Stu Haskell shot rattlesnakes for fun and shot tequila with co-workers. But he also wore a suit and tie to work every day and understood the sales part of radio as well the programming, to the point where both a DJ and a marketing president both consider him their best mentor.
Haskell was market president of iHeartMedia of Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming. He was planning to retire when, at 71, he died suddenly in October of 2020.
He was born into it, as his father, George, was a member of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. In his 45 years — probably, Haskell didn’t like to talk too deep into the past or assign dates to those memories when he did — he laid claim to some visionary feats such as developing KTCL, the 93.3 FM Denver/Boulder station, into the modern rock/alternative format that remains popular today. He also helped launch 96.1 KISS FM, one of the more popular stations in our area.
“He was always big picture,” said Kathy Arias, who was essentially his right-hand woman for 18 years.
Arias was promoted into his job, which was hard, and when contacted, she launched into describing many of a good manager’s best attributes, including his patient, compassionate and demanding nature, the way he knew how she would react in any situation and his ability to talk to anyone, from a banker to a lawyer to a biker calling in to request a Winger song.
“As you can tell, I still miss him,” Arias said. “He was the perfect boss for me.”
Big Rob, program director for several radio stations who works as “Big Rob” on KISS FM, said Haskell created a full-time spot for him at the station.
“He’d never met me – just heard me on the air,” Big Rob said. “I could have been awful. But he believed in me. I’ve since had opportunities, but I didn’t want to leave Stu.”
“I’ll bail you out of jail one time, and then you’re on your own,” Haskell used to tell Rob.
Rob said even after Haskell moved over to sales, he would approach him with a programming or promotional idea and “his eyes would light up.”
“Not a lot of general managers have that, and he did,” Rob said. “He just GOT it. That’s what was too special. He was just a natural.”
Haskell did retire once, due to health problems, but his replacement was terrible, Rob said, and so Haskell came back to settle things down. He would end up running the place until he died.
“He was much more than a boss, and I know that now, after seeing both sides of the coin,” he said. “I called him Uncle Stu.”