Gloria Neal's firing marks impending death of progressive AM-760

At this writing, AM-760, Clear Channel Denver's progressive station, continues to exist -- but that's only because no one's bothered to pull its plug yet. The outlet, which has struggled to make an impact on the radio market for the better part of a decade, is on the way out, and morning-show staple Gloria Neal is the latest victim of the famed Best of Denver curse: We named her the city's top radio host in our 2014 edition, mere weeks before she and others at the outlet were shown the door.

Neal divulged the news on her Facebook page on May 7. "Clear Channel is completely changing the format," she wrote, adding, "The official announcement has not been made as to what the format will be, but none of the current hosts will be on the new station."

The specifics about what's coming next are still pending. Via e-mail, Greg Foster, who oversees programming for AM-760 and sister station KHOW, confirms the news even as he refers to the outlet by its call letters, KKZN, rather than the AM-760 brand. "Gloria Neal's show is no longer on KKZN and she is no longer with our company," he notes. "We will be announcing new programming for KKZN in the near future."

This death sentence shouldn't come as a surprise, given that AM-760 has struggled to turn liberal punditry into revenue for its entire existence.

In the beginning, many observers felt Clear Channel had decided to create a forum for liberal voices to counter the popular perception that the firm had a conservative bias. After all, founder/chairman Lowry Mays was a personal friend of both former presidents named Bush. But ex-Denver-based programmer Kris Olinger denied this strategy in a Westword interview.

"Our motives here had to do with us having three AMs -- and finding a format that works on the third AM can be somewhat challenging," she said, referring in passing to Clear Channel outlets KOA and KHOW. "You've got sports, you've got business, but we felt, after researching the market, that progressive talk would be a strong choice, especially when you look at the makeup of the population in Colorado politically. It's a third Democrat and a third Republican and a third independent. So it made sense to give people who are progressive, liberal, what have you, a radio product that reflected their values."

The station began as the local outlet for Air America, a nationally syndicated concept meant to undermine the conservative stranglehold on talk radio. Among its stars was former Saturday Night Live comic Al Franken, who belittled predictions of Air America's demise in a 2006 chat with Westword. "Bill O'Reilly goes on his show and says we'll be off the air in a couple of months -- and he started saying that when we had four stations," he told us at the time. "And then he said it when we had eight, and twelve, and twenty and thirty. He says it all the time, but we're still here."

By the following year, however, Air America was on life support, and in 2010, the last rites were finally read.

Continue for more about the life and death of AM-760, including more photos.
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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

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