Kevin Costner explains his HearHere road travel app

Kevin Costner knows a good story when he hears one.

That’s why he was intrigued when he heard of an app designed to alert travelers to notable but often unnoticed places of interest along their travels.

“I’m the guy who drives around America … when you see them bronze markers along the way, I want to stop. I want to read what was there, “she said.” It’s something historical, and I remember being really thrilled by that. Otherwise, you’re just watching the miles go by. “

An app that would send compelling and timely stories directly to him was tempting, he said, as “a good story has always been something that thrilled me.”

Costner was loosely connected to the creator of the app, entrepreneur Woody Sears, through their children, Sears said. While the app was in the preliminary stages, Costner agreed to tell several stories before joining the company as a co-founder.

The app – call Listen here – launched in August 2020, coincidentally with one of the biggest travel trends of the Covid era: the resurrection of the road trip.

A “guide to the history of a road trip”

Similar to the past two years, road travel is expected to dominate this summer, according to a survey from the travel site The Vacationer. Nearly 80 percent of American adults – or about 206 million Americans – plan to get one, according to a survey of nearly 1,100 Americans in March.

However, HearHere – which is billed as a “road trip history guide” – was in development prior to the pandemic, Sears said.

“The idea of ​​travel has changed for a lot of people,” Sears said. “We happened to open our doors at the same time as the shift.”

Kevin Costner said a key part of the HearHere app is telling the stories of people who first inhabited North America, a topic at the heart of his Oscar-winning film “Dances with Wolves.”

Tiger Productions | Photo archive | Moviepix | Getty Images

Costner said he was involved with several start-ups, but this “was in the wheelhouse of what I already do in terms of storytelling and my kind of love for history,” Costner said.

From “The Untouchables” to “JFK” and “Wyatt Earp”, many of Costner’s most famous films have touched key figures in American history. One of the main reasons for his involvement with HearHere was his desire to tell the stories of the first people to inhabit North America. It’s a topic he explored in the 1990 Oscar-winning film “Dances with Wolves,” in which Costner starred, directed and produced.

“That was the key for me … who are the first people? – because they aren’t here without knowing who was there before,” he said.

The hardest truths

HearHere has more than 9,000 stories to date, with topics ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Janis Joplin, and from the Kentucky National Corvette Museum to the Nashville music scene.

But for Costner, telling the harshest truths about US history is also key.

“Our story isn’t always great. There has been so much violence in America. We’re looking at the violence now manifesting around the world … to think it didn’t happen here, it happened,” he said.

Stories about America’s founding fathers and its Civil War battlefields are interspersed with stories of slave-colonized Mississippi cities and deprived black rights.

“We don’t have to be ashamed,” Costner said. “We may be a little embarrassed, but it’s more embarrassing not to know.”

An increase in audio content

HearHere has been downloaded more than 400,000 times and has subscribers in every state in the United States, Sears said. The company announced in February that it had raised $ 3.2 million in initial funding, led by American recreational vehicle company Camping World.

Although he is at the forefront of a new mobile app company, Costner has indicated that he is not very interested in the technology. He said that most mobile apps “fly over my head” and, from the HearHere Twitter page: “I don’t even know how to access them.”

HearHere co-founders: Woody Sears, Kevin Costner and Bill Werlin. “I’m not a figurehead … that’s my interest,” Costner said.

Source: Listen here

Launch in other countries?

As US-based stories continue to be added to HearHere, Costner said the company has a model that lends itself well to international expansion.

He said the company is still refining its business and listening to its customers, but “I like to jump off the page quite honestly … try something new,” he said.

Costner said he applies a similar approach to his films.

“It’s easy to follow a trend, it’s a lot harder to try to be original. Trends, or repetition of something popular, are a way to make a lot of money,” she said. “Doing something that is classic, that no one has ever felt like they have never seen before, can live forever.”