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Rob Curley's Greatest Clicks

Curley and his teams are famous in newspaper circles for their addictive, "hyperlocal" microsites. Here's a parade of their hits.

  • Digital baseball cards | Covers local Little Leaguers as though they were in the majors. Includes photos and audio snippets.
  • Restaurant guide | Lists every local eatery, with details such as the number of vegetarian dishes, when the kitchen closes, and reader comments (e.g., which waitress to avoid at the Cheesecake Factory).
  • Stats on steroids | A database of high-school sports statistics that lets readers instantly compare athletes on different teams.
  • Local Survivor game | Each week, readers voted members of the Topeka City Council off an imaginary island, foretelling upcoming election results with uncanny accuracy: The mayor, the first person voted off, didn't get past the primary.
  • Candidate selector | Readers vote blind, choosing from a series of unidentified policy positions, then find out which candidate best represents their views.
  • Drought database | Allowed Kansans to review the latest water level by county or township during the drought of 2002.
  • Eclectic podcasts | For a high-school sports site, reporters conducted a roundtable discussion, complete with offbeat "guest" commentators such as a Christopher Walken impersonator (don't ask). In Naples, the team plans to record weekly sermons to put online. (One Naples snowbird asked Curley, "Can you get me a mulligan when I miss church?")
  • radio | Tapping a vast database of local music, the site offers various "stations," including the top downloaded songs each week as well as users' playlists.
  • Beach guide | Click on a map and watch a narrated video feature of each beach, with a 360-degree panoramic photo.
  • Local forecast that looks local | A whimsical twist on the weather. Rather than showing a disembodied sun or clouds with the forecast, the day's conditions appear as part of an illustration of the local skyline. It's your weather, over your town.
  • Seat finder | Created after the University of Kansas changed its basketball ticket policy in 2004. Alumni entered donations and other information, and the site calculated the sections where they were eligible for tickets. By clicking on each section, they could see its view of the court.
  • Geocoded news | Currently in the works in Naples. You'll be able to plug in your address or neighborhood and call up all the recent hyperlocal news, from school board meetings to break-ins to a charity car wash.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.