Many of us remember a time, before the internet, when the primary source of historical tidbits we garnered as kids came from stories told by our parents or school teachers. Now an iPhone app co-founded by Hollywood star Kevin Costner seeks to tailor that experience to road-tripping families.
Understanding that the family road trip is one of the quintessentially American vacations, HearHere delivers short, interesting audio tidbits as you and your family drive across America’s vast expanses.
The narration team includes Costner, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Phil Jackson, and others, who tell stories about points of interest, a region, native tribes, the local history of war, art, culinary tradition, and more. (See two examples in the video below.)
“I am in love with history. I am in love with Country. I am in love with all the edges, all the disappointments, all the progress—all worth knowing,” writes Costner, who explains that HearHere is the perfect compromise between himself, a lover of history, and his kids, who regularly moan in protest because Costner inevitably stops at every roadside brown historical marker during their annual road trips.
“We’re launching HearHere with stories for California, Oregon, and Washington. Soon, we’ll canvas the US with more than 10,000 stories for you to enjoy.”
They are working on an app for Android phones, too.
Oral tradition in the age of technology
For hundreds of thousands of years, the only method which humans had for passing down information through the generations was by oral storytelling, a cultural and evolutionary trait that gave rise to societies where everything was codified in myth and legend.
In today’s world, more and more parents, like HearHere co-founder Woody Sears, will be strapping-in their kids for a road trip with iPads in their hands. As technology makes it easier and easier for kids to keep their short attention spans focused, they perhaps lose the opportunity to have those seminole, enlightening, formational moments that we as adults look back on and recognize as important.
“Kevin loves to stop at all the historical markers and share that history with his kids but the kids aren’t nearly as excited about this,” explains Sears on the HearHere website. “With HearHere, they can get that history while they are in their car, told at the perfect time in their drive without even requiring a stop.”
Available with a free-trial, the app has a yearly subscription of $49.99 and is running at half off until the end of August. Though the stories only feature events, people, and places from Washington, Oregon, and California, the company is quickly expanding to cover the rest of the country.
“Legacy is important to me—and the idea that HearHere could preserve our collective experiences in an unflinching way was – for me – the greatest opportunity of all,” writes Costner.