Jake Brownell

Programming & News Producer

Jake Brownell is an award-winning reporter and producer covering the news, culture, and music of Southern Colorado. 

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 91.5 KRCC's The Big Something, where he began to hone his skills as an editor, interviewer, researcher and writer--skills which he put to use first as a producer of 91.5 KRCC's Off Topic, and more recently as co-producer and host of The Big Something Radio Show and the documentary series, Wish We Were Here. Jake now oversees production of our music program, Air Check, our community-driven reporting series, Peak Curiosityand reports on local issues and stories for the 91.5 KRCC News Department. 

In addition to 91.5 KRCC, Jake's stories have been featured on WBEZ, CBC Radio 1, and NPR stations across Colorado. His work has been recognized by RTDNA, The Associated Press Television and Radio Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, and others. 

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As the wife of an Army Colonel, Angela Ricketts knows firsthand the effects of war on the families of those who serve. In her acclaimed debut book, No Man's War: Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife, she offers a behind-the-scenes look at the sacrifices made and the hardships endured by soldiers' spouses and children, and provides a rare glimpse into the tight-knit, sometimes insular community of military families. Hampton Sides, bestselling author of In The Kingdom of Ice, Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers, spoke with Ricketts about her book.

 

After more than 200 episodes and nearly five years, Kathryn Eastburn has decided to retire The Middle Distance. It has been a pleasure to work with Kathryn, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors, whatever they may be. If you've enjoyed reading/hearing her column over the years, we hope you'll  join us in thanking her in the comment section below. 

 

This cold January, Mama keeps the heat cranked up to 73 and only goes outside to put out the mail. She’s down to less than 90 pounds, her weight about the same as her age, but she still glides around on her little cat feet from chore to chore, all day long, every day. By the time I get up in the morning she has already unloaded the dishwasher, brought in the newspaper and read it, made the coffee and warmed up the biscuits.

 

The tree lights twinkle silently on Christmas morning in our Kentucky living room. Beneath the lowest limbs, glassy-eyed baby dolls, circa 1960, lounge among piles of soft new pajamas and socks, awaiting the arms of three little girls.

I believe these are the happiest days of my mother’s life, when she sees us with our new dolls. It’s true that we asked for them, but in a roundabout way. 

“What do you want Santa to bring you?” she asks. 

“A football and shoulder pads,” says my older sister.

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Scott Freiman is a composer, producer, and creator of the lecture series, “Deconstructing The Beatles.” He’ll be at Colorado College tomorrow night to deliver a lecture from this series entitled, “A Trip Through Strawberry Fields,” which tells the story of the groundbreaking Beatles song, "Strawberry Fields Forever." Colorado College English Professor Steven Hayward spoke with Freiman about the lecture, and about how the music of this iconic band changed popular culture forever.

Noel Black

At an old prison in southeastern Colorado, an experimental new program is working to help chronically homeless people from around the state rebuild their lives. In episode 3 of Wish We Were Here, we tell the story of Fort Lyon, and ask whether it could be the beginning of the end of homelessness as we know it. 

In the second episode of Wish We Were Here, we featured abridged excerpts of David Mason's excellent verse-novel, Ludlow. In this series of Wish We Were Here Extras, we bring you the full, unabridged text of Ludlow, as read by David Mason himself. 

Click HERE to listen to part one of Ludlow.  

Click HERE to listen to part two of Ludlow.

In the second episode of Wish We Were Here, we featured abridged excerpts of David Mason's excellent verse-novel, Ludlow. In this series of Wish We Were Here Extras, we bring you the full, unabridged text of Ludlow, as read by David Mason himself. 

Click HERE to listen to part one of Ludlow.  

Click HERE to listen to part two of Ludlow.

In the second episode of Wish We Were Here, we featured abridged excerpts of David Mason's excellent verse-novel, Ludlow. In this series of Wish We Were Here Extras, we bring you the full, unabridged text of Ludlow, as read by David Mason himself. 

Click HERE to listen to part one of Ludlow.  

Click HERE to listen to part two of Ludlow.

In the second episode of Wish We Were Here, we featured abridged excerpts of David Mason's excellent verse-novel, Ludlow. In this series of Wish We Were Here Extras, we bring you the full, unabridged text of Ludlow, as read by David Mason himself. 

Click HERE to listen to part one of Ludlow.  

Click HERE to listen to part three of Ludlow.

This episode of Wish We Were Here was originally broadcast in November of 2014  

On April 20th, 1914, just north of Trinidad, Colorado, one of the bloodiest, most overlooked events in the history of the American labor movement set the stage for creation of the 8-hour workday, the weekend, and the right of workers to organize.

100 years later, we remember the Ludlow Massacre and its legacy. With the help of former Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason, and a host of historians, archeologists, economists, and musicians, we remember this pivotal moment in American history. 

Something remarkable happened in Colorado Springs over the last year. It happens all the time but often remains beneath the radar: someone with a dream pursues it with focus and determination and a vision is realized.

Scott Anderson--seasoned war correspondent and author of the novel, Triage--will be speaking tomorrow at Colorado College. His most recent book, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, tells the story of T.E. Lawrence, an Oxford educated archeologist who helped shape the Middle East as we know it during and after World War One. Colorado College English professor Steve Hayward spoke with Anderson about his work.

S.C. Gwynne, author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated best seller, Empire of the Summer Moon, will be speaking at Colorado College tomorrow night about his new book, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. The book, which tells the story of Civil War General Stonewall Jackson’s unlikely rise to greatness, currently sits at number 10 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for non-fiction. Colorado College English Professor Steven Hayward spoke with Gwynne about his career as a writer and journalist. Listen to the interview above.

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  In her masterpiece, The God of Small Things, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy says this about stories: “The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen.” 

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It’s the day before the September equinox. Black clouds pile up to the north of Denver and a stiff breeze whips the tablecloths on the patio of a streetside sandwich shop. Diners clutch their newspapers and napkins, and their eyes dart across the busy street toward the approaching storm.

High school students on lunch break wander the sidewalks, deep in a dream of themselves.

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.” In his posthumous collection, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, poet Charles Bukowski encapsulated an all too familiar manifesto for growing old.

What nearly kills us strengthens us. What we lose brings into clear focus what we have. Clichés for living through the middle distance that, like all clichés, have become worn and ubiquitous because they are true.

 

This mid-August morning, the cool air already begins to hint at fall. The light is soft and gray. The only sound is the crunch of gravel as I walk down the alley, green bucket in hand, to the garden I tend, about a block away from where I now live.

Until just a month ago, I lived in the tall house that shades the garden. Now I’m a daily visitor there, slipping through the back gate while everyone in the house is still sleeping, a venture that makes me feel secretive, like a kid spying on her parents. 

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Ours was a show tunes kind of house, at the height of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s great musicals. And though we lived in a small Kentucky town where the idea of seeing a musical theater production onstage wasn’t even a distant dream, from the year I was born until I turned 11, films were made of Oklahoma, Carousel, The King and I, Flower Drum Song and The Sound of Music, and on television we saw the musical Cinderella. Between these and soundtrack releases on LP, we learned the melody and lyrics to most every song in every show.

 

I’ve moved recently and have survived to tell the tale. Here are a few moving tips that might make your transition from old home to new home a little less difficult. 

Opera Theatre of the Rockies will present three performances of the acclaimed Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, July 25th-27th at Armstrong Theater. Complete with sets and costumes from the Broadway/Asia tour, a 25-piece orchestra from the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and a cast full of Front Range talent, it is sure to be both a world-class production and an impressive display of regional culture.

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Courtesy of Ernie Ferguson

In this pilot episode of Wish We Were Here, we critically examine the career of one of the 20th century's most infamous con-artists, Storme Aerison. It's a story you may think you've heard before--a story of fraud, deception, and and the slipperiness of identity--but no matter your familiarity with Storme's history, there's more to it than you know. Read between the salacious, pun-filled headlines that have served to define Storme since she first broke into the national spotlight more than twenty years ago, and you find a complicated tale of gender, sex, sexuality, and our culture's anxieties about these issues.

"Wish We Were Here"  - Enjoy this introductory teaser for the pilot episode, I is An Other, which  unpacks the story of Storme Aerison (aka Charles Daugherty, Storme Ireland, etc.,) the cheerleader at Coronado High School in 1990 who, as the story goes, “turned out to be a grown man.”

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The Pikes Peak Library District will unveil it's brand new, state-of-the-art library at a grand opening ceremony and celebration tomorrow. The new facility, which is called Library 21C, has been heralded as new kind of community space, designed to meet the ever-changing, 21st century needs of PPLD patrons. The Big Something's Noel Black sat down with PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller and Media Relations Specialist Travis Duncan to talk about the project. 

For more information about the library and the grand opening, click HERE.

My heroes haven’t always been cowboys, but after moving to Colorado and getting to know a choice few, that changed. I was lucky as a journalist to spend time with Duke Phillips of Chico Basin Ranch, south of Colorado Springs, and witness his dedication to responsible land management and conservation. And I was privileged as a reporter back in the 1990s to hear Kirk Hanna explain to a room full of environmentalists how ranchers like him could help them achieve their goals if they’d just put aside their stereotypes and prejudices.

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Wherever I live there are two requirements. There must be a kitchen window over the sink, to gaze out when washing dishes. And on the windowsill, there must be the family’s cat skull.

This has been the scenario in every kitchen I’ve had — five of them — over the last 20 years.

Award winning poet, Joshua Bennett is in town this evening to give a performance at Armstrong Hall. Currently a doctoral candidate at Princeton University, Bennett has performed his original works at venues around the country including the NAACP Image Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, and President Obama's Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House.  KRCC's Emilia Whitmer sat down to talk with him about his work.

"Scarecrow, Florence, CO." by Myron Wood, May 1976. Copyright Pikes Peak Library District. Image Number: 002-2990.

 

The soil is really not warm enough yet, but who knows when it will be? It’s the nature of late spring/early summer here in Colorado that whatever progress is made by the sun’s warming rays during the day will be negated by chilly nights. There may or may not be a monsoon. Could it snow yet one more time?

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