Frequency Free-for-All

Getting a legal, low-power FM station on the air is easier said than done.

So why didn't this pact establish peace in our time? Because, as it turned out, it screwed over KGNU. The station's main frequency, at 88.5 FM, would be turned to fuzz in Fort Collins by WAY-FM, just one dial click away, and a signal boosted into the area by a KGNU translator at 89.1 FM would get the same treatment from PRFR's station, an equal distance away.

As a fix, Steininger convinced the religious broadcasters to earmark $5,000 for KGNU to research a new translator location -- but this gesture hasn't placated KGNU station manager Marty Durlin. As Durlin knows from donation records, her station has a great many listeners in Fort Collins, and she doesn't want to lose them. So she sent out messages to everyone on her database in the Fort Collins area, urging them to write letters protesting the placement of the assorted stations. Thus far, 76 Fort Collins residents have complied with her request, and their missives will be included in a formal complaint to be filed in Washington, D.C., by KGNU's attorneys.

All of this leaves Steininger feeling torn -- and why not? PRFR has been fighting for a station for seven years, yet if the FCC ultimately signs off on the three-way settlement he helped broker, which could happen as early as next spring, his success may cause harm to KGNU, an outlet he admires. "One of KGNU's boardmembers put it well," Steininger says. "He said it's like the feeling you'd have watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your brand-new Cadillac. There's both a good side and a bad side."

Anna Newell

Turn that frown upside down: Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, journalists at Denver's dailies have been under a great deal of pressure -- not as much as if they worked in New York City, but plenty nonetheless. Earlier this month, management at the Denver Post responded to this situation with one of the loopier memos in recent memory.

Titled "Lighten the Atmosphere" and featuring a cap-wearing stick figure merrily clicking his heels, the page is filled with frantically cheerful recommendations. Under the heading "Department Fun" are suggestions such as "Crazy hat/crazy socks day," "Fun contests -- funny poem, drawing," "Bowling parties" and "Put up balloons." The "Stress Relievers" section chimes in with "Pamper yourself (get hair cut, get your nails done)," "Reduce your caffeine (that means chocolate)," "Plan the next day before the previous day ends" and "Change your attitude: Think positive, forget the negative," while advice for "bosses" includes "Make sure assignments are necessary" (a radical theory) and "Organize some fun."

The motivation behind the memo, explains Post editor Glenn Guzzo, was "simply to acknowledge that these are pretty intense times...Immediately, we go to work; we've got something to occupy us fully, while others in the community comfort each other and talk things through. Newsroom folks working around the clock miss that. When the work fatigue starts to set in after a string of long days, our folks will be susceptible to whatever emotional effect might have been postponed." Guzzo adds that if there's been any negative reaction to the memo, "it hasn't reached me."

The reaction around here has been entirely positive. The thought of senior Post staffers wearing psychedelic toe socks and beanies with propellers on top lightened the atmosphere considerably.

Fight or flight: In recent weeks, officials and press representatives at Denver International Airport, whose alleged inaccessibility during the facility's September closure prompted gripes from several local reporters ("Talking Points," September 27), have been making an increased effort to get out in front of the public. But thus far, not all of their attempts are paying dividends -- and the habit of getting prickly when faced with criticism is proving hard to break. Last week, an enlightening package by Channel 9's Paula Woodward showed that delivery trucks and the like weren't being searched at a particular DIA entrance, whereas every arriving passenger vehicle was receiving the once-over. But no DIA spokesman appeared on screen to react to this news; instead, Mark Lovin, deputy manager of aviation for operations, commented off camera. Worse, Lovin didn't promise to look into this apparent security lapse, but offered bland, we've-got-everything-under-control assurances of the sort that might have flown before September 11 but don't get off the ground anymore.

Infinitely worse, though, were remarks offered by DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon on October 2 while visiting KOA's Sports Zoo. Speaking with host Scott Hastings, who is much better talking about the Broncos than he is tackling international politics, Cannon tried to prove that air travel is still safe by noting that there were over 6,500 flights in the air on September 11 and only four didn't eventually make it to where they were heading. He called this result "a pretty good average."

Guess that means if only two planes crash tomorrow, killing everyone on board and untold others on the ground, Cannon will see it as a 50 percent improvement.

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