Esther Honig

Radio Journalist

Esther was born in San Francisco, but is proud to now call the Midwest her home. She is a bilingual, freelance radio journalist with KCUR, Kansas City Public Media. Her radio work has also been published by PRX, KALW and Harvest Public Media.

Through community based reporting she produces features that examine current issues and events in and around Kansas City. Using unique and unexpected angles, she ties in national conversations while still highlighting the local discussion. As part of the next generation in radio journalism, she is expanding on her abilities as a reporter. Through video production and web design her goal is to create new ways of distributing radio journalism for online platforms.

Esther has also been recognized for her “Before & After” project, where she sent a bare image of herself to freelancers in more than 28 countries and asked them to PhotoShop the image to meet their culture’s definition of beauty. The project went viral on June 24, 2014 and was featured on Buzzfeed, TIME, The Atlantic, CNN International, Good Morning America, The Today Show and more.

What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and the arts?
The cost of living in major cities like San Francisco is quickly squeezing out a lot of young creative minds which prevents them from fulfilling their creative goals. Here in Kansas City (where my rent is less than a third of what I was paying in the Bay Area) I have the freedom to live off less and devote myself more to the things I love. I’ve chosen to live in Kansas City because I feel that this is where a young person like me really has a shot at making a living from their passion. I’ve found  an incredibly creative and nourishing community of people here who are genuinely excited about what I’m doing and eager to lend support.

I am also a firm believer that places like Kansas City will become the new definition of “ideal” for my generation. Many of us are swamped in student debt but still hungry to create which forms a difficult dichotomy to navigate. I think we will start to see a lot more young people relocate to the “Paris of the Plains” as prices continue to rise in the traditionally artistic cities.

When and where are you happiest?
For starters, anywhere with a temperature of 70° or higher, which in Kansas City means summer time and I always get nostalgic for hot summer nights.

What is your favorite spot in Kansas City?
To me 18th and Wyandotte is the epicenter of Kansas City. It’s a place I can walk down and run into some of the most talented and interesting people I know. In many ways this is also the city block I grew up on. I spent many summer vacations visiting my older sister, Peregrine Honig and hanging out around Birdies and YJ’s. As I’ve matured, so has the block and I’ve watched it transform into a very different place. Today 18th and Wyandotte is pulsing with activity and I still enjoy and respect it immensely.

Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
For the past decade Latin America has been my number one destination. At 16 I read my first book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and was hooked. I’ve since become a fluent Spanish speaker and every time I have the opportunity to travel to a location where I can flex my bilingual brain I jump on the opportunity.

What's your most treasured personal possession?
After college graduation I forked over more money than I had ever spent on a single item: a Sony PCM 10 handheld recorder. Knowing that I wouldn’t let that amount of money go to waste, this recorder became a symbol of my commitment in pursuing radio. Two years later and it has recorded every story I’ve produced.

Who's your favorite fictional hero?
Growing up I idealized Daria [from the MTV animated series which aired from 1997-2001]. To me she was the ultimate hero because her witty, deadpan humor made her invincible to peer pressure, judgment and drama. When I moved to a new school in the third grade I tried my best to emulate Daria. I spoke with her monotone voice and limited myself to little or no facial expression. The other kids weren’t ready for this and I became the weird new girl. Realizing this self constructed isolation I reverted back to my natural personality, but continued watching Daria religiously.

Who do you most admire in real-life?
I’ve had many influencers in my life:

  • One of the most significant people would be Gabriel Márquez; he changed the way I saw the world the first time I read one of his books.

  • I praise the spirit and boldness of dancer Josephine Baker whose unique story is hugely inspirational.

  • To me the writing of David Carr is a testament to making phenomenal lemonade from life's lemons.

  • And finally, my sister, Peregrine Honig has advised me and inspired me since a very young age.
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