Back in 2012, a Denver radio station at 107.1 FM that had been playing EDM transformed into Pot 107.1, a marijuana-themed format.
Now, however, an AM station in Colorado Springs has rebranded itself as K-HIGH 1580, a cannabis-centric talk station, and its program director, Len Williams, stresses that "this is the real deal. No stunts, nothing of that nature. I've been part of a few of those, and they didn't turn out so well."
The station, owned by Pilgrim Communications and operated by SoCo Radio, "was previously a Fox Sports affiliate," Williams notes. "Before that, it was an ESPN affiliate, a news station. It's changed formats faster than most people change clothes."
When Fox Sports failed to generate the ratings management wanted, Williams points out, "the boss came up with this idea. We all looked at him sideways and said, 'What? Really?' But he was serious about the plan, and I said, 'I'm in. Let's go.'"
Williams describes the format, which has nothing in common with defunct Denver station KHIH, a jazzy outlet that was also pronounced as K-High, as "pure education, entertainment and awareness of marijuana" featuring a trio of shows he refers to as "our main pillars."
First up is a morning program dubbed Wake 'N Bake with hosts Tre and Les. According to Williams, "Tre was heavy into the industry, a former grower and manager. And Les is sort of a novice. She's the one who'll ask the questions that a lot of casual users or non-users would ask. We think there's a great dynamic there."
Next is High Noon, which describes its theme and the time it airs. The host is Bubba Kushman, who Williams characterizes as "radio's functioning stoner. He's a kush connoisseur. Not only will he talk awareness and things of that nature, but he's also planning on doing reviews of certain strains or lounges. He's our man about town."
Finally, there's "our afternoon-drive show, which we call High Drive at Five," Williams says. "The hosts of the show are well-known entities in Colorado called the Weed Pimps. They're four guys heavy into the industry and promotion and awareness. They do it through shirt sales, concert promotion and a lot of other things, and they're family: two cousins, a long-lost friend and a DJ."
As for other times of day, they're mainly filled with syndicated programming from the RadioMD service. "It's about alternative medicine," Williams allows. "So even though it's not marijuana, it's also not Big Pharma. They're not a bunch of guys pushing pills. We don't want to do that."
The format debuted on Monday, April 13, and today, Williams got his first complaint call. Otherwise, he says, "the buzz has been very positive, absolutely great, with a lot of people telling us it's a great idea, a long time coming. And the thing I love about it is, a lot of the comments are coming from people who, for a lack of a better word, aren't stoners and don't partake. They find it interesting, and like me, they had no idea this rabbit hole went down so far.
"Some people think: It's marijuana, so there's not a lot to talk about. But if you think that, all I can say is, you deprived child, you. We can go from legalization in our state to legalization in other states, stuff from magazines like High Times and a lot more. It's our goal to let the masses know it's okay to talk about these things in public. You can have intelligent conversations about it — and at other times, you can sit back and laugh. We want to bring all facets to it."
How long does Williams think KHIGH will last, especially considering how many other styles the station has tried out over recent years? In his words, "whether it's 25 minutes or 25 years, we've got a bunch of people here who are going to enjoy the ride."
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