Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Most Read: Your Top Stories of 2020

Every year, we take a look at what you’ve been most interested in reading on KQED. But in a year like no other, dominated by a world-altering pandemic, we really had no idea what this list would look like for 2020.

So what were the stories that drew the most readers online? There was COVID-19 news — the sheer amount of readers for our guide to claiming unemployment during the pandemic was striking. In another year scarred by wildfires, air quality was your top concern. And a recurrent theme in the stories that drew the most readership was inequity, and how this year has revealed it in our systems in countless ways.

Yet in between, you also found time to read about “Karens,” underground city secrets and… Nostradamus. Here are the stories you read most on our site this year. You can also see our roundup of the Bay Area’s year in photographs.

An Air Quality Map for the Bay Area

2020 was yet another devastating year for California wildfires. And on top of the impact on lives and homes, the potentially dangerous consequences for the air you breathe was clearly a priority for you. Bookmark this webpage for the next time you need to check the air quality in your region.

Nostradamus and CoronavirusÂ

This KQED Arts story — published back in April 2020 — explores the surge of interest in the idea that 16th-century French astrologer Nostradamus had somehow “predicted” the coronavirus.  (And in case you’re wondering, readers are finding this story because they’re Googling “Nostradamus.”) Take a read to see if his writings on “plague and captivity” have you convinced.

Our Bay Area Coronavirus Site

A nurse makes a note on the window of a COVID-19 patient’s room in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at El Centro Regional Medical Center in hard-hit Imperial County on July 28, 2020 in El Centro, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Given the all-encompassing enormity of how the COVID-19 pandemic defined 2020 — killing hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, exposing long-held social inequities and transforming daily life — it’s no surprise our breaking news updates on the coronavirus situation in the Bay Area was endlessly consulted by readers. We will continue to update this blog throughout the pandemic, so you may wish to bookmark it.

‘Empowerment’ Selfies and the Turkish Women’s Rights Campaign

If you saw black-and-white selfies with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted flooding your Instagram feed in July, you weren’t alone. This story delved into how an expression of female solidarity by American users was originally, in Turkey, a campaign inspired by both the soaring rates of violence against women and the brutal murder of a 27-year-old student.

What Are Those Purple Grids of Glass in the Sidewalk?

Walking around San Francisco and Oakland, you’re likely to come across a grid of vault lights on the sidewalk. (Mike/flickr)

This story from our Bay Curious podcast published on Jan. 2 this year, before many of us had heard the word “coronavirus.”  Yet this story — about the origin of those grid-like glass squares and circles under your feet on the sidewalks of Oakland and San Francisco — remained a popular distraction all year long.

AÂ Guide to Filing for Unemployment During the Pandemic

A woman looks at the Employment Development Department (EDD) website, where California residents can file for unemployment, on March 16, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Many Californians missing work because of the coronavirus can access benefits — including unemployment — and our step-by-step guide walked applicants through the process. The sheer amount of people who’ve consulted this guide, which was originally published in August, is a testament to the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic on individual lives and businesses.

She ‘Rode That Bias Off a Cliff’

Jaime Juanillo, who filmed the encounter outside his Pacific Heights home on Thursday (Courtesy Jaime Juanillo)

In June, as protests continued nationwide over the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of the police, a couple called law enforcement on a San Francisco man, Jaime Juanillo,  for stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk on his own home. The video he captured of the incident was viewed by millions. Juanillo said in the predominantly wealthy, predominantly white Pacific Heights neighborhood, “It’s not unusual at all for me to get a look like, ‘Do you belong here?’”

Amie Harwick’s Death is a Confirmation of Women’s Worst Fears

Amie Harwick being interviewed by Dr. Kayte Susse in January 2019. (You Tube/Dr. Kayte Susse D.C)

In February, California therapist Amie Harwick died from blunt force trauma after a violent encounter at her Hollywood home involving an ex-boyfriend against whom Harwick had previously taken out two restraining orders. In a story that explores the prevalence of murders of women by intimate partners, author Rae Alexandra writes: “Amie Harwick’s death is particularly hard to stomach precisely because of the abundance of caution she practiced while she was alive.”

Why the Golden Gate Bridge Is Now a Giant Orange Wheezing Kazoo

The Golden Gate Bridge has been turned into the world’s largest reed instrument. (Wiki Commons)

Back in June, the Golden Gate Bridge began emitting an unearthly hum — and folks nearby wondered what it probably asking themselves: what in the world was that sound? “A long, loud hum from a deep sea creature? Alien frequencies from outer space? An enormous sigh from San Francisco’s greatest landmark, finally registering its dismay at the state of the world?” The eerie sound was actually the result of wind passing through the bridge’s new sidewalk railing slats. (Fun fact: as eagle-eyed readers will spot from this story’s URL, the original headline for this story was ‘The Golden Gate Bridge Sounds Like a David Lynch Movie Now.’)

How to Develop Culturally Responsive Teaching for Distance Learning

The coronavirus pandemic and school closures across the nation exposed deep inequities within education this year, from access to  technology to lack of support for special education students. This popular story from KQED’s Mindshift team delved into how educators can provide students with tools to help them be independent learners — in ways that acknowledge whose education has been historically marginalized — and build cognitive capacity and academic mindset by pushing back on dominant narratives about people of color.

Copyright 2020 KQED