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‘Guardians Of The River’ Podcast Explores How To Protect A Place When There’s No Good Answer

Catherine “Cat” de Medici Jaffee is a storyteller and writer who grew up on the W/J Ranch in Woody Creek. She now runs a podcast production company in Denver called House of Pod. For nearly two years, Jaffee and her team have been working with National Geographic and the Wild Bird Trust to create “Guardians of the River.”

The eight-episode podcast series is about a mysterious water system that twists and turns through Namibia and Angola and eventually converges into a mighty delta in Botswana called “The Okavango.” It’s the story of what happens when worlds collide to protect a remote and wild place.

Guardians of the River premiered this summer at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won best non-fiction podcast of the year. This achievement is especially remarkable given that Jaffee was diagnosed with dengue fever, malaria and ovarian cancer upon her return to Colorado from southern Africa. She wrote most of the story while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. She didn’t think the podcast would get made, let alone win an award.

Our Morning Edition host Eleanor Bennett spoke recently with Jaffee about the journey of making the podcast and the resonance the story has with local water issues here in the Roaring Fork Valley and across the West.

Aspen Public Radio will also be broadcasting the first episode in the eight-part series on Sunday, July 25 from 7-8pm.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.
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