to be archived? If you do not sign the release form. you will receive the audio, but the interview will not be archived and we will not keep a copy. Regardless of whether or not you sign the release form, each interview participant will receive the audio of the conversation to share with friends and family.