Why KBPI May Not Be Rocking the Rockies at 106.7 FM for Much Longer

KBPI's Willie B strikes a pose alongside Metallica's James Hetfield.
KBPI's Willie B strikes a pose alongside Metallica's James Hetfield. Facebook
For more than twenty years, KBPI has been rocking the Rockies in general and Denver in particular at 106.7 FM. But change is afoot. The station is now being heard at 107.9 FM in Denver, as well as the same dial position in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, and while it's currently simulcasting on 106.7 FM, that might not be the case for much longer.

"We've synchronized the signal at 107.9 from Cheyenne to Pueblo," says Tim Hager, market manager for iHeartMedia's Denver properties, including KBPI. He adds that the outlet's brand of metal and its various offshoots will continue to be heard on 106.7 FM only "until further notice," and KBPI's new branding is focused entirely on 107.9.

This isn't the first time KBPI has relocated. When the station was launched way back in 1965, it could be heard at 105.9 FM, and it stayed at that spot until 1994, when a swap between Clear Channel, its owner at the time (and iHeartMedia's forerunner), and another radio conglomerate, Chancellor Media, resulted in the move to 106.7 FM, the previous home of KAZY, its blood rival. Meanwhile, 105.9 FM was ceded to Alice, the station that uses the frequency to this day.

Of course, plenty of Denver listeners — anyone who's been here for 23 years or less — only knows the KBPI at 106.7 FM, and moving it carries some risk. After all, as Hager acknowledges, "there are only a handful of active rockers like KBPI left in the country," thanks to a shift away from the metal format.

click to enlarge
The latest KBPI graphic makes no mention of its longtime 106.7 FM frequency.
Nonetheless, KBPI continues to have a strong following in Denver and the region as a whole. Of the iHeartMedia signals in Denver, Hager calls it "the one that has appeal across the entire Front Range. It's currently the number-two station in Fort Collins. And in Colorado Springs, they've got KILO" — an active rocker outside any iHeartMedia clusters (it's licensed to Colorado Springs Radio Broadcasters, Inc.) — "and listeners there tell us they prefer KBPI."

By acquiring the 107.9 FM frequency in all three markets, iHeartMedia guarantees that people driving up and down the Interstate 25 corridor will be able to maintain their heaviness quotient without switching stations. But technical challenges remain, especially in Denver.

"It's a new signal, so there will be some areas where it may come in better than before, and other areas where it may need some help," Hager says. "We keep tinkering with it to get it exactly right. But overall, we think the coverage in Denver is going to be better."

Hager adds that "what we've done with KBPI has never been done before. It's groundbreaking in a lot of ways. Being able to deliver a heritage product in a way that it services the whole state is a pretty cool thing. Now we're going to be able to rock all the Rockies."

As long as Denver fans who've had 106.7 FM locked in for decades know where to find it.
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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