Hitting the Highway
Boyles says he first rode motorcycles "as a kid." Then, after recovering from heart surgery six or seven years ago, he climbed back into the saddle -- a decision that soon turned into an obsession. "I'm a true addict," notes Boyles, who often talks about overcoming his dependency on various legal and illegal substances. In his view, that explains why "I moved from a 50cc scooter to a Bourget Python in eighteen months."
He's hardly alone in his fascination with big bikes, and he watched with interest as television staples such as the Discovery Channel's American Chopper made their mark on the mainstream. No such equivalents existed on radio, however, and a couple of years back, he began mulling over the idea of syndicating a program that would break down the barriers between on-air talent and just-plain folks. "When you watch the biker TV shows, you see somebody riding a motorcycle, but it's not interactive," he points out. "But on radio, you can actually talk to these people, get tips from them. I thought, if you set it up right, it could literally run itself."
The folks at Colorado-based Jones Radio Networks bought this concept, and Boyles' baby, entitled USA Biker Nation, will debut at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 7, from the Denver Merchandise Mart during the Easyriders Bike Show. For the first few efforts, Nation will only be heard locally, probably on a Clear Channel AM station; those details are being finalized now. Once the kinks are ironed out, Boyles says, the show will continue on a coast-to-coast slate of stations in the Jones system.
Such a launch will take a major commitment of time, and Boyles realized he couldn't do it justice without cutting back elsewhere. That meant bidding adieu to Channel 12 -- something he isn't doing lightly. He calls hosting Colorado Inside Out, which he took over in 1993 from original ringmaster Ken Hamblin, "a wonderful experience" -- one that helped him establish lifelong friendships with, among others, regular panelist-turned-congressman Tom Tancredo, whose immigration-reform zealotry is now a part of Boyles' ideology, too.
Although Channel 12 director of production Dominic Dezzutti was caught offguard by Boyles' decision, he wishes him well. "We'll miss the heck out of him," Dezzutti says, "but we're very happy for him." As for life after Boyles, a plan is already in place. Colorado Inside Out Live will appear on Wednesdays through May with a series of guest hosts. After that, production will wrap and a new program will be developed to fill the slot in the fall. Dezzutti says that only the live call-in feature is safe; everything else, from the title and the set to the approach and, of course, the host will be different.
In contrast, Colorado Inside Out's Friday edition isn't undergoing a major renovation. Over the coming weeks and/or months, a series of guests will guide the interactions of longtime panelists as Dezzutti and his staff search for the right mix. "It's not quite like an American Idol tryout," Dezzutti says, laughing. "But we'll be using different faces to see what chemistry works best."
According to Dezzutti, Boyles' last Colorado Inside Out Live is slated to highlight a one-on-one chat with former Denver mayor Wellington Webb, with his final Friday sticking to the formula that's worked for over a decade. Once the show concludes, Boyles will devote his free time to motorcycles, and he's looking forward to learning on the job.
"I don't pretend to be a motorcycle expert," Boyles says, "but I know about talk radio. If I can apply that to what I love, I think this can work." -- Michael Roberts
Update, circa March 21: The station on which USA Biker Nation will appear has been pinned down. It can be heard as of Saturday, April 7, on AM 760. -- MR