Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

There are few who understand the dynamics of modern presidential politics better than David Axelrod. As Chief Strategist for President Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012, Axelrod helped define presidential campaigning in the digital era. He also worked closely with President Obama as Senior Advisor in the White House from 2009 to 2011. He now runs the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, and is a Senior Political Correspondent for CNN and host of the podcast, The Axe Files


Axelrod was in Colorado Springs this week to speak at Colorado College, and KRCC’s Jake Brownell interviewed him about his time in Washington and the legacy of the president he helped put into office.  

Hickenlooper file photo

Governor John Hickenlooper has already been front and center this campaign season. He had a prime speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention and has recently been hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton.

On this episode of Air Check: 

Vicky, Jeff, and Jake share their favorite new releases of the last month; Local band Eros and the Eschaton preview some tracks from their new album, Weight of Matter; Pueblo Pulp music writer John Bueno shares some of his favorite bands from the Steel City; Musician Ed Parsons schools us on the history of Reggae; And electronic producer Tor talks sampling and songwriting. 

On this episode of Air Check:

Colorado Springs hip hop artist Stoney Bertz tells us about about how high school debate camp influenced her approach to songwriting; Local synth-pop group Millicent joins us for an in-studio performance and interview; Our very own Iggy Igloo shares some music from a genre that’s very close to his heart; And, at the end of the show, we discuss the summer concert season at Red Rocks and tell you how you can win tickets to some amazing upcoming shows.



With less than two weeks left in the state's annual legislative session lawmakers still have some big items they want to tackle.  As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland spoke with other statehouse reporters to discuss the end of the session.



Lawmakers in both parties have unveiled a proposal to bring a presidential primary back to Colorado. It's estimated to cost between five to seven million dollars to conduct, and the heads of both the state Democratic and Republican parties and the Governor support it.

The membership drive is underway at KRCC right now, and for this episode Air Check we decided to take the opportunity to look back at some of our favorite artist interviews and in-studio performances that we've hosted at KRCC over the past few years. On this episode, we revisit a conversation with Shearwater frontman, Jonathan Meiburg, an in-studio performance from in/PLANES -- the new project of Haunted Windchimes members Desirae Garcia and Inaiah Lujan -- and an interview and in-studio performance from Neil Halstead of the legendary shoegaze band, Slowdive. All that plus a round-up of some of our favorite tracks from the last month and a remembrance of Prince, who died on April 21st. 

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

The Governor's commission studying American Indian representations in public schools released its report this week. The group recommends that public schools do not use American Indian mascots, but if they do, they should partner with a tribe to make sure it is done in a respectful way. Right now thirty Colorado schools use some type of American Indian mascot or imagery.

The commission went to four schools to bring American Indian and non-American Indian people together, community members, school boards, and students. This follows failed attempts at the statehouse to ban these types of mascots.

Colorado Democratic Party

Colorado Democrats are set to gather in Loveland tomorrow to elect their final group of delegates to the National Convention in Philadelphia this summer. Bente Birkeland talked to Colorado Chairman Rick Palacio about the process and divisions within the party...


Colorado is debating whether to form an Office of Fantasy Sports to regulate and create rules around pay-for-play fantasy sports leagues. The industry estimates that 800,000 people in Colorado are fantasy sports players, and 150,000 pay in the daily sports leagues.

Colorado Republican Party

Republican Party activists are gathering in Colorado Springs this Saturday for the state GOP convention. The party will elect delegates to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Senator Ted Cruz is already confirmed to attend. Donald Trump will not, but may send a surrogate to speak on his behalf.  Ohio Governor John Kasich has announced he is not coming.

In an interview with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland, Steve House, the Chair of the Colorado GOP, says the state plays a pivotal role in who the Republican presidential nominee may be.


The Democratic controlled House passed the state budget on Friday with five Republicans backing it. The bill now heads to the Republican controlled Senate.  As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reports about the debate and what to expect going forward.



State lawmakers are set to debate the annual budget, which funds everything from roads and schools, to healthcare and parks. This year Colorado has a shortfall, so that means making budget cuts. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the major budget issues.


Several police reform measures are making their way through the statehouse, and lawmakers are also looking at how best to address the problem of sexting among teenagers.


Colorado's four-month long legislative session is half way over. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about some of the surprises so far, and what lies ahead.

A KRCC Interview with Jay Leno

Mar 9, 2016
Lee Stranahan

Jay Leno, the former host of The Tonight Show, will perform Sunday, March 13 at 5 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs. KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with Leno via phone about stand-up comedy, and life after Late Night.

Eliaws - GNU Free Documentation License

Director and Actor Peter Bogdonovich is perhaps most recognizable as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, therapist to Tony Sopranos therapist Jennifer Melfi on the HBO TV Series “The Sopranos”


Roughly three weeks into Colorado's annual legislative session, a lot of bills are starting to get their first hearings.

Capitol reporter Bente Birkeland talks to other statehouse reporters about the upcoming week and how politics impacts the bills being heard in committees. 

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Colorado State Fair has a new general manager.  Sarah Cummings recently picked up the reins to drive the annual celebration of state agriculture.  She comes from California, where she worked with and ran various fairs; she also grew up participating in them. KRCC's Andrea Chalfin sat down with Cummings on her first day on the fairgrounds to talk with her about the state of the State Fair.


Lawmakers have introduced the first wave of bills as part of the annual legislative session. Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters about some of the most interesting pieces of legislation as part of our Capitol Conversation series.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado is heading into the 2016 annual legislative session next week and state lawmakers will debate a host of topics from energy and water, to the budget and schools. Statehouse Reporter Bente Birkeland discussed the session with House Minority leader Brian DelGrosso [R-Loveland].

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst [D-Boulder] is entering her second year as the leader of the chamber; she is also term limited at the end of the session. As part of our series previewing the legislative session statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland talked to her about her priorities.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Democrats have a one-seat minority in the state senate. They'll also have a new minority leader for the upcoming legislative session. Senate minority leader Lucia Guzman [D-Denver] sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to discuss her new role.

Interview Highlights:

On Leading her Caucus

"As a senator I have certain great interests whether it be judiciary or the health of our kids in schools. Now as the minority leader I have to think more broadly. I have to think about the caucus itself," said Guzman.

On Winning Back the Majority

"We also know that we must be very strategic about what we do, how we do it, so that in the long run we are looking towards the future, towards the election, towards the outcome of those elections and hoping they'll be positive to our group," said Guzman.

On Repealing the Death Penalty

"It's been a long term passion of mine, you know my father was murdered, and yet from that very day I continue to think we don't grow as a society by killing people who kill people… I'm not going to bring that bill this year. It goes back to the fact that I'm the minority leader, not an individual Senator," said Guzman.

Colorado General Assembly

Colorado's annual legislative session begins on January 13th. For a series leading up to the session, statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland is sitting down with legislative leaders to discuss their goals and the big issues they must confront.


Colorado lawmakers are returning to the state capitol next week for the four-month annual legislative session. As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters about the national political scene and how it will impact the session.

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia to Step Down

Nov 10, 2015
Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado's Lt. Governor Joe Garcia announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from the position next year, after five years on the job. He also heads the Colorado Department of Higher Education and will leave that post to helm a higher education policy group for the western U.S., called the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Tom Koerner/USFWS / Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Interior decided on Tuesday that the greater sage grouse does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The bird spans eleven western states including Colorado, where it lives in pockets along the western slope.  The population is mostly concentrated in the northwest part of the state. Governor John Hickenlooper was one of the many people working to avoid a federal listing for the bird.  He sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to talk about the decision and other initiatives.

Interview Highlights

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Judge Richard Gabriel will soon be sworn in as Colorado's next State Supreme Court Justice. He currently serves on the Colorado Court of Appeals. He received his undergrad degree at Yale University and went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He talked to statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland about his view of politics in the judicial process, why he became a lawyer, and some of his significant cases. 

Highlights from the Interview:

On Criticisms that Judges and Decisions are Too Political

Bente Birkeland

Dan Haley is the new executive director of the state's largest oil and gas industry trade group, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. He began the position on June 1st. His background is in media and journalism. He spent 20 years as a journalist and editor, serving as the editorial page editor at the Denver Post. He then joined the private sector as a media consultant.

Interview Highlights with Dan Haley:

On How his Media Background will help him lead the industry in Colorado.


The deadline for bills that passed during the state's legislative session to become law or get vetoed was Friday. Measures are either signed by the Governor or become law without his signature. Some proposals have large signing ceremonies, while others are done quietly. Bente Birkeland talks to state capitol reporters about some of the measures.