One of the most successful experiments in intrapreneurship, or innovation from within, is Curious City, an editorial product that puts the community at the center of content creation. Audience members pose questions to reporters, then vote on stories they’d like to explore. Stories with the most votes are put into production, and the person who submitted the initial question is invited to join the reporting process. Launched in 2012 with WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, the project has been a resounding success. According to Jennifer Brandel, the founder and senior producer of Curious City, the program is the most “recognizable” weekly series on WBEZ after This American Life and Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!, two nationally syndicated programs.
Curious City is also about to undergo a major evolution. After being replicated at seven other stations with dozens more “waiting in the wings,” Brandel says, she is launching Curious Nation as its own for-profit startup with $110,000 in support from the Association of Independents in Radio’s just-announced New Enterprise Fund, and returning to independent contractor status with WBEZ in January.