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Meet Erin O’Toole, the host of KUNC’s upcoming program and podcast ‘In the NoCo’

Erin O'Toole portrait
Erin O'Toole is KUNC's new host of program and podcast 'In the NoCo,' which will be launched later this year.

As Ted Lasso says, and maybe a few other iconic folks as well, there's no place like home. We are happy to welcome back a familiar voice to KUNC's airwaves. Longtime journalist and host Erin O'Toole is back after a brief time away from public radio. KUNC’s Desmond O’Boyle caught up with her to learn more about what she’s been up to, and the new project she’s working on bringing to life.

Let me say, it’s good to have you back in the building…

Thank you! It's so great to be back in the building. It's a little surreal after a few months away.

Longtime listeners will remember you, of course. Can you introduce yourself to the people who are new to KUNC?

I actually started here in 2009. And longtime listeners might remember, I was Morning Edition host for quite a while. There was a glorious six months where I slept in and hosted All Things Considered -- and then went back to Morning Edition because sometimes you just can't quit the mornings. I served as assistant news director for a short while, and then I stopped doing that to host a half-hour afternoon radio program (that was also a podcast) called Colorado Edition. That was from 2019 to 2022, right during the pandemic.

And then you left on a brief hiatus last year. So, what were you up to during that time?

I took an opportunity to focus exclusively on working on a daily podcast called City Cast Denver. They're a great group, doing wonderful work; they're very passionate about what they're doing. But honestly, I missed public radio. I missed KUNC. One of the great things about being at KUNC is you just have unlimited license to follow your curiosity. And our listeners are curious people, too; we’re often curious about the same things. I also really missed covering northern Colorado. This is my home. I have lived in Greeley - and now I live in Fort Collins - since 2009. I just felt like I was missing out on so many things happening across the area. So, at the beginning of this year, I learned about an opportunity to come back and work on creating a brand-new project, and I could not pass up that opportunity.

You just mentioned a new project at KUNC. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

A lot of the details are still being ironed out. What I can say is it's going to be a daily podcast and radio segment, and it’s called In The NoCo. It's going to be informed by the news, but it's not going to be reported in the same way that you might hear a typical news feature or newscast spot. What we want to do is contextualize the news. We want to sort of demystify the news, explain some of the complicated topics that just, sometimes you don't have time to do. We want to feature the work of the KUNC newsroom in new ways, having reporters on to kind of pull back the curtain and show what they're doing and how they're doing their reporting work. And we're hoping to reach some new audiences, people who perhaps don't listen to the radio, who want to be informed about their community and feel connected to their community in a new way -- but they can listen on their schedule because it's a podcast, too.

What are you most looking forward to with this?

First off, I have this incredibly talented team I’m going to be working with. Robyn Vincent, who many of you know is a wonderful KUNC reporter and editor, she's going to be the show's executive producer. She already has this great vision for what we're going to tackle. And Yoselin Meza-Miranda is going to be a producer on the show. And she just brings this fresh energy to the project. Secondly -- I'm just really excited to dig into all the fascinating stories and people and culture and history of these incredibly diverse communities that make up northern Colorado.

So, when will we be able to listen?

We don't have an official launch date just yet. We're still incubating some ideas for the sound and feel of it. I would say look for something late in the summer. You can also sign up for our free weekly newsletter, also called In the NoCo. That’s a great way to stay updated on where we are in the process.

Need to know a bit more? Here are some fun questions we gave Erin to get to know her just a bit more.

  • You recently re-located to Fort Collins. What are you the most excited to explore? I’m really looking forward to getting to know the food truck scene. Maybe it’s all the camping I did as a kid, but I love experiencing any kind of food made outside a traditional kitchen. And there are a lot of food trucks in FoCo I’ll be trying this summer!
  • Most Colorado thing you have ever done? Horseback riding in the Rockies, followed by a bison burger and an Odell IPA – I think I hit peak Colorado that afternoon!
  • Summer movie you are most looking forward to seeing? I’m going to cheat and pick two: Asteroid City, and the newIndiana Jones movie.
  • If you could only keep one concert t-shirt and had to donate all of the others, you would keep: That's a tough one! I'll keep They Might Be Giants — their t-shirt designs are so fun and creative (along with everything else they do, of course).
  • Do you have a tv show you are currently enjoying? I just finished “Mrs. Davis”(Peacock) and absolutely loved it. I’ve never watched a show that felt so firmly rooted in this era we’re living in right now, where we’re not sure if AI and algorithms and other shadowy tech inventions are here to help or destroy us. It was thoroughly original, engaging, and weird – and although I loved the way they wrapped it up, I’m already wishing it wasn’t just a one-season show.
  • What book are you currently or most looking forward to reading at the moment? After hearing the author on 1A, I’m curious to check out All the Gold Stars by Rainseford Stauffer.
  • What would be considered your super power? I hope it’s my amazing conversational skills – but I suppose empathy would also be considered my superpower.
  • Hugs or fist bumps? I’m a hugger if you are!
Related Content
  • Last Monday, Colorado Edition host Erin O’Toole started getting a flood of new Twitter mentions and follows. She soon realized all those messages were not exactly meant for her. A quick search of the news revealed there is another Erin O'Toole, north of the border, who was just elected leader of the Conservative Party in Canada. The two had a chance to meet via Skype to discuss their unlikely connection.
  • On Sunday night, Canada's Conservative Party chose Erin O'Toole as their leader in the upcoming election for prime minister of Canada. Many Canadians took to Twitter and accidentally found not the Erin O'Toole north of the border, but KUNC's very own Erin O'Toole, co-host of Colorado Edition. We sit down for a virtual Q&A to give the rest of the world a glimpse into the life of a public radio host in Colorado.
  • As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.