Cyber Slams

A local college student is on a one-man mission to attack lousy radio. is working fine now, but it was recently down for several weeks -- and founder Lindley understands how difficult it is to keep such an enterprise afloat. After about a year of operation, he posted a message telling fans that he could no longer devote the necessary hours to the undertaking and asked if anyone would be willing to take it over from him. DeShazer immediately volunteered.

Lindley is still involved with, which remains on his server. But since January, DeShazer has been in charge of content, and among the upgrades he's making is the launch of DRS Radio, a Web radio station accessible on the site. Starting such a venture now would seem risky, given the announcement of royalty rates that have the potential to put hundreds of program providers out of business ("Digital Dilemma," May 2). But DeShazer was emboldened by a recent compromise between the Recording Industry Association of America and an advocacy group called Voice of the Webcasters. A bill formalizing the RIAA-VOW deal was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, and observers who see it as a modest improvement over previous legislation hope it will win approval from the Senate and, ultimately, President George W. Bush, in the not-too-distant future.

According to DeShazer, DRS Radio will be a forum for local musicians -- the new-generation equivalents of his father. To that end, he invites any and all Colorado performers to "send me their MP3s, so I can play them all day and let people know how much great music there is around here.

Jon-Michael DeShazer wants radio to stop sucking.
Mark A. Manger
Jon-Michael DeShazer wants radio to stop sucking.

"That's the kind of thing Denver radio stations should be doing," he continues. "I look at a band like Big Head Todd and the Monsters, which KBCO played a lot when they were starting out, and that really helped them make it. Stations don't do that kind of thing anymore -- which is another reason why Denver radio sucks."

Synchronicity: The Denver Post's Woody Paige claims to have been fired by "six television stations and sixteen radio stations" during his years covering sports in this fair city -- a proud achievement by any measure. But broadcast firms keep hiring him anyway, and the latest to put him on the payroll is the biggest to date: ESPN. Paige is in the starting lineup for Around the Horn, a half-hour chat show slated to debut on the network October 28. Joining him will be a quartet of fellow columnists -- Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times and T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times (both of whom once worked at the Rocky Mountain News, as did Paige), plus the Dallas Morning News's Tim Cowlishaw and the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan. Host Max Kellerman will coordinate from the same Washington, D.C., studio, where another of ESPN's talk opuses, Pardon the Interruption, is taped.

Some of the details concerning Paige's participation are a bit fuzzy at this point. For instance, Paige says he'll get checks directly from ESPN, but in a recent article for Sports Business Journal, scribe David Sweet wrote, "Each paper is being paid an undisclosed amount for its columnist's time, and then the papers pass the money on to the writers." That's how Post editor Greg Moore understands things will work. "They're basically paying for us to make a person available, and we pass the money through," he notes. "They called us and asked if we would be happy to have Woody participate, and of course we want to be in that company. We think we put out a really good sports section, so it's an honor to be participating in that -- and good to get some remuneration." Moore adds that when Paige is unavailable, another Post columnist will fill his seat.

No matter how the nuts fit onto the bolts, there's no question that the Post is going out of its way to accommodate ESPN. The network has built a set in the paper's newsroom from which Paige will make his contributions. Others may do so, too. "It's big enough for more than one person," Paige says. "And people behind it from the business and sports departments will probably get a lot of face time. I've told them they should sit in the background and call their relatives." Moreover, ESPN has installed fiber-optic lines and high-tech equipment that should allow Paige to actually see his fellow panelists, as opposed to merely hearing them through an earpiece, and has hired an assistant to oversee things from this end.

Back in the day, Paige notes, newspaper executives would never have allowed TV types to invade their space in this way. "When I started doing talk radio in the '70s, papers thought it was a conflict of interest. Everyone was jealous and envious and pissed all the time. But now, with the evolution of the media, newspapers and TV and radio stations are all in bed together. You can't watch Channel 9 without a Denver Post reporter popping up."

Rehearsals for Around the Horn kick off this week, and Paige expects the program will eventually look like The Sports Reporters, another ESPN offering, as shot by MTV or maybe VH1. Indeed, a "pop-up video" feature is on the drawing board. Personality conflicts will probably be on the menu, too, thanks to Paige's antipathy for Mariotti. "We didn't get along when he was here," Paige says, "and I think every time I've seen him since, he's told me to do something physically impossible -- although he was civil to me in New York" during a planning meeting for the show several weeks ago. "But he has no sense of humor and only one gear. He's a hammer."

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