How KPCC-LAist Embraced Its Role As L.A.’s Help Desk

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the KPCC-LAist newsroom has invited questions from its audience. Nearly 4,000 people have written in and in answering the questions, we have found new sources, new stories, and new audiences, as more than half of the participants have opted into newsletters.

The Bay

The Bay podcast is a space for local news to breathe. The Bay offers voices and perspectives rarely heard inmedia, and engages listeners through callouts, voice memos, phone calls and social media. The Bay has hosted several well-attended live events, including a storytelling event on California wildfires (with Snap Judgment); a live podcast taping about housing in the Bay Area; and two happy hours with listeners in San Francisco and Oakland. Since its February 2018 launch, the Bay has had more than 2 million downloads.

Podcast Party

Podcast Party is a live event that brings together several of our station’s podcasts. For one evening, our listeners can see their favorite podcast hosts, and get a new perspective of some of their favorite stories. Over the course of two hours, the event is a multi-act showcase of our podcasts in new, creative, whimsical, and thought-provoking interpretations. This includes a live musical performance, a short exercise break, and a puppet show version of an episode of Curious Nashville.

Human Voter Guide

Human Voter Guide started in 2016 on the radio and online in the simple form of questions and answers. Its goal was to help Southern California residents navigate elections and voting through personalized research. This year, we took the human voter guide approach to the next level. The web-based engagement platform Hearken and the text-messaging engagement service GroundSource became key partners. Their tools allowed us to track a larger volume of questions and offer a brand-new service: texting election-related reminders.

Community Conversation on Mental Health

For our most recent community conversation event, instead of dictating the topic of discussion we posed the question to our listeners using a web module powered by Hearken. Nearly 50 topics were proposed, and eventually over 160 people selected mental health as the topic. At the community conversation, listeners rotated through tables having quick discussions on each question. We put those questions again to a voting round, and later reported a full feature story on the winning question.


Every day at KUT, we try to think about what you want to know. That’s what drives the decisions we make about the stories we tell. But we wanted to try an experiment to bring you, the audience, closer to the news and storytelling we do at KUT. So, we’re starting a project called ATXplained. The project starts with a simple question: What are you curious about?

Curious Cbus

A Hearken Project exploring a deeper partnership with the local daily newspaper (under new ownership). “Are you curious about Columbus? Find yourself asking questions about the city, the region or the people of central Ohio? Then submit your question to Curious Cbus and we’ll work on getting answers, together, through the resources of 89.7 NPR News, WOSU TV, Classical 101, and the WOSU Digital Media teams.”

Curious KC

In 2015 Kansas City PBS became a partner of Hearken, a public-powered journalism initiative that collects questions from the public and bases reporting from those questions. Curious KC asks: “What do you wonder about Kansas City, the region or its people that you would like KCPT to investigate?” Reporting on community-submitted questions has added a kind of user testing to the station’s editorial process.


Hearken is an innovative “participative journalism” platform, built on a foundation laid by the Localore-funded Curious City project at WBEZ, Chicago. It provides a unique “audience-driven” news reporting platform and approach that helps journalists “partner with the public to create relevant and high-performing stories” using digital tools and engagement strategies.