Best Serial Podcast 2021 | The Syndicate | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Scott Carney

Back in August, former Westword writer and longform journalist Chris Walker debuted The Syndicate, a thrilling, eight-chapter, true-crime podcast produced by Imperative Entertainment and Foxtopus Ink. It tells the story of a group of college buddies who exploited Colorado's medical cannabis laws to create one of the most successful drug-smuggling rings in U.S. history — before the traffickers were brought down by a federal mole. The story, which includes skydiving, drugs galore, wild characters and plenty of derring-do, is the perfect soundtrack for your next drive across the state...whether or not you have drugs in tow.
Speaking even faster than they can run, husband-wife coaches and national-champion runners Megan and David Roche have recorded Some Work, All Play, a binge-worthy thirty-minute podcast that invites listeners into their Tuesday morning conversations about life's big issues — from what's going on in the news to fascinating movies, books or articles they've read. After their banter, they answer listener questions about training and offer data-driven running advice rooted in both sports science and the kind of unflagging optimism and cheerleading that will help listeners get through the toughest runs. They are all about compassion, flamboyant joy and endless love. Now, that's something to chase.

Lighthearted banter and random silliness of the sort that has been commonplace in morning television news for decades feels out of step given the current state of the world — which is a big reason that CBS4 Denver's approach is so refreshing. Instead of relying on gimmicks, the station simply tasks main anchors Dominic Garcia and Kelly Werthmann (aided by CBSN's Makenzie O'Keefe) with delivering the most important stories at the dawn of the day straight, with big assists from a deep bench of reportorial talent that includes Mekialaya White and veteran Rick Sallinger. Add weather updates from Ashton Altieri, who eschews bluster and overhype in favor of the most relevant information, and you've got a wake-up program perfect for 2021.

When the news is serious, it makes sense to turn to serious news purveyors — and Denver7's evening newscast is seriously strong. The integrity of anchor Anne Trujillo has only grown over the decades that she's held down the main anchor chair, and her current partner, Shannon Ogden, is an effective communicator with a sure command of tone. Moreover, the news team's commitment to in-depth storytelling isn't just a slogan; reports are allowed to run long when the subject matter calls for it rather than the info being delivered in calorie-free mini-bites. And that's not to mention the presence of Mike Nelson, the dean of Colorado forecasters, and Lionel Bienvenu, whose sports segments are given a prominence often lacking on other outlets.

Tom Green is so well known for his dry sense of humor that his journalistic skills can sometimes be overlooked. But his live coverage of the mass shooting at the Boulder King Soopers in late March was a model of the form. Unlike some of his competitors, who strayed into problematic speculation while filling time between new revelations, Green held steady, exuding compassion and concern while still dispensing hard truths. The ability to maintain emotional equilibrium at moments of high tension is rare, but Green has it to spare.

Longtime Coloradans have a very low tolerance for forecasters who portray every snow event as a potential life-threatening blizzard and seem to seek out any excuse to drop phrases such as "bomb cyclone" into their conversation whether they're relevant or not. So praise be to Matt Makens, whose appearances on Channel 2 are marked by a low-key delivery that lets the facts of the day speak for themselves. And because he's a local product (he grew up outside of Castle Rock), he has enough experience with the vagaries of Colorado weather to know the difference between a legitimate thunderstorm and a passing cloud.

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