StoryLines is based on a series titled “Big Sky Radio,” which aired in Montana from 1993 to 1995 with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). StoryLines has been characterized as “a cross between ‘Larry King Live’ and college English class.” The series’ dynamic format combines author interviews and scholarly commentary with listener call-ins. Each program begins with the consideration of a featured book, its historical background and literary significance, using it as a lens to examine the experience of living in each area. Interviews with various guests follow, and then the phone lines are opened to allow listeners to participate in the live, on-air dialog. The discussions are lively and provocative.
Three previous seasons of StoryLines broadcast in five regions—the Midwest in 2001, California and the Southeast in 1999, and the Northwest and Southwest in 1997. Each series had an audience of more than 100,000 people. Previous guests have included tribal leaders, historians, literature experts, critics, editors and storytellers, along with many of the writers whose books were being discussed. Featured author and guest N. Scott Momaday (The Way to Rainy Mountain) said of the series, “I thoroughly enjoyed being a guest on StoryLines Southwest. This radio series provides a very creative and thoughtful way to experience literature.”
StoryLines is supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In 2002, StoryLines received the Midwest Association of Broadcasters Special Interest Programming Best Award.