Man, you about need a syllabus to keep track of all the changes in Denver radio lately, from Comedy 103.1 to Pot 107 -- er, make that Jack 107, rather. And while this constant change is as much a part of radio as ratings, the latest development represents a huge blow to the local music scene:
If you haven't heard yet, longtime local music champion Uncle Nasty (aka Greg Stone) has been let go from 106.7 KBPI, after a long and storied tenure. According to Stone, his departure was driven by corporate cutbacks, as part of what's now seemingly become an annual ritual at Clear Channel, a series of fourth quarter layoffs sardonically referred to by some internally as "National Firing Day."
See also: - The seasoned men of Horse are making the best music of their life - WTF is going on at 103.1 FM, and what the hell happened to our oldies? - Pot 107.1, Denver's Dope Hits, gets extinguished to make room for the return of Jack FM - Pot 107.1, first marijuana-themed (terrestrial) radio station
"It's more of the same," says Stone. "Clear Channel cut backs. They axed quite a few afternoon personalities across the country today. We make light of the annual Clear Channel Firing Day, which happens every year since Bain Capitol's owned the company, and it happens every December. To tell you the truth, I thought I was pretty safe. I thought I helped their bottom line and their revenue, and, you know, I was a good face for the station. Willie and I were bookends. We were already streamlined."
Whether you're a fan of the station or not, it's impossible to deny that Nasty, along with Program Director Willie B. (aka Stephen Meade Jr.), has been an icon on the local airwaves for the better part of the past two decades, in addition to being an esteemed member of the music scene for at least that long, from his early days fronting Nasty's Nightmare to helming Horse in recent years.
Possessing one of the most instantly recognizable voices on the air, Nasty's been a tireless supporter of the scene (see: Metallix and Local Band Hang Out Day), and it's a safe bet his presence on the air will be sorely missed by a great many people in this community. It's hard to think of KBPI without instantly thinking about Uncle Nasty.
"I worked hard to create that association," he says. "I love this town, and I love the people that listen to me. I've been a very fortunate person, and I'm not going to be negative because I had a really good time, and I learned a lot. People grew up with me, and I grew up. I had major changes in my life. My kids were born on my show. I mean, it's just one experience after the other that is associated with this."
With the exception of a short stint on KSJO and the Bear in Salt Lake City, Uncle Nasty has been a fixture on Denver radio for as long as most people can remember, since the early '90s, essentially a lifetime ago for some of his audience, who in fact, has grown with the affable host.
"If you're going to be a stickler for the numbers," says Stone, "it's nineteen years, fifteen in a row, this time. January would've been my fifteenth anniversary. And then, they gave me a month severance. That is it. Fifteen years I worked for them and helped them on their bottom line. You know, they must have thought highly of me to pay me and keep me on that long. You know what I mean? I'm just in shock."
Between Stone's over-sized personality and his talent and experience on-air, it's hard to imagine that he'll be out of work for long. Although the next time we hear him, there's a good chance he may be a little less Nasty. "I'd like to think I could get on and people would remember me as Greg Stone, as well," he says. "I've been kind of pigeon-holed into this monster -- if you will -- that I created. You know? It was very encompassing. It was very hard to imagine doing something else, but I'm capable and I don't have a problem doing that.
"I love this town, and it'll have to be rock oriented," Stone stresses, with regard to what might be next for him. "I think there's going to be a void. I think somebody's going to crank on an active rock station. You're going to see, BPI's going to turn into that Premium Choice. The local identity is going to slowly go away. The local identity through music that we had, you can see is already eroded."
Here's to hoping Stone lands on his feet soon. Godspeed, brother. Hail Nasty!