Less than two years after its much-ballyhooed debut, Orange & Blue 760, an iHeartMedia radio station that promised content that was "all Broncos, all the time," is dead. And the team's mediocrity — the squad's past two seasons constitute its worst stretch of football in decades — was likely a contributing factor.
Yes, Broncos fandom is still very much alive in the Mile High City. But even loyalists are apt to eventually tire of glass-half-full analysis from the franchise's officially sanctioned radio voice after 24 months of relentless suckage.
We've reached out to Tim Hager, the Denver market manager for iHeartMedia, for comment about the shift; if he gets back to us, we'll share his thoughts.
On the air, iHeartMedia isn't revealing much about what will pop up in Orange & Blue's dial spot, or when. The signal is currently broadcasting an eclectic, seemingly random music mix (this morning, the playlist ranged from modern pop to Louis Armstrong's version of "What a Wonderful World") interspersed with the following teaser from a stentorian announcer: "Coming soon — a brand-new radio station you'll love but your friends may not understand."
This purposefully broad description doesn't rule out anything, including rebranded sports talk.
After all, iHeartMedia, which was previously known as Jacor and Clear Channel, had tried the sports-talk format at 760 AM before Orange & Blue — remember KTLK, with ex-Broncos lineman Mark Schlereth on afternoon drive circa 2001? — and it could do so again, thanks to an incoming draft pick.
raiding another ex-Broncos star, Alfred Williams, from 104.3 The Fan, even though he was contractually precluded from appearing on an iHeartMedia station until August. Even now, it's unclear exactly what he'll be doing or where he'll be heard.
In the weeks before and after the Williams move, multiple on-air personalities were disappeared from iHeartMedia stations in Denver, including onetime KOA host (and former Department of Homeland Security undersecretary) Michael Brown; ex-KHOW evening talker (and sometimes Westword wine writer) Krista Kafer; JJ Kincaid, co-star of the JJ & Nina morning-drive staple on KPTT-FM The Party; and two Orange & Blue 760 staffers, Andy Lindahl (who's already resurfaced on Altitude Sports Radio) and yet another Broncos veteran, Ray Crockett.
Sources who spoke to Westword disagree about the rationale behind this bloodletting. Several told us the sackings were an attempt to cover what's reputed to be a huge salary for Williams. But another insider insisted that the moves were unrelated to the Williams acquisition and represented typical decisions about how to manage resources in a difficult media environment.
Whatever the case, Orange & Blue 760 had been allowed to devolve over recent months into a blend of locally oriented conversation and syndicated blather.
On weekdays, Orange & Blue broadcast just three original shows, with the likes of Tyler Polumbus, Justin Adams, Brandon Krisztal, Steve Atwater, Andrew Mason and Ryan Edwards often seeming to be gabbing with themselves. The lion's share of the other content came from Pro Football Talk and only occasionally dealt with the Broncos, since national hosts seem to have little interest in the outfit right now — and understandably so. Even the most optimistic forecasters see Denver, with new/old quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm, struggling to finish above .500.
That's a recipe for more mediocrity — and even Denver football lovers seem to be losing their taste for it.