Military Voices Initiative comes to Kalamazoo

Jul 18, 2013

WMUK General Manager Gordon Bolar speaking in December at the launch of Military Voices Initiative in Washington D.C.
Credit StoryCorps

Military service members and veterans have been telling their stories this week at WMUK's studios

The Military Voices Initiative launched by the oral history project StoryCorps came to Western Michigan University on Tuesday and continues through Thursday. It allows military members to sit down with friends or family members to tell their stories.

WMUK's Gordon Evans spoke with David Isay the founder of StoryCorps. Isay says in some ways Kalamazoo is the birthplace of the Military Voices Initiative. In 2007 StoryCorps finished a residency in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park. Shortly after the crew left town WMUK's Gordon Bolar, now the station manager, received word that his son Cpl. Matthew T. Bolar had been killed in action in Iraq. Isay says that helped inspire the Military Voices Initiative. 

Bolar was interviewed by Isay in November, it aired on NPR in StoryCorps' usual Friday time slot on Morning Edition. Bolar spoke in Washington D.C. in December at a ceremony to launch the Military Veterans Initiative. Isay says doing interviews in Kalamazoo now is sort of a homecoming. 

Isay says the response to the initiative has been greater than expected. He says they may extend the project beyond the year they had originally planned. 

WMUK plans to broadcast edited versions of some of the interviews done in Kalamazoo. Times and dates of those broadcasts have yet to be determined.