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Willobee Carlan
Willobee Carlan
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Reader: "More Commercial" Never Leads to Good in the Art World

If 102.3 sounds a little different these days, it's because the station has rebranded and has a new manager, Willobee Carlan, a veteran of commercial radio programming. The new Indie 102.3 debuted last week to mixed reviews from readers.

Here's what a few had to say:

Says Eric:

Open Air has been sounding refreshingly good. Best-thing-on-the-dial good. Hope they don't mess up a good thing...

Responds Chris:

Sounds terrible. Why fix something that is not broken? "More commercial" never leads to good stuff in the art world.

Adds Alison:

This sucks. I love Open Air, and I loved that it was — at its core — a public radio station. No matter how hard the new team tries, it will now be commercial radio. And there will be pressure coming from record companies to play certain music. That’s just how these things work. Any idea why CPR couldn’t afford to keep Open Air?

Counters Mike:

Look forward to it. While Open Air was the only source I've had for new music and bands for years, you had to listen to a ton of really experimental and dense content to find the occasional jewel.

Argues Theresa:

Hmm...certainly an attempt to compete with KUNC's sister station, 105.5 The Colorado Sound. I do wonder...even AS the much reviled (late) Boomer commenting here, if it was a good idea to hire this fossil to manage the station? I like that indie/public radio and streaming digital services keep me connected to the zeitgeist of later generations...rather than me becoming calcified. That photo of him with Joan Jett? I love her, but...? And that tiny list of "focus" artists seems weird. I hope it is a good station. Crossing my fingers.

Notes Kardan:

Radio is archaic. Why would I listen to it with free online streaming platforms with minimal ads?

Says Kristin:

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I’m open to the change but very skeptical. Been listening to OA and contributing monthly since they started. I don’t listen to commercial radio unless my 13-year-old somehow takes control of the radio. I’ve built playlists with hundreds of bands and songs that I heard on CPR. I don’t need or want to hear Florence and the Machine every time I turn the radio on. I want to hear a variety of music and curate my interests and playlists myself. BTW.... WTF happened to Scott Carney??? Love all the DJs but he played such great old and new bands that I loved, and now he’s nowhere that I can find.

Concludes Julie: 

Bummer. Sounds like they're dumbing it down.

Carlan has also been in music management and recently launched NV89, the independent arm of Nevada Public Radio. Based on a recent interaction with a new colleague, he's cautiously optimistic he'll be able to pull it off in Denver, too.

"We have an employee here who's been a massive OpenAir fan for years," notes Carlan, who is succeeding recently retired program director Mike Flanagan. 'When he heard we were going to do a little refresh here, he kind of freaked out — like, 'No, no, you can't do that!' So we made a four-hour sample of what we're doing using our hosts and our new presentation, and when he heard it, he said, 'Oh, my God, this is great!'"

Adds Carlan, "If everybody feels that way, I can probably sleep at night."

What do you think about the new 102.3? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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