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How KCUR's Your Voice project created a space for conversation and critique around the 2022 election

Crysta Henthorne
KCUR 89.3

To enhance its election coverage, KCUR assembled a pool of 20 participants, ranging in age from 18-74 and spanning across the political spectrum, for conversations about the state of democracy.

Ahead of the 2022 election, the Community Engagement team at KCUR launched an ambitious effort to bring together a diverse pool of citizens over a six-month period to convene empathetic conversations across ideological divides.

Your Voice was created to help KCUR get an authentic understanding of how local citizens from all political backgrounds felt about election-related issues, and to inform and enhance the station's coverage of those topics.

Led by KCUR program director Ron Jones and community editor Laura Ziegler, Your Voice began soliciting participants in early May 2022. The team distributed flyers at Kansas City-area churches, community centers, libraries and other public areas, and also across KCUR’s airwaves, social media, website and targeted emails. The team received more than 550 responses for the 20 available spots.

Applications were filtered by age, race, ethnicity, geography, political persuasion, education and income level. Candidates were also asked survey questions about their level of concerns about the candidates and issues, perceptions of past presidents, and overall feelings about the state of democracy.

The pool of 20 participants ranged in age from 18-74 and included trades workers, students, business people, entrepreneurs and retirees, across a wide range of political persuasions. Participants were paid $50 for each of the six 90-minute sessions held at KCUR.

Numerous KCUR reporters and editors sat in on the Your Voice sessions. KCUR also sought feedback from the participants about what they need to make informed voting decisions and what barriers they may experience.

While the groups rarely reached consensus, participants overall told KCUR they were interested in hearing more voices from “everyday people,” more local reporting at the neighborhood and community levels, and more voices from young people.

“We learned a lot of lessons with this first iteration of Your Voice,” says Ziegler. “We hope to apply the Your Voice format for other topics in the future as we grow our team, and we’re so grateful to all who participated.”

Content inspired by Your Voice included:

Karen Campbell is the Director of Institutional Giving & Communications for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at karen@kcur.org.
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