DENVER (CBS4) – If you think you’ve already heard the story of Rocky Flats, think again.
From the comfort of his Denver living room, Paul Karolyi is creating a contemporary take on the decades-long Colorado controversy. He’s the host and producer of the podcast Changing Denver with a new series called “Unclear Danger: The Colorado Story of Rocky Flats.”
“I’ve been doing this podcast for three years now,” Karolyi told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It started out as a show about made spaces here in Denver, looking for interesting ways that people relate to the places they live. The fact that (Rocky Flats) is still an active controversy, I knew that it was a story I had to follow.”
It’s the history of Rocky Flats and the Cold War that intrigued Karolyi to start a podcast. He began his research in 2016 and has since then interviewed experts, historians, homeowners, activists and more.
“I think what people want from a podcast is a little bit more depth and context than what they can get from other mediums,” he said. “People expect this kind of thing from podcasts. You want to follow along as someone is investigating something like this, and that’s what I’m giving people with something in their backyard.”
Karolyi said the narrative around Rocky Flats has long been the same — “Regulatory agencies say it’s safe, activists say it’s not.”
His goal is to give listeners a new perspective on the ongoing issue.
“What I’m attempting to do with my series is contextualize that with all the history, both official history and the people’s history, and then analyze both arguments,” Karolyi explained. “See where they come from, what they are motivated by and to figure out what the truth is.”
The biggest question people want answered is if the former nuclear weapons plant site is truly safe. That plutonium and other dangers are not lurking beneath the soil after the Superfund cleanup. Karolyi said he will answer that question in an upcoming episode, but declined to give any clues to what he’s concluded before that episode airs.
More than safety, Karolyi also believes Coloradans need to answer a deeper question of legacy.
“Regardless of whether or not you think it is (safe),” he said, “We as a community here in Denver and the Front Range have not come to terms with the Cold War and this legacy. The fact that we made this choice. We built these bombs and we left this scar on our land. We have not agreed on how to represent that, how we feel about that.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.