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 focused on topics that matter.  Our journalists dig deeper, exploring the critical questions behind the headlines. They're held to the highest ethical standards. 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. We also explore human potential and spotlight 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 share a conversation. The results surpassed our wildest expectations. This month, we'll share photos from street photographer Travis Jensen, videos, stories and quotes from the conversations.

Karen & Alex

Start the Conversation videos were produced by 3 Beans Productions

Jeannie & Dave



Jeannie, a Pacific Heights financial planner, and "Rasta" Dave and 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 & Sapna


Annah and Sapna listened to a story from KQED News series Rape on the Nightshift, which explores 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 with people and how 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 on 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 people’s spaces no matter who they are.”

Mike & Courtney


Courtney and Mike together are a contrast in personality. Courtney is a well-traveled twenty-something working as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco. She's bold and outspoken. Mike, a street photographer from a tough corner of the Excelsior neighborhood, is reflective. Two "city kids," born and raised in San Francisco, we had them listen to a 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 & Andrea


Paul and Andrea ("Drea") listened to a story called Fighting the Empathy Deficit. Drea has an ingratiating openness and positivity about her. She's an actor and presenter who  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 in having those meaningful conversations. “If I had more conversations like this I would feel good because I would be meeting a lot of people and 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.

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