MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2000

David A. Isay

Radio Producer

Brooklyn , New York

Age: 35 at time of award

Published July 1, 2000

David Isay is an independent radio producer whose first-person, nonfiction storytelling addresses important social issues.

Isay treats radio journalism as an art form, making the listener complicit in the act of imagining other people’s lives.  He takes subjects of seemingly marginal importance and brings their stories to life.  Isay not only produces compelling radio programs, but also helps audiences care about his subjects and, by extension, other groups in society.  In 2003, he launched StoryCorps, the world’s largest oral history project, through his nonprofit company, Sound Portraits Productions.  Through StoryCorps, Isay seeks to instruct and inspire hundreds of thousands of Americans to record one another’s stories in soundproof recording booths set up in venues such as Grand Central Station.

Isay is the founder and president of Sound Portraits Productions, a nonprofit, radio production company, created in 1993.  His radio documentaries include Ghetto Life 101 (1993), Remorse: The 14 Stories of Eric Morse (1996), The Sunshine Hotel (1998), and Witness to an Execution (2000), among many others.  He has also published several books based on his documentaries, including Holding On (1995), Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago (1997), Flophouse (2000), and Milton Rogovin: The Forgotton Ones (2003).

Isay received a B.A. (1987) from New York University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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Our Cities: Dave Isay & Camilo José Vergara thumbnail

Our Cities: Dave Isay & Camilo José Vergara

As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay read selections from his latest book, and Chilean-born photographer Camilo Jose Vergara discussed his recent work. Both are MacArthur Fellows. Read More

"Our Cities: Dave Isay & Camilo José Vergara"

Chicago Humanities Festival
David A. Isay , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
Camilo José Vergara , 2002 MacArthur Fellow
Related Grantee: Chicago Humanities Festival
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"Q&A With StoryCorps' Dave Isay"

Education Week
David A. Isay , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
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"The Act Of Listening"

David A. Isay , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
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"An Interview With My Mom"

TED Blog
David A. Isay , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
Related Grantee: StoryCorps
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