Open Air, new CPR station at 1340 AM: Launch emphasizes the safe side of adventurous

Back in June, we spoke with once-and-future Colorado Public Radio staffer Mike Flanagan about the impending debut of a new indie-rock station at 1340 AM.

At 6 a.m. this morning, the outlet, dubbed Open Air, made its bow, and while it's clearly in soft-launch/preview mode at this writing, the message being sent is mixed: We've got something new for you, but it won't scare you CPR types in the slightest.

The flipping of the switch didn't go quite as smoothly as it might have, with the introduction to the 6 a.m. hour of NPR's Morning Edition getting started before being cut off mid-sentence. A few seconds of dead air followed, after which a pre-recorded package began to roll.

Flanagan was up first, talking about how plenty of new and exciting music wasn't being played on the radio these days. But instead of mentioning artists by name, he talked about the sort of bands that are booked on late-night talk shows with Jay Leno and David Letterman -- presumably because Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon are just too damned radical. And then, by way of example, several song snippets aired -- notably "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons, a multi-format smash that I've heard on at least five other stations for months.

He also gave a shout-out to great local music. But the two bands he cited -- DeVotchKa and The Apples in Stereo -- were both founded in the Nineties.

For the hour and a half since then, the station has aired a musical montage of tracks by the likes of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and LCD Soundsystem, with the occasional Colorado act thrown in for good measure. Examples: Dressy Bessy's "Electrified," from 2005, and an in-studio appearance by Fort Collins-based Candy Claws. But no song has been allowed to play for more than fifteen seconds or so, in order to make space for comments from the station's new air personalities and reminders that CPR's news programming can now be heard at 90.1 FM.

The result suggests the indie-rock equivalent of a pledge drive.

These stylings are presumably temporary. The station's recently issued press release lists the broadcasting launch as October 31, suggesting that this sort of packaged loop could air for weeks. After that, let's hope the programming and the presentation is less vacuum-sealed. Because right now, Open Air is fairly airless.

More from our Media archive: "Colorado Public Radio's morning news beating KOA, but bond rating remains negative."

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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