Gunnison Valley Audio Journal: A new podcast launches in the valley

Sharing local stories and literary works

[ By Katherine Nettles ]

A new local podcast series just launched this winter, bringing stories from around the Gunnison Valley that you can listen to while Nordic skiing, walking, driving or simply cooking dinner.

The Gunnison Valley Resiliency Project has released the first season of the Gunnison Valley Audio Journal, which it hopes will be an ongoing series. The first three episodes are available free on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

Chad Reich hosts the Gunnison Valley Audio Journal, and he dedicates the first collection of episodes to winter and to “lovers of low temperatures and fat flakes.” The podcast brings local literature to our ears, and Reich describes the vision, “To create a literary-themed podcast featuring authors and wordsmiths in the Gunnison Valley. Most works in season one were originally published in either the Crested Butte Magazine or the Gunnison Valley Journal and re-read with the publishers’ permission.

“This season features some famous authors reading their original works and a few short pieces written by people who no longer live here, read by guests,” explains Reich.

The inaugural episode includes two long-form stories, a poem, a prose poem and a haiku to Ullr. Local musician Lizzie Plotkin provides theme music with her signature instrumental violin melodies as well.

The Resiliency Project, whose members also brainstormed the concept, sponsors the podcast.

“This was born in a roundabout way,” says Reich. “I was working with professor Jack Lucido at Western [Colorado University] on his video project with the HAP (High Altitude Performance) Lab. He was approached by the Resiliency Project to record some stories for an audio project, but he didn’t have the capacity to produce this. I was back in the area working on some grad school stuff, and I decided I had enough extra time to pull it off.

“Maryo with the Resiliency Project was inspired by a park she visited in Wisconsin that created an audio accompaniment designed to get people into the park. You basically listen while you walk,” continued Reich. This led to the idea to create something that people could listen to while Nordic skiing on the Van Tuyl trails or at Hartman Rocks.

“The motivation was to give people stories to listen to while engaging in outdoor activity during the winter amidst a pandemic,” he recalls.

From there, Reich pitched the idea of making a podcast “really for everyone, but we would use some language to encourage people to listen while recreating. We have to meet the audience where they are.”

Reich credits the print versions of the stories shared for their staying power, and describes how he hopes to reach a new audience.

“Print will always have tremendous value in long-form storytelling, and these stories wouldn’t exist without the original print outlets such as the Crested Butte Magazine, Gunnison Country Times, the Crested Butte News and the Gunnison Valley Journal. The podcast is an experiment in discovering how the audience reacts to an assembled story project with authors reading their original works. I hope the pod introduces these timeless stories to a new audience that otherwise might not find them in their printed version and ultimately drives the audience to pick up these publications.”

Each episode ranges from 30 to 45 minutes, which Reich notes is “Perfect for driving up and down valley or as an accompaniment on a Nordic outing.”

The vision is to produce the audio journal semi-annually: one winter and one summer series each year. The project is hoping to find sponsorship in the valley to help pay the authors, musicians and producer for their time and talent. “Once we gauge how season one goes, we will begin work on season two!” says Reich.

The Resiliency Project was created to identify and respond to the needs of the Gunnison County population during the COVID-19 Colorado shutdown in March 2020. It has expanded to bring people together even as they remain socially distanced during a strange time.

For more information about the project, visit Gunnison Valley Resiliency on Facebook.

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