It was a year scarred by tragedy and marred by scandal, but not without its lighter moments. With 2013 nearly behind us, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the stories that you told us were the most interesting, as determined by your visits. These are the stories that were among the most-viewed on KPCC.org.
By far the largest story of 2013 was the bizarre shooting rampage and hunt for scorned former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. The manhunt began shortly after the mysterious murder of the daughter of a former police captain and her fiancee. It drew national attention after the assassination of Riverside officer Michael Crain and intensified after detectives discovered a rambling manifesto that called for vengeance against a department Dorner believed had slandered him. The coverage took several odd detours after officers accidentally fired on civilians who had been driving trucks similar to Dorner's in two separate incidents. By the time several websites and Facebook pages popped up rooting for the cop-killer, the fugitive Dorner was thought to have escaped to Mexico. He was eventually discovered and cornered in a cabin in Big Bear, where investigators say he took his own life.
2. The Rim Fire chars Yosemite (August)
An illegal campfire set deep in Yosemite National Park sparked towering flames that quickly engulfed some of the most beautiful areas of the Californian wilderness, sending campers and residents fleeing. By the time firefighters encircled it, the Rim Fire had burned more than 257,000 acres and more than 100 structures — including 11 homes — and left at least 10 people injured. All told, it was the third-largest fire in California's history. Officials at the Forest Service say none of us will live to see the scorched areas it left behind restored to their former grandeur. (You also came in droves to our new Fire Tracker tool, which we hope provided you with useful information.)
3. Car Wars: Taxis vs. ride-share (June)
The bruising back-and-forth between L.A.'s powerful taxi industry and California's expanding ride-sharing companies — including Lyft, Uber and Sidecar — took off in earnest in June when L.A.'s Department of Transportation shut the startups down for operating without a permit. Not long after, the state claimed jurisdiction and allowed the companies to operate under the California Public Utilities Commission. Cab companies say their competitiveness is hampered by the heavy regulation placed on them that ride-sharing companies don't have to worry about. The ride-sharing companies, for their part, argue the taxi industry has become too complacent and failed to evolve in an Internet age.
4. FUtbOL Frienemies: Mexico vs. the U.S. (September)
Mexico's near-failure to qualify for the World Cup tourney and the U.S.' relatively easy slip into the games had our audience wondering whether the two rivals are that far apart after all. Some raised concerns about how Mexico's poor showing might affect the U.S. economy. Others wondered whom to root for. The U.S. team's snarky thank you to Mexico after its victory over Panama set the stage for Mexico's second chance raised eyebrows. And El Tri's dramatic late entry into the games brought more celebrations on the site.
5. Public Radio Smackdown: Radiolab vs. TAL (March)
KPCC's March Madness public radio bracket competition brought unexpectedly heated, if good-natured, voting to KPCC. By the final round of the brutal show-on-show competition, shows had flexed and grown their followers on Facebook and Twitter, NPR fans had discovered shows they'd never heard of, and "This American Life" triumphed over "Radiolab."
Though the crime rate was down overall for the year, 2013 saw its share of terrifying school lockdowns and mass shootings. Arguably, none was as terrifying or bizarre as the shooting that took place at Santa Monica College on June 7, when a lone gunman killed several of his family members, set their house on fire, hijacked a car and its driver, and went on a shooting rampage around and on Santa Monica College's campus. By the day's end, five people had been killed, including the gunman. Several others were left injured. Stranger still, President Obama had been fundraising just a couple blocks away at the time the shooting broke out.
7. Goodbye Meatball, hello Hollywood (November)
L.A. said goodbye to Meatball (aka Glen Bearian aka The Glendale Bear) who made several appearances in neighborhoods around Glendale in 2012, ultimately leading to his capture and removal to the San Diego Zoo. But not before a Twitter handle, a copyright battle and a Rose Bowl float were created in his honor. Meanwhile, over at Griffith Park, National Geographic photographers introduced us to a more timid wildlife celebrity in PS-22 (aka the Hollywood Mountain Lion) when his camera snapped an image of him under the city's iconic sign. The mountain lion made its way across the 101 from its Santa Monica mountain home to strike out on his own, as you do in Tinseltown.
What was your favorite story of 2013? Share it with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.