Our Ten Most Popular News Stories of 2019

An unpleasant moment on Denver streets.
An unpleasant moment on Denver streets. CBS4 via YouTube
So much changed this year, but so many things stayed the same. Denver's obsession with our changing media landscape continued, as did its fascination with the Broncos. Mayor Michael Hancock was elected to a third term, and the city's neighborhoods and culture and food scenes continue to evolve. Here are our ten most popular news stories of 2019:

"Marty Coniglio on Why He's Leaving 9News"
Denver doesn't really have celebrities, but there are a few faces that passersby on the street are sure to recognize. One belongs to Marty Coniglio, a weather forecaster at various local TV stations for the past three decades, most recently at 9News, where he's monitored Denver's ever-changing skies for fifteen years. But come December 30, Coniglio is signing off of the airwaves for good.

He says he is neither retiring nor being pushed out, and he's not leaving channel 9 for another station. "The honest answer is, I don't know what I'm going to be doing," he told us in November. Citing health issues that have made his early-morning shift difficult to manage, he says he's applied to positions that are totally unrelated to media, including a stint as a jet salesperson. While that didn't pan out, he's hopeful the skills he's amassed as a TV meteorologist will come in handy. "Meteorology is a pretty damn hard degree to earn," he told us, "but I think weather people are still viewed as being less serious and, frankly, less intelligent than their news counterparts. You're viewed as a smile and a haircut. So it can be very difficult to convince people about the huge array of skills you have to transfer. But I hope I can."

"The Message of Denver GoTopless Day"
Nipples are serious business in Colorado — and, as 2019 has proven, around the U.S. The Fort Collins City Council removed the topless ban aimed at women from its public nudity code in September (the ban had been unenforceable since February 2017 after a judge ruled it unconstitutional). The final nail in the coffin came when the federal appeals court for the 10th Circuit struck the ban down in February.

The so-called Free the Nipple movement could even make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three women in New Hampshire are asking the nation's highest court to consider the constitutionality of a city ordinance in the state that bans women from appearing topless in public. No doubt the 10th Circuit decision will appear in their case.

As Matt Wilson, co-organizer of the Denver GoTopless Day rally, put it to us in a story we published in August ahead of the local rally: "We have to remind society that while nudity and sexuality can overlap, they aren’t the same thing."

What's in a name?
Chad Clayssen/
"Looks Like the Broncos Got Hosed on Stadium Naming Deal, Expert Says"
News came in the beginning of September three years in the making. On the 4th, the Broncos announced they had sold the naming rights to their stadium three years after Sports Authority, the previous owner of the naming rights, filed for bankruptcy protections. The lucky new company? Empower Retirement, a local firm that virtually no one had heard of before the announcement.

Empower might have been the subject of a few punchlines after the announcement, but it got the last laugh. The company got the 21-year deal for a song, said Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor and senior lecturer at Metropolitan State University of Denver, as well as the state's acknowledged expert on sports sponsorships, for a story we wrote the day after the front-office announcement. "On the Broncos side, it looks funky," Duber-Smith said of the agreement to call the edifice Empower Field at Mile High. "You spent three years looking. You had the name of a dead company [Sports Authority] on the stadium for two years, and you refused to take it down. Then you finally took it down, but you didn't replace it with another venue-naming sponsor, so people got used to the Mile High Stadium name again. Then you announced, really without any warning, that an unknown company had bought the rights — and you announced it, without disclosing very much about it, to a very cynical fan base that's faced with one of the worst Broncos teams we've had since the 1960s."

The new name didn't bring much luck to the team, which has struggled this year for reasons totally unrelated to its stadium. We'll spare you the "empower" puns...

"AAA: Snowy Denver Driving Issues Were Your Fault, Dumbass"
The American Automobile Association might not be known for its saucy language, but its message was loud and clear after an October 10 snowstorm ripped through town. Who was at fault for all the traffic accidents? You, you nitwit.

A news blast issued on the 11th titled "Winter Driving: Here's What Went Wrong This AM" cited, as our Michael Roberts put it, "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data estimating that 'nearly 95 percent of all crashes are the result of driver error' before offering up a list of sample comments from folks who had problems during the storm, followed by responses intended to deliver the cold, hard truth."

AAA went on to list common gripes by commuters during snowstorms — car wouldn't start, tire pressure light came on, car sliding everywhere — and rebuke them in near-poetic fashion, not-so-subtly reminding drivers that, yes, we live in a wintry wonderland, and, why, yes, it is up to you to ensure your car is winter-ready.

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Ana Campbell has been Westword's managing editor since 2016. She has worked at magazines and newspapers around the country, picking up a few awards along the way for her writing and editing. She grew up in south Texas.
Contact: Ana Campbell