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

Thumbnail image for mike flanagan.jpg
Mike Flanagan.
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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12 comments
J.D.
J.D.

Just heard the loop after hearing the promo on All Things Considered... It is weird, and I agree the commentary is a bit odd, since I have had an 1190 sicker on my car since the first time I bought some watts. So, why did they do this in particular when they could have done almost anything I imagine. I mean it does sound like 1190, and I have trouble pulling in 1190 at night in Denver, so maybe I will be listening to this. But why didn't they do something different, it seems like they wasted an opportunity by not being more original. Thanks for the article. Westword always knows what's up.

Vestal Vespa
Vestal Vespa

I'm not holding my breath for any Warlock Pinchers lunchtime sets or anything, but I still see this as progress. Something like The Current takes time to built- that synergy with a radio station, local musicians, and an audience won't happen overnight. Also, I think the Devotcha mention is required- they're an older band but are making new and notable music (played on The Current pretty frequently, I might add) and it would be egregious to leave them out of a pitch for something like this. Their name resonates with people who only have an entry-level understanding of Denver and I think that's probably who you want to build an audience base out of with a local station. I'm cautiously optimistic that this can grow into something great for the local music scene, but it's going to take time and effort from all sides- those making music, those playing it, and those listening.

Jenna
Jenna

"we're going to have a good relationship with 1190 -- and I'm going to be more sensitive to not step on their toes, because I have a real affection for them and want them to be successful." - http://blogs.westword.com/late...

Radio Listener
Radio Listener

Professor Mikey broke up with Radio 1190 and kept her record collection. I wish you'd highlighted the fact that what's really happening is CPR is trying to do a commercialized version of stations like 1190. I mean, the air staff is all people from 1190's past isn't it? Where's Loki?

And listen to what this guy is saying, "Until now, you were never able to hear this music on the radio." - Wha?!? He's RIGHT! It's only been happening for 10 years on 1190 and 20 years on KGNU. Didn't he listen to his own station?? Was I wrong in thinking that Radio 1190 was broadcasting this whole time? Seriously disingenuous, that's a great start. But maybe, we we're all dreaming, and Colorado has truly been in a radio vacuum. Mmm, delicious Kool-Aid!

Lisa A
Lisa A

I think this is cool. I love Gauntlet Hair, Paperbird and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake... great local choices. Apples in Stereo and Dressy Bessy are great too!

SN
SN

Dumb and DumberOld and OlderLame and Lamer

spot
spot

Vacuum-sealed seems to be Colorado Public Radio's specialty. I'm not holding my breath.

MNguy
MNguy

Hope they are attempting a Colorado version of the The Current (thecurrent.org), Minnesota Public Radio's alternative music station which also features local/regional bands. Greatest. Radio. Station. Ever.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong post, Radio Listener. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

In my interview with Mike Flanagan, linked at the top of this post, he specifically mentioned the Minnesota station. Here's hoping it turns out as positively. Thanks for the post, MNGuy.

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