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Throughout the history of the American West, water issues have shown their ability to both unite and divide communities. As an imbalance between water supplies and demands grows in the region, KUNC is committed to covering the stories that emerge.

Transitions Coming To KUNC's Colorado River Coverage

colorado river near kremmling
Nick Cote for KUNC
/
LightHawk
The Colorado River snakes through ranch land near Kremmling, Colo.

Starting in August, KUNC’s Luke Runyon is stepping away from coverage of the Colorado River basin to participate in the University of Colorado’s Ted Scripps fellowship in environmental journalism.

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Luke Runyon
Luke Runyon

Runyon, along with four other journalists, was selected to be a fellow at the university’s Center for Environmental Journalism for the 2021-2022 academic year. As a fellow, Runyon plans to study water policy and governance in the American West, with a focus on how communities grapple with and adapt to intensifying shortages in the Colorado River watershed.

Runyon has led KUNC’s coverage of the river since 2017, when the station first received a grant from the Walton Family Foundation to make the watershed a full-time beat. He built a network of public media stations across the western U.S. that partner on water coverage and broadcast stories produced by KUNC.

“I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve been able to do during my time at KUNC and am grateful to have the freedom to delve into some of the West’s most complex environmental issues,” Runyon said.

Before covering water at KUNC, Runyon covered agriculture and food for five years as the station’s Harvest Public Media reporter. He also reported for Aspen Public Radio and Illinois Public Radio. His reports have been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Here & Now and APM's Marketplace.

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Alex Hager

Runyon’s work has earned a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists and regional Edward R. Murrow awards, along with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, Public Media Journalists Association, and the Colorado Broadcasters Association.

KUNC’s Colorado River coverage will continue with reporter Alex Hager taking over the project’s coverage and day-to-day operations.

Hager spent two years at Aspen Public Radio, mainly reporting on the resort economy, the environment and the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, he covered the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery for KDLG in Dillingham, Alaska. Hager has a journalism degree from Elon University, where he spent four years working for the student newspaper and TV station. Originally from Connecticut, he’s become an avid skier, hiker and mountain biker since moving west.