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KPBS Explore

About the Project

KPBS Explore is a content creation project through which KPBS helps to fund and produce new content. We solicit ideas once a year through a proposal process and select one or more projects that will be on KPBS. Our goals for the project are to increase local content, increase diversity and increase our sense of place. In short, we want to help make your ideas come to life and share them with our community.

For Explore 2016, we invite content creators to send us their ideas for podcasts. We think there are a multitude of stories in our fair city that can be shared with our audience. Given the absolute plethora of podcasts already out there and in the interest of making this project manageable, we are looking for proposals in three main categories: serialized stories, topic exploration and host-oriented exploration. We aren’t big fans of those names either, so we’re actually calling the categories: The Truman, The Cousteau and The Ken Kramer.

Before we get into the category details, let’s clarify how this project is going to work. The applications will be open until May 15th, 2015. You must have a completed submission form to be considered for the project. Please read the directions carefully. Once the applications are in, we will convene a selection committee of content nerds that will sift through all the submissions. We will ask the finalists to come to KPBS and make a final pitch for their project.

The goal for each project is to create a minimum of 6 episodes that will be released beginning in May, 2016. We have a total of $30,000 that we will use to help fund one or more projects at our sole discretion. Once selections have been made, we will enter into an agreement that clearly defines our expectations and your responsibilities. As with past projects, it is our hope that Explore 2016 will spawn podcasts that survive and become regular content offerings from KPBS. Please contact John Decker directly if you have any questions.

Application Period Ended

The application period closed at midnight, Friday, May 15, 2015.

Past Explore Awardees

A Growing Passion
Savor San Diego
Animal RnR
Kings of the Craft

Three Categories

The one thing that sets a successful podcast apart is the passion for which the producer has for their topic. A great podcast begins with you. Therefore, we are looking for passionate producers who can tell a good story, who can engage their audience in a natural way. Yet, the public media audience is smart, so you will have to do your research and be an absolute authority in your topic area. And, because KPBS is all about local, we are going to look for something that is uniquely local about our community.

1. Serialized Story (The Truman)

The Serialized Story is a first-person narrative about something that is happening to the narrator simultaneously as it is being told. Perhaps the best examples of this are Serial and StartUp, in which the narrator brings the audience along with them as they discover and explore a story. Actually, they are the story. Tension builds as the narrator takes us through each step, each meeting, each court hearing, wondering what will happen next. Think of this category as exceptional documentary filmmaking, but in an audio format and in quasi real time. “The Truman” refers to the 1998 movie titled The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey who plays Truman, a man whose entire life is recorded and broadcast for everyone to watch. (We realize there is an ironic twist at the end of the movie, but we like the title anyway.)

We are interested in Serialized Stories about your life in the region. The successful proposal would be a self-narrative about special events or changes in life. The stories need to have to have a clear story arc, a beginning, middle and end, which are the basic building blocks of a narrative.

2. Topic Exploration (The Cousteau)

Topic Exploration is open to submissions that take an audience deep into specific topic areas. The podcast will be lead by a subject matter expert who has a passion and expertise in an area that they can share with an audience. The subjects can be broad like art or science; or they can be specific like modern dance performance art or protein sequencing. (If you can make either of those topics even remotely interesting to the public media audience, then we should talk.) We named this category in honor of Jacques Cousteau who knew a thing or two about diving deep into a topic. In fact, you cannot think of the ocean without his visage popping into your head.

We are interested in engaged hosts who can share their passion with a general audience. Academics and scholars are welcome to apply, but make your topic accessible and interesting. The successful proposal will have a host who takes their topic area seriously, but not themselves.

3. Host-driven Exploration (The Ken Kramer)

This third category is for people who can engage an audience across multiple topics. Unlike the Topic Exploration category, this category will accentuate breadth not depth. Ultimately, a central theme will develop through this series because most hosts have a comfort zone in which they perform best. For lack of a better term, this category is for all the Characters out there. We named it in honor of Ken Kramer, who is Mr. About San Diego. Ken has an easy, engaged style that makes every topic fascinating.

We are looking for host-centric proposals that have a clear vision for serving the audience. While we are looking for character, we are also looking for people who can engage an audience without being full of themselves.


Though podcasting defies geography, Explore is a local content development project and thus we are looking for local storytelling, local people and local topics. We are very open to topic suggestions for this project.


The successful candidate(s) will have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the format and the genre. They will have demonstrated high technical abilities (remember to provide samples of your work when applying). Their passion for the project must be evident in all aspects of the proposal. The most important criteria we have used in selecting Explore projects in the past has been the producer’s ability to get the project done.

Selection Process

We will convene a group of KPBS content nerds who will sift through the applications and choose a few proposals that require further review. The final review process will include a pitch session in front of the entire selection committee. We will notify you either way. It is essential that you are able to convey an ability to get the project done on time. We are proud to say that all of the Explore projects have been completed on time and this round will be no different.


We will be looking for 3 projects that can produce a minimum of 6 episodes each, which will be released during May/June of 2016. At the conclusion of the series we will ask for feedback from our audience on what they liked and whether they would like to hear more. It is our expectation that some of the Explore 2016 podcasts will survive in some form into the future and provide opportunities for cross-platform development of the story, topic or host.