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Mario Solis-Marich's AM 760 exit prompts Colorado Latino Forum protest

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The replacement of AM 760 host Mario Solis-Marich by syndicated host Norman Goldman earlier this month didn't sit well with the Colorado Latino Forum.

The organization has asked for Solis-Marich's reinstatement -- a demand the Denver branch of Clear Channel, the station's parent company, shows no signs of meeting.

Solis-Marich was based in Los Angeles, not Denver. However, in an unusual arrangement, he created a program specifically for the local audience, with a focus on Colorado happenings. His outsider status resulted in occasional mistakes when it came to correctly judging Denver-area sensibilities, as in 2009, when he habitually referred to the CU Buffs as the CU Boofs, inadvertently using a term defined in an Urban Dictionary reference as "short for buttfuck." Yet he added variety to the airwaves as the rare Latino voice on talk radio, and was honored as best talk-show host by the Colorado Broadcasters Association earlier this year.

These points and more were made in a Colorado Latino Forum release calling for Solis-Marich's reinstatement. Among those quoted is CLF co-chair Gene Lucero, who wrote that the program "has been a stalwart supporter of the Colorado Latino Forum and other Latino organizations throughout Colorado. The reinstatement of the Mario Solis-Marich Show is critical for the well-being of the growing Colorado Latino community, which is more than 20 percent of Colorado's population."

Also offering a statement was Polly Baca, a former state senator and another CLF co-chair: "We are gravely concerned about the lack of Latinos in the senior management and program administration of Clear Channel, as well as the lack of management diversity generally." Baca also argued that Clear Channel "airs a number of radio talk shows nationally that promote anti-Latino hate speech."

When contacted about the CLF demand, Clear Channel Denver responded with a statement of its own. It reads:

Clear Channel Radio's AM 760, "Colorado's Progressive Talk," represents diversity by presenting a variety of viewpoints and cultures. It is the only radio station in Denver dedicated to discussing community issues from a progressive perspective. In fact, we offer more progressive programming than any other station in the market.

KKZN's mission is to focus on our listeners and to serve the community with the kind of quality programming they tell us they want. This was a business decision based purely on our listeners' response to the programming. We can assure you KKZN will continue to provide quality, progressive talk programming and serve our loyal listeners.

Dan Mandis, head of AM programming for Clear Channel Denver, declined to elaborate on this response. But he was happy to sing the praises of Goldman.

"He has a history on AM 760," Mandis says. "He did a lot of work with Ed Schultz as a legal analyst and fill-in host."

Mandis adds that even though Goldman's Los Angeles-based program is syndicated, "he's always looking to localize his shows for his affiliates. So if there's a big story going on in Denver, he'll obviously cover it. And Norm is also going to be filling in for David Sirota," the station's morning host, "on occasion. He's very excited to be on in Denver, and he'll be doing a market visit next year." In his view, "Norm is a fresh voice -- someone who hasn't been on for years and years, where the audience is so familiar with him that they've already heard everything he's got to say. And his show is live from four to seven, so listeners here can participate in it."

As for Solis-Marich, he posted this on his Facebook page last week: "I know that you deserve an explanation and this process is taking longer than I expected. Thank you for your patience and all of your support . A statement is coming soon."

Thus far, no followup has appeared.

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