In late February, NPR affiliate KUNC (91.5 FM) went to an all news format, seemingly leaving music fans on the front range in the wind. However, it came to light in March that KUNC had launched a new music-only station on 105.5 FM, dubbed The Colorado Sound.
KUNC President & CEO Neil Best said this has been in the works for two years, starting with discussions with Front Range Sports, the previous owners of the 105.5 signal. KUNC Music Director Benji McPhail said he was brought into the discussion in July 2014; he’s now the Programming Director for The Colorado Sound.
“We realized that KUNC listeners wanted a choice when it came to what they were listening to,” McPhail said. “Both news and music had passionate listeners and there were a lot of listeners who liked both. So, it seemed pretty simple, create two radio stations, one for news and one for music, so that whatever mood you were in we had a radio station that met your needs.”
Among the staff of 105.5 are Margot Chobanian and Ron Bostwick. Bostwick hosts the Morning Show, while Chobanian is the host of “Bring to a Boil and Cover,” an afternoon show where she plays both an original song and one of its cover songs and tell the origins of both. Chobanian said the community reaction to the Colorado Sound has been great.
“Everything has been positive–from the job, to the move, to the reaction to our station. The reaction has been especially gratifying,” she said.
“For this guy who went to college for radio,” Bostwick said, “…who grew up listening to and loving music… and going to many, many shows, working at The Colorado Sound is a dream come true. I get to play music that I haven’t heard in a long time. And I get to discover new bands and songs that would normally slip under my radar. C’mon, deep cuts from Bowie, Marshall Crenshaw, The Rockets… It’s great! It’s been wonderful to hear from so, so, so many listeners who say the same thing… ‘I haven’t changed the dial since I turned you on!’”
NPR staple “World Café” is one of the programs that’ve moved to 105.5, playing from 10 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. Their weekly program lineup includes “Guilty Pleasure” at 7:30 a.m., “Bring to a Boil and Cover” at 2 p.m., “Time Warp” at 6 p.m., and “80s Vault” at 8 p.m.. McPhail curates for “80s Vault.” Best said that both stations are “still evolving” in regards to their new formats.
“A critical part of the future will be to be engaged with the community,” Best said. “An example of what I am talking about are our quarterly music meetings, where the public is invited to attend and share thoughts about the direction of our music selections. Our next music meeting will be on May 18th at the Artery in Fort Collins. Our long-term goal is much more direct interaction with the audience, and specifically with the music community in northern Colorado.”
For more information on The Colorado Sound, visit http://coloradosound.org. Interestingly, in our correspondence with Chobanian and McPhail, BandWagon asked if there were any plans for new shows, interviews or live broadcasts at events, and both said there were plans, but were mum on the details.
“We don’t want to let all of our secrets out,” McPhail said.