- Bruce Elliott
Under the Western Skies Last year, when Eric Whitney learned that KRCC FM 91.5 had plans to hire a full-time local news producer, he was scraping by in Cape Town, South Africa. Before that, he had spent three years traveling the American West and living in a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon. During those years as a freelance radio reporter for National Public Radio programs such as "All Things Considered" and "Marketplace," he learned to live with few frills.
"After four years of freelancing, living in a van and bopping all over the world, coming home didn't sound that bad," he said.
The 36-year-old, who comes from a fourth generation El Paso County family, left Colorado Springs half his lifetime ago, sick of the city and itching to see the world. Last fall he landed a job as the producer of "Western Skies," a weekly news show that broadcasts on KRCC Saturdays at 4 pm, replaying on Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Whitney hopes to make the most of it by broadening horizons. A typical mix of stories on the program might include soldier stories from Fort Carson, a feature on low-power radio in Salida and a report from Utah, where a conservative mayor has curried support to fight global warming.
"I think the Front Range tends to focus on the Front Range and they tend to forget about the rest of the state," he said.
Whitney's show is, in part, the answer to longtime community criticism of KRCC for not airing local news. He says "Western Skies" will likely expand to two shows a week this year and that much of the community response to the program has been largely positive so far. "If people are critical one way or the other," he said, "I want to hear it."
Photo by Bruce Elliott