The journalism alumna based “Bay Curious: Exploring the Hidden True Stories of the San Francisco Bay Area” on the popular podcast she hosts and produces for KQED.
Olivia Allen-Price ’09 has shifted from audio producing to narrative writing as the author of “Bay Curious: Exploring the Hidden True Stories of the San Francisco Bay Area,” which is set to release in May. The Elon alumna said she hopes to inspire curiosity about the Bay Area through the book’s illustrated deep-dives into hidden gems about San Francisco trivia, history and culture.
Allen-Price’s journey to the book began at KQED in 2013, when she started at the station as an engagement producer. Eventually, she began to work with the audience to develop story ideas, asking them, “What do you want to know about?” The project, called “Bay Curious,” launched in 2015 and became a podcast and occasional radio show in 2017.
She had never done broadcast work before but quickly discovered the ins and outs of podcasting and hosting a show. She described the experience as both terrifying and exciting, as she learned how to write for the ear, edit audio, and use software to host the podcast.
“It’s a ton of work but a ton of fun,” Allen-Price said. “I feel like I have the best job on the planet. Every week we get to explore something unique and meet somebody different from our audience. It is all the things that I love about journalism happening in a week-long format.”
Listeners submitted over 8,000 questions, and the podcast – one of the most downloaded in the Bay Area – became a reliable source of answers to the region’s most curious questions.
Chronicle Books eventually reached out to Allen-Price about publishing a book based on “Bay Curious,” which resonated with her as the next step for the podcast. Almost three years ago, she got serious about publishing and began work on the book while she was eight months pregnant. During her five months of maternity leave, she focused more purposely on the book (and her son).
Now, the book promises to offer even more answers, as it comprises 49 stories about the Bay Area, including some directly inspired by podcast episodes, and 15 brand new stories created just for the volume.
But Allen-Price’s story begins further back, as a double major in journalism and political science at Elon University, where she served as the news editor and editor-in-chief at The Pendulum, the student-run newspaper. Her experience in that newsroom motivated her to pursue journalism after graduation. As editor-in-chief, she revamped The Pendulum’s coverage and staff structure, leading others to recognize her potential.
Colin Donohue ’05, the School of Communications director of student engagement and special projects and an instructor in journalism, served as adviser to The Pendulum in 2009, and he’s not surprised to see the excellence, thoughtfulness and creativity that has followed Allen-Price.
“Olivia was one of the first students I had the pleasure to work with when I started at Elon in 2007,” Donohue said. “Nearly 16 years later, she remains one of the finest students – and people – I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Olivia served as editor-in-chief of The Pendulum and took the newspaper to heights it had never enjoyed previously. I continue to take great joy in celebrating Olivia’s successes from across the country.”
Allen-Price went on to work for The Virginian-Pilot and Baltimore Sun as an online producer, where she helped the newspapers catch up to online platforms, and managed a small team of engagement producers who worked in social media to connect with the audience in new ways.
After following her passion for the outdoors to the West Coast, she secured a job at KQED, an NPR station in San Francisco, where she has dedicated the past decade of her career. The “Bay Curious” podcast and book are a testament to her dedication and hard work during her time at KQED.
“Bay Curious: Exploring the Hidden True Stories of the San Francisco Bay Area” is currently available for pre-sale and will officially be released on May 2.
“Because this book is inspired by questions that people asked, I do feel like it is by and for the people,” Allen-Price said. “My name is on the front cover, but there are a lot of other people whose work is in this book, from all of the people who sent questions in, to the reporters who worked on the pieces within the book.”