An interview with Jacob Job featuring more grasslands of Colorado.
Episode photograph: Windmill with a pump and cattle water tank overlooking the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area near Ft. Collins in northern Colorado (Marek Uliasz/Alamy)
ANN MARIE AWAD: Welcome to this special bonus episode of Ambient Colorado. My name is Ann Marie Awad and I’m part of the team behind this show and I’d like to introduce you to another member of that team, Jacob Job. The man behind the stunning sounds that you hear in every episode.
AMA: Hello, Jacob!
JACOB JOB: Hi Ann Marie, how are you?
AMA: Good. How are you doing?
JJ: I’m doing quite well.
AMA: Jacob, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and the work you do as a sound recordist?
JJ: Yeah, I’m a scientist who decided I didn’t want to do science anymore. And so I took my knowledge of the outdoors, ecology and I turned it into … or I channeled it into audio recording, where I mixed cool recordings of pretty places around the country to use in communication pieces like Ambient Colorado and other podcasts.
AMA: And is there, like, a favorite outdoor place you’ve ever recorded?
JJ: Oh, man. So many different places. I would say my favorite has to be the North Woods of Minnesota, up in the Boundary Waters with, like, the Common Loons, and the thunderstorms. And all the songbirds.
AMA: Oh yeah, it sounds amazing. Well, so we just came out of an episode of beautiful prairie sounds and we’re going to enjoy some more. But before we move on to some new prairie sounds, I wonder if you have some favorites from the last episode.
JJ: Yeah, well, the prairie is interesting. It’s a real challenge to record, just because it’s wide open, there’s wind all the time, which is as you probably are aware, really tough on microphones and really tough recording environment, but on this particular morning I was out recording and I found this, like, dip in the prairie where there was this wetland, and so it kinda shielded me from the wind but it also gave me an opportunity to, like, explore all this life around this wetland, these songbirds, and swallows, and insects. It was just a really acoustically rich environment. I think actually the water from that wetland made the acoustics. sound even better than it would have otherwise so it was just a really neat find out there in the middle of the prairie.
AMA: Yeah, yeah. And that was, can you tell us, where?
JJ: That was out in the Pawnee National Grasslands, up in northeast Colorado.
AMA: And so the reason that we had decided to do a bonus episode today was you have lots of other recordings from some other beautiful prairie locations in the state. I wonder if you could tell us a bit more about the places we’re going to hear from today.
JJ: Absolutely. I think we have three different locations in the bonus episode. One of them takes place in Fort Collins Colorado actually just outside the city limits at a place called Reservoir Ridge Natural Area. Just a small, maybe hundred, two hundred acre prairie-type setting with wetland right in the middle of it, and surrounded by houses, surrounded by busy roads, and you get these really, really neat prairie birds that you otherwise wouldn’t get, had that place not been preserved. So I think that’s a really special spot because it’s so close to people.
JJ: Another one of the locations, a little bit farther up in Northern Colorado, Wellington State Game Area. Sort of a transition from between prairie habitats and farmland, sort of these working lands. And I found this large pond out there surrounded by cattails, and I discovered this breeding population of marsh wrens and yellow-headed blackbirds, just this really beautiful sound of birds around this place. And so I crawled in knee deep into the pond and attached my microphones to the cattails and I left. I just left that recording going overnight and I really got an inside peek into the lives of these birds around that prairie pothole, so to speak.
JJ: And then the last recording took place at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, again, north of Fort Collins in Northern Colorado, wide open very short grass prairie, very hot. A dawn-ish type of recording, so early in the morning I went out there with all of my recording gear and just hit record and really was interested in understanding what were the natural sounds out in this prairie, but also because so many of our prairie lands are also working lands what are the anthropogenic noises out there like cows mooing and you can hear oil and gas development and distant trains going by and so sort of this sharing of the land with wildlife and people.
AMA: Yeah, that’s very cool. I wonder if you have favorite sounds from this episode we’re about to hear.
JJ: I mean, I really do think the prairie puddle, where we’ve got these marsh wrens and yellow-headed blackbirds, because I like clipped these microphones right to the cattails and the cattails are where these birds nest, they live … it’s just, because I’m not there, you get this intimate, intimate look into their lives. And you can hear marsh wrens flying back and forth, left ear to right ear, as they zoomed across the microphone. I don’t think otherwise anybody could ever experience that much intimacy in the bird world so I’m really excited for people to hear that.
AMA: Yeah, me too.
AMA: Before we get to that, I wonder if listeners are interested in hearing more about your work and the other kinds of sound you collect, where can they find that?
JJ: They can explore my personal website at Jacob R Job dot com. I list a lot of my work on there. People can click on any of the links and explore any of those sounds. If you have a Soundcloud account or not, you can search for my account on there, Gavia Immer. It’s the Latin name of the Common Loon. Tells you how much I love Common Loons. But that’s my handle, and almost all of my recordings or a good chunk of them go on to that platform and they’re free to listen to and some of them are hours and hours and hours long so you can listen while you work.
AMA: Very cool. Well thank you Jacob for taking a moment to chat with me.
JJ: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
AMA: Without further ado, another episode of beautiful prairie sounds from Colorado.