We’re excited to introduce you to Paul Karolyi, our new Podcaster in Residence. Paul will be on hand at the Central Library beginning in February to help customers start and manage podcasts and will also hold several workshops to introduce others to the medium. Editor Sherry Spitsnaugle recently had a chance to catch up with Paul to learn more about his work and what he’ll be doing at the library this winter.
Tell us a little about yourself and the work you do.
Professionally, I’m a freelance writer, researcher and podcast producer. I’ve been working on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for years, and that’s still basically my job.
More and more, I work on podcasts. I’ve loved them for almost as long as the medium has existed, and through the success of Changing Denver, I’ve been given some new opportunities to work on some really exciting podcast projects.
How did your partnership with the Denver Public Library develop?
Well, this is one of those exciting podcast projects I was talking about.
From my perspective, the story starts back in early 2016. I had Phil Goodstein on an episode of Changing Denver to talk about his new book that year, which was about the West Side. I was excited to talk to him for many reasons. One being the fact that a couple weeks prior, I had been researching something or other at the Central Library, and I discovered that Phil was in the habit of hand-writing dedications to the DPL staff in the copies of his books on file in the Western History and Genealogy section. These were snide, often petty comments, reflecting his general distaste for bureaucracy and major institutions (Phil, I’m sorry if I’m mischaracterizing you here).
Anyway, a week or so after that episode aired, featuring Phil’s explanation of all this, someone from DPL reached out to respond. I was thrilled that someone was listening and I decided to do an interview with her about the Central Library. I then packaged that as a follow-up to both Phil’s interview and another, separate episode about Stoner Hill.
All this is to say, I think I was on the library’s radar. I later did an event with Warm Cookies of the Revolution at the Central Library, and last summer Jenny LaPerriere (the library’s adult programming manager) sent me an email with the subject heading “Podcaster in Residence?”
What are you most looking forward to about being at the library?
I’ve been working on one particular story for Changing Denver for about a year and a half. It was initially going to be the finale of season two, but the subject matter was just so rich and deep, I decided early on that it could be more than that. What it’s ultimately become is a longform series. Oh, and the subject matter is Rocky Flats.
There are so many little rabbit holes I’ve gone down and so many little stories or interesting side-details. I think people are going to really like it.
Starting in February, I’ll be holding office hours, and library customers are free to come talk to me about how to start a podcast. That aspect of the program will eventually evolve into a series of workshops. The Rocky Flats series is the other side. I’ll be producing this long series as both a demonstration of what podcasts can be and as the fourth season of Changing Denver.
This is cliche, but can you tell us what you're reading?
I’ve been reading a lot of Rocky Flats stuff, what with my planned publication date approaching fast and all. But I don’t think that’s so interesting to talk about.
Oh, one more. I got my wife a few Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novelizations for Christmas. I didn’t think I would be interested in them, but she raved about the first one, so I picked up The 34th Rule, which highlights my favorite character from the show, Quark. It’s been pretty fun to revisit that world again in this different way.
For you, what would be the best day ever?
Gosh, that’s a surprisingly hard question. I don’t know about most of it, but at some point I’d go out for a slice of pizza with my wife.
What do you adore about Denver?
Oh, tons of things. The people, the good food, the temperate climate. I’ll pick one thing to talk a little bit about though.
When I was growing up in central Ohio, I loved Western history, Western movies, and the whole notion of the Wild West. It was utterly captivating. By the time I moved here with my then girlfriend, now wife Megan, my romantic notions of Western history were long gone.
Living here, I’ve rediscovered them to an extent. I obviously have no illusions about how rough life here was for most people back in the 19th century—to say nothing of the shameful history of U.S. treatment of indigenous peoples in this part of the country—but I have to say, I love seeing the connections between the stories I grew up loving and their real-life analogs, whatever that may be. I’m excited to go to my first rodeo this week and just last night I got a kick out of my father-in-law’s stories from his bull-riding days.
Paul will be working at the Central Library on the 4th floor Thursdays, 2-4 p.m., beginning February 22. Ask questions in an informal setting, and get inspired to join the podcast community.
This in residence program is funded through a grant from Denver Arts & Venues.
Photograph by Zena Ballas.