KBCS series records commuter stories

Bellevue’s local radio station, KBCS, was recently selected for The American Independent Radio project Localore: Finding America. The storytelling experiment selects projects pitched by radio stations across the country then finds independent radio producers to make them a reality. News and Public Affairs Director of KBCS Sonya Green explained that “Each year they have a different theme and they invite independent stations to participate as incubator stations. They then invite independent producers to come in and pair up based on proposals and recommendations of what they feel might be a really good  fit and then they go through the process” of narrowing it down.

KBCS is one of 15 selected stations out of 200 applicants that each created a short video submission to pitch their ideas. KBCS was a finalist two years ago as well, and this year they were “actually asked to submit a video to be one of the first stations to help launch the competition for the national project,” according to Green.  This year the station will feature the stories of commuters and their experience with local transportation and will be broadcast as a program called “What’s the Flux.”

“What’s The Flux” is an evolving project, and the team is currently in the research and design phase. The independent producer who is partnering with KBCS, Mona Yeh explained that they know they want to focus on commuter experience on the Eastside because it’s a “really great access point to get to talk to all kinds of people.”

Sonya Green, left, and Mona Yeh, right.
Sonya Green, left, and Mona Yeh, right.

Yeh has moved from Chicago to help create and implement this project. When going through the process of choosing a radio station to partner with, she “was really focused on the theme, finding America. That’s meant to really find the unheard voices, the voices that don’t get displayed or elevated on public radio and to think of innovative ways to talk to these communities.”

There are plans to partner with Metro and Sound Transit if possible to gain information and to learn about people’s experiences.

The Seattle and Eastside regions have a strong commuter focus and will be a great place to find transportation stories because it is such a relevant part of people’s lives. As the city grows and expands it adds a higher demand on how to move those people between their various destinations. People use public transportation for a variety of reasons, and those intersections of different populations can generate very memorable experiences.

While Seattle has many media sources, the region east of Seattle doesn’t have the same representation. One opportunity Green stressed is the chance to “focus on the Eastside and the diversity of the Eastside, and that the Eastside just has a lot to offer. The stories are not being told because there is not really any public media here, we’re the only station.”

Submissions for the show will be acquired in a variety of ways, depending on what seems most successful within their commuter base. Social media, calls on the radio, and posters and flyers at bus stops and transit centers will all help get the word out.

Yeh also said they will use face-to-face interaction through their own commuting travels to spread the word. “It seems like these days everyone is on their phones and there’s very little connection. I think an interesting human aspect of this is to get to actually talk to people.”

“Part of the aim of this isn’t just to tell stories for the sake of telling stories.” Yeh added. “There’s a civic piece to it, making sure people feel an ownership over the stories that are being told over their local public radio station.”

The Localore project has a nine month timeline, and the first episodes will probably start being broadcast in January. A show called the Morning Blend broadcasts between 7-8 a.m., and these stories will most likely be mixed into this segment.