StoryCorps Airstream in San Diego

As we relaxed in the shade under oak and pine trees in front of our Airstream trailer while camping in the Cuyamacas, we listened to the KPBS-FM Midday Edition story, “StoryCorps In San Diego To Record Veteran’s Stories“, and we were thrilled to learn that StoryCorps would be using a modified Airstream trailer as a mobile recording studio in San Diego over a three-week period in June!  So with just three days left before they were due to leave, Larry and I visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth parked in front of the USS-Midway (CV-41)* and interviewed its Site Supervisor, Whitney Henry-Lester, who welcomed me aboard to do a photo shoot.

DSC_0014 StoryCorps' Airstream by USS Midway

Whitney told me that StoryCorps’ mobile tours began in 2005 with this modified 25′ Airstream trailer, built in 2005 in Ohio and towed by a one-ton pickup.  StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization, now has a fleet of three Airstream trailers to carry out its mission “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”  When I asked why StoryCorps chose Airstream for its MobileBooths, Whitney said, “Because it has an Americana feel… it is an American icon.”  StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay,* says that they have recorded close to 50,000 stories in all 50 states, “… stories important enough to be part of American history.”

These two American icons, the Airstream trailer* and the USS Midway Museum, provided the perfect setting for StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative “to record, preserve, and share the stories of veterans, service members, and military families.”  Each 40-minute conversation is recorded on a free CD to share and one CD is sent to the American Folklife Center* at the Library of Congress.  See and listen to two retired Navy aviators as they share their stories with StoryCorps in San Diego.*

DSC_0003 Airstream wheelchair access

Modifications to this StoryCorps custom-built Airstream include a wheelchair ramp, front office, many storage compartments, and a soundproof recording booth behind two doors. (I did not see the recording booth because a recording session was taking place, but images of this room are seen in the slideshow, “A Tour of the StoryCorps Airstream“.)

DSC_0020 MobileBooth front office

DSC_0024 Door to Recording Booth

Near the front door is a portrait of Studs Terkel, who cut the ribbon on StoryCorps’ first recording booth in Grand Central Terminal in 2003.  Studs Terkel was a great oral historian who highly valued the human voice and active listening.  In 2005, the StoryCorps Airstream MobileBooth came to his driveway and recorded his stories, including “The Human Voice“.*

DSC_0018 Studs Terkel portrait

StoryCorps says, “Every voice matters”… and Listening Is an Act of Love.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.


  1. Bill D. says

    Author’s note:

    Before they left San Diego, Whitney told me that this StoryCorps Airstream MobileBooth will be at the Bill & Melinda Foundation Visitor Center in Seattle, June 27-29, recording “stories of making a difference.”

    See: StoryCorps at Gate’s Foundation

    She also said, “One of our other Airstreams (currently in Boise) will be recording in Cheyenne [July 12 – August 3]. That is the booth that is on our Mobile Tour that moves to a new city every month.”

    See: StoryCorps’ current recording locations