Life Stories


Years ago, Jay Allison began loaning out his tape recorders. What he got back were stories about life and the way we live it. Allison’s award-winning The Life Stories Collection features first-person portraits and essays by and about ordinary citizens from small towns, rural areas, and urban neighborhoods usually overlooked by mainstream reporting.

Cyprus Knee

A cypress knee — Jay Allison’s memento from a visit to Florida, a tour of a cypress knee museum, and a radio story about “an elevated, transcendent beauty we become aware of at death.” (Photo by Rob Rosenthal.) Listen to this story on HowSound at

These timeless stories –– about the ways we live our lives, the things we believe in, where we find our poetry –– value the heart in the human voice, the evocative nature of sound, the importance of subtext, and the art of storytelling. Their presence opened doors to fresh perspectives on making work for radio, and represent some of the first “radio diaries.”

Life Stories was broadcast on NPR in 2001.

Related Links

Listen to a Life Stories segment:
“Cypress Knees” from a HowSound interview with Jay.

PRX – License Life Stories: