StoryCorps North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

StoryCorps North Dakota

StoryCorps recorded interviews in Bismarck from June 28-July 27, 2018, as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. Having collected more than 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded.

In StoryCorps’ MobileBooth, two people are able to record a meaningful conversation with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process. With participant permission, a copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.

Founded in 2003 by award-winning documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, StoryCorps has traveled to every corner of the country to record interviews in the organization’s effort to create a world where we listen closely to each other and recognize the beauty, grace and poetry in the lives and stories we find all around us.

A selection of locally recorded stories air on Main Street and Morning Edition. 

Thank you to our local StoryCorps sponsors: Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck State College, and AARP of North Dakota.


Bill and Dina Butcher gave much to their adopted state of North Dakota. Dina served under governors John Hoeven and Ed Schafer, and headed up the North Dakotans for Public Integrity. Bill was a Navy man who rose through the ranks of the FBI. They’re longtime friends and supporters of Prairie Public. Bill passed away April 5 at age 79. In an excerpt from a visit to the StoryCorps MobileBooth in July 2018, Bill talks with his daughter Marnie Piehl about his love of sailing and what it was like working as an FBI agent in Minot in the 1960s, a notorious chapter in magic city history.  


Dr. Wayne Sanstead served as North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1985-2013. In this segment from his visit to the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck, he speaks with his son, Jon, about his career, military service, meeting President Truman, and how he'd like to be remembered.


Herbert Wilson is 97 years young. After spending a childhood up and down the eastern seaboard, Wilson joined the air corps during World War II. His wife of 73 years served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. They survived many missions, but that all takes a backseat to his family.

In this excerpt from their visit to the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck, Kelly Suchy talks to her grandpa about how he stays in the lives of his grandkids and great-grandkids.


Your childhood shapes you, for better or for worse. Tina Dietz visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth with her partner, Patrick Conteh. In this excerpt, we learn about the lives that shaped hers – most significantly, her great aunt Shirley.

StoryCorps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people. Excerpts were selected and produced by Prairie Public. Thanks Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck for helping sponsor the StoryCorps visit to North Dakota. Ashley Thornberg edited this excerpt.


In the north, we have a short growing season. Cousins Michael and Jason Tomanek make the most of it. In this excerpt from Michael and Jason's visit to the StoryCorps MobileBooth, they talk about growing up in the gardens of their grandparents, and how they carry on their family food traditions. 


On the political maps of today that show the nation’s urban/rural divide, North Dakota shows up solidly red. And after the drubbing Democrats took here in November, Republicans now hold all major offices in the state, and now exclusively make up North Dakota’s congressional delegation in D.C. But it wasn’t always that way.

Families come in all shapes and forms, whether it’s through blood or circumstance. For two free-spirited North Dakota women, a pairing, a breakup, and a Queen song cemented their ageless friendship, cut through strong political convictions and made them, in essence, family.

Elizabeth Schuh and her "step mom" and dear friend Lois Steffes Ternes visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck to talk about their love of Queen, sewing, and each other. 


Callings work in mysterious ways. Karen Van Fossan is a minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Bismarck. She visited the StoryCorps mobile recording booth this past summer with her best friend, Peter Huff. In this excerpt, we learn about how the protests to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Reservation and beyond, shaped her ministry.


Parents have many hopes and fears for their children. Health and happiness are near the top of many lists. For Loah Clement, that health and happiness is not tied to things. She visited the visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck this past July with her son Jason where they shared their fears about the current political climate and the future of the environment.

You don’t have to listen to Prairie Public for very long before you hear News Director Dave Thompson. He’s known as the dean of the North Dakota press pool and he’s infamous for his puns.

Dave visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck with his Prairie Public colleague, Lowell Loritz. In this excerpt from their conversation, we learn about Dave's lifelong love of radio, the beginnings of Prairie Public's radio service, and how the radio industry has changed.