At an age when most media personalities have long since lapsed into predictability, 77-year-old Peter Boyles, host of the morning-drive program on 710 KNUS, is still capable of surprising his listeners — whether they like it or not.
KNUS's broadcasting day is filled with conservative gab and, in recent months, much of the chatter has supported the outrageous fiction that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election and his successor, Joe Biden, is an illegitimate chief executive as a result. But Boyles, whom no one would describe as a screaming liberal, rejected this nonsense early on, acknowledging reality in ways that have caused brain-melting anger among some of his longtime listeners.
"There have been threats against me, threats against sponsors — what I've come to expect in this business," Boyles says. "That's what it's turned into. But the ones that won't get me fired I'll read on the air. Things like I'm a drunk and no woman wants me and I'm an old man and I should retire. That kind of shit — attacks on me as a person, as opposed to what's being said."
Ignoring such invective is easier, given Boyles's success in the ratings. Our recent radio roundup revealed that during 2020, KNUS was in the five most popular Denver-area stations among both listeners twelve years and older and the 35-plus demographic between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. — basically Boyles's shift. Moreover, the outlet placed second to KCFR, Colorado Public Radio's news affiliate, during this time period the final three months of last year, when the election and its aftermath were the hottest topics in the country. As a result, Boyles bested the most powerful and well-financed signals in the market, including Clear Channel's KOA and KHOW, a pair of rival talkers, and even classic-rock stalwart The Fox.
"KNUS is a 5,000=watt, directional AM station," Boyles points out. "A station like that shouldn't even be able to exist anymore, and we beat KOA, which has 50,000 watts, and we beat KHOW." That's Boyles's former station, whose 5,000 watts carries its sound to far more metro households than KNUS can reach. "That's huge. That shouldn't happen," he notes.
Of course, Boyles has offended listeners on the left and right over his decades in Denver; his voice first beamed over the local airwaves during the early 1970s. He ticks off some of the times listeners were most up in arms: "When I said George Bush was lying about the war, when I talked about Obama's life story" — Boyles had a regular seat on the birther bandwagon. "JonBenét and the Ramseys was big — when I said [mother] Patsy did it. That was a good one — and so was Denver Players and Denver Sugar," Boyles adds, referring to a scandal involving a prostitution ring that nearly engulfed Michael Hancock before he'd even started his first term as Denver mayor, when his misspelled name and phone number showed up on a client list.
"Everything I learned, I learned from pro wrestling. Some pro wrestlers never want to be the bad guy, but I always wanted to be Ric Flair," he says, name-checking one of the most flamboyant villains in a medium filled with them.
Trump has that kind of personality, too, which may explain his initial appeal to Boyles. "He was my guy," he acknowledges. "But there is zero evidence that Donald Trump had this election stolen from him. And I couldn't go along when this turned into the Church of Donald Trump, where people were acting like evangelical ministers, believing him in spite of everything else going on around them."
Members of this flock include fellow KNUS hosts such as attorney Randy Corporon, a delegate to the 2020 Republican National Convention who also represented Bandimere Speedway in challenges to the State of Colorado's COVID-19 public health orders. Although he's engaged in vivid on-air verbal combat with Corporon, Boyles hasn't relished the bouts. "I don't need to pick fights with anybody," he says.
Just because Boyles believes Biden won the election doesn't mean he's been reborn as a progressive, however. His list of frequent targets clearly tilts to the left, but there are exceptions. "I've lived off Michael Hancock for years, and [Denver Police Chief] Paul Pazen, and Denver City Council — and I've certainly lived off Jared Polis," he notes. "But I also equally despise Cory Gardner and Walker Stapleton. They're fools."
Anyone else who Boyles sees as fitting this description can expect to be treated like a piñata, too, even when it offends the orthodoxy of his listenership. "The truth doesn't have a side," he concludes, "and it makes for great talk radio."
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