Building a hyperlocal library of community conversations


Aspen Public Radio is committed to providing our listeners with trustworthy coverage that includes local, regional, national, and international news, all rooted in a perspective that highlights the issues and new ideas being explored throughout our community.

We serve a wide variety of listeners, ranging from full-time locals with young families, to part-time homeowners who have been coming to the Valley for decades, to fifth-generation Coloradans seeking important local news and information in this politically-diverse rural American community.

Enriched as a community by the high quality of public programming, our new effort lifts up existing lectures, conversations, and discussions to expand access to important community issues through a hyper-local lens.

Although we are a small mountain community, the Roaring Fork Valley sees a marked increase in our local population during both the winter and summer seasons (swelling in Aspen from just 6,000 to more than 20,000 at the height of tourist season). As a result, a number of highly popular events with world-class speakers take place in just a few short weeks. With many events taking place concurrently, and COVID-19 still a concern for some individuals not comfortable attending events in-person, we embarked on a new community engagement initiative in 2022 to manage ongoing virtual access by recording and distributing these events in partnership with community organizations as an expanded service for our community.

We identified non-profit organizations who are known for their production of popular event series, and then asked each partner organization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the objectives and agreements of producing this initiative. Our distinguished 2022 community partners included: Wilderness Workshop, Hurst Community Initiative, Aspen Words, Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen Center for Physics, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, The Equity Speaker Series.

We then hired a Community Engagement Producer to help with on-site recordings and prepare audio for distribution, including full news story posts for each recording on our website and identifying potential events for broadcast consideration, then authoring the appropriate scripts and promos. With this increased capacity, we were able to expand our coverage of new ideas around critical cultural and social issues by sharing live event discussions recorded here–and all with less than 10 full-time staff.