The Message

Peeved in Peoria

I'm guessing the locution to which she referred was "fuckup."

Contacted later that day, Griego conceded that she wasn't sure where things had come unhinged. "Being as obsessive as I am, I tinker with stories up until the last minute, so it was early afternoon on [Friday, September 5] when I filed it....But the package was turned in; the package was edited, and after that, I don't know what happened."

Griego's boss, John Temple, probably does, but he prefers not to get specific. "It comes down to a lack of communication; the sidebar was not on the budget. But as I told Tina on Saturday morning, I don't believe there was anything missing from the Saturday column, and I don't believe any reader would have known that there was supposed to be something there if it hadn't come to them in another form."

The members of Planes Mistaken for Stars, seen here 
circa 2000, had a few choice words for Peoria.
T. Jonsson
The members of Planes Mistaken for Stars, seen here circa 2000, had a few choice words for Peoria.

Two for the price of one.

Hacked off: Last month, many listeners of Denver's KFMD, known as KISS-FM, thought they were hearing a radio terrorist attacking the outlet, which specializes in current pop hits. Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice broke into the broadcast, followed by disturbed-sounding explanations and apologies from regular staffers.

No doubt to the chagrin of those who despise Clear Channel, the über-corporation that owns the station, the whole thing turned out to be a stunt intended to acquaint listeners with new DJ Tommy the Hacker, who's now manning the 7 to 11 p.m. shift. Program director Jim Lawson calls the introduction of Tommy, a locally based jock replacing shows that previously had been voicetracked from elsewhere, "theater of the mind," a favorite radio term; Mark Edwards, then the interim program director for Alice, used the same phrase earlier this year to explain a prank in which air personalities Greg Thunder and Bo Reynolds pretended that a kitten attached to helium balloons had been carried away by the breeze ("Diverse Opinions," May 8). This time around, not even imaginary animals were injured.

For Lawson, the fact that the Hacker gag was so widely heard is even better news. For most of its existence, KISS-FM has been troubled by problems with its antenna on Lookout Mountain, an area dotted with broadcast towers. Because KISS's gear was causing radio-frequency "hot spots" that exceeded FCC standards, the station often operated at just 38 percent of its allotted wattage ("Tower Failure," January 24, 2002). Last summer, Lawson says, execs finally got sick of fighting this battle. They took the tower down and hung the KISS antenna on a structure used by sister station KTCL, located between Denver and Fort Collins, to which KTCL is licensed. Unfortunately, this placement meant the KISS signal had difficulty penetrating numerous portions of the metro area. Consider that Lawson couldn't receive the station at his home in Grant Ranch, part of the southwest suburbs. He attributes KISS's ratings dip to this situation; from spring 2002 to spring 2003, the station tumbled from a twelfth-place tie locally among persons aged 18 to 34 (its target demographic) to eighteenth.

Technology may help this showing improve. In late August, KISS began broadcasting from a new tower on Lookout Mountain, and the difference in the signal in places like southern Jefferson County is quite noticeable. "The signal is much clearer, cleaner and stronger," Lawson boasts. "You can never say that static is gone, but now it's very, very minimal."

Another kind of static remains: Lookout Mountain community organizations such as Canyon Area Residents for the Environment continue to believe that the neighborhood antenna farm creates serious health risks, and they will no doubt be monitoring KISS's equipment closely to make sure it doesn't exceed government regulations. If it does, Tommy the Hacker may need to hack into another station to be heard.

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