In 1997, legendary Denver rock promoter Barry Fey sold his share of Fey Concerts, beginning a long goodbye from the event-hyping business that had dominated his professional life for the previous three decades. The move gave him the time to launch a weekly radio show on the Hawk, a defunct classic-rock station, but the program lasted only a year. Since then, he's mainly been heard on the airwaves as a music expert following newsworthy events (like Michael Jackson's recent death) or a frequent caller to talk outlets.
Ten years later, however, Fey's got another regular broadcasting gig. On Sarturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning September 5, he'll star in Behind the Scenes with Barry Fey on Mile High Sports Radio, at 1510 AM. And while he'll talk music on occasion if callers wish, his main focus, appropriately enough, will be on the fields of play.
"Somebody said to me, 'What do you know about sports?'" Fey admits. "And I said, 'I guarantee I know a lot more about sports than you know about music."
One element of Behind the Scenes that will differentiate his program from many others, Fey believes, will be his frank acknowledgment about the role of gambling in the popularity of many sports. Around the time of his quasi-retirement, Fey was rumored to have a serious gambling problem -- whispers that he denied in the Westword feature linked above. ("I do gamble too much, but I'm a real good gambler.... And I'm very rarely wrong," he said back then.) Today, he believes the stigma once attached to gambling is fading away.
"People are finally coming out of the closet and admitting the aspect of gambling in sports," he says. "The NFL has had two great things that have propelled it. One was gambling on point spreads, so you'd have people hanging around watching 41-0 games because of the over-under. And the other one is fantasy leagues, which have given it a tremendous boost. I joined in and I have a lot of fun. I've got the NFL Sunday Ticket and watch games I have no interest in because there's a player on my fantasy team."
With these factors in mind, Fey will "have some pretty unusual guests, including some real gamblers -- not these 900-number, lock-of-the-week guys, but people like Jeff Whitelaw and Jimmy Vaccaro, who've made their living for many years gambling on sporting events. These guys aren't going to give out tips, but they'll give very good information about how to protect yourself if you're interested in gambling on games."
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Of course, Fey will also weigh in on topics not directly related to wagering. For example, his debut show will take place the day before the annual college-football match-up between the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, and he'll undoubtedly share his dismay that the contest won't take place at Invesco Field. "To have it at [CU's] Folsom Field or [CSU's] Hughes Stadium in two years is ridiculous," he feels. "Come on, man. It's Colorado's game. It should be put in a place where everyone in Colorado can have a chance to see it.
"If I don't have an opinion, give me a second and I'll make one up," he adds with a laugh. "That's the great thing about the stories I tell. Most of them are true -- but the ones that aren't, I'm the only one who knows it."
You can bet on that.