History of This I Believe
About This I Believe
This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division. (These essays are now featured in weekly broadcasts on Bob Edwards satellite and public radio shows.)
Selected contemporary This I Believe essays were featured in regular broadcasts on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States from 2005 to 2009. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired essays from Canadians in 2007. In 2005 and 2006, USA Weekend invited its readers to participate in our project and published selected essays from their readers. And numerous local public radio stations, newspapers, and magazines have featured essays from citizens in their communities.
This I Believe, Inc., was founded in 2004 as a not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.
This I Believe, Inc., in partnership with Henry Holt and Company, has published two books collecting essays featured in the NPR series. The first book, This I Believe, was published in 2006 and became a New York Times bestseller in paperback, while the second volume, This I Believe II, was published in 2008. In addition to collecting these essays for posterity, the books have become popular with “one book, one community” projects.
Educators around the country—and around the world—have embraced This I Believe as a powerful educational tool. They have downloaded free educational curricula, posters, and brochures for using This I Believe in middle and high school classrooms and in college courses. These curricula help teachers guide students through exploring their beliefs and then composing personal essays about them. The students learn about themselves and their peers, and experience the delight of realizing their views and voices have value.
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman says, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
(Information contained was obtained from This I Believe website)
The People Behind This I Believe
Dan Gediman is a long-time public radio producer whose work has been heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Soundprint, Jazz Profiles, and This American Life—for whom he produced a profile of his brother, a Tom Jones impersonator, that has quickly become a public radio classic. During his 25-year radio career, Dan has won many of public broadcasting’s most prestigious awards for programs such as Breaking the Cycle: How Do We Stop Child Abuse and I Just Am Who We Are: A Portrait of Multiple Personality Disorder. He also worked with legendary radio playwright Norman Corwin to produce 13 by Corwin and 50 Years After 14 August, which won the duPont-Columbia Award. Gediman’s additional awards include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Gold and Silver Awards and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ Silver Reel Award.
John Gregory has worked in public radio for more than 20 years in programming, production, and marketing. His documentaries have explored environmental and agricultural issues, history, rural healthcare, workplace violence, and domestic abuse. His documentaries have been honored with the George Foster Peabody Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and by Society of Professional Journalists and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Mary Jo Gediman works collaboratively to extend the reach of This I Believe into schools, local communities, and houses of worship nationwide.
Production Staff for This I Believe on NPR (2005–2009)
Curator and Producer
Jay Allison is well-known to NPR listeners as the host and co-producer of the All Things Considered and Morning Edition series Lost & Found Sound, Hidden Kitchens, and the post-9/11 Sonic Memorial Project, all created with his friends The Kitchen Sisters. As an independent journalist and documentary maker, Allison has won most of the major broadcasting awards, including five Peabodys. With his non-profit organization Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Mass., he is founder of the Cape and Islands public radio stations and two acclaimed websites encouraging citizen involvement in public broadcasting, Transom and the Public Radio Exchange.
Viki Merrick was a radio producer and production coordinator for ABC News in Rome, Italy, and location/production manager for film documentaries. Since the founding of Atlantic Public Media in 1995, she has been producing essays and features for national broadcast on NPR and for the Cape and Island public radio stations, WCAI/WNAN. Viki is an editor on the Peabody award-winning website, Transom.org, and a collaborator on the two Peabody Award-winning series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project.
Additional editing and production support has come from independent producer Emily Botein, and NPR’s Ellen Silva.