David Isay is the founder of StoryCorps and its parent company, Sound Portraits, a not-for-profit, independent radio production company dedicated to telling the stories of marginalized American voices. Heard on NPR’sAll Things ConsideredandWeekend Editionfor the past twenty years, Isay’s documentaries have won virtually every broadcasting honor, including four Peabody Awards and two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. Isay has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000. He used his MacArthur grant to finishGhetto Life 101, the first “citizen-recorded” radio feature ever broadcast nationally. For that piece, he worked with two teenage boys from Chicago’s rough South Side, who recorded and narrated their stories and those of their friends and family. It is still among the most acclaimed shows in public radio history and has been translated into a dozen languages. The teenagers received a Peabody Award for the follow-up piece, becoming the youngest recipients of that honor. Isay has published four books on Sound Portraits radio stories.
Portrait photo courtesy James Salzano.