By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Pearson has a full plate waiting for him upon his return from England. He's started his own label in order to better promote the work of the Czars and his two other bands, Velveteen Monster and Jux County. He expects the Monster's debut, culled primarily from an August performance at the Bluebird Theater, to appear in stores in December, with a Jux County CD to follow shortly thereafter. Also on the agenda is Beautiful Curse, by Venus Diablo, an Albuquerque combo ("Venus Rising," September 11, 1997). The group is no longer in existence, but Pearson promises that the platter will send it off in style.
Talk-show host Jay Marvin, whose fiery weekday afternoon show on KHOW-AM/630 helped make him a Westword cover boy ("Double Trouble," March 26), is doing precisely what fans of intriguing radio hoped he wouldn't: He's leaving Denver in order to rejoin the staff of WFLA-AM in Tampa, Florida, an outlet that first hired him in the late Eighties. His last Denver broadcast is Friday, September 18, starting at 3 p.m.
Health is the reason for the move, says Marvin, who celebrated his 46th birthday last week. He has missed a great many broadcasts over the past several months for a variety of maladies, including pneumonia. Two weeks ago, however, doctors traced many of his problems to sleep apnea. "When a normal person sleeps, his brain registers about ten interruptions an hour," he notes. "You don't wake up, but you stir, almost like if someone was gently poking you. Well, I either suffer a disruption or stop breathing 88 times an hour. And each time that happens, you register a tiny jolt to your heart"--an organ that, in Marvin's case, is already enlarged on the right side. He experienced some relief after physicians ordered him to sleep wearing an oxygen mask, but he didn't feel measurably better until he and his wife, Mary, took a vacation to the Nevada desert, an area with an elevation considerably lower than Denver's. Upon his return, he asked his employers at Jacor Communications if there were openings at any company properties closer to sea level. Within two weeks, he was part of the staff at Jacor-owned WFLA.
Although Marvin's ratings couldn't compare with his time slot's most popular programs, such as the "Sports Zoo" on KOA-AM/850, they were better than anything KHOW had managed in ages. "They're triple what they were," says Marvin, who started at KHOW in fall 1996, "and I have one of the highest time-spent-listening rankings of anyone in the city. People stuck with me." He adds, "It was a hard decision to leave, because I have unfinished business. Most talk shows take three years to catch on, and I needed three years. I wasn't in bad shape, and advertisers couldn't get on fast enough; I was sold out. But I could have become bigger if I'd had the time."
Not everyone loved Marvin, who can go from cuddly to confrontational in a twinkling. "I think radio in Denver is pretty safe," he says, "and I don't think people were used to someone coming on and telling them exactly what they think. If you do that here, you take a lot of dings." He's particularly prickly about the often negative evaluations he's received from veteran critics Dusty Saunders (of the Rocky Mountain News) and Joanne Ostrow (of the Denver Post), who share a media program that airs at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings on KHOW. He calls them "completely out of touch, and their show's an embarrassment. I don't care if I get in trouble with my own company for saying so; that's the way I feel. They're totally disconnected. The Post and the Rocky should seriously re-examine who they've got doing that job."
Blunt opinions like these are rare in Denver talk radio, which is seriously short on interesting personalities who are based in the city. KHOW execs are currently conducting a search for a new afternoon-drive jock, but they're unlikely to find someone as quirky as Marvin, who spends his free time writing experimental fiction and poetry (his first novel, Punk Blood, is available on Illinois's Fiction Collective, and two of his poems will appear next year in an anthology from Thundermouth Press). The local airwaves will be poorer for his absence.
Can you believe it? The two previous items didn't even mention this week's Showcase (to which you are all invited). I may be a pimp, but I have my limits.
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com.