WYSO Curious

Are you curious about the Miami Valley, its history, people or economy? Is there a place, a person or a story that mystifies or intrigues you? Do you like to ask questions? WYSO Curious is an occasional series that lets you ask questions for WYSO reporters to answer. Submit your own question below!

Here are some of the questions we've gotten so far:

  • How does the City of Dayton determine who it rents properties to?
  • What is it like being an independent/local restaurateur in the Miami Valley? How are they doing?

Coming soon: WYSO Curious will take a look at a bunch of questions we've neglected this last year, including: After the great Dayton flood, dams were built on our rivers. Are they still viable or do they need remade? Who built the amphitheater, stone fireplaces, and waterfalls in the valley below Bryan Center? What’s the story with White Lotus Thai restaurant downtown? Those will be online in December and January. And, stay tuned for Basim Blunt's report on what it's like to be a school bus driver.

Ask your own question here:

WYSO Curious is a partner of WBEZ's Curious City,which was founded by Jennifer Brandel and is one of ten Localore productions brought to life by AIR.

Hear WYSO's Lewis Wallace discuss the growing Curious family with Jenn Brandel and Curious City editor Shawn Allee.

James Hicks is the Bearded Barber.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

WYSO Curious, our series where you ask the questions and our reporters answer them, is at it again, this time with a question that might seem clear-cut:

Who is the Bearded Barber?

Kroger in Huber Heights. Experts say if customers show they are willing to drive a few miles to a suburban location, it takes away the incentive for chains to build in limited downtown space. grocery store food
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr/Creative Commons

There’s a lot going on in downtown Dayton: in some ways, it’s growing. Housing is being built or redeveloped, and small retail and restaurant businesses are taking root. In other ways, it’s struggling, with around a 30 percent vacancy rate for office buildings and a high rate of tax delinquency, including in some high-profile empty buildings like the Arcade.

Nancy Horlacher looks through her collection of frequently asked questions in the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library. "Gem City of Ohio: Exact origin unknown."
Lauren Shows / WYSO

“Gem City” — that phrase should sound familiar to most people in the Miami Valley.

A quick glance into the Yellow Pages, or a quick Google search, reveals a list of several dozen Dayton-area groups and businesses that use the name. But what’s that nickname for Dayton all about? Two WYSO listeners, Dot Schnering and Gary Honnert, recently asked the question:

Why do they call Dayton the Gem City?

Will Davis / WYSO

Some people are morning people, even on the weekends: They might like, for example, getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to head down to their local farmers’ market. WYSO listener Gabrielle Civil is not one of those people. She lives in Yellow Springs, where the farmers’ market runs from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. And she had a question about that:

This is WYSO Curious and my question is, why so early? Why is the farmers’ market over by noon?

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

John Patterson, Edward Deeds, and Wilbur and Orville Wright are just a few of the big names from a time when Dayton was a hotbed of innovation and invention. These famous names prompted a question from WYSO listener Susan Thornton:

“Why did Dayton produce so many inventors—for example, Charles Kettering, the Wright Brothers, the pop top can inventor?”

Yellow Springs resident Joseph Minde-Berman (right) plays music at street fairs for spare cash. He's pictured with his friend Corbin Rogers, also of Yellow Springs.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Strawberries, sauerkraut, asparagus, popcorn, beans, bacon and moonshine—aside from usually being edible, what do they all have in common?

Jerry Kenney

Dayton’s Oregon Historic District has a controversial aspect to it: the sound of the word. Unlike the state of Oregon, the end of which is pronounced like “begin", the proper noun used by Daytonians is pronounced Oregon—with an ending that rhymes with John. Dayton resident Jesse Clark asked WYSO Curious—why?

Why is it called the OreGON District? Why don’t we pronounce it the same way people do in Oregon state?

Jesse says he’s been trying to answer the question for quite some time.

courtesy of Nancy Campbell

When Converse Griffith’s question, How did Indian Ripple road get its name? won our April WYSO Curious vote, the investigation seemed simple enough.  This question and subsequent questions about the difference between Indian Ripple and Indian Riffle, an older name for the road, turned out to be quite a mystery for the local and statewide experts we consulted. Not many clear records exist, but we’ve been able to draw several conclusions.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

In just a few months, WYSO Curious has gotten four questions about the same topic: that bright blue lake off of Route 4 in Dayton.

John Todd of Fairborn was the first to write in to our site:

Emily McCord

When Jude Whelley walks her dog in her front yard in Harrison Township, she often detects a syrupy-sweet smell, particularly on moist, foggy nights. Jude has lived in this neighborhood since 1985,  and while the generally accepted wisdom is that the smell comes from the nearby Cargill factory, for years she's wondered "does [the smell] depend on what they’re making? Or does it depend on the weather? Is it dangerous, or is it just unpleasantly sweet?"

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