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Simple red box links a chain of 500 stories

In May 2012 a telephone was placed inside a small red box and history was made in the Hunter.

For the past two years Story Box has entertained thousands of people every morning, as a simple phone call allows the people of the region to share their stories on the radio.

This week the Story Box (formerly known as the Red Tardis) celebrates its 500th holder.

So what is behind the success of this radio segment that has been internationally recognised for providing a snapshot into 1233 listeners' lives?

Aaron Kearney, 1233 Breakfast presenter, can't quite believe the humble Story Box has reached this impressive milestone.

"I can't believe that fate hasn't intervened to break the chain, although we have come close on occasions," he says.

Story Box began as a social experiment but Aaron explains it's now much more than that.

"I love that in a world where most of the media you hear is adversarial and most of the social media you see is a manufactured projection, this is a real engagement, an act of trust and sharing," he says.

Why is the Story Box so popular?

"I think some people enjoy the voyeurism," he says.

"Some like to work out if they know the person, some are looking for a gem of wisdom they can apply in their own lives.

"Some people like to know that strangers have had the same experience as them, while others want to hear about experiences completely outside their own."

In a world where we spend more and more time looking and talking into a screen, the Story Box breathes life back into the art of communication, having a conversation and sharing stories.

So what's the key to its longevity?

Aaron is fascinated by the psychological power of the chain.

"It has lasted so long, I believe, because nobody wants to be responsible for letting the side down by breaking the chain," he says.

"I think people put more thought into who deserves to be passed the baton than they do their own experience.

"It's a wonderful insight into cooperation, human connection and the desire to be part of something bigger."

Aaron adds that he loves the magic moment when the holder forgets they are on the radio, and it becomes just two people having a chat.

To celebrate 500 stories, 1233 will host a special live Story Box event at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre where Aaron will interview previous holders, tell new stories and meet the 501st.

This one-off event will be broadcast live on your radio, online and on the ABC Radio App from 7pm Wednesday, May 14.


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