Two-Way Player

Mark Schlereth tries to balance local radio with a rising TV career.

So how much of a contest is this, really? Fan program director Tim Spence shrugs off KTLK's promotional assaults ("I don't care what the Zone says") as easily as he does rumors that Clear Channel intends to go after broadcasting rights to the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets when the teams' contracts with the Fan expire ("We have good relationships with them, and conversations about the future are ongoing"). Meanwhile, the Fan is running more local shows than ever, even hiring KTLK castoff Jim Ryan -- a strategy Spence feels will serve the station well in the long run. "If someone wants to come along and do some things from a syndication standpoint, good luck," he says. "Because local will always win over syndication."

In a better world, perhaps. But in this one...?

Good things come to those who wait: Few people have done more for hip-hop in Colorado than Francois Baptiste. A co-founder of 3 Deep Productions who's currently serving as promoter Jason Miller's assistant at House of Blues, Baptiste produced and starred in Rhythm Visions, a video show devoted to the music that aired on Channel 12, and was also intimately involved with Eclipse, a program spotlighting the best underground and local hip-hop that was heard for several years on Boulder's excellent public-radio station, KGNU.

Mark Schlereth talks the walk on KTLK and ESPN.
Mark A. Manger
Mark Schlereth talks the walk on KTLK and ESPN.
Mark Schlereth talks the walk on KTLK and ESPN.
Mark A. Manger
Mark Schlereth talks the walk on KTLK and ESPN.

But try as they might, Baptiste and DJ Chonz, a veteran spinner who was also heard on Eclipse, could never land a similar offering on KS-107.5, Denver's most-listened-to purveyor of hip-hop. Back in 1998, when interviewed for a column about Colorado rapper Kingdom's inability to get his music into rotation at the outlet, Cat Collins, KS-107.5's program director, claimed that a program with a combination of local and national components wouldn't work at his station.

Baptiste, Chonz and Kingdom didn't give up, however, and in July, Collins finally capitulated, scheduling what's been dubbed The KS-107.5 Mix-Tape Show into a two-hour block starting Sundays at 11 p.m. "I like to call it 'The Update Show,'" Baptiste says. "We really try to turn people on to the newest stuff as soon as it drops and expose them to a whole number of things -- the underground and the overground, if you know what I mean. We may play something by Destiny's Child, and right after that play Jurassic 5 and Pharoahe Monch."

In addition, they've been given the freedom to throw the best stuff by area rappers, Kingdom included, into the hopper. As Baptiste notes, "We aren't going to be able to put every local artist on. The artists who'll get on are the ones who are taking care of business and really trying to make a difference. And when they do, it'll be a really good thing for them to get their music played on this station."

How did Baptiste finally manage to convince Collins that such a show would work on KS-107.5? "He's really an open-minded kind of guy," Baptiste says, "and I think he just noticed that things are changing. There's a bigger market for things like this than there were in the past, which is why this is a much-needed show. And it's really nice to see KS-107.5 step up and acknowledge this subculture here in Colorado."

Headline writing 101: It may seem obvious, but it's always a good idea for the person who comes up with headlines for a story to read the whole thing first. Example: "Town Divided," a Peggy Lowe-penned article in the August 25 Rocky Mountain News, about a Rifle teenager, Kyle Skyock, whose claims that he was beaten because he is gay are disputed by local authorities. Toward the bottom of the complex, sensitive and even-handed piece is this line: "He reads about the Cortez killing of Fred Martinez Jr. and cringes at the headline that starts with 'gay teen.'"

And what two words kicked off the front-page headline teasing Lowe's story? "Gay Teen..."

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