When I learned that WHO-Radio was replacing a favorite late night program, I wanted to pout. Ambivalent about John Bachelor’s shows dealing with politics, I sure liked to tune in if he was interviewing an author. He’d do such a great job of it that you wanted to buy a copy of the book. His questions and comments were so affirming of the author.
Yes, I bought several books because of his interviews. One of the most memorable was The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence by Robert Klara–about when the Trumans had to move out because the White House was in danger of collapse!
WHO-Radio began to advertise for this new program–stories without politics. Hmm, guess I needed to at least give it a chance.
I knew I wouldn’t be interested in one early story–about the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, officially, but I soon changed my mind. I wasn’t interested in the 1967 race itself, but Kathrine Switzer’s back-story was fascinating, as has been her life since.
I was hooked.
There have been stories about rock bands, history, coaches and sports, books, education, “Turning Prisoners into Programmers,” etc. Their variety and poignancy are amazing. Oh, and a series about Lewis and Clark, which is a delight for a Lewis and Clark fan.
A lot of them are stories behind stories, which I’ve been hooked on ever since I read the back of Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which describes the research the author did to write the book, even riding across the ocean in the hold of a cargo ship wearing only his underwear.
The worst thing about “Our American Stories” is that it’s aired weeknights over WHO-Radio (1040 AM) from 10 to midnight, when I’m asleep. But all the stories are archived on their website, to listen to whenever I want.
The producers advertised that if you have a story to tell, “send a paragraph and a picture.” So I sent one of my blog posts. They wanted me to record the story!
A producer said to record on my iPhone and email it. What? I don’t have an iPhone. I sent a quick note to Mike at WHO, asking what to do. He told me which program to download to my inexpensive Samsung, so I figured that out. But if you’re too close to the built-in microphone, your “Ps” make a popping sound. If you’re too far away, well, you’re too far away. Tricky. I had to redo the first one.
It’s about all five Wilson brothers serving in WWII–takes 10 minutes.
Family Sends Five Sons to War
Donald Wilson: Humble Hero
Reconciling Dad the Farmer and Dad the Veteran Pilot
So I got brave enough to suggest one about my farmer Dad, who was an instructor of cadets during the war, and at the end of the war had combat orders. It runs 8 minutes.
Our American Stories has produced three of my stories–all about an aspect of my family’s World War II history.
They’ve asked for one more, about my mother: “An Iowa Waitress Becomes a Pilot’s Wife–in Texas.” I haven’t got it right yet, but this has been a humbling and invigorating experience.
And I’ve been told that just the struggle to learn new technology is good for a person’s brain.
The stories are archived on the website of Our American Network, with one page listed by category. When you click on a story to listen to, it tells how long it lasts. I like that so I can decide whether to listen to a 10-minute story or one that lasts most of an hour.
A woman at church yesterday said she’d heard another of my stories rerun. Mine are short and easy to fit in among the longer stories. Lump in throat.
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, also as an audiobook, narrated by Paul Berge.
It’s also the story behind the Wilson brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home.