Chris Kresge's life revolves around music.
He's a musician, radio DJ and the brains behind the Colorado Playlist (once called the Colorado Sound), a weekly program of music from the state, broadcast on more than twenty FM radio stations.
When social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 became public policy, 105.5 KJAC — where Kresge works as a part-time DJ and on-air talent — laid him off for ninety days. The station wanted to reduce how many people came into the studio, he was told.
The bars where he once played music are closed; his gigs are canceled. Even teaching is no longer an option — at least not in person.
"Everything I do professionally in my life is music-based," he says. "Other than the Colorado Playlist, which is produced in my home studio, all my other activities are on hold until further notice."
That means that, like so many people right now, Kresge is experiencing what he describes as "a devastating loss in revenue" — made even more desperate if closures and social-distancing protocols stretch into summer.
"Medically, I'm okay, today," he says. "I live in two houses during the week. I have two other people I live with in each house. We're all doing our due diligence as best we can. Financially, I'm in the same boat as a lot of small businesses — desperately short on income. So stress has become a persistent and constant companion."
Still, he's forging ahead with the Colorado Playlist. Through that, he plays the biggest hits by the best Colorado artists, old and new alike, from the 1960s through today. Some of his current favorite albums for tracks include Wide Nose Full Lips, by Such; Between Skies, by the Still Tide; The Nature of Storms, by Whippoorwill; Unstoppable, by the Reminders; and When the Power Comes Back On, by Finn O'Sullivan.
"I intend to keep this show going as long as stations around the state continue to broadcast it, and as long as I have a voice with which to tell our story," Kresge promises.
As DJs navigate coronavirus closures, Kresge says, there are concrete steps they need to take to ensure public safety — and their own. "DJs need the capability of producing directly from home studios," Kresge explains. "It is common for stations to air syndicated, pre-recorded shows such as the Colorado Playlist. Some stations have tech that allows for DJs to log into a station's airplay system and broadcast from their homes in real time. DJs would need some basic home recording gear and a high-speed broadband Internet connection to accomplish these tasks for the most part."
Radio continues to be critical through the pandemic, he points out. Sure, people are entertained by the music, but radio also gives communities connection to information.
"I do not see that changing," Kresge concludes, "until high-bandwidth broadband tech is deployed into every nook and cranny of our geography and every single car on the road has an Internet receiver in it."
Follow Colorado Playlist on the program's website and Facebook page; if you're interested in sponsoring the show, contact Kresge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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