If there’s one thing Bree Davies knows for certain, it’s that Denver is constantly changing. She witnessed the city transform in many ways while growing up here, attending Metropolitan State University of Denver, and then during her time freelancing at Westword and the Denver Post. Now, she’ll continue to monitor how the Mile High City develops and adapts as host of City Cast Denver, a new daily podcast and newsletter, which launched on March 25.
The 40-year old—along with City Cast’s newsletter editor Peyton Garcia, and producers Paul Karolyi and Xandra McMahon—hopes to deliver a fresh perspective on issues affecting Denver every weekday morning at 6 a.m. On the day of the podcast’s official launch, we caught up with Davies to hear about her previous experience as a storyteller, City Cast’s role in Denver, and how this week’s devastating mass shooting in Boulder affected the podcast’s much-anticipated rollout.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
5280: A lot of people know your name from Westword. But for those that aren’t as familiar, what did you write about there?
Bree Davies: I had a column online called “Breeality Bites.” It was basically like a sort of diary/personal column about my life, but it sort of turned into a conversation about the city. So many things I was writing about just ended up being city issues like neighborhoods changing and development in Denver. A lot of that came out of my work in arts advocacy as well because I was writing about artists or issues that artists were facing as a city was growing—mainly the affordability component of just living here, whether that’s having a place to live or also having an affordable studio space for you, for your band to practice. I found myself facilitating a lot of conversations online—as they do on Twitter—about city issues, and it made me realize that people want to talk about this stuff.
Was your interest in facilitating those conversations part of the reason you gravitated toward podcasting?
In 2018, I launched Hello Denver Are You Still There? and the purpose was to get people in person talking about housing, mental health, policing, and food insecurity—issues that are still very prominent and relevant right now. That was my first foray into podcasts, and I realized through that format that it was really accessible. It’s been a different experience having a team where we can work through stories and do pre-interviews of people to produce these really beautifully crafted, beautifully sounding segments. I see [City Cast] as sort of an evolution from Hello Denver because the conversations are still the same.
City Cast also just launched in Chicago last week. Why did they decide to cover Denver as well?
I think that they saw that Denver was a growing city, and we’re a hot topic city. People want to come here for a reason, and I think that gives them all the more reason to say, “What’s so interesting about the city that drives people to be here beyond our great weather or our economy?”
Denver has got plenty of outlets covering local news. How will City Cast be different?
The news landscape is so versatile that the more voices we have the better, and the more perspectives we have the better. We don’t have a daily news podcast that will give you a really nice package in the morning while you’re getting ready or you’re drinking your coffee. We give you a couple of headlines to get you thinking and talking about what’s going on in the city. And then here’s a little bit of a deeper dive interview with somebody who runs a restaurant that you love, that runs a business that you love, is the council person in your neighborhood, or is someone who’s advocating for public transit that directly affects you. This is how we engage and inform our listeners in 15 minutes, and I think that’s something that’s not necessarily being done. We’re a different format from radio, and we’re obviously a different format from broadcast journalism. I think it’s another valuable addition to the wide variety of media we have in a really beautiful landscape of reporters doing great work.
City Cast Denver originally planned to launch on March 25, but you moved it up a day because of the mass shooting in Boulder this week. What made you make that decision?
Sometimes our best work can come out under pressure, but we just felt it was something that needed to be talked about. It’s a national story, and we just felt it was right for us to share some perspective on the situation. I wanted people to know that I know what you’re feeling. It’s a weird feeling. It’s a scary feeling. It’s just a terrible feeling. But it’s become a feeling that a lot of people in Colorado have experienced because we’ve unfortunately had an experience with mass shootings over our history, and I just wanted to contextualize that a little bit. We brought in another reporter to talk about her reporting on guns in America to give some context to this conversation because gun violence in Colorado is not just isolated to mass shootings, it’s something that happens in neighborhoods, every single day.
What was it like to produce your first episode with City Cast Denver so quickly?
The process of creating something for a daily audience is brand new to me. It’s been a really quick learning curve, but it’s also really exciting because it just means that I’m even more on top of the news that’s happening every day in Denver, which I already pay attention to. But now, I have this outlet to work with this team and make something that’s worthwhile for people to listen to.
Listen to City Cast Denver here.