Steamboat Springs As pop icon Ricky Martin's smash hit "She Bangs" faded out, DJ Ricardo, standing on a platform in Steamboat's Bear River Bar and Grill, broke onto the airwaves to address a crowd an ocean away.
"You're listening to 96.4 BRMB, your million-pound station," he said.
Ricardo, a skinny British lad with thick headphones draped over his punky blond hair, was on the line with a caller in Birmingham, England, a town just north of London.
"How are you, Jane?" he asked.
"I'm quite delighted, actually," she said.
After asking the caller the geographic origin of the crusted red snapper, which she knew, Ricardo offered her a meal for eight at the new Ipanema Restaurant in Birmingham.
"Oh, that's brilliant," she said, cooing almost like a 13-year-old Britney Spears fan in America who has just found out she has tickets to the pop diva's next concert.
Almost, but not quite.
For a full week, 96.4 BRMB has been broadcasting a radio show from Steamboat that, with the aid of a high-tech ISDN radio line provided by Qwest, is shot out to England. The station, in conjunction with an English skiing company called Neilson Skiing Co., along with American Skiing Co., brought 20 British contest winners to Steamboat via a promotional giveaway that was aired on BRMB.
The "Birthday Bong" contest that sent the British people to Steamboat on an all-expenses-paid vacation, financed by both Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Neilson, started with DJs calling out a birth date. People who were born on that date called and participated in a contest in which a gong bonged repeatedly as the station announced a succession of prizes. The contestants yelled "stop" before the prize was announced, but if they did so too late, they would lose everything. One of the prizes was "Holiday in Colorado."
Neilson, said company representative Debbie Kidman, organized the event to promote skiing to people in Birmingham.
"Steamboat is a small program for Neilson, but we want to build a bigger program here," Kidman said.
The 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. broadcasts reach England at 6 to 10 p.m. in Birmingham.
Roberts learned of the promotion while she was in England to promote the Steamboat Ski Area, she said. The deal gave Ski Corp. some free international advertising in return for free lift tickets and lessons for the contest winners and lodging at the Steamboat Grand, she said.
"From a business perspective, any time you can get your name on the radio repeatedly and talk about all the programs you have to offer, it's a very good thing," Roberts said.
While DJ Ricardo held court in the restaurant, 18 of the contest winners got free skiing lessons from Ski Corp. instructors. The other two, dubbed The Flying Scotsman and Eddie the Eagle by lift operators, decided after the first day that they didn't need lessons, bombing down steep runs with willful abandon.
The 18 who took lessons improved dramatically, said John Fry, one of the winners.
"Everything's been spot-on and top-notch," Fry said.
Cultural differences, however, did lead to some confusion.
"We got a lot of requests we couldn't play," Ricardo said, the bouncy pop single "Overload" by the London-based Sugarbabes racing through his headphones. "A lot of country and western."