Internet radio isn't a panacea: At this point in its technical development, the sound quality can be mighty iffy. But the airwave-based commercial radio of today is generally so dreadful--too narrow, too formatted, too repetitive, too brain-dead--that this new medium is exploding anyhow. For instance, Boulder-based GoGaGa Brand Radio (accessible at www.eclecticradio.com) recently celebrated its second anniversary by incorporating four new stations into its network, including DubWire.com, a reggae service, and TwangBox.net, a country-oriented specialist. In addition, the company has created a pair of sites focusing on markets in New York City (nyc.gogaga.com) and San Francisco (sf.gogaga.com). But just as intriguing are startups such as Auxiliary Radio, a station being run by a broadcast veteran who's cast his lot with new technology.
To explain: Until late March, Scott Stafford, 26, was working as a technical producer for KOA-AM/850 and KHOW-AM/630, two of the primary cogs in Jacor Broadcasting's Denver radio machine. But for him, the most fulfilling radio experiences of his career took place at KCSU-FM, a Fort Collins station affiliated with Colorado State University, which he attended. "I really discovered what radio was about as far as having creativity," he says. "The music was freeform, but we still put out a good product."
In an effort to re-create this hothouse environment, Stafford purchased a stockpile of equipment and turned his Denver-area home into the headquarters of Auxiliary Radio, which can be found at www.auxradio.com. At this point, the concept behind the project is focusing on specialty shows and lots of personality. "I have six DJs, but we don't use our real names," he notes. "We play characters, which has been a lot of fun and gives it more entertainment value. Plus, having a theme really allows the DJs to dig in."
Variety is a key to Auxiliary Radio. Programs include The Golden Aux Lounge, a cocktail-oriented showcase; Not Bad for White Trash, which salutes what Stafford calls "trailer-trash music"; the R&B salute Soul Kitchen; and nods to soundtracks, live recordings and funk. None of the shows can be heard live yet, but they've been archived, and new editions of at least one of them are available on a daily basis. "We'll go live eventually," Stafford says, "but until then, we're still going to be active in the community as far as news updates and things like that. And we're going to have a lot of contests and things of that nature, too. That's one of the great things about the Internet--there's so much you can do to get everyone involved."
Stafford, who's currently studying computer management at Metro State College, knows that actually making a living from Auxiliary Radio won't be easy. Just prior to the station's April 1 debut, he predicted that it would lose money for at least the first two months, and thus far, his prediction has been prophetic. "My fiancee works full-time, and she's pretty much supporting me these days," he admits. But with hits having risen to more than 2,000 per day in just over a month, he's optimistic about the future. "If you look at things from a global perspective, there's definitely a market out there," he says. "And I think there's a lot of people who want something more than they're getting from corporate radio. I've always loved the idea of great music and great DJs, but that's not what it's all about anymore."
Nevertheless, Stafford is realistic enough not to shut the doors on the old-school radio industry. "I'm kind of free-falling right now," he concedes, adding, "I hope this works out--or else I may be going back to KHOW."
Lost amid the swirl of sad stories produced by the April 20 assault on Columbine High School was a depressing tale about William Gulley, a man who, as the security overseer at the Fox Theatre and the now-defunct Club Mecca, was an important part of the Boulder music community for much of the Nineties. According to the Houston Chronicle, Gulley, 36, committed suicide shortly after fatally shooting his wife, Shelly Gulley, also 36, during the early-morning hours of April 17 at his home in Houston, where he'd moved last year. (Authorities are certain that William pulled the trigger, because Shelly identified him to someone on her cell phone seconds before her death.) This bloody end came as a shock to many of those who knew Gulley during his years in Colorado, in large part because he had dedicated himself to preventing problems rather than causing them. That Gulley's company was called No Violence Productions was an irony no one could miss. "I worked with him for seven years," says the Fox's Don Strasburg, "and he was one of the nicest, biggest-hearted people I've ever met. So this has just been a shock. No one can believe it."
Francois Baptiste, who holds a position at Universal Concerts in addition to running his own company, 3 Deep Productions, was also close to Gulley, whom he credits with helping to bring hip-hop to Boulder at a time when bad publicity from events elsewhere in the country had made bookers shy away from it. "The way he handled the people that came into the Fox and to underground parties was just incredible," he recalls. "And he reassured the promoters and everyone else. He was kind of like the middle man. The police trusted him, and the promoters trusted him, too. If there was a show that someone wanted to do, and he said, 'If we take these precautions, I don't think there'll be a problem,' then they'd go, 'Okay, fine--because if Gulley's going to do it, we know everything is going to be okay.' The people who are in the hip-hop scene here in Colorado, whether they know it or not, owe him a lot of thanks. He was almost a founding father of the hip-hop scene out here."
Craig Smith, a co-owner of both Club Mecca and State of the Union, a pioneering hip-hop 'zine, echoes Baptiste's observations. "Gulley really went out of his way to take care of difficult situations, and 3 Deep, the Fox and Club Mecca will always remember him for that. And Shelly also worked security for Gulley at different venues, usually the Fox, and did a great job." In Smith's opinion, Gulley's final act "seems really senseless. It's something that's been really difficult to talk about, even among people who have known him for years. I just hope people can learn something from all this madness."
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"Gulley is truly missed by a lot of people," Baptiste says. "Not only did he teach me a lot about the music business, but he taught me a lot about life in general. Despite the tragedy, he's still a good person in my eyes--and he'll be missed."
And now, for the first time in a couple of weeks, allow me to share with you some events that you might find, well, fun. On Thursday, May 13, Wailer B. and Axiom skank at the Boulder Theater, and Ginuwine spreads love, sweet love, at the Music Hall at Lodo. On Friday, May 14, the Mollys travel all the way from Tucson, Arizona, to the Swallow Hill Music Hall; Mean Old Man greets young whippersnappers at Cricket on the Hill; Buckcherry ripens at the Bluebird Theater; and Wicked Innocence pleads not guilty at the Aztlan Theatre. On Saturday, May 15, percussionist Gregory Long hosts a party in honor of Padma Thunder, his new CD, at Cameron Church, 1600 South Pearl, and Blister 66 (previously known as Blister) introduces its new disc, White Trash Summer, at the Bluebird. On Sunday, May 16, Box the Walls wraps things up at Boulder's Penny Lane. On Monday, May 17, Dave Matthews buddy Tim Reynolds shows up solo at the Fox, and the Offspring (about whom Mike Ness has some not-so-nice things to say on page 89) headline at Fiddler's Green, with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Living End. On Tuesday, May 18, Jimmy Eat World, the combo that you've heard warbling "Lucky Denver Mint," strikes it rich at the Fox. And on Wednesday, May 19, Texas Terri & the Stiff Ones drop by the 15th Street Tavern. This show is not for the prudish: Terri's well known for, among other things, shoving Gummi Worms into her vaginal region for the enjoyment of her audience. Anyone for dessert?
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com.