Wish We Were Here

Archive episodes only
  • Hosted by Jake Brownell & Noel Black

Wish We Were Here: Tales and Investigations from the Shadows of America's Mountain is devoted to unpacking the strange, overlooked and forgotten stories of Colorado Springs, CO and the Pikes Peak Region.

Wish We Were Here put a twist on the traditional weekend storytelling formats by exposing hidden eclectic stories from a city wrapped in conservative perceptions.

Wish We Were Here ceased production in July 2016.

Courtesy of the Pikes Peak Library District

 

In the mid-20th Century, a man named Robert LeFevre (pronounced Luh-FAVE) created a small mountain academy just north of Colorado Springs called The Freedom School. The school, and his teachings, played an important role in the popularization of libertarianism in America. They also helped shape the minds of some of the the most powerful men in American industry and politics, not the least of which were Charles and David Koch, aka The Koch Brothers--two of the wealthiest men in the world.

On this episode of Wish We Were Here we tell the nearly-forgotten story of LeFevre and his short-lived libertarian boot camp.

Noel Black

On this weekend’s special episode of Wish We Were Here, we take a close look at all sides of the proposed Broadmoor land swap deal and the way that open space defines Colorado Springs as a city.

At the heart of deal lies a 189 acre undeveloped piece of parkland at the southwestern corner of the city called Strawberry Fields. It’s been the subject of more than a dozen public meetings, myriad news stories, a widely circulated petition, and a fierce debate on social media.

UPDATE: Colorado Springs City Council has voted 6-3 to approve the land swap with the Broadmoor. Stay tuned to KRCC in the coming days for more. 

Screen Grab from THE RIDER AND THE WOLF by Grit and Thistle Film Company

UPDATE: On Monday, 4/25/16, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation officially confirmed that the remains found in January in Saguache County were those of Mike Rust. An investigation into Rust's death is ongoing. Stay tuned to KRCC for more information. 

On this special episode of Wish We Were Here: Tales and Investigations from the Shadows of America's Mountain, we worked with Nathan Ward at Grit and Thistle Film Company to produce an audio version of last year's documentary The Rider and the Wolf about the life and disappearance of Hall-of-Fame mountain biker Mike Rust. Rust went missing from his home in Colorado's remote San Luis Valley on March 31, 2009. On January 8, 2016, the remains of a body that may be Mike Rust's were discovered after a tip came in to the Saguache County Sheriff's Department.

Photo copyright Nancy Wood, used with permission from the Nancy Wood Literary Trust

A 12-year-old girl in blue jeans probably isn’t the first thing you picture when you hear the word paleontologist. But in 1979, young India Wood discovered a bone on a ranch in northwest Colorado that would change her life. For the next three years, Wood single-handedly excavated a site that would yield one of the finest Allosaurus fossils ever found. This is her story.

Courtesy of Dan Crossey

Most people think of Pikes Peak as a tourist destination – the Fourteener with a highway and a donut shop on top. But for many local mountaineers, climbers and skiers, Pikes Peak is also a wilderness playground. For backcountry skiers Dan Crossey, Mike Houston, Bill Blair, and Nate Porter Pikes Peak was like their backyard. But on April 25, 1995, what should’ve been a routine day of Spring skiing on Pikes Peak quickly turned into a nightmare.

Noel Black

With a national debate raging about the 2nd Amendment, we went to meet a man who epitomizes the right to bear arms: Dragonman. Born Mel Bernstein in Brooklyn, NY in 1945, Dragonman claims to be the most armed citizen in the state of Colorado. Among the five businesses he operates on his 240 acre property at the eastern edge of Colorado Springs, Dragonman is perhaps best known for his gunshop and the shooting range where he hosts an annual machine gun shoot. But there's more to Dragonman than guns and bluster.

For many years in the 1990s and 2000s, Colorado Springs was so synonymous with conservative evangelical Christianity that it earned the nickname "The Evangelical Vatican." But in late-2006, Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church--then one of the most prominent and influential evangelical churches in the country--was exposed for buying crystal meth and soliciting the services of a male prostitute. The small empire that Haggard and other evangelical leaders, like Focus on the Family's James Dobson, had built in the shadow of Pikes Peak almost immediately crumbled. But the churches, people, and culture that was established during those boom years remained.  Set adrift, this evangelical community was suddenly forced to look inward for direction after a decades-long pursuit of cultural and political power that had come to a screeching halt.

On this episode of Wish We Were Here, we speak to pastors, historians, ex-evangelicals, post-evangelicals, Christ-followers and more in an effort to understand where the Colorado Springs evangelical community has been, and where it's going.

On this episode of Wish We Were Here, we bring you three stories from three current or former Colorado springs residents, completely unknown to one another. All three of these stories are  tied together by one man: Lorne Greene.

On this episode of Wish We Were Here, we bring you the story of Ron Stallworth. In the 1970s, he became the first black detective ever to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. He's also the author of Black Klansman, a memoir about one of his most memorable investigations, which you'll hear about in this episode.

Music in this episode is mostly from the amazing Free Music Archive. You'll hear pieces by Lee Rosevere, Sarin, Podington Bear, Deadly Combo, Chris Zabriski, Kevin McLeod, Antony Raijekov, and All Shall Be Well. You'll also hear music by the Budos Band.

PODCAST  

In 1959, at the age of 15, Jim Bishop bought a plot of land in the Wet Mountains, west of Pueblo, Colorado. He started building a stone cottage on the land in the mid sixties, and never stopped. In the more than four decades since he broke ground, that little cottage has transformed into a massive castle, and a wildly popular roadside attraction. Built entirely by Bishop himself, Bishop Castle—as it’s come to be known—is likely one of the largest one-man building projects in the world. 

Noel Black

(Many poems in the slideshow NSFW or young eyes.)

In this episode of Wish We Were Here, we tell the story of Colorado Springs native Brian "Scoop" Nemeth, a man with high-functioning autism whose singular goal in life is to become "The Black Bill O'Reilly" — a national news and opinion anchor on the Fox News Network's prime-time broadcast.

Now 34, Brian has gotten closer to his goal than anyone ever thought he could. He first made a name for himself in Colorado Springs, Colorado, selling original, erotic and profanity-laden poems while studying journalism at Pikes Peak Community College. Then, against all expectations, he moved to Denver, where he's spent the better part of the last four years building a following through his YouTube videos and feature reports on public access TV. But he's up against a culture that doesn't put people like him in front of the camera during prime time. Still, he has many supporters and fans who believe he'll someday make it big. 

In 2002, retired FBI and CIA investigator Charlie Hess began writing letters Robert Charles Browne, a convicted murderer who claimed to have killed dozens of other people around the country. This episode of Wish We Were Here tells the story of their correspondence and the cold cases Hess would close with Browne's help.

Johnny Ryan

On this episode of Wish We Were Here, Producer Noel Black tells the story of a small community of kids who grew up in Colorado Springs with gay parents.

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. 

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. 

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.”

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE!

KRCC, Radio Colorado College, an NPR member station, will broadcast the pilot episode of its new hour-long radio show and podcast, Wish We Were Here, on Saturday July 5 at 3 p.m.; and Friday, July 11 at 7 p.m. on KRCC 91.5 FM and KRCC.org.