Updates below: It's the end of an era. Today will be the final show for Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman on KHOW after an eight-year run in the three p.m. to six p.m. afternoon drive slot. We reached attorney Caplis as he was walking into a deposition this morning, and he put the best face on the impending goodbye.
When the program launched, its concept was portrayed as a good-natured clash of ideological opposites, with fellow lawyer Silverman representing liberalism and Caplis standing as a staunch conservative. But over time, as the pair's views edged ever closer, the dynamic became less about arguing with each other and more about taking on national topics (Caplis, to put it mildly, is no fan of Barack Obama) and hot local controversies (such as the Ward Churchill investigation and firing at CU-Boulder, Caplis's alma mater), as well as subjects that went beyond politics — like Caplis's admiration for former Bronco Tim Tebow. And while Caplis, in particular, elicited strong feelings among listeners, there's no arguing that the pair helped set a good portion of the agenda for the Mile High City.
Why pull the plug?
"I think we've done all we can do with the show," Caplis says.
That certainly seems to be the case from a listenership perspective. The ratings for the station as a whole have dipped of late: Radio Online lists KHOW as the seventeenth most popular in the market in its latest accounting. And while those figures are based on listeners age twelve and over — a general category that doesn't take into account the specific demographic the outlet is targeting — they can hardly be considered positive news in light of the tough time terrestrial radio is having when it comes to holding onto its audience in a digital age.
When asked who made the call about shutting down, Caplis describes it as a "joint realization" by him, Silverman and supervisors at KHOW, which is part of the Clear Channel cluster of stations. "In terms of the actual timing, that's management's call. We just work there," he acknowledges. But the decision was more of "a process. Actually, I'm the one who raised it with management about six months ago. What I'm about, what Craig's about, what the station's about is always trying to get better, always do more, always rise higher. And we all felt we'd sort of done all we could with this."
As for today's swan song, Caplis sees it as "a kind of celebration. There will be a lot of thank-yous. We'll kind of revel in the good stuff, including the Churchill cause we pursued, and just so many things over the years, large and small. We'll remember some of the great interviews and have a kind of funny reflection on eight pretty wild years."
Caplis doesn't know who'll be manning the microphones beginning on Monday; we've got a call in to Clear Channel boss Pat Connor, and when and if he responds, we'll update this post. In the meantime, though, Caplis stresses that he's not retiring from broadcasting.
"I'm going to stay on the air," he says. "It's just a matter of in what capacity." He could pop up again on Clear Channel: "I've been with them for 21 years," he points out. But he's not averse to looking elsewhere, too. "I have good options locally and nationally on other outlets, and I'm going to be making some decisions on those shortly. But one way or another, I'm going to stay on the air."
Update, 12:25 p.m. June 22: Greg Foster, AM operations manager for Clear Channel Denver, returned our call to Pat Connor, head of the local station cluster, about the removal of the Caplis & Silverman show from the KHOW lineup after today.
"Quite simply, it was a business decision," he says, adding that "I think Dan characterized it very well as a joint realization to make the change."
This switch also brought with it one layoff: The program's producer, Brad Lopez, who also writes occasional music articles for Westword.
At this point, Foster isn't ready to reveal the successor or successors to the Caplis/Silverman tandem, but promises that such an announcement will be coming soon. (In the meantime, guest hosts will fill in.) However, he stresses that the new afternoon-drive program won't be syndicated. "It will be a live and local show," he says.
When asked if mediocre ratings were behind the switch, Foster declines to elaborate beyond his "business decision" comment. Regarding the possibility of Caplis and/or Silverman filling other roles at KHOW or Clear Channel affiliates, he says, "As with anything, we always look at all the options available to us."
Update, 1:38 p.m. June 22: Craig Silverman just sent us a statement about the end of the Caplis & Silverman show that he's also shared on his Facebook page. Here it is:
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Today is our last show. What a great run Caplis and Silverman had. Our show was challenging and enjoyable for me, and I hope for you as well. Colorado never before heard a radio show quite like ours, and may never again.
For a job, I am blessed to retain my first love and best talent, as a Colorado trial lawyer. Silverman and Olivas, P.C. is thriving and now, I can personally handle more of the cases that are brought to our firm.
You can still hear and see me. One way is to hire me as your lawyer. Courtrooms are open and free and you invited to come watch me in action. I have several important and high profile cases right now.
One way or the other, I have been part of the Denver media since 1985. I still love to analyze current events, consider various arguments, and then express myself. That will continue.
Many people made our show possible and my thanks go out to those managers and behind the scenes people who helped. I am especially grateful to Dan Caplis, a friend, a compelling broadcaster, and a smart man with amazing talents.
Caplis and Silverman won lots of awards, including best talk show numerous times from Westword, 5280, and the Colorado Broadcasters Association. Here are some of my personal highlights during the near decade that Dan and I were together on the radio:
1. Ward Churchill investigation and court case.
2. The JonBenet Ramsey case — the John Mark Karr flurry of events.
3. Covering the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria, CA.
4. Hosting while driving from Santa Rosa to Santa Maria and as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.
5. Successfully cross examining President Jimmy Carter about Hamas and Iran.
6. Broadcasting our show for a week from the Jerusalem Post building in Israel.
7. Kobe Bryant investigation and court case.
8. Broadcasting live during the grand opening of the new CU Law School.
9. Hosting an evening with Alan Dershowitz at the Paramount.
10. Winning the Battle of the Talk Show Hosts at the Comedy Club (2011)
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