SoundCloud, StoryCorps Celebrate Veteran’s Day with ‘The Wall of Listening’

By Devon Glenn 

If memorial walls across the country could talk, they might sound something like “The Wall of Listening,” an audio history tool created by StoryCorps and SoundCloud to honor the brave men and women who have fought for America.

For the next 18 months, the nonprofit oral history organization is asking veterans, active duty military, and their loved ones to record their stories using Skype or any recording tools they have. The interviews will be uploaded to SoundCloud and preserved on “The Wall of Listening” for others to hear.

“We chose to work with SoundCloud because they have a great platform, a large and active user community, and a very helpful and accessible team of experts on their staff,” StoryCorps information technology manager Dean Haddock told SocialTimes in an email. “Given our organizations’ shared interest in preserving and sharing audio, it’s a natural and productive collaborative fit.”

He added, “To me, taking the time to interview someone is a sign of respect and appreciation. Then by recording and uploading the stories for everyone else to hear, we not only set an example for others to follow, but we also nurture compassion and empathy in the listener. Participating in a group is fun, too! You will be surprised what you learn about friends, colleagues, or even family members you may have known your entire life!”

The wall shows the smiling faces of the military personnel and their interviewers. Each picture connects to an audio track. In one interview, Lauren Waits, who spent a year in Ghana as part of Jimmy Carter’s Global 2000 development network, described eating a type of rodent called a grasscutter: “It just tasted wild,” she said. “It had thick, stiff skin. It was very greasy. It was not as salty as I would have liked. It didn’t taste like chicken.”

“My favorite story on the Wall of Listening so far is Amanda Plumb interviewing Stephanie Burton,” said Haddock. “In it Stephanie tells her coworker and friend an important story about overcoming a racist experience in high school.”

The call for submissions corresponds with the organization’s fifth annual National Day of Listening on Nov. 23.  Said Haddock, “Our goals with the National Day of Listening project are to encourage people to sit down with a loved one on the day after Thanksgiving–a day when most of America is out shopping for the holidays–and give the least expensive but most meaningful gift they can: the gift of listening. StoryCorps created the National Day of Listening to remind people that human relationships are something we should never take for granted, and we find that there is so much more that unites us than divides us when we take the time to really listen.”

Previously, StoryCorps worked with SoundCloud on the StoryCorps Archive, which contains hundreds of thousands of digital assets from nearly 80,000 participants, Haddock explained. Some of StoryCorp’s recordings have appeared on NPR’s “Morning Edition” or were made into animated shorts for PBS and YouTube.

Post updated on November 12, 2012 at 5:20 ET.