What happens when you throw out your playbook? We’re about to find out.
KPCC In Person is the live events and engagement platform for Southern California Public Radio. We’re the folks who bring you in-person conversations between KPCC journalists and newsmakers: We produce panels and one-on-one conversations and often partner to bring favorite public radio shows and personalities to Southern California audiences.
Through our work, we’ve met fascinating people – famous and not – and discovered that many of the stories that make Southern California the dynamic, complicated place it is often go untold and, even more often, go unheard.
“Unheard L.A.” is a brand-new, three-part series of live shows in different and venues around Southern California. Each features a unique lineup of community storytellers sharing true, personal tales of struggle and survival, of hope and fear, of the unexpected and the unbelievable.
The lineups may feature one or two names you recognize, but the storytellers are for the most part new to KPCC audiences…and new to the stage. We didn’t go to our Rolodexes or hit speed dial to book these storytelling shows. Instead, we focused on reaching out to community members through a variety of channels: We launched a Public Insight Network query in English and Spanish, printed thousands of postcards and distributed them at county library branches, invited people to share their stories via text message and community bulletin boards, and reached out to hundreds of people we’ve met through in-person engagement work.
Some 250 people responded, and the stories were as diverse as Southern California. Among the pitches: hockey and pickleball, immigration and mental illness, identity and parking. We read each and every submission, following up on leads, and eventually (almost reluctantly) we settled on a short list of final candidates. Next, we invited folks to come to our Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena to read excerpts of their works and to discuss the series. Their pieces – some sung, some read, some presented visually – wowed us not only with the talent displayed but also the willingness to be so honest and vulnerable.
We threw out our usual playbook. We went all in on an ambitious new idea. And there were some nerves and thoughts of doubt. But always the excitement won out. Now as we get ready to launch “Unheard L.A.” on Sunday, April 23, the enthusiasm we’re feeling at sharing these stories with you tells us just how wonderful a risk this was to take. Los Angeles. Southern California. The country. The world. It’s so easy to feel disconnected from one another these days. But when we stop and listen, we find in the diversity of our experiences something universal. Something special.