KUNC gives Colorado Public Radio More Metro-Area Competition

For years, shows on KUNC, a public-radio station originally affiliated with the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, have reached some folks in Denver's northern suburbs and nearby parts of the city itself -- but the farther south a listener was located, the iffier the reception could be. Fortunately, though, the outlet's footprint, graphically depicted on the image here, just got larger.

How? As noted on KUNC's home page, "KUNC flipped the switch on our new transmitter site at Buckhorn Mountain, which will significantly improve our signal over the majority of Northern Colorado, the I-25 and Highway 36 corridors, and much of the Denver metro area." This move will broaden the options for public-radio fans even as it provides more competition for Colorado Public Radio.

KUNC plays a lot of the same National Public Radio fare as CPR, but some of it pumps out at different times that may be more appealing for certain radio buffs. For instance, Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross, is heard on KUNC at 7 p.m. on weeknights, an hour before it pops up on Colorado Public Radio. Moreover, KUNC presents a range of tunes and information programming that's not heard on either KCFR, Colorado Public Radio's news broadcaster, or KVOD, its classical-music specialist. Take Diverse Music with Wendy Wham, which KUNC presents from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, and David Dye's World Cafe, on weekdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

More variety is a good thing for everyone, and so is the presence of another challenger to push CPR to improve, especially in the area of localism; the network has upped the amount of homegrown material heard on KCFR, but not to the degree many observers would like. The result should be a net plus for public-radio listeners -- unless, that is, CPR reacts to this growing rivalry by increasing the amount of airtime devoted to fundraising.

A chilling thought, isn't it? -- Michael Roberts

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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