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These comments have an aggressive sound to them, but the combativeness disappears quickly when the question of competing with other Jacor stations is raised. Constantine says he views KXPK-FM/96.5 (the Peak) as KTCL's main adversary; without referring to it by name, he calls the outlet (the only original rocker in town not owned by Jacor) "a certain generic, whitewashed alternative station." But Hayes balks at the suggestion that KTCL is in any kind of a contest with KBPI, a station that's lately been suffering from an identity crisis of its own. (Hearing the Whipping Boy, KBPI's afternoon jock, play Sheryl Crow not too long ago was as painful for yours truly as it no doubt was for him.) As Hayes puts it, "There really isn't a feeling among people at KTCL and KBPI that we're trying to outdo each other."

Of course not. Jacor views them as cogs in the same machine. How else to explain the recent swap of two DJs, Hilary Schmidt (who went from KBPI's morning show to an afternoon slot at KTCL) and Caroline Corley (who moved in the opposite direction)? Hayes argues that the move was best for the jocks and the stations, but that doesn't quite tell the whole story. Corley, who was an effective emcee at KTCL, has been altered into KBPI's "giggle gal" (Constantine's term); as a result, KBPI's morning program has become damnably erratic and frequently obnoxious. And Schmidt? As a strong feminist unafraid to speak her mind, she added a great deal to KBPI--but she adds a lot to KTCL as well. Her "Five O'Clock Field Trip" feature, in which she plays somewhat-out-of-the-mainstream fare during a time of day when large numbers of people can actually hear it, exemplifies the course KTCL should take.

Whether it will do so remains to be seen. A ratings crash will no doubt inspire Jacor to fiddle about again--and the results are bound to be frightening. But right now, KTCL is on the right track. Who says there are no such things as miracles?

CD to shining CD.
At first listen, Pete Wernick's Live Five doesn't seem all that revolutionary--but the more you think about I Tell You What! (on the Sugar Hill imprint), the more impressive the combo's accomplishments seem. Wernick, an extraordinary banjoist who's familiar to bluegrassers across the country, has come up with an approach in which non-bluegrass elements such as the vibes (hammered by George Weber) and the clarinet (courtesy of Bill Pontarelli) gracefully co-exist. After listening to such disparate tracks as "Sky Rider," "Jobob Rag," "D-Funk" and the aptly titled "Free as the Wind," you may find yourself wondering if what you've just heard is bluegrass, Dixieland, jazz or something entirely new. But these mysteries are beside the point. Quite simply, I Tell You What! is slyly entertaining from start to finish--and that's the important thing (available in area record stores). Spoon Collection has placed eleven tracks on its latest CD, Tarnished, and each and every one of them can be hummed. Not all of the cuts distinguish themselves beyond that, but a few stand out--especially "Candy Apple Love Song," "Not Too Bright" and "I've Forgotten About You," in which singer S'aint Willy spends an enjoyable few minutes protesting too much. Furthermore, even those ditties that you can't remember once the disc has been put back on the shelf sound perfectly fine while they're playing (available in area record stores).

Our friends at D.U. Records have a couple of nice surprises for us. The first is The Best of Longmont Potion Capsule, a compilation culled from three cassettes reviewed in this space over the years. (Vinyl Communications from Chula Vista, California, is making sure the disc reaches the largest possible audience.) The recording consists entirely of phone pranks, and while laughing at them will make you feel as guilty as being found with a Jerky Boys platter in your collection, laugh you probably will. Also on tap is the latest cassette from Abdomen, titled Out of the Picture. For a recording mastered by the reliable Bob Ferbrache, the sound quality is rather suspect; you have to continually fiddle with the volume in order to fully appreciate the singing of Mike Jorgensen and the contributions of drummer Scott Young and bassist Dan Gearley. But patient folks will uncover yet another winner from this prolific act: "Probably" is impossibly catchy, "Tunnel With You" reveals an unexpectedly tender side of the band, and "In Conifer" is just the kind of tribute the title town deserves. With songs this good, turning your stereo up is a pleasure (D.U. Records, P.O. Box 18677, Denver 80218).

Pack of Dogs is a compilation made by a musicians' co-op based in Crested Butte, and while there are over a dozen contributors, the music as a whole falls neatly into the mountain-music category that's enchanted visitors to ski towns since before John Henry Deutsch-endorf decided to do something about his tongue-twister of a last name. Fans of Acoustic Junction will be pleased by the band's collaboration with Bruce Hayes on "River" and by two solo turns by bandleader Reed Foehl; boosters of the String Cheese Incident, meanwhile, should enjoy "Lester Had a Coconut" and "Johnny Cash," both lifted from a 1995 cassette. As for me, I dug two rather dark offerings by Sandy Moon, a nifty instrumental by Jim Sandy, and that's about it. Guess that allergy to patchouli has its drawbacks (Ragged Mountain Records, P.O. Box 2448, Crested Butte 81224). Bill Wright, who holds down the last track on Pack of Dogs, has a CD all his own: Travelin' Light. The feel of the album as a whole suggests the work of early-Seventies singer-songwriters with a pinch of, say, Pure Prairie League tossed in for good measure. The singing is pleasant, the words are unlikely to tax most listeners, and borrowed melodies such as the one that's featured in "It's Alright" will make you feel like you've heard them before even though you're checking them out for the first time. How convenient (Bill Wright Productions, P.O. Box 12440, Denver 80212).

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