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“The Cut” is a weekly reporters notebook-type essay by an Ideastream Public Media content creator, reflecting on the news and on life in Northeast Ohio. What exactly does “The Cut” mean? It's a throwback to the old days of using a razor blade to cut analog tape. In radio lingo, we refer to sound bites as “cuts.” So think of these behind-the-scene essays as “cuts” from Ideastream's producers.

Marriage may be on the decline, but these stories soar

"Sound of Us" storytellers laugh at the studios of Ideastream Public Media.
Ygal Kaufman
Ideastream Public Media
The new class of "Sound of Us" storytellers recorded their narration (and had a bit of fun!) at the Idea Center in Playhouse Square. Left to right: Storytellers Dr. T. Carter and Lisa Chiu; workshop leader Trent Kay Maverick; and Ideastream Public Media's Justin Glanville.

I didn't know much about the status of marriage in this country before launching our latest "Sound of Us" series on the topic.

What I did know is that I myself had been legally permitted to get hitched six years ago, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2015 decision establishing marriage equality, and I felt the state's stamp of approval had improved my life in ways both small and large: from greater financial security to a greater sense of belonging in a culture where I'd often felt marginalized.

In fact, the mental and physical health benefits of marriage have been widely documented — especially for men.

So I was surprised to learn that the marriage rate has been hovering near an all-time low in this country. Benefits aside, it seemed like numbers alone should be on the side of this age-old institution. More potential spouses-to-be should mean more weddings, right?

Instead, at the same time more people have won the right to wed, an also-growing number are either remaining single or choosing to stay unmarried in their relationships. There've been a lot of theories about why. Maybe younger generations are delaying marriage because it's taking longer for them to feel established in their careers and afford homeownership — traditional precursors to marriage. Maybe the institution itself is feeling antiquated or unnecessary for some.

Our new "Sound of Us" series explores many of these questions — as tackled by five newly trained audio storytellers who recently completed a 10-week training workshop led by journalist Trent Kay Maverick for Ideastream Public Media. The series launched this week, with new installments airing Tuesdays through November on WKSU's “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

From cards to women's rights

The storytellers came to us via our friends at Literary Cleveland. All have done a bang-up job sharing their own perspectives alongside opinions from friends and experts.

Their work is smart, thought-provoking — and often mischievously fun.

Bonnie Brewer Kraus and her husband stand in front of their house in Cleveland Heights.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
Bonnie Brewer Kraus of Cleveland Heights married her husband, Alan, after eschewing marriage in her youth.

In the first piece, writer and communications professional Lisa Chiu asks whether mass-produced greeting cards convey real emotion to her husband of 22 years, or if they're just a waste of time. The question is one probably many of us have pondered in the drugstore checkout line, and is particularly relevant in a region that's home to one of the largest greeting card manufacturers in the world!

In the coming weeks, we'll also hear from a woman who's happily unmarried at 40, a married retiree who remembers chafing against the institution early in the women's rights movement and a couple who are pleasantly surprised to find themselves flipping traditional gender roles in their marriage after initially embracing them.

Beyond the light these stories shed on an important institution, I'm proud of how "Sound of Us" has continued to evolve its direct training workshop. These workshops, which typically happen once a year and have previously featured Richmond Heights high school students, LGBTQ+ youth and Ideastream's own summer interns, hand over the tools of radio storytelling to Northeast Ohioans — as pure an expression of the term "public media" as I'd wager you can get, and an approach we hope helps seed the next generation of great audio storytellers.

We're always open to working with both individuals and communities to tell their own stories. If you'd like to share yours, get in touch anytime!

"The Cut" is featured in Ideastream Public Media's weekly newsletter, The Frequency Week in Review. To get The Frequency Week in Review, The Daily Frequency or any of our newsletters, sign up on Ideastream's newsletter subscription page

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.