Curious Louisville

This year, Louisvillians had a lot of questions about our city, questions ranging from what’s going on with JCPS to how you become a Kentucky Colonel.

And Curious Louisville was here to answer them all!

Here are some of the highlights of Curious Louisville 2018 (and keep an eye — and ear — out for some new questions being answered in the new year).

Curious Derby

We turned to listeners to find out what you wanted to know about the fastest two minutes in sports (and all the events surrounding it). As co-producer of the series, I was surprised by the range of questions we received. One of the most poignant was one answered by data journalist Alexandra Kanik: “Can Animal Lovers Make Peace With Horse Racing?

Every horse racing fan remembers Eight Belles, the filly who died after placing in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Two of our listeners were curious about how often that has happened over the years and what, if anything, was being done to prevent racing deaths.

Alexandra took a deep look into industry statistics and changing policy, and we visited a special farm for retired race horses.

(Don’t worry, we answered some more upbeat questions, too, like “How Do Jockeys Stay in Racing Shape?” and “What’s Up With Men’s Derby Fashion?”

Curious JCPS

In May, Wayne Lewis, Kentucky’s interim education commissioner released an audit recommending the state take over Louisville’s public school system. In a summary of the audit findings, which assessed every part of the district’s management, Lewis said the district has “deep-seated organization and cultural challenges.”

It was a in-depth document with decades of backstory, so we asked you for your questions.

We got a lot of questions from you, from “Could A State Takeover Of JCPS Affect Teacher Contracts?” to “Has The State Taken Over Other School Districts In Kentucky?” The entire series culminated in a one-hour special about the topic.

Where Is Pokey LaFarge’s ‘Carpet Alley?’

If you listen to our sister station 91.9 WFPK (or attended Forecastle in 2016) you’ve probably heard of Pokey LaFarge, an artist whose music, as NPR’s Stephen Thompson said, “evokes the old-timey spirit of a thousand crackling 78 RPM records.”

And LaFarge mentions a bunch of Louisville landmarks in his song “Home Away From Home.” But where is this Carpet Alley that he mentions? We investigated with the help of music historian Michael Jones.

Why Are Our Traffic Lights So Prone To Storm Outages?

This is one of my favorite types of Curious Louisville questions, in which someone asks about an item or landmark that most people pass on a day-to-day basis without paying too much attention. In this case, our question-asker was interested in traffic lights and why they seem to go out so often in Louisville. Reporter Amina Elahi spoke with the city — and even went out on a run with a repair crew — to find out.

What Happens To Your Recycling?

Since we started Curious Louisville two years ago, we have received so many questions about recycling. So Many. People often write in wondering about specific items (listeners are very curious about recycling knives, it seems). But thanks to environment reporter Ryan Van Velzer, we were able to answer the most common question: “What Happens To Your Recycling?”

What Is In The Tiny House On The 14th Street Bridge?

This was, by far, one of our most popular Curious Louisville stories; it seems a lot of you have wondered about the tiny house on the railroad bridge, visible from I-64.

If you have questions you’d like to hear answered in the new year, let us know in the form below!

 

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.