“Thirst Gap” Podcast, Hosted By The Water Desk’s Luke Runyon, Garners Journalism Awards

“Thirst Gap: Learning to Live with Less on the Colorado River,” a podcast produced by The Water Desk co-director, Luke Runyon, earned multiple awards in recent regional and national contests. 

Runyon reported the six-episode narrative series for KUNC, the NPR station for northern Colorado, before joining The Water Desk in September 2023.

The Water Desk Co-director Luke Runyon

The series follows the length of the Colorado River from its headwaters in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to its delta in northern Mexico, highlighting the communities and individuals grappling with water scarcity along the way. 

The show took home the following awards: 

  • Best podcast in small market radio in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the regional Edward R. Murrow awards from Radio Television Digital News Association
  • First place for Best Podcast among extra-large newsrooms in the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Top of the Rockies contest, which includes news organizations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico 

Runyon began reporting for the series in 2021, and developed the concept during his Ted Scripps fellowship at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism. He reported, wrote and produced the series. Johanna Zorn edited the project. Jason Paton sound designed and mixed the series. 

Reporting for “Thirst Gap” was made possible in part with an award from The Water Desk, along with support from the Walton Family Foundation, the Colorado Water Center and the Colorado State University Office of Engagement and Extension.

The Water Desk’s mission is to increase the volume, depth and power of journalism connected to Western water issues. We're an initiative of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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