The Message

Here's to the good, the bad and the funny in Denver's most newsworthy newsroom.

By the way, the item that followed the MediaNews opus read like so: "A story on Page 6A Wednesday incorrectly reported the color of Ralston Valley High School student Becky Hipp's blue graduation gown." (The color was reported as "crimson.") Now, that's the kind of thing corrections are for.

Back with the Breese: "Paper Trail," an April 26, 2001, article about the eccentric history of the Colorado Daily, documented how the Boulder operation nearly perished due in part to the actions of Mark Breese, who allegedly sucked the paper dry while serving as its finance director. Breese settled a civil suit with the newspaper's owners, Front Range Publishing, for $252,000 but had paid just $29,000 made from the sale of a house in Lafayette before hitting the highway leading out of town.

He's finally returning, and betcha he's not thrilled about it. On May 19, U.S. Attorney John Suthers announced that a federal grand jury had indicted Breese, who was living in Dublin, Ohio, for wire fraud and making false statements in tax returns. Several days later, Breese, who was said in the indictment to have used part of his pilfered booty for offshore betting, surrendered to U.S. marshals in Columbus, Ohio. He's expected to appear this week in U.S. District Court in Denver, where he faces up to twenty years in the pokey and a $250,000 fine for the wire-fraud charge alone if convicted.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, says if Breese is found guilty, the government will likely seek a restitution order directing him to pay back his ill-gotten gains -- but in many ways, the Daily has moved on. Front Range Publishing no longer exists, and Randy Miller, who purchased the Daily out of bankruptcy, has put it on much firmer footing. "Our paper has doubled in the past two years," Miller says, "and as we continue to grow, we continue to add staff. We're probably a third bigger than we were, and when other papers are experiencing downturns, we're growing revenue-wise, too." In addition, he's instituted accounting procedures intended to prevent future Breeses from bilking the Daily -- "nothing unusual, just standard practices."

Like the kind that should have been in place all along.

A pirate changes course: On June 2, the Federal Communications Commission is likely to loosen regulations that currently prevent the heavily consolidated media industry from consolidating further. Firms should soon have more leeway to purchase TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in the same city -- just one of many alterations apt to result in fewer companies holding even greater power over what the average American sees, hears and reads.

Such rulings will present enormous challenges to Bass Ghost, but he's accustomed to battling the odds. Last year, the self-styled emcee and entrepreneur created Skyjack Radio, an illegal AM outlet that thrilled the local rap community for a few short weeks before the FCC shut it down ("Piracy, Hip-Hop Style," December 5, 2002). Since then, Bass Ghost has been trying to find a way to get back on the air legally, but doing so won't be cheap. He guesses it will cost him $1 million to nab a signal -- and that's an optimistic estimate.

At present, Ghost is searching for simoleons with the assistance of Tom Calise, a former stuntman -- his credits include 1988's Silent Assassins, with Linda Blair -- who shares Ghost's vision, and finishing up Skyjack Radio: Birth 2 Da Airwaves, a compilation CD set for release in June. Bass Ghost appears on the disc alongside Skyjack Radio personalities such as Panda and associates like Cavalear and Blindcyde. "This all grew from the radio station," Bass Ghost says, "and it's a way to help it get back on." Proceeds will go in part to a radio-station fund.

Why is this mission important? "Because we want to get undiscovered artists heard," Bass Ghost says. "There's a lot of talent out there, but the big radio stations won't give the little guys a chance."

And that situation will almost certainly get worse before it gets better.

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