Brandel is a professional human with lots of experience in experimentation.  

Favorite activities include questioning why to do something, coming up with good reasons why (or why not), and then doing it.     

CURRENT WORK

Latest experiments. 

RECENT PAST

Completed experiments, some ongoing. 

PAST PAST

Experiments from lifetimes ago. 

HEARKEN

Helping journalists better serve their communities

 

Hearken is an audience-driven framework and platform enabling journalists to partner with the public throughout the reporting process, resulting in relevant and high performing content.

Hearken is supported by Matter VC, The Association of Independents in Radio, The Wyncote Foundation and The Ford Foundation

Brandel is Co-founder and CEO of Hearken

 
Hearken Newsrooms

Curious City creator Jennifer Brandel goes national

Brandel is featured on episode 22 of The Pub podcast from Current. She kicks it off, and then appears again at minute 20:30. 

curious city logo

Public-powered journalism

 
"AT SOME POINT, AN IDEA BECOMES SO BIG THAT OTHER, USUALLY LESSER IDEAS ARE DEFINED IN RELATION TO IT. WBEZ'S CURIOUS CITY IS ONE OF THOSE IDEAS. I CAN'T COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I'VE BEEN IN A MEETING AND SOMEONE SAYS, 'IT'S LIKE CURIOUS CITY, BUT FOR OUR CITY.'" - Adam Ragusea, Journalist and Host of Current's The Pub Podcast

Jennifer Brandel founded and executive produced the award-winning series WBEZ's Curious City

Initial funding for Curious City came from AIR's Localore initiative. Additional support came from the Knight Foundation's prototype fund, The McCormick Foundation, and the Doris and Howard Conant Fund for Journalism. 

Press on Jennifer Brandel / Curious City

January 30, 2012: Current: Localore backs crowdsourcing, collaborative doc projects.

May 29, 2012: AIR Media: Curious and Curiouser: Localore Project Aims to Open Up WBEZ's Editorial Process

Novemeber 16, 2012: Current: Curious City brings its inquisitive audience into the reporting action

February 12, 2013: Current: New Chicago pubTV program to include segment produced by Localore project

February 13, 2013: How Sound: Curious City

June 20, 2013 Current: Expansion of 'Curious City' among five prototype projects backed by Knight

June 24, 2013: MIT Center of Civic Media: What's so curious about Curious City?

July 2, 2013: Current: Transom, Curious City to develop new technology tools with Knight Aid

Nov 1, 2013: Columbia Journalism Review: Curious Tales: Journalism at Scale

Nov 11, 2013: Maximum Fun: Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Curious City

Nov 20, 2013: Chicago Tribune Lab attendees get the scoop on WBEZ's Curious City

Dec 15, 2013: WYSO's Lewis Wallace Talks to WBEZ Chicago's Curious City about the Growing Curious Family

Dec 16, 2013: Nieman Lab: Predictions for Journalism 2014

Jan 8, 2014: AIR Media: Why So Curious?

Jan 14, 2014: Current: Curious City expands beyond Chicago with WYSO Curious

April 10, 2014: Tape Podcast: Episode 2: Jennifer Brandel

October 10, 2014: Mashable: New Experiment Lets You Vote What News Reporters Cover

November 5, 2014: AIR Media: New Grants Fund Localore Expansion

November 5, 2014: Columbia Journalism Review: Why in-house innovation is a great plan for legacy outlets

Brandel was the second guest on the Tape Podcast

Brandel was featured on Transom's Howsound Podcast in 2013. Listen here

 

Some early experiments

Spent much of my 20's traveling and trying on different lives and jobs to see which felt right (ish), learning by way of contrast and extremes. From an NPR intern in the buttoned-up city of Washington D.C. to a psychometric test-developer working in sexy, freezing Montreal, to under-the-table farm labor in remote and breathtaking Tasmania to ghost-writing for exotic dancers and the late John Hughes in scrappy, charming Chicago. 


DANCE DANCE PARTY PARTY 

In partnership with Jenn Martin, I started the first offshoot chapter of the phenomenon Dance Dance Party Party and ran it twice a week for seven years.  What is it? Quite simply: No booze. No boys. No judgment. An all-female, freestyle dance session. DJs are everyday ladies kicking out their favorite jams. Check the official DDPP site for information on other cities. 

We could not have predicted how this idea would catch on ... it's in more than 20 cities and 5 countries. Guess ladies just needed a place to get down minus scrutinizing eyes and plus sports bras? Chicago is now the Mothership of this operation. To learn more, visit the DDPP website.

“The mirror culture and the class culture and the women who are out-yogafying each other is something that I really don’t respond to,” said Jennifer Brandel.
— Nida Najar, New York Times

FILM + SOUND FOR ANDREW BIRD

Had the fortune to film and do sound on a number of projects for multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, including the music video Three White Horses, the mini-doc Here's What Happened as well as the feature documentary Fever Year


MEDIA PRODUCER, THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA'IS OF THE UNITED STATES

For three years, I worked as a writer, producer, editor and sometimes shooter for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. I was incredibly lucky to travel around the country and eavesdrop on Baha'i communities in the process of empowering individuals at the grassroots to take ownership of their lives and neighborhoods. Some of the videos I've shot and produced can be seen here

The photo here is of what's called a "Jr Youth Empowerment Program." Baha'is see youth aged 11-15 as incredible agents of change, who are able to see what's wrong in the world and want to help better their communities. Amazingly (or not), they're finding when youth aren't treated as problems to be solved or too young to matter, they are capable of doing amazing things. 

The photo here is of what's called a "Jr Youth Empowerment Program." Baha'is see youth aged 11-15 as incredible agents of change, who are able to see what's wrong in the world and want to help better their communities. Amazingly (or not), they're finding when youth aren't treated as problems to be solved or too young to matter, they are capable of doing amazing things. 


WRITER / EDITOR, MULE MAGAZINE

Mule Magazine was a collage of art, music, happenings started as an independent study with friends in the early 2000s. It was an immediate adventure in the creation-process from start to finish. We published six issues and I had the pleasure to write for and edit many of them. 


ESSAYIST, CASSETTE FROM MY EX

Contributed some confessions in the form of an essay for this terrific collection about the lost art of the mix tape, Cassette From My Ex. 

"Few things induce nostalgia more than obsolete technology, especially obsolete technology associated with romantic crushes, like the analog mix-tape. For his new book, Cassette From My Ex, Jason Bitner—co-creator of Found magazine—asked more than 60 writers, artists, and others to share their most memorable mix-tape experiences. What results is a bittersweet look at a phenomenon uniquely suited to a format that no longer exists."
--The A.V. club


PHOTOGRAPHER: VICE GUIDE TO CHICAGO

Took the photos that comprised the Vice Guide to Chicago, and oddly enough, years later, ended up moving a block away from where the cover image was taken on the day those beautiful smiling meats were being dismantled. 


RADIO THINGS

A moment of prescience. On my old portfolio site, I wrote "Curious about nearly everything. Yet to develop a beat." Didn't realize I could force the system to recognize curiosity as its own beat, and then make it mine. Below, a smattering of things that happened prior to Curious City

WIRETAP

Have enjoyed trying on various lives for an hour or two through characters on the endlessly inventive CBC show WireTap with Jonathan Goldstein.  

APPEARANCES: 

October, 2014 Shush: A woman tries to hold her tongue as a professional listener. A dog learns to speak. Angels fall from the sky.

November, 2012: Wake Up, Call Me, Tell Me Your Dream: What does it mean when you dream that your teeth are falling out? What about when 10,000 people dream their teeth are falling out? A dream-trend analyst with her finger on the pulse of slumbering societies shares her findings. 

January, 2012: All the World's a Stage: A woman tells the story of how one little white lie launched the performance of a lifetime.

October, 2011: Look at Me, Don't Look At Me: A performance artist gives up her privacy for a month. 

 


LOVE + RADIO

A performance of Joanna Newsom, so apparently convincing, that her record label, Drag City, asked Love + Radio podcast creator Nick van der Kolk to take it down. Get me in the right mood and I'll give you a taste.