Thursday, August 21, 2008



Greetings to all of you visiting Colorado for the Democrat's national "love fest". While you are here (hopefully with time to drive around the state a bit), you may want to check out the radio offerings from several community radio stations (the links to Colorado's community radio stations are available on the right side of our home page). The news departments at many of these stations often operate on shoestring budgets, where volunteer energy is essential. During Convention Week, many of Colorado's community stations who are members of Rocky Mountain Community Radio (RMCR); are pulling together resources to provide reports from the convention and related events. Participating stations include KRCC, Colorado Springs; KUNC, Greeley; KGNU, Boulder; KRFC, Fort Collins, KSUT, Ignacio (on the Southern Ute Indian reservation); KDNK, Carbondale, KAJX, Aspen, and KSJD, Cortez. Whether or not this will be "award-winning" coverage, just know that pooling the efforts of dozens of people on the ground should provide fresh perspectives and genuine commentary that larger media players are likely to miss.

KUNC, Greeley, 91.5 FM, and KRNC, Steamboat Springs, 88.5 FM; online at . KUNC will have three reporters at the Convention, including State Capitol reporter Bente Birkland, providing feature reporting during Morning Edition and All Things Considered (KUNC-producedreports running up to 5 minutes typically air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered at 35 minutes past the hour; longer reports are aired during All Things Considered during the second half-hour). For a complete listing of where you can hear KUNC across eastern Colorado and inthe Colorado mountains, go to: .

KRCC, Colorado Springs, 91.5 FM and online at . KRCC reports will include those from Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland, and KRCC News Director Andrea Chalfin, who is producing feature material about Latino groups attending the Convention; a topic with state-wide and national significance. Other topics will include "Delegate Service Day", and the Nader/Rage Against the Machine "Open the Debates Rally." Reports will air at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, with longer feature material slated for 8:50 a.m., 5:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. Breaking stories during the day will be heard immediately following hourly NPR news updates a four minutes past the hour. KRCC will archive everything online at, including all reports from RMCR member stations, even if KRCC doesn't play all of those reports on-air. For a complete list of KRCC coverage areas, go to: .

KGNU. Boulder/Denver, 88.5 FM and 1390 AM, or online at . Aside from the usual thought-provoking programs such as "Democracy Now", heard weekday mornings from 7:30 until 8:30, see how Boulder and Denver's Community radio voice is covering the convention in a unique way, by running a blog on the convention (as previously reported at ) . Other public affairs programs through the week are bound to address what is happening at the Pepsi Center, Invesco Field at Mile High, and on the streets of Denver.

KDNK, Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen to Glenwood Springs) 88.3 FM or online at . During Morning Edition, Monday Through Friday at 7:30 a.m. KDNK will air a 10 minute summary of convention-related activities, with some of the coverage pulled from the other community stations mentioned. During their 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. time slot, they are tentatively planning public affairs programming as follows:
MONDAY: Following the money trail, or lack thereof.
TUESDAY: Comparing the health plans of McCain and Obama.
WEDNESDAY: Looking at the 08 campaign's energy and environmental policies, and the effects on western Colorado; particularly natural gas and oil shale development nearby.
THURSDAY: how protesters interacted with police and vice versa.
FRIDAY: alternative journalism perspectives, with youth from the Roaring Fork Valley, as well as foreign journalists' perspectives.

KRFC, Fort Collins, 88.9 FM and online at KRFC will have a half-dozen people on hand at the convention that will be feeding news and feature segments that will be aired throughout the broadcast day.

KAJX, ASPEN, 91.1 AND 91.5 FM, or online at . KAJX will have two reporters at the convention. They will file reports and live comment for the KAJX morning news. Packaged stories will focus exclusively on "local" angles, such as local teens attending the event, participation by and impressions of local delegates to the convention, etc. Those stories will be included during KAJX newscasts at 6:04, 7:04, and 8:04 a.m. For a map of their complete coverage area, go to:

With the variety of programming, and dedication of dozens of volunteer reporters and programmers contributing at each station listed, you are bound to find something to your liking.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Max's Excellent Adventure: Denver Public Radio

The Lesson Provided by the Colorado Public Radio Board

Colorado Public Radio is announcing new Board Members this week (see previous story), giving us time to stop and examine this beast. It is quite instructive. This exercise has academic overtones . . . but, is this: Geography 101? Statistics 101? Demographics 101? Non-profit Board of Directors 101?

When you weigh the distribution of representation on the CPR Board across areas served, a disproportionate amount of support for CPR comes from "the 303" area code, and a disproportionate amount of CPR's financial support is distributed in much the same way. Old habits die hard.

But there is a bigger story here. How many CPR Board Members come from Western Colorado? From places not fitting CPR's target financial demographic (yes, contrary to lip service they do have one). Do we have anyone serving Colorado Public Radio Board from: Silverton, Meeker, Craig, Cedaredge, or Parachute?

In 1991, after nearly a decade of maneuverings, and manipulations of technical facilities and people, CPR was started in that shotgun wedding between KCFR and KPRN (the orchestration of that would have made Montovani proud) -- much detail was placed on including CPR Board Members from Grand Junction (and then Montrose). Doctors, lawyers, and dentists were among their ranks.

Now that the KPRN take-over fall-out has evaporated (because the Grand Valley now has KAFM for a solid community voice), have the number of Western Slope CPR Board members kept pace? And if the numbers are still respectable, where are the sheepherders, the orchardists, the small town artisans, the wildcat oil and gas rig workers or the coal miners?

When you read the names of CPR Board members, know this: no matter if it is an Anglo, Hispanic, or African-American name, their economic level litmus test for this board has been passed. They are on the economically-successful side of life. They are REQUIRED to shell out thousands of dollars to sit on such a board (to subsidize CPR's operations) . . . and hopefully, to speak for more than the demographic sector from which they were chosen.

Is there a correlation between the make-up of CPR's Board, and on-air programming content? CPR management profusely rejects that idea, and perhaps they are correct, only because the over-all "culture" of CPR is already set in stone and those serving on the Board have been hand picked to fit that model. We saw what happened when former Board member Frances Koncilja tried to shake things up a bit.

CPR's twisted concepts for true public service have also been applied by dozens of other "big" public radio outlets across the land. It is a twisted departure from a time when The Public Broadcasting Act (1967) was created and funded by Congress. In its own way, this tainted culture mirrors what has happened to the nation; a nation which has seen a continued rise in the power and influence of our upper class, at the expense of people below them. In a sense, the people involved with Max's Excellent Adventure are right in step with history that History Professor Newt Gingrich would approve. End of lesson.

As Frank Zappa used to say in his dry, sarcastic tone, "Never mind, shut up, rise and salute the flag."

-First Responder

Friday, August 1, 2008

Colorado Public Radio Board of Directors

The Rocky Mountain News reports today that Colorado Public Radio has new members and it has reshuffled its officers and directors for its Board.

"Colorado Public Radio named
Katherine Archuleta, Laura Perry Barton, Robert Contiguglia, Mary Lou Makepeace, Arnold Salazar and Forrest Cason to its board of directors. Virginia Berkeley was named board chair, Dean Salter was named secretary, and Warren Olsen was named treasurer."

It seems that Colorado Public Radio's own website isn't even (as of 12:00 p.m. on 08/01/2008) up to date yet. How long does it take to run the press release down from the propaganda minister's office to the web guru? I guess longer than it does to email and fax the presser to the fish wrap?

Also, it looks as though CPR has finally taken Francis Koncilja's (former CPR Board Member) advice about adding more diversity to the Board. With names like Archuleta and Salazar on the board, how long before CPR hires some people of color for the news and music departments? White People Love Public Radio!

This just in . . . Someone is updating the CPR website at 12:15 p.m., however, it doesn't look finished. Virgina Berkeley is still listed as both Chair and Treasurer (among many other double-title listings and other typos); that would be quite a coup. I guess Colorado Public Radio DOES breaking news after all -- kinda. So, getting accurate is just optional?

This just in . . . again . . . It's really hard to imagine how the Board Member page on the CPR site can have so many errors; people with different titles, typos, missing web links, bad spacing, omissions, etc., especially when CPR provided the correct information (we assume) to The Rocky. I mean, Colorado Public Radio Blog is a BLOG -- not a news company. We make these mistakes all the time! But, we expect better from the professionals. Don't you?

KGNU Launches Blog to Cover the DNC, Election

Very much in keeping with its independent, community-centered public radio format, KGNU 88.5-FM in Boulder and 1390-AM in Denver launched a blog. Today, you can see "KGNU’s Joel Edelstein and Maeve Conran discuss the station’s upcoming coverage of the 2008 election, the DNC and the launch of their new blog." Once again, KGNU shows that high-quality public radio can be done on a shoestring budget when public radio stations work harder and smarter.

Also, my guess it that KGNU will balance out coverage of the more conservative branch of public radio, represented by Colorado Public Radio, with a budget or more than $10 million dollars per year. All that money and they STILL cannot produce a blog for their website? Oh that's right, if you want to participate in public radio news with CPR, you have to register with the Public Insight Network. How corporate is that?

I'd venture to guess too, that when KGNU speaks of public participation during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado that they will more often refer to demonstrators rather than protesters, unlike the staff at Corporate Public Radio. But what's in a word? Public radio listeners are not fussy about vocabulary -- especially when it comes to free speech -- right? Four-syllable, eleven-letter word that is a synonym for fussy? Hmmmm, where is the puzzle master Will Shortz when you need him?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cacophony Public Radio

Radio is an intimate medium, say the fundraising tools at Colorado Public Radio around pledge time. They say a lot of stupid, syrypy shit like that about the sound of radio when they want your money. It's a fantastically subjective statement; one with which you may rightly agree or disagree. Of course if you agree with it and fall prey to its persuasive effect, then you'll probably feel guilted into donating to CPR. If you are like me, you just shake it off, turn the dial, and donate -- if you want, when you want -- to whatever public radio station that actually sounds intimate, if that's what you like. Me? I like substance. You? You may have many good reasons to subscribe to Colorado Public Radio, but I'd bet that intimacy surely isn't one of them -- at least not the type of intimacy you get during Morning Edition.

Case in point. If you ever listened to KCFR News during Morning Edition, you have probably heard the cacophony of voices at around :19 minutes past the hour. This is a time, an opportunity for local stations, to break away from NPR news in order to provide local radio content. Or in KCFR's case, to inject message after message, from disparate voice after disparate voice. Listen to this 3 minutes and 10 seconds of audio from 7:19 a.m. to 7:22 a.m. from Colorado Public Radio's Morning Edition for Monday, July 28th. This is what you will hear; 9 intimate voices; with two repeats. Enjoy!
  1. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (NPR News Foreign Correspondent, Afghanistan) finishes her report.
  2. Renee Montagne (NPR Morning Edition News Host, NPR West) segues out of Nelson's story.
  3. Bob Lafley (KCFR News Host) reads a news promo for an upcoming KCFR story.
  4. Mike Lamp (KCFR News Host) reads an underwriting spot.
  5. Charley Samson (Host and Executive Producer of Colorado Spotlight on KVOD) reads an underwriting spot.
  6. Anna Panoka (KCFR News Host) introduces and re-brands a documentary for KCFR Showcase that Colorado Public Radio never produced (see 7 and 8 below).
  7. David Dunaway mentions Pete Seeger and Public Radio International in his promotion about the documentary produced by David Dunaway and distributed by PRI, not KCFR (see 6 above and 8 below).
  8. Anna Panoka (KCFR News Host) re-promotes the documentary and mentions that KCFR is now on "crystal clear signal on 90.1-FM" (see 6 and 7 above).
  9. Bob Lafley (KCFR News Host) reads a KCFR weather spot, returning CPR back to NPR.
  10. Deborah Amos (NPR Foreign Correspondent filling in as Morning Edition News Host) introduces a report for David Schaper.
  11. David Schaper (NPR Reporter, Chicago Bureau) reports from Chicago.
Where to begin! First of all, this SOUND BRILLIANCE is brought to you through the miracle of automation and preproduction. NPR prerecords its stories overnight. Then, NPR Hosts inject their bit of magic in between the stories; you know, banter, clever intros and outros, and of course, insipid transitions between stories to tie the really big show together. Then, NPR feeds the show to member stations over satellite and/or the internet.

Days and weeks before the day's Morning Edition broadcast, every one of CPR's on-air hosts record underwriting and promotion spots to sprinkle throughout the KCFR and KVOD broadcasts. Unlike National Public Radio however, CPR cannot seem to learn that a single voice (Frank Tavares, if you didn't know) prerecording almost all of the NPR underwriting spots sounds a lot smoother than 5-7 different people doing it.

If that isn't enough of a chorus, KCFR adds more disparate voices by re-working promotions for other public radio shows to make it sound like KCFR produces more content than it actually does (KCFR Showcase). CPR calls this "re-purposing," which actually means recycling others' work and making it your own. Sounds like stealing to me. Like watching the credits roll in a movie with 10 different producers, directors, distributors and movie studios, it makes your head spin trying to figure out who actually did what to bring you the news. Why don't they just keep it simple; "A Colorado Public Radio Joint," a la Spike Lee?

If that isn't enough, Colorado Public Radio has to make a blatantly false statement about "crystal clear 90.1-FM." Last time I checked, analog radio isn't crystal anything! Sure, KCFR News on 90.1-FM may be a lot clearer than it was on 1340-AM, but please! The digital stream from KCFR is a lot clearer than FM radio, setting aside all the noticeable clicks and pops I hear when streaming their highly compressed, lo-fidelity 32 kbps sound. Maybe this is CPR's oblique reference to HD radio, if so then just say it for chrissakes. By the way, have you noticed that KCFR News on 90.1-FM isn't even broadcast in stereo? Also notice that KCFR stopped saying 1490-AM and the KCFC call letters for Boulder entirely. Guess they don't want you to know that 1490-AM isn't that clear -- crystal, that is. Sounds like an FCC violation to me, but what do I know?

Finally, after nearly 2 minutes of solid soap-selling, KCFR News gives you some actual news content -- a weather forecast that is hours old. Notice how Colorado Public Radio NEVER reads the current weather conditions? They won't do it because they can't do it. Automation is running the show, and it never sounds more obvious than at around :19 minutes past the hour during mornings on Monday through Friday. If radio is really an intimate medium, then the boffins at Colorado Public Radio are geniuses at making it sound completely distant -- like a crowded cacophony of crap. Or, how about just plain PHONY!

Salacious Snob-on-Snob Action

Brad Weismann, of the Colorado Daily, gives us some salacious snob-on-snob action. Be damned, broadcasting boffins of Colorado Public Radio! How long before CPR turns KVOD into NPR News too?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Anniversary, KUNC!

July 24, 2008 marked the first anniversary of KUNC's signal improvements, which added a potential 800-thousand listeners in metro Denver to their service area. The changes greatly improved the signal quality of the station in downtown and across the rest of Denver, as well as other sections of metro, particularly on the northern, and eastern side. Better reception is also attainable in sizable portions of Northern Colorado; in Longmont, Broomfield, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, and throughout Boulder.

Along with its blend of music heard weekdays between 9 AM and 3PM, KUNC is the only public radio station along the front range where you will hear several top notch syndicated programs on Saturdays and Sundays, including:
These offerings, along with their local news efforts which are inserted into the drive time NPR news programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- especially their solid reporting from the Colorado State Capitol -- sets the station apart from other public radio offerings available across metro and the Colorado Front Range.

KUNC Has Done Its Homework

Some public stations do their homework better than others. In Boulder, less than a week following KUNC's signal improvements last July, the station provided a clear signal with a recently-licensed translator at 99.9 FM. This addition became necessary when KUNC's 91.5 FM broadcast antenna was moved from the prairie of northwestern Weld County to Buckhorn Mountain, northwest of Fort Collins; the move which gave KUNC much better coverage for most of metro, but not in Boulder, where KUNC's main signal became much more shaded from KUNC's new Buckhorn location.

Hats off to KUNC Manager Neil Best (a 35 year veteran of public radio management) and a cracker jack engineering department for thinking ahead and securing the 99.9 FM frequency for their Boulder translator, an effort which can take months and even years to navigate through the bureaucratic maze known as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The KUNC proactive approach to covering and even improving its signal in Boulder, Colorado illustrates the way to keep on top of thing technical, unlike the Boulder train wreck that continues to unfold for the KVOD classical music service provided by (see previous articles Colorado Public Radiohere and here on this page).

Trying to locate an FM translator frequency for the crowded Denver metro market is tough. But the area around Boulder, tucked up against the foothills, is shaded enough from Colorado Springs, Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming radio signals to sometimes make it possible to install a limited power translator for Boulder on a frequency used by Colorado Springs and/or Cheyenne FM stations). But, it takes planning, and above all else -- caring to make such improvements happen.

In recent weeks, we have also seen KUNC move ahead with efforts to return its service to Grand County, Colorado (see previous article on this page here); an area where public radio signals come at a premium. Again, hats off to a public station interested in serving ALL Colorado residents with a solid signal, including blue-collar places away from the Colorado Front Range places without ski resorts, like: Sterling, Yuma, Wray, Holyoke, Buena Vista, and Salida. Too bad KUNC's delivery system can't reach hamlets like Meeker, Colorado where frustrated public radio listeners continue to put up with on-again-off-again service from CPR, our supposed state-wide radio service.

Congratulations KUNC! You are not only an achieving public asset -- from your relatively modest home in Greeley -- you are also a model for Colorado and regional public radio service. In the shaky financial times seen in the public radio world since 1981, such operations need skill and luck to thrive, expand, and continue. You possess the skill; here's hoping for all public radio listeners within your reach that you have continued luck as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Author Craig Childs on KAFM

Craig Childs will appear at KAFM, not KVNF as previously reported. Please find a link to the event here. Many thanks to Ryan for correcting our error. Colorado Public Radio Blog regrets the error.

Craig Childs
will be at the Western Slope's KAFM Radio Room on Wednesday, July 30th, at 7:00 p.m. to speak about his river trip to Tibet and the January article he published about it in Men's Journal. A $5 donation is suggested for these events and seats are on a first come, first served basis. To reserve your seats by phone to any of these events, call: 970-241-8801 ext. 3.

Here is a list of Childs' interviews with commentaries for NPR. And, here is a list of Craig's books from Amazon.Com.

Craig Childs has also appeared severally on Colorado Matters, KCFR News' daily interview show heard on Colorado Public Radio.

Switch off KVOD, Switch on Internet Radio?

Colorado Public Radio encourages listeners in Boulder, Colorado -- where KVOD on 88.1-FM is "spotty," according to CPR's Sean Nethery -- to switch to HD radio. Failing that, there is Internet radio. In this article from the Boulder Daily Camera, a "peeved listener" by the name of Carla Selby, finds that there are 127 classical music stations for her to listen over the Internet. And, she says that she won’t be listening to her old favorite anymore; that she "feels betrayed, and that [she] probably will never forgive them [Colorado Public Radio]."

It make you wonder. With 127 different classical music choices on internet radio, will Carla find yet another reason -- besides irritation and disappointment with CPR's decision -- to tune out KVOD? Why spend money on an HD radio -- especially when it won't work in Boulder anyway -- if for the same price or less, you can get an Internet radio and use the broadband connection you already have at home? And, what if Carla finds better classical music content on the Internet besides? What coy or evasive answer does Sean Nethery of Colorado Public Radio have prepared for that?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

KUNC Moves Back in Grand County & Winter Park

Sky Hi Daily News reports that by September 2008, KUNC will be back on the air in Grand County and Winter Park with a translator located at Grand Ranch's Sol Vista and on the radio dial at 91.7-FM. KUNC raised $43,000 for the new tower.

KVOD Kvetching Continues . . .

Longtime KVOD listener and Boulder, Colorado resident, Carole Bayer, has this to say about Colorado Public Radio and HD radio. I guess the next round of advice from CPR to Carol will be that she NEEDS to buy a computer and get broadband access? Well, she had a good run -- 33 years of listening!

Carol also managed to get her complaint letter in The Denver Post, with yet another complainant.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Classically Speaking: Southern Colorado 2, Northern Colorado 0

Checking public radio sports, in the Classical Music League, in the third inning, it's Colorado Springs 2, Fort Collins, Loveland, Windsor, Greeley NOTHING.

It's Only a Game, Right?

If Colorado Public Radio (CPR) were operating under the spirit and intent of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the score would be 2 to 1.

That's because listeners in Colorado Springs have KCME at 88.7-FM, A Voice for the Arts, and Colorado Public Radio (CPR) at 94.7-FM BOTH programming classical music, while people in Larimer and Weld Counties in Colorado have NO CLASSICAL MUSIC OPTION on their radio dials.

Game Analysis

The score is 2 to zip, because the public radio system has been GAMED -- beaten up for nearly 30 years. Public Broadcasting's funding arm, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was threatened with zeroed-out funding by the Reagan team, and ever since 1981, many in the public radio system have played things way too safe -- with some players playing with a sinister twist (quick, check that ball for foreign substances).

When CPR pulled the plug on Classical KVOD at 90.1-FM recently, and replaced it with KCFR News, CPR lost its connection with Summit County (see previous article), and it ALSO wiped out classical music listenership in Larimer and Weld Counties in Colorado. Now, public radio listeners there are treated to drive time news from KUNC at 91.5-FM AND KCFR at 90.1-FM which is almost identical -- save for local drop-ins from each station -- times at which KUNC has shined in recent months. Since KUNC is more localized than CPR could ever hope to be for this region, the only motivation for CPR to remove classical music and replace it with news is because they know it brings in more money, and it could weaken KUNC's base of support by just offering the same NPR news shows.

The intent of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 is completely ignored in this instance. It was created and funded so that non-commercial radio and TV could take chances; bring new programming and ideas to the airwaves, and serve UNSERVED audiences. Colorado Public Radio's recent removal of KVOD from 90.1-FM takes CPR in the opposite direction from that reason to exist in the first place! All that we may see from this reckless behavior is the support base for CPR growing a bit (at the expense of KUNC) while overall the PUBLIC loses content! Is that what Colorado Public radio means by news initiative?

Game Recap

Meanwhile, back in Summit County, the residents have scored big time with recent actions by the Summit County Translator Board. That's because they recently took the new KCFR-FM signal from 90.1 (previously KVOD) off their system, and replaced it with KCME music. In their own important way, the County -- NOT Colorado Public Radio -- is fulfilling the original intent of the Public Broadcasting Act, by reinstating classical music for its residents. WAY TO GO!

That's it from the public radio ballparks for now. There's still some hope for a rally.

Train Story Train WRECK!

You gotta love the irony! Or is it coincidence? I get those two words mixed up, since Alanis Morisette confused everyone with her song Ironic in 1996. Let's just call it a situational irony, or perhaps (my personal favorite) a viciously-funny coincidence.

Anyway . . . on Tuesday, July 22nd, during NPR's All Things Considered, Colorado Public Radio's KCFR News gave its statewide listeners a real Two for Tuesday. However in this case, the "two for" was a back-to-back, double-shot of an interview with KCFR's Mike Lamp and Cal Marsella; the General Manager of Denver's Regional Transportation District, referred to as RTD-Denver. You can hear the on-air train wreck here (until next Tuesday, July 29th), from the 2-hour stream that Colorado Public Radio rips from its on-air broadcast.

At around 45 minutes past the hour (hard to tell because the stream's timing is screwed up), KCFR News Host Anna Panoka introduces the RTD story, just after NPR finishes its regular segment. Then Mike Lamp interviews Cal Marsella for around 7 minutes and 30 seconds, at which point KCFR runs a series of: (a) call-letter promos mixed with weather, (b) an underwriting spot, followed by (c) more promos, and (d) a testimonial from a paying underwriting client. Then after all of that jerking off, KCFR runs the entire interview -- AGAIN!

Since the story ran so long -- the second time -- KCFR News cut into its regular programming at the end of the story: (a) a promo for Talk of the Nation, and finally (b) a cut into NPR's top of the hour news. In the meantime, Colorado Public Radio missed their FCC-mandated station identification, just BEFORE the top of the hour, because they were so busy crashing into NPR news headlines, which had already started just past 5:00 p.m. You see, NPR news headlines are broadcast LIVE -- unlike all of KCFR's programming, which is entirely AUTOMATED.

Of course, we all like automation, for what WOULD we do without all of our machines? But when it comes to radio -- an intimate medium, as described by CPR during its heavily-produced fundraising segments during drive time-- most people don't actually see the wizard behind the curtain. Technical difficulties, like CPR's yesterday, raise the curtain -- and the issue -- in great relief, and in obvious ways that repetitious (and dated) Denver-area weather spots heard in Grand Junction, Colorado and Pueblo, Colorado do not.

A wise man once told me that the best tool to gauge the current weather was "with an open window." As an extension of that, I might suggest that the best tool to gauge on-air radio content is "with an open set of ears." But when an automated station is on the air, it is essentially on autopilot. Ears? Hello? What did you say? Please stand by . . .

Speaking of pop singers (with bad ears), there is a fantastic Pete Townshend song which is particularly à propos to describe Colorado Public Radio's functional (and structural) dilemma. The song is entitled "Crashing by Design."

Nothing must pass this line
Unless it is well defined
You just have to be resigned
You're crashing by design

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks to DenverDXer of DenverRadio.Net for bringing this story to CPRB. You can find the original post here, in the Comments & Rumors section.

CPRB Bonus Audio File: Listen to the 1 minute and 12 second technical difficulty here. It doesn't sound bad, but remember -- this technical glitch happened after 7+ minutes of a just-repeated news story, which plowed through a station identification, on live radio, during drive time -- at 5:00 p.m! Does anyone at the station listen to the actual content? If not, then why do they expect us to listen -- and subscribe? By the way, what time do CPR employees leave the station anyway? Maybe someone should drive down to Centennial, Colorado -- with an open set of eyes -- to check. Let us know what you find out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Colorado Public Redundancy

Here is another complaint from The Daily Camera regarding Colorado Public Radio's move of KVOD to 88.1-FM in Denver. Roger Cichorz, a KVOD listener, asks some important questions regarding the downgrade of KVOD. CPR celebrated -- and to some degree, warned about -- the move "back to FM." But if 1490-AM is still on the air (it is), carrying NPR news in northern Colorado including Boulder, and if 90.1-FM covers both Denver and Boulder, then there seems to be an overage of KCFR news coverage while there are enormous gaps KVOD classical music coverage. As a matter of fact, you can now get NPR news from Centennial-based, Colorado Public Radio on three different and over-lapping stations in the north metro area: 1340-AM, 1490-AM and on 90.1-FM. Sounds like Colorado Public Redundancy to me.

In the immortal words of CPR President Max Wycisk, more public radio IS better for everyone -- especially when part of CPR's mission is to blast KUNC listeners with KCFR's competing content from National Public Radio throughout northern Colorado. It sounds to me like CPR knows exactly what it is doing -- LITERALLY!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Changes at KCSU are Finalized for the Better

Beginning August 1, 2008, KCSU-FM at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado will be part of a finalized agreement which places KCSU, The Collegian Newspaper, and other Student Media groups under a newly-formed 501c3 non-profit organization. The student-controlled KCSU will continue to operate separately from the university with a student-dominated governing board, which will also include community members and faculty.

While the new Governing Board will provide guidance, the license of KCSU will remain with the Colorado State Board of Agriculture, which serves as the Colorado State University System Governing Board (the CSU System also includes the Colorado State University in Pueblo, and Fort Lewis College in Durango. Along with Fort Collins, the other campuses in the system have student-operated FM radio stations as well; KTSC, Pueblo, and KDUR, Durango).

During the process which formed the new Student Media Governing Board at CSU, the issue of a possible license transfer of KCSU arose with some trepidation. By keeping the KCSU license during this time of transition, The Colorado State Board of Agriculture avoids a potential legal quagmire that a license transfer could bring. That's because the Federal Communications Commission requires a public comment period for any proposed change in the licensee for radio stations, a process which often brings people and interest groups out of the woodwork.

In KCSU's case, the stakes at such a public comment period would be very high. With enough of an investment by the University, the spotty signal of the station can be improved to serve the Fort Collins-Loveland-Greeley market; an area which recently lost the signal of KVOD classical music from Colorado Public Radio (CPR). With CPR's mission at stake, to supposedly bring back classical music to the Larimer-Weld County market, observers see KCSU as a potential target for CPR acquisition because of what could be a relatively cheap price tag for such a station. The alternative for CPR is pretty steep. KYEN-FM, Severence is up for sale at a starting price of $10 Million.

The new agreement for student media at CSU reduces speculative activity over KCSU, but CONTINUED DILIGENCE will be wise. It was fifteen years ago that CPR head Max Wysick reportedly held a closed door meeting with then CSU President Albert Yates, unbeknownst to the KCSU Manager at the time. Fortunately for CSU and the communities of Fort Collins, Colorado and possibly Durango, Colorado (CPR already has its game going in Pueblo, Colorado), nothing concrete came from those discussions.

The new not-for-profit Student Media Governing Board stems from discussions on the CSU campus in recent months, which brought together students, University officials, and community members who recommended such a governing board.

Friday, July 18, 2008

NPR Board Election Results

National Public Radio released the results of its Board of Directors Election on July 9th, and Colorado Public Radio Blog received the results on Friday, July 18th. As CPRB Readers know, Max Wycisk, President of Colorado Public Radio threw his hat in the ring during this round, but his own peers (or as NPR refers to them, authorized representatives), who make up voting constituents from public radio rejected him (1 station, 1 vote). As you can see from the results below, Member Station diversity is spread geographically. This year; however, was not Max Wycisk's year to represent the Rocky Mountain Region. Perhaps because he COMPLETELY LACKS DIVERSE EXPERIENCE.

The current NPR Board of Directors consists of 16 members: 10 of whom are General Managers, Presidents, CEOs, etc., of NPR Member Stations; The Chair of the NPR Foundation; and 5 prominent members of the public. Staggered elections for new Board Members are held every year, and
Board Members serve 3-year terms. This board-member distribution and ratio goes back several years, to a time when Member Stations bailed out NPR during a financial crisis in 1983, and subsequently demanded a stronger say in the strategic guidance of the network. In short, NPR Board Membership is about power -- about the leadership and management of the network in general, and about the network's relationship to Member Stations, specifically.

From some of our previous posts, it is the opinion of Colorado Public Radio Blog authors that Max Wycisk lacks the ability to represent Member Stations nationally on the NPR Board, BECAUSE his past history shows that he lacks the fundamental skills necessary to deal openly and ethically -- to deal publicly -- with NPR and non-NPR radio stations within the State of Colorado. For their own reasons, it appears that Member Station Authorized Representatives -- the Member Stations -- agree.

While CPR membership on the NPR Board potentially gives Colorado a higher profile at National Public Radio and in public radio affairs, it's better for our state to have creative, open-minded representatives in place to guide public radio during flattening times -- irrespective of region, state, or station affiliation. Public radio in America needs true creative visionaries to guide this medium into the future if it is to survive -- if it is to thrive. We think people like Max Wycisk represent public radio's past -- a past to which
public radio should rightly look back, but also to a past which public radio can ill afford to move back.



NPR Board Election Results

July 9, 2008

From: Joyce Slocum, NPR Secretary
Michelle Shanahan, NPR Assistant Secretary
Re: NPR Board Election Results

We are pleased to report the results of the balloting for the election of four Member Directors to the NPR Board of Directors, as well as the confirmation of three Public Directors, and the ratification of one Non-Board Distribution/Interconnection Committee Member.

The following candidates were elected as Member Directors of NPR, with terms beginning in November 2008:
  1. Steve Bass, KOPB-FM, Portland, OR
  2. Jon McTaggart, KSJN-FM, Minneapolis, MN
  3. Marita Rivero, WGBH-FM, Boston, MA
  4. Roger Sarrow, WAFE-FM, Charlotte, NC
In addition, voters confirmed the Board’s election of the following Public Directors:
  1. John Herrmann
  2. Lyle Logan
  3. Howard Stevenson
On a separate ballot, PRSS representatives ratified the Board’s election of Loris Ann Taylor as a Non-Board D/I Committee Member.

Thank you to all of the candidates who sought to serve in the Member Director positions. NPR is honored to have had such a strong slate of candidates willing to serve as Member Directors. Thank you also to all of the Authorized Representatives who exercised their membership rights by voting in this election.

KVOD Lives Up to Its Name

Colorado Public Radio's upgrade of KCFR to 90.1-FM in Denver and downgrade of KVOD to its lesser signal at 88.1-FM has KVOD living up to its name -- or rather, living down to its call letters. The Voice of Denver is now truly, the classical voice of Denver, as well as all of the smaller, automated CPR-driven satellite stations across the state. As one of two complaint letters to The Denver Post suggests, shouldn't Colorado Public Radio simply change its name to Denver Public Radio? Sounds logical to me. But my guess is that, like many other CPR decisions, this one follows its own logic.

In the meantime, KVOD management will probably hunker down to weather all the criticism. Since most classical music listeners are older, perhaps CPR is hoping the geezers will eventually tire of shaking their fists and complaining. And maybe -- just maybe -- the rich ones will continue to mail CPR checks out of habit. After all, some of the old farts are senile too, right?

My, My, Sirota: Part 2

I guess David Sirota is good enough for The Denver Post opinion page. So, that surely makes him persona non grata at Colorado Public Radio. Stinky liberal hippies! Sirota, NOT CPR. CPR is completely full of sh . . . sorry, conventional wisdom!


A couple of years ago, a certain Colorado Public Radio news host read underwriting support spots for Chipotle, and had a tendency to over-pronounce the company's name. Cheeeee-POTE-le! It sounded more like a cheer at a bullfight than an underwriting spot. The company called to complain, and the spots were re-recorded. Well, that news host is gone now, and I haven't heard any burrito spots on CPR lately. Does Chipotle even support Colorado Public Radio? Regardless, Chipotle has been in the news a lot lately. So at CPRB, we were wondering why Chipotle has not been on KCFR News very much? Just so you know, Chipotle is headquartered in Colorado -- downtown Denver, to be exact.

A search of the Colorado Matters' site nets only 4 stories about Chipotle, since 2002, for KCFR News. One story from 2002 (repeated in 2003) is about free-range pork. A Colorado Matters story from 2004, reported about how a Chipotle fan (fanatic) created an independent website called Chipotle Lovers -- so, not a story about Chipotle (the company), per se. And, Colorado Public Radio ran two Chipotle stories, one week apart, in April of 2008 about the Slipstream's Garmin/Chipotle cycling team, competing in this year's Tour de France.

Colorado Public Radio's story from April 4, 2008 was an interview with Colorado Matters' Host Ryan Warner and "Joe Lindsay, a freelance writer who covers the sport." CPR's second story on April 11, 2008 wasn't really a story at all, so much as a news bit, which (as an aside) Colorado Public Radio has started calling a news feature, and then cross-listing on the Colorado Matter website even though the news features aren't even played during the 30-minute-long Colorado Matters show. In addition, the news bit was provided to Colorado Public Radio by Nancy Greenleese, who for years has been a freelancer/stringer (sometimes for National Public Radio), and who now works for KUNC-FM, public radio for Northern Colorado including Greeley, Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and the mountains -- not CPR!

As many people in America (most of them white) know, the Tour de France is happening right now, and God knows, white people love public radio! So, why can't Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Matters, KCFR News, KCFR Presents -- WHATEVER -- seem to get a story on the air, about:
  1. The Tour de France,
  2. Team Garmin/Chipotle,
  3. Drugs (antibiotics and hormones) in food,
  4. Drugs (performance enhancing) in sports,
  5. Tie-in of enhancing drugs in food AND sports, or
  6. Sports-team sponsorship, in general?
National Public Radio had a Colorado Tour-connected story on the air during Morning Edition today. How many "hooks" does a journalist need, for crying out loud? And when they actually do get a story on the air, why can't they get a guest on the show who is connected with the race, the team, or the goddamn companies! Am I missing something here? Does Colorado Public Radio actually think one of these celebrities, team or company representatives is going to call the station to register for the Public Insight Network in order to participate in this story -- that is already IN the news -- one that is happening right freakin' now! Are you kidding me? Get on the goddamn phone and call these people!

The degree of incompetence in the way Colorado Public Radio covers the news is astounding. Actually, they way it covers sports --regardless of type -- is positively impotent! If a lily-white organization like CPR cannot seem to cover cycling -- a sport that is CLEARLY in their wheelhouse -- then how can we expect them to cover any other team sports? White people like hockey too -- I'm just saying. A search of cycle or cycling will net 3 dozen stories on the Colorado Matters website. Hockey, on the other hand? ZERO! By the way, wheelhouse? That's a baseball reference, just so the band geeks at CPR know.

Finally, Chipotle (along with many other supermarkets, vendors and suppliers, and restaurants in America) is weathering the fresh tomatoes crisis now. Additionally, NPR reported during a newscast today, that jalapeños and avacados might now be affected. Really? Is it time to give someone at Chipotle a call? Do they even use chiles and avocados burritos and tacos? Hmmmm, I don't know. Better ask a Spanish-speaking, brown person. Do any of them work at CPR? By the looks of it, NOT! However, a potential salmonella outbreak still doesn't seem like a big enough peg (journo-speak) -- even for Colorado Public Radio journalists, one of which is Eric Whitney a full time Health Reporter! Ah, but what the hell do I know, I'm just a blogger with a little public insight -- it's called common freakin' sense.

Hey, KCFR News-- drop me an email message. I will put you in touch with a Public Relations executive at Chipotle. My guess is that he's probably not in your 2700-2800 Public Insight Network Rolodex. Wankers!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

KGNU: Doing More with Less

Seems like KGNU has found a different way to cover the DNC. It's not a huge presence, but has an eclectic feel, much like the station. I guess blog-like sites can be a good way to cover the news. Who'd have thought?

Damn Right It's Flat Out There!

Many of you have heard about the erosion of the middle class in this country; the rich get richer and the ranks of the poor and working poor continue to grow. It's that way in the public radio universe, too.Yes, Jimmy James Jr., The Public Radio World Is Flat!

CPR – Colorado Potemkin Radio

Take news content as an example; where today public stations have to play smart with the limited number of people they have on staff who produce relevant news and information. The exception to this numbers game in Colorado is found at Colorado Public Radio (CPR), which has more than a dozen people working for its news department. Smaller stations throughout the state would do very well covering their worlds with just a handful of such people. How CPR management allocates its talent is another story.

NPR – The CNN of Radio

The public radio news system as a whole is wanting -- wanting new blood, new ideas, new paradigms for a whole new generation of un-served and under-served listeners.Like the nation's distribution of wealth, there is a top-heavy layer of bureaucracy at National Public Radio, (NPR) filled with sometimes self-important Senior News Producers, Editors, and Hosts, who are VERY comfortable. After them, the talent gap drops off the table or it isn't widely seen or heard. Aside from basic egomania and established people clamoring at the top, there are several reasons why public radio news has become so anemic. One of the reasons lies squarely at the doorstep of a public radio icon.

If you draw a line from the 1970's to today, you will see a steady decline in the number of mid-level producers at public radio stations. Over the years, they have been the people who worked tirelessly to produce local and regional news, interviews, and feature material -- some of which may make its way onto an NPR news program (although not nearly as often as 20 or 30 years ago). The decline in the number of people churning out such material started in 1983, when (then) NPR News Director Robert Siegel dramatically shifted the emphasis, with NPR's limited budget, toward the BBC for international news, while building up a roster of NPR staff who served as regional reporters, based in various U.S. cities across the land.

The NPR Acquisitions Unit – Cultivating Local Flavor and Regional Creativity

While this may have seemed to be a solid strategy, left in the dust was something known as the NPR Acquisitions Unit, which contained hard-working editors who worked tirelessly with mid-level producers from hundreds of public stations across the country. The results were mixed, but the less polished (and less expensive) reports gave shows like All Things Considered a unique flavor, capturing life from region to region. Compared to now, more reporters participated then -- some of them with a regional sound to their voices. They filed reports on topics from the serious to the sublime. NPR news programs contained a smörgåsbord of Americana, along with hard news events and issues. When the NPR Acquisitions Unit was watered down, in favor of building a more professional sound, something very basic and essential was gone; and fewer and fewer people embraced work as mid-level producers.

The other big shift which brought about the flattening of the public radio universe came in 1981, when the Reagan Administration's Budget Director David Stockman vowed to zero-out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). This enormous shockwave felt throughout the system still resonates today. Every time you listen to something on public radio that rings of predictability and playing-it-safe, you can trace that tendency back to the shockwave. When David Stockman spoke his poison, too many public radio managers panicked. And they leaned heavily on self-appointed radio research gurus who preached playing it safe with focus group research as more than just a guiding tool. Risk-taking is forbidden in their culture. It is a mindset that, if Garrison Keillor were to attempt to start A Prairie Home Companion today, wouldn't get to first base.

Avant-garde Radio Theater

On a note other than news, 1981 also signaled the end of something else: good radio theater and widely distributed satire for radio. It was the year that the last two significant radio theater productions aired: the radio versions of Star Wars, and the unparalleled Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which dwarfs the TV and movie versions of same). Both shows were in the pipeline before David Stockman spoke, and nothing has come from that side of good public radio since.

It's time for a rekindling. But even that may not be enough to win back the college-aged generation walking amongst us; already glued to their I-pods and who consider public ALL radio irrelevant – not just public radio. The public radio system as a whole has only itself to blame for so much complacency; and whether or not we can un-flatten this mess is anyone's guess.

An Essay by First Responder

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Colorado Public Radio Translator Woes Continue

Summit Public Radio replaces KVOD-FM from Denver with KCME-FM from Colorado Springs: Summit Public Radio, serving population centers throughout Summit County in Colorado's central highlands -- including the ski resort of Breckenridge and the town of Frisco -- has replaced Colorado Public Radio content the Summit County translator (read: radio signal repeater system) with KCME 88.7-FM, public radio of Colorado Springs, CO.

This move is consistent with providing classical music to Summit County residents, a role somewhat filled by KVOD-FM when it used to broadcast a strong signal from 90.1 FM in Denver. The new KVOD signal at 88.1-FM in Denver is too weak to relay a signal to the Summit County system, thus prompting this change.

When the Summit system was in its infancy in the 1980's, technical staff from the county confirmed that it was possible to receive public radio signals (from atop Summit County peaks) from Colorado Springs, Denver, Greeley, in Colorado and even from Laramie, Wyoming for re-broadcasting on FM translators across Summit County. The only signal that is shut out of this equation is KVOD at 88.1FM, with only 1,200 watts of authorized power.

With Empire Builders at play, there has to be something looming . . .

Will CPR find a way to once again offer its particular blend of classical music from KVOD-FM to Summit County? While the new 88.1-FM signal is inconsistent and unreliable, delivery of KVOD via alternative technology, such as an ISDN telephone line or a microwave link could be possible (and pricy). But, who's counting when you're on the Colorado Public Radio mission?

If CPR makes a play to take back Summit County's 89.3FM translator from KCME, will enough time have elapsed for the Summit County faithful to fully ascertain the classical music offerings from KCME to decide which service they prefer? This also raises the question about metro Denver's classical music devotees and what would happen if THEY had the same ability to hear a strong signal from KCME. Stay tuned . . .

Among their other offerings, Summit Public Radio also carries KUVO Jazz 89 in Denver, KUNC-FM in Greeley, and KBCO from Boulder. To see a complete run-down of stations carried by the system, and other information, go to Summit Public Rado, which we link to on the Colorado Public Radio Blog site.

Note: This isn't the first time that Colorado Public Radio has failed to do its homework while attempting to serve a community with an FM translator. Their inconsistent service provided for the isolated community of Meeker, Colorado is a case in point. The downtime for CPR's translator there is deplorable -- so much so that Meeker should not even appear on CPR's Station Map (not an actual coverage map, by the way).

Placing a translator there in 1991 was risky at best due to terrain problems and the distance between Meeker and the "parent" signal from CPR's satellite station in Grand Junction, Colorado. If Meeker's 2,500 residents had a ski resort or other glitterati attractions nearby, CPR would have this place on a much higher pedestal, like most public radio listeners across Colorado who enjoy a far-more dependable signal -- day in, day out. As a result of CPR's inaction and indifference, the good folks of Meeker-- a town that does not have a radio station of its own -- are left with consistent radio signals coming from two translators; one of them is a religious station; the other a tired commercial country music station out of Craig, Colorado.

So much for MISSION, eh Max? And, Summit Public Radio . . . it's time to change your logo!

KRCC-FM Does Debates

KRCC-FM in Colorado Spring doesn't seem shy about covering actual politics. Here is a report from Bente Birkeland about Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall's first debate. Maybe Colorado Public Radio will cover events like this; someday, you know . . . when politics becomes big statewide, or even nationwide -- in Colorado.

Fortunately (or not) it's music week on Colorado Public Radio. Have you heard all of the on-air the promos? Good GOD! It's Promopalooza! After listening, I am thoroughly convinced that (a) KCFR is the news channel, (b) KVOD is the music channel, and (c) CPR is the PROMOTIONS CHANNEL. Talk about a branding train wreck. The acronym nonsense is pure gobbledygook! Tasteless alphabet soup!

I just love current events, especially when those events are theme-related -- like music week. Sounds to me like the wizards at KCFR News are taking their lead from NPR's creative department -- you know, multi-part series about news categories -- theme-based news about:
books, the environment, China, India, fictional characters, more books, and more China.

I especially like NPR's endless ways to chat about books. Book Lists for Summer, books for reading on the plane, your 3-books -- all centered around the same THEME! As if books alone wasn't already a theme. I call that theme-based news squared. If it's about 3-books, maybe it's actually cubed -- not sure. Math books?

I have a theme idea for KCFR News. How about an entire week dedicated entirely to GENUINE politics-- not idiotic themes like:
  1. What are you doing for the Democratic National Convention?
  2. What are you doing for the Democratic National Convention if you in the 18-25 year-old demographic?
  3. Will you rent out your home for the Democratic National Convention?
  4. Where will your bark beetles be staying for the Democratic National Convention?
  5. Tales of hope and gratitude about the Democratic National Convention.
Until then, I will be getting my political news from KUNC-FM, KRCC-FM and KGNU-AM. These public radio operations are a lot smaller, but from these stations I can hear:
  1. Jody Hope Strohoff of The Colorado Stateman,
  2. Bente Birkeland from Denver (and the Capitol when the legislature is in session), and
  3. Democracy Now.
This just in . . .

Colorado Public Radio DOES do politics! Well, sorta. KCFR New Host Mike Lamp read the fundraising totals and money in the bank for the Schaffer-Udall race in Colorado 2 and the Musgrave-Markey race in Colorado 4, during the top-of-the-hours news break on Morning Edition. Wow, I have goosebumps. Political talk like that gets me hot -- NOT! Most of us can read the paper and most of us have access to Associated Press and the Internet. Lame.