KQED News 88.5 FM invites you to Start the Conversation! Join our campaign to encourage dialogue in the Bay Area about issues that matter.

KQED News 88.5 FM invites you to Start the Conversation! Join our campaign to encourage dialogue in the Bay Area about issues that matter.

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Why KQED News Starts Real Conversations

KQED News is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that holds to  high ethical standards.  Our journalists dig deep, exploring the critical questions behind the headlines. Because we are member supported, our team is able to be fearless and fair in our coverage. We call out hypocrisy, cruelty, exploitation and excess wherever we see it. Our coverage also explores human potential and spotlights innovation, kindness and creativity. We’re connected to diverse Bay Area communities. Strengthening those connections is a newsroom priority.

Become a KQED Conversation Starter

Imagine what would happen if you spent more time engaged in meaningful conversation. Would you be happier? Would you feel more connected? According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, the answer is, yes!

Our Conversation Experiment

To test the theory that meaningful conversations bring people together, KQED tried an experiment. We asked pairs of strangers from around the Bay Area to listen to a KQED 88.5 FM story and talk about it. The results surpassed our wildest expectations. This month, we'll share videos, stories and quotes from the conversations, along with photos taken by street photographer Travis Jensen.

Karen and Alex


Start the Conversation videos were produced by Three Beans Productions


Karen and Alex listened to the Forum episode "The Art of the Apology." Their subsequent conversation was surprising and cathartic.

Jeannie and Dave


San Franciscans Jeannie, a Pacific Heights financial planner, and "Rasta" Dave, an aspiring filmmaker, come from very different backgrounds. Listening to a story about a Vietnam vet dealing with PTSD during the Valley Fire brought up tough memories for both of them.

Annah and Sapna


Annah and Sapna listened to a story from the KQED News series "Rape on the Nightshift," which explores how sexual violence against janitors is going unreported and unpunished. Annah shared, “I think more than anything I’ve realized how important it is to talk about this, and how especially important it is to talk about this with men.” Sapna agreed, "Because I have two girls and a boy, it’s always something that’s in the back of my mind.” She makes a point to teach each of her children that, “Everyone is strong, and everyone has their own mind, and you cannot invade someone's space no matter who they are.”

Mike and Courtney


Two "city kids," born and raised in San Francisco, Courtney and Mike are a contrast in personalities. Courtney is a well-traveled 20 something working as a rehabilitation counselor in the city. She's bold and outspoken. Mike, a street photographer from a tough corner of the Mission District, is quiet and reflective. They listened to a KQED story about a doctor helping isolated, rural patients at the end of life. As their conversation wrapped up, Courtney told Mike, “You’re very caring. You’ve got a big heart.” 

“Wow,” he smiled. “No one has ever told me that before.”

“Well, people should tell you that all the time."

Paul and Andrea


Paul and Andrea ("Drea") listened to a story called "Fighting the Empathy Deficit." Drea wants to make a difference in the world and loves starting conversations with new people. A native Bostonian, Paul is tech executive. He’s a little more cautious about speaking with random strangers, but he sees the power and potential impact of having those meaningful conversations. “If I had more conversations like this, I would feel more connected to people around me. I would just want to figure out how.”

Throughout March and April, we'll introduce you to more listeners who helped KQED Start the Conversation:

JH-SueJoeJH-LLJH-KyleClarkSapna JH-GavDrewJH-GJ JH-SheryleSueJ

Special Thanks

We didn't start the conversation alone. KQED had some wonderful help from the following talented individuals and organizations who gave their time to Start the Conversation.

Three Beans Productions


The Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy


Karen Kennedy Worldwide and Lady Blossoms Finishing School for Girls