Music News

Dangerous Waves

How bad is Denver radio? For an answer, look no further than my middle finger--the one I use to button-push during my drive to and from work. Earlier this decade, I was able to leave the needle set on one frequency for minutes at a time, but over the past year, that's changed. Now I skip from station to station so often that major surgery on my overworked digit seems unavoidable.

What I don't do on most occasions, however, is randomly scan for alternatives; like most people, I limit my options to ten pre-set stations even though well over forty outlets can be heard in most parts of the Denver-Boulder area. So on Wednesday, February 18, between 8:26 a.m. and a few minutes short of nine, I decided to find out what I've been missing. Beginning at the bottom of the AM dial and continuing through the FM spectrum, I visited every station I could receive in numerical order during my approximately thirty-minute commute. The following is a diary of that frightening journey, complete with a description of the (generally dreadful) programming content at the 74 aural stops I made and a listing of the time I was able to stomach lingering in each place. Travel along if you dare, and when the going gets tough, remember: At least you're only reading about it, not listening to it.

KLZ-AM/560 (21 seconds):
An advertisement by a Christian insurance agent pitching his services to Christian clients. Atheists, apparently, can go to hell.

KIIX-AM/600 (52 seconds):
"Theme From A Summer Place"--the "Stairway to Heaven" of elevator music.

KHOW-AM/630 (45 seconds):
Peter Boyles, speaking to a female caller, accuses Governor Roy Romer of hypocrisy in regard to his long-term relationship with onetime aide B.J. Thornberry. I'd take his righteous indignation over the issue more seriously if he hadn't spent the previous week collecting juvenile limericks about it.

KNUS-AM/710 (49 seconds):
Host Claudia Lamb is in high dudgeon over "Governor Wah Romeo." Maybe she should call Boyles's show.

KTLK-AM/760 (13 seconds):
A commercial about custom cabinetry. Thanks, but I like the drawers I've got.

KLT-AM/800 (21 seconds):
A promo revealing that jobs at KLT are available. Operators are standing by.

KOA-AM/850 (17 seconds):
A station known for its high proliferation of commercials blares...a commercial (for medical insurance). What a shock.

KPOF-AM/910 (21 seconds):
An evangelist with an unctuous voice tells me that I'm a child of God. I wonder: Why doesn't He send me my allowance?

KKFN-AM/950 (21 seconds):
A link touting the Fabulous Sports Babe that's as long-winded as she is.

KRKS-AM/990 (25 seconds):
A preacher asks, "Don't you think we need flexible and yet strong people who live boldly for Jesus Christ?" I guess that means dudes should work for Promise Keepers but not get paid.

KLMO-AM/1060 (28 seconds):
A dry-voiced sort recites info about agricultural futures. As far as my radio goes, he's the one without a future.

KMXA-AM/1090 (24 seconds):
A Spanish-speaking DJ sings a song while his wacky comrades chortle in the background. If I spoke Spanish, I'll bet I would have found it hilarious.

KCUV-AM/1150 (21 seconds):
A DJ and a caller engage in happy talk--in Spanish. I think I recognized one word, but I'm not positive.

KBNO-AM/1220 (21 seconds):
Spanish stand-up comedy. Obviously, taking that German class in high school was a mistake.

KRRF-AM/1280 (34 seconds):
New York-based talker Don Imus discusses a "nauseating" photo in Time magazine in which someone named Jeffrey is hugging Al Gore. His flunkies cackle, pretending that his observations are funny.

KKYD-AM/1340 (56 seconds):
This used to be a children's radio station. Now, apparently, it specializes in playing goopy pop that no one wants to hear. Me included.

KJME-AM/1390 (14 seconds):
More happy talk in Spanish. I wish I'd grown up in a country where speaking a second language was deemed important.

KEZW-AM/1430 (30 seconds):
"I'd Do Anything," from the soundtrack to the musical Oliver! I narrowly avoid crashing into a median strip.

KBVI-AM/1490 (9 seconds):
A station so desperate for advertisements that it's running an advertisement begging people to advertise on it.

KDKO-AM/1510 (27 seconds):
A not-very-interesting R&B smooch song. It makes me feel unpuckered.

KYGO-AM/1600 (40 seconds):
An okay country ballad by, I think, Don Williams. I would stick around, but the FM band awaits.

KGNU-FM/88.5 (34 seconds):
On the closest thing to a left-wing station in the area, a former Reagan-administration insider waxes nostalgic about his boss, who these days can't even get nostalgic about what happened fifteen seconds ago.

KUVO-FM/89.3 (29 seconds):
Some extremely lite guitar jazz. Makes Joe Pass sound like Joe Satriani.

KCFR-FM/90.1 (24 seconds):
A story about Monica Lewinsky. Hearing about all these politicians scoring makes me feel like a eunuch.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts