Kevin Costner enjoys history, which explains why he’s made so many films with historic themes (The Untouchables, JFK, and Dances With Wolves come to mind). Now, as more and more of us embark on the great American road trip, Costner has co-founded a new iPhone app for travelers that tells fascinating stories about their whereabouts.
According to HearHere’s Facebook page, the “road companion app” offers short audio vignettes—typically about three minutes long—describing history, art, culinary tradition, and points of interest that pertain to travelers’ current location. The audio clips are narrated by Costner and other celebrities, including former NBA coach Phil Jackson.
“I love stories,” Costner writes. “I am the guy that stops at the historical markers along the highway—usually bringing moans from everyone in the car. But it was this continuing curiosity that I began to think HearHere could satisfy without anyone having to leave the car. Why couldn’t we replicate every marker along the highway—even expanding from the usual paragraph in bronze that always left me wanting more.
“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. The truth will always be more interesting than the lie, and HearHere gives us the opportunity to reveal it.”
Knowing that kids spend an enormous amount of time on their phones, Costner and HearHere co-founders Woody Sears and Bill Werlin hope the app offers educational opportunities they might miss otherwise. “It’s not only our responsibility, it’s our obligation to understand and to pass on faithfully the stories of the people who flourished here for thousands of years,” Costner says.
And, Sears adds, “They can get that history while they are in their car, told at the perfect time in their drive without even requiring a stop.”
In a video clip on HearHere’s website, Costner says, “HearHere does many things, but our goal remains simple: to draw you in and offer up the history of the region unknown or forgotten.”
As you drive, HearHere sends you a popup alert when you’re in an area with a story to tell. HearHere plans to create about 10,000 audio clips; Costner and others have recorded about 1500 so far.
The app has launched in California, Oregon, and Washington, and other states will be added gradually. You can try it through a free trial offer, and the yearly subscription rate of $49.99 is half off through August.
“Every place has a story,” HearHere says. “Now every story has a place.”