In late 2015, St. Louis Public Radio started a community engagement/storytelling project with the help of a web application called Hearken which connected St. Louisans with questions about the city with reporters ready to report on the answers. We called it Curious Louis.
A little over a year since its inception, St. Louis Public Radio has received over 100 questions and answered 42 of your questions. We’ve published 24 stories online with answers, some of those with radio and talk show features on topics you brought to our attention.
Kimberly Springer, St. Louis Public Radio’s Engagement Producer and the person who spearheaded the project, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the project and share some clips from some of the best Curious Louis questions/answers of the year.
“We get really different angles on what we should be looking at in St. Louis,” Springer said.
Recently, St. Louis Public Radio’s Curious Louis project won two awards for its work reporting on community-sourced stories from the Hearken organization. Mary Delach Leonard’s reporting on Civil War monuments won an award for “most creative approach to answering a question” and Willis Ryder Arnold’s collaborative effort with Andwele Jolly to find St. Louis’ best doughnut won the “most fun story to report” award.
On Wednesday’s program, we highlighted four favorite questions from the past year:
Josie McDonald asked “I own a flounder home and I'd love to know more about the design rationale. Why are so many in St. Louis but not other cities?” St. Louis Public Radio producer Stephanie Lecci answered the question with an audio and web feature about the history of the houses in September.
Christine Rohloff asked “How do operators get up in tall cranes?” Reporter Durrie Bouscaren delved into the topic in June by heading (partially up) a crane with Tim Miller, who operates a crane at Barnes Jewish Hospital’s Central West End campus.
Tom Bakersmith asked: Why are so many St. Louis manhole covers 2 or 3 inches below the street grade? I spend a lot of my driving time trying to dodge them. St. Louis on the Air answered the question with a panel of traffic experts on the show in April.
Andwele Jolly asked: What are the best doughnut places in town? Reporter Willis Ryder Arnold undertook the ARDUOUS task of traveling to six doughnut joints in the area with Jolly’s help in search of the best donut in June.
You can see all of the questions St. Louis Public Radio reporters have answered on our website here.
Another personal favorite of Springer’s is about why Missourians have to pay personal property tax.
Curious Louis will take any of your questions about the workings of St. Louis, history, etc., but is currently looking for a very specific questions from St. Louisans: What questions do you have about planned real estate developments in your neighborhood?
As for what questions Curious Louis won’t answer: blanket opinions masquerading as questions and personal vendettas against specific persons, causes or businesses.
Springer invited those who like the project to get involved in other ways: you can jump in to answering questions you know on the website here. You can also join in on voting rounds, which come up every once in a while when there are enough questions submissions. Check out the Curious Louis website to participate in both of those ways, as well as ask questions.
“Join us in the adventure,” Springer said.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.