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Tiny Carbondale Produces Big Podcasts for Niche Outdoor Subcultures

Carbondale’s population may be tiny, but its reach in the world of adventure audio is mighty. Outside magazine dubbed 2016 “The Year of Audio” due to the popularity of podcasts dedicated to sharing tales of outside adventure, and several of the most popular shows pipe right from the heart of Bonedale. Google “best adventure podcasts” and it’s a sure bet that local Chris Kalous’ “The Enormocast” will pop up on the list. Newer to the game but quickly developing a passionate following is Carbondale’s Cripple Creek Backcountry’s “Totally Deep” podcast.

Both “The Enormocast” and “Totally Deep” target niche outdoor subcultures. Cripple Creek Backcountry owners Doug Stenclik and Randy Young banter in unfiltered, sometimes irreverent dialogues with local ski mountaineering legends like Chris Davenport and Lou Dawson. They also interview colorful local fixtures like Jaques “Frenchie” Houot, who, at 81 years old, still skis or rides his bike nearly every day. Frenchie also loves to stop in at Cripple Creek almost daily during the season. In his intro to Frenchie Does Backcountry: Episode 7 of “Totally Deep,” Stenclik notes that the podcast “captures a piece of that last 50 years of ski and backcountry ski culture in our valley.” It also, notes Stenclik, “offers a taste of what it’s like to hang out in a backcountry-only ski shop deep in the mountains of Colorado with six beers on tap. You should know that never a day goes by without Frenchie coming in to tell one of these five stories again as if it was the first time.”

“The Enormocast” focuses on climbers, hosting in-depth, thought-provoking interviews with leading rock climbers and mountaineers such as Alex Honnold, who just astounded the climbing world with a free solo (a climb without ropes) of Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan rock face in less than four hours. Kalous is himself a longtime, deeply talented climber whose experience gives him the insider knowledge to ask insightful questions. He also has a deep sense of the sport’s history and players, and tries to ferret out leading climbers from the past for his interviews, resulting in an incredibly comprehensive library of audio climbing history.

Why podcast? Kalous thinks it’s becoming increasingly popular because it is media that listeners can consume while doing other things like running, working, or commuting. Kalous shared how he once painted houses for a living and listened to nearly 200 episodes of “The History of Rome” while he was working.

“I could get the days to fly by with podcasts, and I could learn a ton, too,” says Kalous. “I reckon it was a few semesters of Roman history for free—better than for free, because I was earning money while listening. Then I went to Rome for three days of being a tourist and it was amazing how much I understood what I was seeing.”

As a media professional, Kalous also loves the simplicity of the medium and the fact that it reduces the numbers of gatekeepers between sharing a creative inspiration or interview with the world.  He’s managed to put out two episodes a month in the past five and a half years, even when he was often out of the country and when he bought a house and had a baby. He believes that consistency is key in amassing the solid following that “The Enormocast” has gained.

“With podcasting—you have an idea? Tomorrow it’s out to the world,” says Kalous. “If you have a voice, literally, and any laptop built in the last decade, you can produce, post, and promote a podcast. There are no gatekeepers—no studio fees, FCC regs, no radio station manager, nothing. Editors and the other gatekeepers can help you a great deal with quality, but they can also squash creativity at times.”

Ultimately, the goal for both “Totally Deep” and “The Enormocast” is to share the authentic joys, fears, losses, and beauty experienced by fellow members of their respective outdoor tribes.

“My podcasts are really more about information and the fun of being included in an intimate conversation,” notes Kalous. “I suppose some paint pictures better than others depending on the guest. But my best shows are about the person’s inner landscape. If folks step away feeling like they just sat down with a couple beers at a campfire with us, then that’s a win.”