Denver remains one of the fastest-growing cities in America, and this migration is starting to change the cultural landscape. Instead of lamenting this evolution, a new podcast wants to embrace the progression of this great city. Hosted by long-time Denver reporter, Bree Davies, City Cast podcast and newsletter is coming to Denver on March 25. This ambitious project aims to explore the intricate details of the city and the people shaping Denver’s post-COVID future.
“Our purpose is making sure that whether you’ve been here for six months or six generations, you can get a feeling and understanding for the city and really invest yourself in it,” explains the organization.
Funded by the former owners of the Washington Post and headed by David Plotz from Atlas Obscura and Slate Magazine, Denver’s version is one of several podcasts they are launching nationwide — with Denver and Chicago leading the front. But despite its national outposts, the Mile High version has a strong anchor to local culture with Davies.
Born and raised in Denver, Davies shares an intimate connection with the city. In her younger days, she wandered up and down Colfax, sneaking into concerts and chatting with the employees at her favorite thrift stores and record shops. Throughout her life she’s seen Denver transform into the vast metropolis it is today.
After graduating from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, she moved to New York, enthralled by the bright lights and opportunities. She quickly discovered, however, that New York couldn’t compete with her hometown, Denver. She found the dirty streets and frantic culture unappealing, and it wasn’t long before she ventured back to the city she knew and loved.
It’s been 15 years since her return, and she’s wasted no time uplifting the Denver community. From writing her own column in Westword and hosting the Local Shakedown show on AM radio 1190, to working with PBS 12 and starting her own DIY podcast “Hello? Denver? Are You Still There?” Davies describes herself as a “very Denver person.” City Cast is just her latest form of proof.
So, what exactly is City Cast?
The podcast will resemble NPR’s Up First podcast with 15-minute episodes, five days a week. She hopes to point everyday conversations towards the local community by informing the public about a wide range of topics, from who’s in charge of plowing the roads, to the future of concert venues as they begin reopening this spring.
“The idea is to give people something to take with them throughout the rest of the day. You may not have time to read the whole newspaper. Most of us don’t, in whatever format you read the news – so we wanted to package something that was like, here’s what people are talking about. Here’s what you should know. Here’s the top three stories we found the most interesting in the news today. And then here’s a little bit longer,” said Davies.
Since a young age, Davies understood the importance of amplifying voices in her community, especially creatives. “My parents were big supporters of local art and local artists. I bought my first piece of art when I was 10 years old from the Pirate Art Gallery. So I understood the value of paying artists for their art really early on. And when I was writing about art, I realized the advocacy component was super important.” As she kept writing and exploring the city, she began advocating for other local communities and organizations as well.
“I started to work towards amplifying the voices of other people in the city, by just trying to get people to pay attention to the work they were doing, whether that was civic, being civically engaged, understanding why it’s important to vote, or why it’s important to buy art from local artists directly and why it’s important to support local institutions, whether that’s your favorite coffee shop or your favorite music venue.”
With the pandemic slowly losing its grip on society, Denver is starting to open its doors once again. This transition period is crucial in shaping Denver’s future, which makes a program like City Cast particularly valuable.
“When we talk about the pandemic and the situation that folks are going through economically, psychologically, it’s very universal to what’s happening in other cities across the country. We’re dealing with the same kinds of issues, but how we deal with those issues and how our city really handles those issues says a lot about who we are. And I hope that through City Casts, we can highlight the good and the positive that has come out of this situation and how we’ve been able to help each other and show that this is what Denver is all about.”
Not even COVID-19 could deter the migration of thousands of people across the country who moved to Denver in 2020. Although many local businesses closed due to the pandemic, people continued to visit the city for the mountain views and laid-back culture, cementing Denver as a staple in American tourism throughout 2020. There’s something special about this place, an aura that beams across the front range. What is it about Denver that radiates such beloved energy?
“Denver has so much to offer,” Davies said. “I think our history is really fascinating. Our role in the Chicano civil rights movement is huge. Our role in the disability rights movement is huge. These are things that are so crucial to our city’s roots, that a lot of folks don’t know. And so I think that’s what drives me to help tell Denver’s story.” She believes the best way to tell this story is with a podcast.
The way people ingest their local news is quickly evolving, and podcasts are leading the charge. In a society dominated by streaming services, this evolution was inevitable. “I think podcasting just works because of that on-demand nature,” Davies explained. “ How many things do we have on-demand now? And we have to just acclimate to that. I think a lot of news organizations are realizing that if you want to get people, if you want to get eyes and ears in front of the work that you’re doing, you have to make it accessible.”
Although City Cast planned on debuting on March 25, the recent Boulder shooting inspired Davies release a special episode with Leah Paterson, an expert on gun violence and regulation, earlier this week.