Celebrating 32 years of music, ideas, & community on the radio

Meet the Team

Nick Forster

Nick Forster was born in Beirut (his father worked briefly with the U.S. Foreign Service) and grew on his family farm in Garrison, New York. He was an early lover of nature and music, and by the age of five he had chosen his favorite recording artists: Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, Trio Los Panchos, The Weavers, and The Kingston Trio. 

Then, the Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan Show. Soon after, Nick started playing drums and then a guitar a year later. He then bought a banjo and a mandolin and was well on his way to becoming a versatile multi-instrumentalist. He made his first trip to Colorado when he hitchhiked from New York at the age of 17. His desire to pursue music as a career brought him back to Colorado a few years later where he worked at the famed Denver Folklore Center as an instrument repairman. 

It was at the Denver Folklore Center that, in 1978, Forster joined Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick, and Charles Sawtelle to complete the award winning contemporary bluegrass band Hot Rize. Nick played bass, sang lead and backing vocals and when the mood struck (and the Trailblazers emerged), played inspired Western Swing guitar. 

Hot Rize toured relentlessly, appearing on countless radio and television programs, including Austin City Limits, The Grand Ole Opry, and Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. In 1991, Hot Rize earned a Grammy nomination and took home the Entertainer of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Ironically, in the face of this wave of success, the band members collectively decided to pursue other projects. 

While on a State Department musical tour in eastern Europe in 1990, Nick, along with Sam Bush, John Cowan, and Laurie Lewis, saw firsthand the power of music to bring disparate community members together. He also saw the environmental degradation in Eastern Europe. That combination helped birth the idea for a new radio show, one that would feature live music plus conversation around sustainability, climate change, and stewardship. The following year, eTown was born, launching on NPR with roughly 40 stations carrying the show every week. 

Now, 30 years later, eTown is carried weekly by roughly 300 stations. Nick continues his role as host and music director and is also the organization’s CEO. His warm on-air wit, insightful interviewing skills, and stellar musicianship are hallmarks of the show. Prior to COVID-19, eTown shows had been recorded live at the solar-powered eTown Hall in downtown Boulder, a renovated former church that is home to the eTown offices, world class recording studio, and other public spaces. 

Nick remains an active player in the music world, performing at festivals and playing on recording sessions for various artists across all genres. He also is an accomplished record producer and songwriter with a long list of credits.

Nick has three daughters, three grandchildren, and lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Helen and their adorable cat, Emma. 

Helen Forster

Helen Forster, eTown co-founder, has been making things better wherever she goes for a long time. Arriving in Telluride, Colorado in 1973, after studying theater and music as a child and graduating from college in her hometown of Minneapolis, Helen quickly jumped into the creative scene as she and her friends began transforming what was then a small unknown  mining town. Helen acted with local professional theater groups and also wrote for and performed in numerous original comedy revues. She produced several stage productions, sang in local clubs, hosted a popular weekly radio show on the newly formed KOTO radio station and, for many years ,was co-owner and co-producer of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, helping it survive its early challenging years and become what it is now, one of the most important music festivals in the world. 

After meeting Nick Forster at that festival in 1987, the two eventually teamed up in Boulder to launch eTown in 1991. (They were married a month after the first eTown show!).  She became creator,  producer and writer of eTown’s popular segment called the eChievement Award, which showcases ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things on behalf of their greater communities and the planet. Working closely with individual winners to help them tell their own personal stories, Helen ensured they would not only inspire our listeners but, in many cases, gain additional volunteers, donations, and publicity. 

Helen’s talent as an experienced voice-over professional has added an element of polish to the eTown programs right off the bat. She has served as the co-host of eTown from its beginning, as announcer, eChievement Award segment host and as resident harmony singer of the house band, the eTones. Blending her voice seamlessly with singers of every stripe, Helen has provided harmony back-up for hundreds of guest artists including Sarah McLachlan, James Taylor, Mavis Staples, Dallas Green (City & Colour), Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Bob Weir, Aoife O’Donovan, Gregory Alan Isakov, and many more.

In addition, she is a gifted writer as well as a brilliant editor who has helped post-produce the eTown show since its inception.

Helen currently resides with her husband Nick and their kitty Emma in Boulder. She loves being with her three stepdaughters, now grown, as well as her three beloved grandchildren.


Nick Forster
eTown Founder & CEO

Helen Forster
eTown Co-Host

Debbie Merino
Director of Finance

Todd Ayers
Post Production Supervisor

Devon Forster
Director of Development & Community Outreach

Emily Clark
Director of Operations

Taylor Denn
Talent Coordinator

Lauren Hartmann
Digital Media Manager

Eric Kean
Production Manager

Irene Kirschenbaum 
Office Manager and Executive Assistant 

James Tuttle
Chief Engineer


Nick Forster
eTown Founder & CEO

Helen Forster
eTown C0-Host

Krista Marks, Chair
Co-Founder / CEO, Woot Math

Edie Cheng
Director of Programs, NCWIT

Holly Hamann
Chief Marketing Officer, Wurk

Dave Cass
Managing Director at Techstars / Adjunct Professor at CU Boulder

Michael Platt
JD, Partner in Charge, Cooley, LLP

Michael Benjamin
Founder, Studio Parkside

Terry J. Rodrigue
Founder, Interwest Engineering / Interwest Consulting Group