One Small Step project will pair people of differing political viewpoints for a conversation

WBHM is one of only six stations selected from across the United States for the project, which is searching for both conservative and liberal participants.

OneSmallJoomlaNonprofit public radio station WBHM has been chosen to participate in One Small Step, a national project launched by StoryCorps to break down boundaries created by politics.

One Small Step will pair people of differing political viewpoints for a conversation focused on how they came to hold their beliefs, in the hopes that they find some common ground. WBHM, Birmingham’s NPR station and a member-supported service of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is one of only six stations selected from across the United States for the project.

The search is on for participants both conservative and liberal to take part in the project. Applications can be made online. Some of the questions chosen participants will be asked include: Was there a moment, event or person in your life that shaped your political views? What is most hurtful to you about what people across the political divides say about people on your side? Can you think of any traits you admire in people on the other side of the political divide?

These conversations are not meant to be debates over particular beliefs, but a chance to share stories of life experiences that have shaped individuals’ political beliefs and listen to those of their conversation partner. Each conversation that is recorded will be preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Participants in the project are asked not to raise their voices, name call or interrupt their conversation partner. They are asked to listen while being present and curious, remember this is a two-way conversation, and be prepared to ask, and answer, questions. Conversation partners should not debate political issues or argue positions, but should rather talk and listen to each other.

An example is Cheraton Love, who identifies as liberal, and her father-in-law, Jim White, who identifies as conservative. Love invited White to have a conversation at his home in Silver Valley, North Carolina, about some of the things that are most important to them, and how they do not let their differences pull their family apart.

WBHM will use a screening survey to find a partner for each participant for the interview. StoryCorps sessions are not scripted and are intended to be natural conversations, but it is a good idea to spend some time thinking about what questions to ask or topics to explore. Some suggested questions will be provided, and participants are welcome to bring their own questions. Do not over-prepare; just come ready to be yourself.

The interview itself is approximately 40 minutes long, and the entire process takes about one hour. A trained facilitator is present throughout the entire interview process and handles all technical aspects of the recording. Within a few weeks, participants will receive a digital download link of the audio, which they are encouraged to copy and share with friends, family and colleagues.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. Since 2003, more than 400,000 people have shared life stories with family and friends through StoryCorps. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to its weekly broadcasts and on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” To learn more about StoryCorps, please visit Listen and give online at