KBCR swaps oldies for sports talk

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When the Denver Broncos make their draft picks April 23, KBCR AM 1230 will carry the news live.

KBCR made the AM-dial switch from oldies music to ESPN Radio on April 4. It was just one of several local radio format changes debuting this month as ski season gives way to spring. KIDN FM is now blending hip-hop into its modern rock programming. And some listeners on Steamboat's west side are finding KQZR's classic rock format at 102.5 on the FM dial. KQZR "Z-Rock" has a studio in Craig, an antenna for the 100,000-watt station on Magnetic Mountain in Meeker, and management in Steamboat.

Brian Harvey, who also oversees KIDN, KFMU and KRMR talk radio, will manage the new classic rock station. He said his ownership, N.R.C. Broadcasting, has a lease management agreement with KQZR, but does not own the station.

KQZR is airing a satellite feed of classic rock programming from Waitt Radio, Harvey said. It is being received only in small pockets in the Steamboat area because, though it broadcasts at 100,000 watts, FM reception depends on line of sight.

KBCR General Manager Tom Palmer said his station's shift to ESPN Radio plays to the strength of its AM side -- KBCR plays contemporary country music at 96.9 FM.

"AM is not really a music-oriented format," Palmer said. "Talk works better on AM. Anymore, oldies mean the '80s."

And when people hear the greatest hits of Fleetwood Mac or Bruce Springsteen on the AM radio, they notice the reduction in sound quality.

Besides, "You can only listen to 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight,' so many times," Palmer quipped.

Palmer said he and station owners decided the money they spent on oldies programming would be better spent on sports radio. They've been tossing the idea around since Nov. 15, when Cool Radio LLC purchased KBCR from KBCR Inc. Cool Radio also owns KZYR and KSNO in Vail and Aspen.

KBCR AM 1230 is now carrying ESPN Radio programming 24 hours a day.

"This is a sports-crazy town, and it won't be just football, baseball and basketball," Palmer said. Listeners can expect to be kept up to date on everything from motor sports to bowling.

ESPN's lineup begins with "Mike and Mike in the Morning" from 4 to 8 a.m., followed by "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" from 8 to 11 a.m.

"The Dan Patrick Show" runs daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the "Sports Bash" takes over until 5 p.m.

"Game Night" reports nightly results until 11 p.m. followed by "All Night with Todd Wright" until 4 a.m.

KBCR has broadcast Sailors high school sports and major Denver and Colorado sports games for many years. If anything, Palmer said, listeners will hear more live games involving more teams.

Harvey said Z-Rock radio personalities broadcast live, even though they aren't at the studio in Craig.

"It's hard to tell it isn't local," Harvey said. "They do a pretty incredible job of localizing it."

Harvey's staff provides Waitt with public service announcements and "liners" that reflect events taking place in the Yampa Valley. Waitt says it uses computer software to provide "up to the minute" localization.

Waitt has about 600 classic rock songs in rotation, and the programming is heard in cities nationwide, Harvey said. By next month, Harvey hopes to have a translator in Hayden, which will give the station similar reception to that of KIDN.

Palmer said his plans include developing a local sports talk radio show for KBCR.

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