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NPR documentary to record local stories

In 2003, two silver Airstream trailers were fitted with recording studios for a cross-country documentation of daily American history, capturing unique stories told by its everyday citizens for StoryCorps' "national oral history project."

The ongoing program is now nearing the Southwest, with Las Cruces as its next destination. On Aug. 30, StoryCorps will arrive and stay 22 days to collect the stories of southern New Mexico and west Texas residents, hosted by New Mexico State University's KRWG-FM.

The procedure of StoryCorps is simple.

"The trailer has an interview booth and a production facility. People register in pairs and then when it is their turn, interview each other about the stories they want to share," said Glen Cerny, director of NMSU broadcasting. "It's everyday, real people. It's what the 'American story' is meant to be."

At the end of a 40-minute session, the participants leave with a CD of their interview and, with their permission, a copy is sent to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, where it will archived for an oral history of America.

The Storycorps trailer, called the "StoryBooth," will be parked at the Las Cruces Wal-Mart, located at 571 Walton Blvd. Hours of operation are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

StoryCorps also will visit Mesilla Valley Hospice residents while in the area.

"It's not going to be stories from just southern New Mexico in 2007. We'll get the history of daily life from up to 90 years ago," Cerny said.

StoryCorps, created by award-winning NPR documentary producer Dave Isay, is the "largest multi-year oral history project ever undertaken." Since its launch in 2003, the program has visited 52 cities in 37 states and has recorded nearly 9,000 stories.

Cerny said KRWG-FM will air clips of the local interviews during the next year. Also, National Public Radio airs StoryCorps segments during "Morning Addition," which airs Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 a.m.

The StoryBooth will have approximately 130 slots open for registration. To reserve a StoryBooth opening, call the 24-hour reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visit www.storycorps.net or www.krwgfm.org.