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KUNC Reporters Win Four CBA Awards Of Excellence. Revisit Their Stories Here

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Each year, the Colorado Broadcasters Association honors broadcasters' service to their communities with their Awards of Excellence.

KUNC's newsroom is dedicated to reporting local stories that inform, inspire and entertain our listeners and readers. This year, our reporters won four awards for their work in 2019.

Revisit the stories below.

Best News Feature, Report or Series - 1st Place
Beer That Gets You High Has Arrived, And It's Just The Beginning by Matt Bloom

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Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC

Inside a Denver bottling plant, Keith Villa watches as rows and rows of 10-ounce silver bottles whisk by, all filled with a golden-colored Belgian-style ale called Grainwave.

It looks and tastes like beer. But instead of alcohol, there's 5 milligrams of THC mixed inside. That's the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you high.

The brand is CERIA. The company's inaugural brew hit more than 50 dispensary shelves across the state in December 2018, making it the first mass-produced THC-infused beer on the market.

It's likely not the last.

Read more →

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Best News Feature, Report or Series - 2nd Place
When A Soldier Dies, The Troops Who Served With Them Mourn, Too by Michael de Yoanna

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Credit Sgt. Anthony Bryant / Courtesy Department of Defense

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Fort Carson Army Sgt. Thomas Simpson speaks about his friend, Sgt. Joey Collette, who died while serving in Afghanistan.

A bittersweet smile flashes across the face of Sgt. Thomas Simpson as he talks about his good friend, Joey, who was one of everyone's favorites at Fort Carson.

"He just had a way about him of lifting everybody up," Simpson said. "You know, everybody was better from having him around."

Joey is Spc. Joseph Collette, who lost his life on March 22 during a firefight in Afghanistan's Kunduz province.

Simpson talks about Collette in an office on the Army post in Colorado Springs. He said it is important for everyone -- the soldiers who served with Collette -- to share their stories about him, as it was with the others lost during the country's long war on terror. It helps the grieving process.

"As long as you're continuing to speak their names and continuing to share stories about them, they're not truly gone anymore," Simpson said.

Read more →

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Best News Coverage of a Single Event - 1st Place
Western Water Managers Bet On Cloud Seeding, Despite Gaps In Science by Luke Runyon

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Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC

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KUNC's Luke Runyon reports on the practice of cloud seeding.

Each winter, anxious water managers, farmers and city leaders in the American Southwest turn their eyes toward the snowy peaks of the southern Rocky Mountains.

The piling snow is a massive frozen reservoir, and its depth and weight can foreshadow the year ahead. Millions of dollars are spent divining what a heavy or light snowpack means for the region's reservoirs, for its booming cities, for its arid farmland.

A lot of the current water scarcity problems in the Southwest could be eased if it just snowed more and with a regular frequency in the high country of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. More snow means more time to deal with the Colorado River's fundamental supply and demand imbalance.

The onus to correcting that imbalance often falls more on the demand side of the equation, with myriad policy pushes that either incentivize or force people to use less water. On the supply side, options are limited.

There's one tempting proposition for western water managers currently feeling the pressure to dole out cutbacks to users due to the region's ongoing aridification — inducing clouds to drop more snow.

Read more →

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Best Mini Documentary or Series - 2nd Place
Where The River Ends by Luke Runyon

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Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC/LightHawk

For millions of years, the Colorado River emptied into the Pacific Ocean, snaking from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, through deserts in Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Arizona and spilling over a vast area in northern Mexico.

Then we came along.

Dams and diversions built along the Colorado River to generate electricity, irrigate crops and establish cities took their toll on the river's delta. Since the 1960s, it has only flowed all the way to the ocean a handful of times. The river's inability to complete its journey through the Southwest has become one of its defining characteristics.

This series looks at the Colorado River's delta from the ground and the air to give a whole new perspective on the vastness of the problem we created, and the attempts to try and fix it.

Read more →

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