Curious City expands beyond Chicago with WYSO Curious

By Andrew Lapin

Jennifer Brandel, the lead producer for Curious City, sometimes takes on questions herself. When a listener asked what was at the bottom of the Chicago River, Brandel kayaked down the river with an underwater camera to find out. (Photo: Jennifer Brandel)

Jennifer Brandel is the lead producer for WBEZ’s Curious City, which takes root outside Chicago for the first time with WYSO Curious. (Photo: Jennifer Brandel)

A localized version of Curious City, the Localore-backed participatory journalism initiative that assigns reporters to research questions submitted by listeners, launched at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, last month.

WYSO Curious is the first version of the multimedia project to launch beyond its home station, Chicago’s WBEZ. In its new incarnation, listeners submit questions online, and WYSO produces stories each month about the answers.

Curious City and its project manager, Jennifer Brandel, began developing an open-source platform that could be replicated at other stations with the help of a June 2013 prototype grant from the Knight Foundation. Lewis Wallace, a reporter at WYSO, interviewed Brandel and Curious City editor Shawn Allee at the launch of WYSO Curious in December.

WYSO is also the home station of another Localore project, Reinvention Stories, which has chronicled how residents of southwestern Ohio are recovering from the 2008 economic recession.

This article was first published in Current, Jan. 13. 2014.

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