The Denver Diatribe: Why I helped start Denver's best only iTunes friendly podcast

Lately I've been spending a good chunk of my minimal free time working with Jared Jacang Maher, a former Westword writer now at Face The State and John Dicker, founder of the Geeks Who Drink quiz night empire, to launch the Denver Diatribe, a weekly half-hour podcast on culture, politics and stuff relating to Denver (our tag line is, "Dispatches from the most interesting city between Omaha and Salt Lake").

But that brings up a question: Why the heck are we doing this?

For me, the answer begins with my shameless purchase of a smart phone last winter. Beyond just a geeky status symbol, I was surprised to discover my gizmo actually proved practical, letting me subscribe to, download and play podcasts anywhere I went. That meant I got to enjoy radio shows such as This American Life, Fresh Air, World Cafe Live and Radiolab in podcast form without all the distractions associated with listening to them on Colorado Public Radio -- like the endless pledge drives or, worse, the Colorado Matters news program.

What's the matter with Colorado Matters, you ask? My Diatribe colleague Dicker puts it best:

"Colorado Matters is like a Saturday Night Live parody of a stodgy NPR show. It's as if the hosts, and even some of the guests, have riders in their contracts prohibiting them from showing any trace of personality."

That may sound harsh, but deep down, you know it's true. I mean, who hasn't, just once, wanted to punch Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner in his kisser and say, "Tell me about bark beetles now, asshole."

Thanks to podcasts-on-the-go, slogging through such mediocrity was no longer a concern. But a new problem arose: The Denver podcast scene is as barren as Ward Churchill's post-tenure career prospects. Seriously: A search for "Denver podcast" on iTunes brings up a local church program, a 2008 DNC podcast and a Broncos-related enterprise that hasn't been updated in years.

We're living in one of the most tech-savvy communities in the country, and yet when it comes to audio programming, we're still partying like it's 1906. It's clearly time for a change, and my friends and I are just the tech dorks to do it.

And there you have it: The birth of the Denver Diatribe. Over the past few weeks, the three of us have been tackling such juicy topics as the insanity of Dan Maes; the shoddiness of Denver's public art scene; class warfare and Boulder food snobs; the chances of ballot measures 60, 61 and proposition 101 unleashing Gozer the Destructor from Ghostbusters as critics promise; and what it means that nobody wants to buy Maher's prize collection of She-Hulk comics.

Not only do we have a Denver Diatribe website, a Denver Diatribe Facebook page and a Denver Diatribe Twitter account, but somehow our potty mouths are tame enough that Apple approved the Denver Diatribe for iTunes.

Sure, there are only have about seven Denver Diatribe listeners right now, but hey, it's a start. Sooner or later, everybody's going to have a big, clunky smart phone that will expand their radio horizons beyond stodgy updates on Zebra mussels and hyper-partisan talk-radio rant-a-thons.

And when that day comes, we'll be there. And we won't even talk about bark beetles.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner