Live From Denver -- Almost

Radio personalities that really go the distance.

None of that matters much to Christopher, though: Right now, he's enjoying the spoils that the computer revolution has brought his way. He was deejaying at KIOZ-FM in San Diego when he plugged into the Fox just over a year ago. Then, earlier in 1999, "I got the opportunity to transfer to Florida, which is where I really wanted to be," he notes. "So we were talking about it, and somebody said, 'We've been doing Denver, and Denver's been working beautifully. Why can't we do San Diego long distance, too?' And everybody looked at each other and said, 'Why not?'"

His days are full ones. He gets up around 4 a.m. to do the morning show at classic-rocking WPPT-FM in Panama City. Once he wraps up there, he returns to his beachside home, which is attached to his personal studio. ("It's very sweet," he says. "I own it lock, stock and barrel.") From there, he does the programs for San Diego and Denver, as well as assorted freelance voice-work for another thirty stations across the country. He's not finished until around 8:30 p.m., but he doesn't regard the workload as onerous thanks to the generous compensation he's receiving ("It's been very lucrative for me"), and because "when I want to take a break, I can go into the house, walk to the refrigerator, eat some lunch, watch a little TV." His satellite dish helps him keep in touch with current events in Denver, as does the Internet and producer Less; he also travels to Colorado about once each quarter to make public appearances. And because of the proximity of the studio to his house, he can do live cut-ins with ease. "If the Avs win a playoff game late at night while we're in the record mode, I can be digitally locked and live on the air in Denver in about fifteen seconds," he says. By doing things the right way, he believes, the technology is "a bonus for the listener, not a bummer."

Even if he's two time zones away.

Patrick Merewether

Of course, technology is only an advantage when it works -- and in the case of Clear Channel, which moved its headquarters from downtown to a sparkling new facility at the northwestern edge of the Tech Center in November, it hasn't always. The South Monaco digs are being used by seven of the eight Clear Channel properties in Denver -- Lee Larsen, regional vice president and general manager for the firm, jokes that KBCO remains in Boulder "so we don't contaminate them" -- and most employees are pleased with the building's roominess and assorted amenities. Still, the transition from analog to a digital format has been a bumpy one. Larsen is convinced that the shift will be beneficial in the long run: "Tape can break, stretch and get misplaced, but with this system, everything is on the hard drive, so you don't have to make multiple copies. You just put something into the hard drive, and any of the stations in Denver can use it -- and, with the Internet, so can any of the stations in the whole company."

But getting it to function consistently is another matter. Minor problems seem to crop up daily: Typical was a December 7 computer glitch -- or, in Larsen's words, "a hiccup" -- that knocked all the Clear Channel AMs off the air for ninety seconds.

How are the Clear Channelites handling such gaffes? Some better than others. Mike Loftus, who was producing KOA's Colorado Morning News, recently got so fed up that he took himself off the show. "The Colorado Morning News is the most complicated show in radio to run, and he just got too rattled," says Larsen, who notes that Loftus is currently handling production chores for the aforementioned Peter Boyles. (At press time, Shannon Scott, best known as Jay Marvin's longtime foil, was overseeing Colorado Morning News.)

But even though the Clear Channel structure's rooftop remains uncompleted, and more parking spaces already need to be added, Larsen thinks that the staff has weathered the worst of the storm. With a heavy sigh, he says, "It's almost over."

A followup: The November 11 edition of the Message included an item about an October 28 column by the Denver Post's Diane Carman in which she wrote, "A pimp's a pimp, after all, even if he looks good in a headdress," about Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, whom she accused of doing a political favor for a campaign donor, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. This line stirred up Campbell's office, which called the Post to complain, and incensed David Cournoyer, director of public education for the American Indian College Fund, who joined other members of the local Native American community in demanding an apology from the newspaper for what they saw as blatant racism. Finally, on December 12, Cournoyer and company got what they wanted, and in a big way: In a full-page, advertisement-like letter "to our readers" that was deducted from the news hole of the "Denver and the West" section, Post president and publisher Gerald Grilly wrote that "an October 28th column written by the Denver Post needlessly offended American Indians. It crossed a line of insensitivity that is uncharacteristic of this newspaper's coverage and its many deep roots in Colorado." He added, "We are sorry for offending, for insulting. We are determined to prevent this episode from dividing our community, and to prevent it from damaging excellent relationships that have taken generations to establish."

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