More Messages: The Right Direction

In most places, public radio is about as controversial as good citizenship, wholesome values and Mel Gibson circa 1985. But that's not the case with Colorado Public Radio. As noted in a 2002 Westword feature, the statewide network, which encompasses separate programming streams focusing on news and classical music, is often criticized within the public-radio community for its expansion into areas already being served by homegrown outlets, not to mention an ultra-slick approach that downplays the localism that's long been one of the medium's primary charms. To counter this perception, CPR's news arm, associated in Denver with KCFR/1340 AM, created Colorado Matters, an in-house production dealing with issues and happenings across the state. But years after CM 's launch, it remains the only program of its type on a schedule otherwise dominated by National Public Radio feeds, and a lack of resources has hindered its development. Indeed, the hour-long show was halved for months because staffers were having problems filling the time following former host Dan Drayer's move to Washington, D.C., from where he's occasionally turned up on NPR.

Fortunately, the network seems to be making a modest effort to get more local. This week, for example, KCFR hosts have been breaking into national news updates at a few minutes past the top of some hours to deliver headlines from these parts. Granted, a variation on this tack has been used in the past. But the new segments are more prominently placed than before, longer in length, and display some initiative that occasionally goes beyond rewriting articles ripped from the morning newspapers. During the 7 a.m. hour on August 9, host Theresa Schiavone (pictured) supplied a fairly comprehensive roundup of results from yesterday's primary votes, supplemented by a sound bite from a Boulder election official who explained why his county had utilized both paper and electronic ballots.

There's no reason to get overly excited about such offerings, which Colorado Public Radio should have been sharing with listeners all along. But they represent a small step in the right direction. -- Michael Roberts