Jake Brownell

Producer--Off Topic

A native of the Twin Cities, Jake landed in Colorado Springs by way of a philosophy degree at Colorado College. During his time at CC, he pursued an interest in radio as a DJ and then as manager at the school's student radio station, The SOCC.  After graduating in the Spring of 2012, Jake went on to intern with KRCC's The Big Something, where he began to hone his skills as an editor, interviewer, researcher and writer--skills which he currently puts to use as a producer of KRCC's Off Topic. Jake is a firm believer that public radio is an oasis of journalistic and  intellectual integrity in today's hypersaturated media landscape, and he hopes to be a part of it for a long time to come. 


The Middle Distance
6:00 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

The Middle Distance 3.14.14: Beyond the Sure Certainty of Home

Credit PPLD Image 001-5291

In 1987 I had two best friends, both named Julie. They were new acquaintances who had no connection to my past or my family or to each other, only to me. I’ve been thinking about them during these early spring days when the snow is falling and a particular kind of quiet loneliness envelops the house. Remembering the two Julies makes me think about friendship and what it means at different stages of life. I remember them with the gratitude of a lost traveler coming across a friendly local who’s happy to give directions. I remember them the way a tree’s roots remember water.

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4:50 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Remembering Women's Liberation: A Conversation with Jennifer Lee

Filmmaker Jennifer Lee will be showing her award-winning documentary, Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation, tonight at 7pm in the Cornerstone Arts Center. The film focuses on the experiences of women who played key roles in the women’s liberation movement during the 1960s. KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with Lee about the film. For more information about the screening, click HERE.

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3:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Holders of the Light: A Conversation with Lane Hall and Lisa Moline

Overpass Light Brigade

Lisa Moline and Lane Hall, co-founders of the Overpass Light Brigade, will be speaking tonight at UCCS. Moline and Hall, both of whom are artists based in Milwaukee Wisconsin, began displaying illuminated protest messages on highway overpasses and in public spaces during the campaign to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2011. In the years since, the tactic has been employed in support of various causes around the country and around the world. The Big Something’s Noel Black spoke with the duo about their work.

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The Middle Distance
6:05 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

The Middle Distance 2.28.14: The Line Leads Away From Home

If you drew a line straight up through the middle of a map of the United States, across the fruited plain, that line would come within 100 miles of the shooting locales of two American films currently contending for Oscars in multiple categories: Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, filmed in and outside a number of the state’s eastern plains towns; and August: Osage County, filmed largely in a big old house in Osage County on the border of Oklahoma and Kansas.

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4:59 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Katherine Boo on Poverty and Possibilty

Detail of the cover of "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity"

Veteran Journalist Katherine Boo will be speaking tonight at Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus. A staff writer for The New Yorker, and former reporter and editor at the Washington Post, she’s received numerous awards for her work, including a Pulitzer prize for Public Service and a MacArthur Genius grant.

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4:49 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

A Conversation with Novelist Zadie Smith

Credit Stephen Sartori

Celebrated novelist Zadie Smith will speak tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. in Armstrong Hall. Winner of numerous awards, Smith is the author of the novels “White Teeth,” “The Autograph Man,” “On Beauty,” and, most recently, “NW.” This event is part of the 2014 MacLean Symposium on Globalization, Culture, and Literature. Colorado College Professor Heidi Lewis spoke with Smith by phone.

For more information, click HERE.

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4:58 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Spend Money to Make Money: Mark Blyth on the Dangers of Austerity

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, countries around the world have moved to slash government spending and reduce national debt. Dr. Mark Blyth, professor of International Political Economy at Brown University, argues that this is exactly the wrong way to approach the problem of slow economic growth. Dr. Blyth is in town to speak at Colorado College, and he sat down with The Big Something’s Noel Black to discuss his latest book, “Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea”.

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4:46 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Power to the Peaceful: Dr. Erica Chenoweth on Nonviolent Resistance

Tahrir Square, Eqypt, after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Credit Jonathan Rashad: Wikimedia Commons


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4:06 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

The Message Reflects: An Interview with Big Samir of The ReMINDers

Credit http://www.theremindersmusic.com

The ReMINDers are a hip hop duo from Colorado Springs. The group consists of Aja Black and Big Samir, a married couple who have gained recognition over the past few years with their records ReCollect (2008) and Born Champions (2012). They’ve toured the country and shared the stage with legendary hip hop acts like Big Boi, Nas, KRS-One, and Mos Def. Mercedes Whitman, intern at the Big Something, talked to Samir about the group’s career, as well about why they’ve chosen to maintain their roots in Colorado Springs. 

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4:44 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Strange and Beautiful: An Interview with Folk Art Collectors Willem and Diane Volkersz

Credit Arthur Frenchy, Chair with Plastic Bird, early 1960s, painted chicken bones & collage, 14 ½ x 13 ¼ x 8 From the collection of Willem and Diane Volkersz

Tomorrow marks the opening of a new exhibition at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, entitled Strange and Beautiful: American Folk Art from the Willem Volkersz Collection. The show features paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other, less-easily classified, art objects created by self-taught artists from around the country, and collected by Willem Volkersz and his wife Diane. KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with the pair about their collection and the broader tradition of folk art in America.

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4:58 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

How to Make a Film with a 340 Ton Rock: An Interview with Doug Pray


Doug Pray is the award-winning director of numerous documentaries, including “Hype”, “Surfwise", “Scratch”, and “Art and Copy”. As a director, he is known for his keen ability to capture the spirit of cultural and artistic movements, as well as his abiding interest in the relationship between people and their passions. KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with Pray, who is in town for the screening of his newest film, Levitated Mass.

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3:48 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lost and Found: Stories from the Flood

Much was lost during last summer's flooding in Manitou, including many personal items. This past October, the interns at The Big Something--Colorado College students Mercedes Whitman, Patrick Lofgren, and Sarah Stockdale--went to Fountain Creek to rescue what they could from the banks. In November, the recovered items were displayed in a pop-up show at the Manitou Art Center, and those affected by the floods were invited to claim their belongings and share their stories.

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4:59 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

The Specter of the Megadrought: An Interview with Dr. Michael W. Kerwin

With record wildfires and flooding impacting communities across the state over the past few years, residents of Colorado have gained a unique appreciation for the power of precipitation. But according to Dr. Michael Kerwin, Professor of Geography director of the Environmental Science and Geology Programs at Denver University, the precipitation-related challenges that we’ve recently faced here may pale in comparison to those posed by the decades-long, global-warming enhanced, “Megadrought” that may strike the Front Range during this century. KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with Dr.

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The Big Something
5:45 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

An Interview With Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston

Legendary underground comix author and artist Art Spiegelman will present “Wordless,” a slide lecture accompanied by live music on Wednesday, January 22 as part of Cornerstone Arts Week at Colorado College. The Big Something’s Noel Black spoke with Spiegelman and musician Phillip Johnston about the event.

Tickets for the Event are sold out, but hopeful attendees may want to wait outside the Richard F. Celeste Theater in the Cornerstone Arts Building to see if seats become available.

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The Big Something
6:09 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

An Interview with Children of Men Screenwriter Tim Sexton

Tim Sexton is an Oscar nominated screenwriter, best known for his work with director Alfonso Cuaron on the dystopian sci-fi drama, Children of Men, released in 2006. Sexton's screenplays--which also include the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Boycott" and a forthcoming film about labor activist Cesar Chavez--often explore the complicated, human side of heroism. The Big Something's Noel Black spoke with Sexton about his work.

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5:19 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

The Middle Distance 1.17.14: With the Phone Unplugged

Half a month into the new year and I have lost all sense of time passing. Moving deeply southward across the continent in the dead of winter will do that. It is disorienting to see a rose in bloom in January, but here on the Gulf coast of Texas on the trellis of my mother’s front porch, the yellow climbing rose is loaded with buds.

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6:03 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Middle Distance 1.10.14: Still Time

PPLD Digital Photo Archive, Image Number 195-4258.jpg

My son-in-law arrives tired and hungry for his annual holiday visit. Winter storm Hercules, followed closely by a record-setting Arctic vortex of extreme cold, has left thousands stranded in New York City but he managed to get out and fly to Houston following a harrowing day in an airport filled with desperate traveling strangers. 

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11:17 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

The Middle Distance 12.20.13: Hate Christmas Songs?

Credit Pikes Peak Library District, Digital Photo Archive. Image 004-10649.jpg



The short order cook and I had been singing for a while before I noticed the grimace on the cashier’s face. We were harmonizing on “Silver Bells,” the classic Bing Crosby version, and cared little how we sounded as I was the only customer in the diner.  

“What’ll we do when it’s not Christmas any more?” the short order cook said as I pulled out my wallet to pay the bill.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but it looks like Mr. Grinch here can’t wait for it to be over.”  

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4:52 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Talking Quality and Community with Pikes Peak United Way

Pikes Peak United Way recently released its 2013 Quality of Life Indicators Report.  At more than 140 pages in length, it offers a thorough and statistically rich analysis of the quality of life in Greater Colorado Springs community. KRCC's Jake Brownell spoke with Carrie Cramm, vice president of Community Impact at Pikes Peak United Way, to discuss some of the findings of this report. 

You can find the report in it's entirety HERE

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The Big Something
3:17 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Catamount Institute Sustainability Conference

The Catamount Institute's Annual Colorado Sustainability Conference begins this Thursday and will cover topics ranging from fires and floods to urban farming. I spoke with Catamount board member Alicia Archibald and Marketing and Communications Director Chris Aaby about the conference.

Click HERE for complete conference details and more about Catamount Institute. 

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-Off Topic # 17
11:48 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Off Topic #17: Radio on the Radio

Credit Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of Chicago History Museum.
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Off Topic #16
11:44 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Off Topic #16: DIY

If you want something done right, there's an app for that! With each passing day we draw nearer to the realization of Total Technological Convenience, to a time in the not so distant future when there is no problem that can't be solved with the tap of a screen or the barking of a "voice command." It seems inevitable. But whose idea of progress is that, anyway? 

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Off Topic #15
9:46 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Off Topic #15: The Shape of Language


In this episode of Off Topic we explore the ways in which language shapes our understanding of the world around us.  Is it our language that inspires our thoughts or our thoughts that inspire our language?  We speak with poets, academics, language creators and more in an effort discern the shape of language in our lives.

In this episode...

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-Off Topic #14
3:36 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Off Topic #14: Reaping What we Sow - Food Politics & Policy in America

Whether we're talking about banning extra large sodas a la Michael Bloomberg, eradicating high fructose corn syrup from our diets, choosing a box labeled organic or putting a greenhouse in our backyard and growing our own food, one thing is certain, food consciousness in America is reaching increasingly loftier heights each day. In this episode of Off Topic we explore the ways in which food is brought to our tables and whether our current industrialized food production model is a sustainable one, economically, environmentally and from a public health perspective. 

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-Off Topic #13
7:00 am
Sat August 31, 2013

Off Topic #13: Transformations of Higher Education in the 21st Century, LIVE!

Cutler Hall, Colorado College, 1880.

As part of the back-to-school festivities at Colorado College, Off Topic was invited to stage a taping of the show before a live audience of Colorado College faculty and staff members in the Richard F. Celeste Theater. What better issue to explore in this context than the crisis (or crises) facing America's colleges and universities? We spoke with critics, activists, professors, and administrators, to get their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that will shape the future of higher education.

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Off Topic #6
3:54 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Off Topic #6: KRCC Drive-By

Episode #6: KRCC Drive-By

The Spring membership drive is currently underway at KRCC, and this week we’ve produced a special, membership drive edition of Off Topic. For this episode, we put together a kind of off-color oral history of KRCC, speaking with staff, DJs, and members about the agony and the ecstasy of making radio in Colorado Springs.

Get to know the stories behind the voices that you hear everyday on KRCC. You won’t regret it.

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Off Topic #12
11:26 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Off Topic #12: Race, Racism, and White Privilege

Despite the long history of racism, white supremacy, and racial violence in this country--and despite the progress that has been made in combating the worst and most glaring examples of it--Americans still have a very difficult time speaking candidly about the contemporary realities of race in our society. However, In the wake of events such as the recent not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman - Trayvon Martin case, it becomes urgently clear that we need to have real, substantive conversations about the undeniable effects of inequality in the United States.

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Off Topic #11
3:41 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Off Topic #11: Apocalypse Now! The End of Hollywood?

Credit The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection

Of all the industries imperiled by the new economics of the Internet age, Hollywood has seemed among the most resilient. While newspapers crumble and musicians resort to dubious gimmicks to make money off of their music, movie studios have continued to break box office records in much the same way they always did.

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-Off Topic #10
1:01 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Off Topic #10: Discovery!

Progress--whether cultural, scientific, political or personal--is propelled by discovery. Or so we're told. History sometimes seems like little more than a string of paradigm-shattering revelations, one leading to the next, each bringing us a bit closer to The Truth. It's no surprise then that we mythologize groundbreaking discoveries (and discoverers) to the extent that we do. Archimedes in the bathtub, Isaac Newton and the apple, Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment: all of these stories are dubious in origin, apocryphal at best.

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Off Topic #9
8:56 pm
Sun July 7, 2013

Off Topic #9: Elusive Origins — In Search of The Authentic

Off Topic #9: Elusive Origins — In Search of The Authentic

Why does our culture place value in that which is deemed authentic or original? What happens when we find out that the thing we have enshrined as authentic is determined to be nothing more than a copy? How does our relationship to the ideas of authenticity and originality impact the decisions we make from what dungarees to buy to which presidential candidate we vote for?


In this Episode…

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