At 10 a.m. today, July 20, longtime Denver radio personality Denise Plante will make her debut on 106.7 The Bull, the brash new country station from iHeartMedia. It's a new beginning that marks the end of what's been arguably the craziest, and most terrifying, month of her career.
On June 14, Westword published a sprawling Q&A with Plante during which she had nothing but positive things to say about KOSI 101.1, the outlet where she'd become a mainstay over the previous fifteen-plus years. But just over two weeks later, on June 29, she revealed on Facebook and Twitter that while she would continue as host of Colorado & Company, a weekday program on 9News, she was moving on from KOSI over a contract dispute.
Plante now confirms that she was as surprised to be making this announcement as her fans were to read it.
"Honestly, I was shocked, because I had planned to retire with KOSI," she notes. "It broke my heart. It was a tough decision."
According to Plante, her pact with KOSI was set to expire on Sunday, July 1, but she wasn't presented with a renewal offer until the previous Wednesday, June 27. "I had been trying to get the deal done because of insurance reasons, not money reasons," she says. "So it gave me just a couple of days to make up my mind."
Problem is, she goes on, "there were a couple of clauses in the contract that I just didn't feel comfortable signing — but they said it was a corporate issue and they couldn't remove them. So I had to part ways."
Because Plante hadn't given a second thought to leaving KOSI, she had no new gig in the offing — a frightening scenario given the radical downsizing and tight budgets that are so common in today's radio market. But she soon learned that KOSI's competitors saw her as a valuable commodity.
"When I put that post on social media that we couldn't come to terms with the contract, a lot of people reached out: former bosses and people I hadn't worked with before," she points out. "So I just needed to breathe a bit and figure out what I wanted to do."
Among these suitors, Plante eventually chose to cast her lot with Tim Hager and JoJo Turnbeaugh, iHeartMedia Denver's president and senior vice president, respectively. The latter has declared Plante to be "the final piece of the puzzle" for 106.7 The Bull, which has been staffing up since its formal programming began airing on February 1 after taking over its dial position from hard-rocking KBPI, now heard at 107.9 FM.
"They've been so welcoming to me, and they really understood the position I was in," Plante stresses.
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Colorado and Company presented a potential complication, since Plante has hyped KOSI during her appearances ever since the show launched — but "they said, 'Wherever Denise lands, we land,'" Plante recalls. "So now they're going to help me promote the Bull, and in return, I'm going to promote Colorado and Company on the Bull. I want to give everyone at 9News and my Colorado and Company family a huge thank you. They've been so supportive."
Her new Bull program is something of a work in progress, Plante acknowledges: "I'm definitely going to play a lot of music, but I'll have more freedom than I did at KOSI. I'll have a few benchmarks and, of course, contests to give away great tickets to concerts, like Luke Bryan coming up."
She adds, "I started in country music. I hosted a country morning show years ago" — in the thriving metropolis of Bullhead City, Arizona. "So this is coming full circle."
Make that a whirlwind.