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KOOL Koncert Lineup Mirrors Shift in Station

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In an unpublished portion of an interview conducted for the March 6 Message column about changes on the Denver radio dial, Don Howe, who oversees the CBS cluster of outlets that includes KOOL/105.1 FM, responded to a question about the annual KOOL Koncert. Traditionally, the show has featured retro acts from the '50s and '60s, but Howe hinted that the sort of bands chosen to play the 2008 gig would likely be in tune with the approach taken by current programmers, who are focusing much of their attention on music from the '70s and even the '80s.

"It's important for us to bring new listeners to the radio station," Howe said, "and I think twenty years of the Dave Clark Five and Paul Revere and the Raiders and Herman's Hermits... Well, in some ways, it's run its course. There's still heritage, but I think the Koncert will have a different feel to it. There'll be that bridge from the '60s to the '80s, if you will."

The just-announced bill for the June 11 concert at Coors Amphitheatre -- Chicago and the Doobie Brothers (pictured) -- represent Howe's transitional vision. But the combos are unlikely to placate longtime listeners who continue to lament the new direction of a station that until recently crowed about championing "Good Times and Great Oldies."

Chicago was actually formed in 1967, but it didn't score its first signature hits -- "Make Me Smile," "25 or 6 to 4" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" -- until 1970. Moreover, the band moved further and further away from its initial jazz-rock sound as the '70s rolled into the '80s, eventually winding up as purveyors of not-so-easy-listening goop along the lines of "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "You're the Inspiration," which first diminished the airwaves in 1982 and 1984, respectively. As for the Doobie Brothers, they came to life in 1970, scoring their first major smash, "Listen to the Music," in 1972. But "China Grove" and the biker-friendly fare that followed eventually gave way to a more sophisticated (read: less rocking) style guided by new member Michael McDonald. Granted, the gravel-throated McDonald has moved on, but his influence remains on the latter-day repertoire, exemplified by the dreary likes of 1979's "What a Fool Believes," co-written by (eeesh) Kenny Loggins.

As a result, longtime KOOL Koncert attendees will likely have little interest in a Chicago-Doobie Brothers pairing -- meaning that the station must attract a largely new audience in order to make the promotion a success. Of course, that's the same gamble Howe is taking with the station as a whole, and he knows it. As he said during the aforementioned interview, "We need to revisit the model of what the Kool Koncert has always been, but move it into 2008." -- Michael Roberts

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