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This exchange was about as interesting as Stern got during his first week on our thin air. I heard him conduct several rambling conversations with minor celebrities such as Corey Feldman and Sherman Hemsley (yawn) and listened without having my nose turn blue as he gushed over a porno "actress" who'd promised to have sex with one of his listeners. But I was surprised to discover just how dull much of his program is. The lack of structure means that Stern and his crew spend insufferably long stretches in search of something funny, and what they find is seldom a laugh riot. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who was unable to find the hilarity in jokes about Michael J. Fox's case of Parkinson's disease or a dial-a-date candidate who repeatedly used the words "niggers" and "spics." What a stick-in-the-mud I am.

Nugget 6: The news about radio isn't all bad, though. KVCU-AM/1190, run under the auspices of the University of Colorado-Boulder, has been accessible to the vast majority of listeners only since November 4, but it's already made its presence felt. Some of the jocks sound a little rough around the edges, but their styles are a fabulous antidote to the slickness that saturates the commercial frequencies. Moreover, the music that they're playing has been consistently intriguing and daringly eclectic. One set I heard included, in order, Hayden, Hank Williams, Portishead, Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Spooky and the Minders--six worthy acts that deserve to be heard.

The outlet doesn't seem like a startup, and for good reason: It's been operating for years as a carrier-current station that few people could hear. (One DJ told me with becoming earnestness, "It's so great now that we have listeners.") But KVCU is still deserving of special praise. Is it too soon to declare AM-1190 to be the best music station in the Denver-Boulder area? Hardly.

And now, some bonus nuggets. On Thursday, December 10, the Jeromes, co-starring promoter Doug Kauffman, join the Heat and the Damn Shambles at the Bluebird Theater, and the Jonny Mogambo Band puts out a new CD at Brendan's. On Friday, December 11, the Snatchers fall into the Speedholes at the Lion's Lair; the Gagan Brothers get ga-ga at Cricket on the Hill; Clown, Rocket Ajax, Sick and Sketch compete in a battle of the bands at Oil Can's; Tom Tilton's Holiday Quintet jingles bells as part of "Steinway and Stained Glass: A Holiday Jazz Concert" at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1615 Ogden; Clever, from Omaha, runs on brainpower at the Bluebird, with the Phunk Junkees and Blister; Turnsol scrubs Soapy Smith's; and Rainbow Sugar joins the Letches and Koala at Monkey Mania, 1st and Lipan. On Saturday, December 12, Sci-Fi Uterus is explored at the Mercury Cafe, and guitarist Marc Antoine vamps at the Casino. On Sunday, December 13, DJ Jody spins at Boulder's Soma, 1915 Broadway. On Tuesday, December 15, Martha's Wake fuels up on L.S. Diesel at the Iliff Park Saloon. And on Wednesday, December 16, Hamster Theatre keeps the wheels turning at the Mercury. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com.

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