Help Not Wanted

Thanks to voicetracking, radio stations need fewer DJs than ever before.

O'Connor points to Brian Degrasse, dubbed Wingnut, who started as an intern, developed a following during guest appearances on KBPI's morning show, The Locker Room, and now voicetracks the occasional Saturday or Sunday shift on top of his daily duties as promotions director for the Fox.

Of course, the number of behind-the-scenes jobs is shrinking, too, forcing even high-profile radio pros to consider leaving the profession entirely. Take Chuck Woodford, who worked at KBCO from 1990-1995 before jumping to the Peak. He was heard at the latter during assorted slots, including a stint in morning drive alongside Selby, before the station changed formats in 1998 from adult rock to heavy alternative and Howard Stern. When no suitable radio gigs opened up, Woodford concentrated on television, working in various capacities on programs that have wound up on Fox Sports Net, ESPN and the Food Network. But he still loves radio, and about a year ago, he returned to the Peak to do weekends and fill-ins -- and in December, following the departure of DJ Sam Stock, he was handed the 7 p.m.-to-midnight shift. "It looked like I would go full-time as soon as they finalized the budget," Woodford says about the station, which, like Alice, was owned by Emmis Communications. "But then they sold the station."

True enough, Emmis peddled the Peak to Entravision Communications, which immediately announced that it would ditch the station's '80s-rock-oriented style in favor of Spanish-language material shipped via satellite from California ("Interpreting the Signals," February 28). The move left Woodford to serve as the Peak's evening nursemaid until the switch is finalized -- and given the present state of radio, symbolized by the unemployment awaiting the Peak's entire staff, he's not optimistic about finding another job behind the microphone anytime soon.

Thanks to cost-cutting measures, veteran 
DJ Jackie Selby is without a job.
Anna Newell
Thanks to cost-cutting measures, veteran DJ Jackie Selby is without a job.

"Five years ago, I couldn't have predicted the paradigm shift, the massive philosophical changes in the way music and information is presented on the radio," Woodford says. "Most radio stations have done away with news staffs and community service staffs. At the Peak, we used to have a really good organization that went out and got involved with local communities, but it doesn't exist there anymore...but groups like that don't really exist anywhere anymore."

To Woodford, the spread of voicetracking is the next logical step in this process. "I understand the need for talented air staff," he says. "But when they find someone talented, they turn him into a representative for several stations, farming him out to other towns. And in those towns, anybody who wants that job is just hosed."

Live on Memorex: As divulged in our recent look at Colorado Public Radio ("Going Public," February 21), CPR uses voicetracking techniques as a matter of course; only pledge drives usually feature live content. However, as numerous readers have pointed out, not all of CPR's pleading occurs in real time either. CPR spokesman Sean Nethery estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the pitches for funds are live, with the rest being recorded. Based on the time I spent listening to the network during February's winter campaign, I'd put the percentage at closer to fifty-fifty, and others imply that Nethery's figures should be reversed. One correspondent remembers hearing a supposedly impromptu exchange between announcers at least twice; he could tell because the giggles were in exactly the same places.

Spontaneity is a lot easier to deal with when you know it's coming.

The Chuck report: While reading columns by the Denver Post's Chuck Green, which I do for the same reason that people attend stock-car races (we love the mayhem), I've noticed that he often needs to s-t-r-e-t-c-h topics to fill his designated space. But seldom has his desperation been so evident as it was in two columns last week.

In March 11's "Glad Frank's Finally Gone," about the demise of death row inmate Frank Rodriguez, Green upped his word total by typing and retyping "dead" -- as in the clever sentence "He is dead, dead, dead" and the even pithier "Dead, dead, dead." By my count, the Greenster managed to fit a whopping thirteen "dead"s into that piece.

But judging by March 13's "Yates Verdict Fitting? You Bet," a reaction to the conviction of Houston's Andrea Yates for drowning her five children, his thirst for repetition was not yet slaked. Ten more "deads" popped up in two big lumps, the second of which read, "And yes, you knew that what you were doing was wrong, and that is why you called the police when it was over -- when they were dead, dead, dead, dead, dead." (You can practically hear him counting them out, can't you?) Then, to prove he's not a one-trick pony, Chuckles used "sick" eight times, highlighted by, "You knew what you were doing, even though you were sick, sick, sick."

When I read that line, I couldn't help but laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh.

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I goal tended vs Stock back in the day and he was awesome!  Unfortunately I got a chance to get to know him later in life and he was the biggest pussy and in love with himself guy I have ever met.  The dude had never been in a fight in his life and he was just a coke and alcohol addict masquerading as something he was not.  (a tough guy)  At least I respected him as a soccer player, but as a person he was a drug addicted loser who wasn't interested in having friends, just having stooges around him to sooth his massive insecurity and feel like the coolest and best looking dude in the room.  Sam was intimidated by others who were better looking, tougher, smarter or better than himself and did not want those people around him.  He surrounded himself by losers to boost his shameless ego.  It is one thing to burn out as a rock star, but to burn out as a wanna be, talentless, punker hack is hilarious!  Quit glorifying drug addicts!  They are losers.