Our IOWA Stories

About three years ago, Our American Stories was a new program on WHO-Radio. The ad for it said “just stories, no politics.” I had to give them a try. I was soon hooked by a sports story. Sports? Me? It was the back story that made it so compelling.

They also said to send stories–“a paragraph and a photo,” so I did. A producer wanted me to record it. I asked Mike Dorwart at WHO what on earth I’d gotten into, and what I should do about it? He said to download an app on my phone and use it to record.

My first story was aired August 14, 2018. “Family Sends Five Sons to War.” That November, they produced another one, about Uncle “Donald Wilson: Humble Hero.” There have been a dozen in all.

Last year, their broadcasts were a godsend. Besides underlying fibromyalgia, I had a shoulder replacement right before the pandemic set in. My only outside interactions were with the physical therapist. Social media is my “ticket out of the house” normally, but it became dark and combative. I “unfollowed” several people.

How I enjoyed those wonderfully positive and compelling Our American Stories stories, via radio or website or their Facebook page. This year I’ve also recommended storytellers to them. That’s been even more fun.

There’s has been such warmth emanating from Oxford, Mississippi, where Our American Stories originates, because one man (Lee Habeeb) heeded a God-nudge to tell America’s positive stories to Americans. What an audacious idea, that something that winsome could make a difference.

It’s been a delight to snag an ember from Our American Stories as they’ve reached across the nation, to be able to hand a nugget of that ember to other historians, authors, and storytellers, to help spread America’s history and mentoring and redemption stories, entrepreneurships and sports, music, and even family stories.

Our Iowa Stories

Their very first live in-person storytelling event/contest, called Our Iowa Stories, was Wednesday night, right in the middle of flyover country.

Lee Habeeb, Our American Stories founder, photobomber Kurt Bowermaster, Guy and me, and OAS producer Matt “Montie” Montgomery. We’d just barely gotten there! Hugs too! Montie has produced my last nine stories for OAS.

Six storytellers, three whom I’d nudged–Emina Hastings (coming to America at age 12, as a refugee of the Bosnian war with her family), Marilyn Bode (having polio as a child), and Paul Berge (joining the army, humorous). Two of them won prizes–Emina got 2nd place ($750), Paul got 3rd ($250).

Scott James told stories about not judging others’ actions and Sarah Haywood told about adopting two children after being widowed. The 1st prize winner ($1000) was Sue Woods, who told a compelling story about finding her biological family.

Our American Story founder Lee Habeeb and Mike Dorwart, Program Director of WHO Newsradio 1040, presented me with the 2021 Great American Storyteller Award. “Honoring the woman who most beautifully tells the story of America to Americans.” Amazed and humbled.

They also gave Sue a plaque saying that the 1st place award was named for me. How did this happen? What a blessing to be included in a small corner of this awesome idea, of making a difference one story at a time.





  1. A wonderful account of a seminal event. I’m very happy for you, encouraged by your “nudging” of others (including me), and honored to have you as a long-distance friend.

  2. You are such a cultural catalyst, with an advanced degree in storytelling, Joy. Keep encouraging others, sharing opportunities and, most importantly, telling your stories. Your words keep stoking the creative fires of so many, helping us all capture the vitality of stories on the individual and family level. Stories at this level form the very foundation of community and America. Thank you for what has become a divine quest for you – and, we all benefit from aligning with your quest.

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