Urban Renewal

How could an R&B outlet become the most popular radio station in Denver? The little girls understand.

According to Collins, the "Stan" saga began when music director John E. Kage "came into my office, shut the door, played it two or three times and said, 'This is the best record for us to add this week.' And since I trust John E., we put it on the air on a Friday, and by the following Monday, it was our top request by three to one." He adds, "I don't know why our audience loves the music, but they do -- and we want to give them what they want."

That's also the logic behind supplementing R&B and hip-hop by the likes of Nelly, Jay Z and Joe with a generous helping of bleached kiddie ditties from combos such as the Backstreet Boys -- another way of getting young, pale-faced girls to tune in. Nonetheless, Collins doesn't want to make too much of this last move. "If you love hip-hop and R&B, there may be other types of music that you love, too, and we'll consider playing it. But keep in mind that we've probably played only about half a dozen of those songs even though I'll bet thirty of them have been hits. So we'll play only the biggest of the big, and only if our R&B audience accepts them." For instance, he says Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" was a smash for the station, but when negative feedback started filtering back in response to her new tune, "I Turn to You," it was yanked. By contrast, "I didn't think we'd ever play 'Bye Bye Bye,' by 'N Sync, but we did -- and lot of people let us know they were glad we did."

A lot of white people, probably, although Collins won't talk in those terms. He insists that KS-107.5 isn't trying to woo members of any specific ethnic category and gets downright defensive at the mention of an objection about the station that's frequently voiced by local hip-hoppers -- that even though most of the station's music is still made by African-Americans (sorry, Eminem), only one of its full-time DJs, midday host Kendall B., is African-American himself. Collins says his staff is the most ethnically varied in Denver thanks to the presence of morning-show co-hosts Rick Stacy, who is of Cuban ancestry, and Larry Ulibarri, a Hispanic, plus fellow Hispanic Tony V., assigned to the 10 p.m.-2 a.m. shift. But, he goes on, "I don't have an agenda based on race; I hire based on the best talent available. I'm out to entertain the most diverse audience in Denver, and I think our talent is representative of that audience, but I still get these kinds of comments. I mean, you don't have white guys calling the Fox complaining if they do have an African-American DJ, do you?"

Of course, KS-107.5's success makes any criticism easier to take -- and Collins insists there hasn't been that much of it lately. According to him, he didn't receive a single grievance from parents because of a promo for the second Up in Smoke date in which the station was identified as the only one in town "with enough stroke to take another toke."

"This is a great mass-appeal format for Denver," he says. "If the ratings prove anything, they prove that."

Will Jamie be crying? Rumors about the pos-sible return of axed jocks Frosty Stillwell and Frank Kramer to their former posts at Alice/105.9 FM were only stoked by the duo's August 11 guest spot on the station. Under quizzing from afternoon host Greg Thunder and Rob Hatch, whose terrific Web site, denverradio.net, has done a good job of documenting their split from former partner Jamie White, Kramer, in particular, let loose before a large crowd at the Rock Bottom Brewery and an even bigger one across the metro area. He revealed that he and Stillwell were told "about one minute" after completing a show last September 13 that the broadcast would be their last alongside White, who'd moved with them to Los Angeles in 1998. (Their show was relocated to L.A.'s KYSR/Star 98, from where it was beamed back to Denver.) More interestingly, he contradicted comments made by Ms. Jamie regarding her culpability in the way things were handled ("White on White," February 3).

"It was all Jamie White -- that bitch!" Kramer declared in a sort-of-joking/sort-of-not tone of voice. "It was all her decision. Nobody else's. It was all Jamie White!" Then, after announcing that "we got boned the hard way," he launched into an anti-White rant -- "Let's hang her! Let's burn her! Let's kill her!" -- before cracking up the throng with the line, "I'm kidding -- she's a lovely woman."

Although White told yours truly that she was still "in touch" with Kramer many months after their on-air schism, he swore that "the last time I talked to Jamie, I had a box in my hand and I was cleaning out my desk." He also offered a parting shot about White's impending divorce from her husband, Denver physician David Strom, claiming that he'd once bet her $5,000 that her marriage would dissolve before his did -- and the still-wed Kramer gave every indication of wanting to collect.

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