The Colorado Sound is not just a radio station—it’s a growing community of musicians and listeners dedicated to showcasing local artists.
On Leap Day, February 29th, 2016, the Colorado Sound went live. Its mission: to cultivate the mind and spirit, to inform, inspire and entertain, and to strengthen community. The station emerged as an offshoot of sister station 91.5 KUNC, a public broadcaster for over 50 years that’s been community-owned since 2001. When 105.5 became available for purchase in Northern Colorado, the music-loving community quickly snagged it and turned it into a Greely-based non-commercial music only station, which then allowed KUNC to focus its content on news and talk radio. Alongside Bohemian Foundation project The Music District and The New Scene Magazine in Fort Collins, The Colorado Sound is helping turn Northern Colorado into a community-driven music incubator and breeding ground for musicians and listeners.
Those who tune in to the member-supported Colorado Sound are guaranteed a smorgasbord of Colorado artists—legends and future ones—as well as deep tracks you simply can’t hear on commercial radio. And while the station promotes Colorado artists in particular, it also treats audiences to a mix that includes “obscure blues artists from the 1940s to one-hit-wonder Brit bands as well as listener favorites. Everyone from Nina Simone to Radiohead,” according to morning show host, Ron Bostwick, who signed the station on at its inception.
The Colorado Sound encourages its hosts to share the culture and stories behind the music they play. Segments and shows vary from dedicated to quirky. Weekdays at 7:30 a.m., listeners can expect a full geek lesson when host Ron presents “This Day in Music History” followed by the song it stars. The midday show with Margot satisfies those of us who love a good cover alongside its subject song every weekday at 2 p.m. with a segment called “Bring to a Boil and Cover,” during which she plays an original song and its remake. Tune in Saturday nights at 8 p.m. for “Closing Credits” with Dawn and feel the nostalgia through her choice of Movie/TV soundtrack favorites. Or get your Friday started the right way at 8:30 a.m. with the three-song set “Bring On Da Friday Funk” with Ron (whether you are headed to the mountains to play hooky on a snow day or stuck in traffic in Denver in July, this set will make you feel alright instead of uptight). On Sundays, you can expect to hear home-state syndicated favorite shows, including “Chris K’s Colorado Playlist” and “eTown.”
The listener base for all this unique programming is not limited to the confines of Colorado, of course. Those who are tuning in from out of state (or out of country), will have to do the time zone math on thier own, but it’s still easy to support the station and tune in 21st-century-style by streaming at Coloradosound.org or via the free app.
Programming is only part of the story, however. What makes the Colorado Sound truly notable among its peers is the station’s commitment to showcasing and supporting the entire Colorado music ecosystem. To wit, the station donates air time and partners with promoters to showcase a wide range of live local music. This past year, it sponsored the Singer/Songwriter showcase at Boulder International Film Festival in addition to the Underground Music Showcase in Denver and FoCoMX as well as Bohemian Nights at the New West Fest in Fort Collins.
The station also runs fun promotions that bring fans into the fold. Want to win a prize for going to see local live music? Grab a Colorado Sound live music venue and artist punch card, attend as many of the shows on the card as you can, and trade it in for Colorado Sound goodies—everything from bumper stickers and merch to private concerts.
These outreach efforts garner musician affection alongside listener love. The station hosts monthly music meetings, often at micro-breweries around the state, during which deejays play tracks and solicit candid feedback from the listening public. Expect to see local artists in attendance, too: Nancy Just, a Loveland-based singer songwriter, appreciates the opportunity to listen to fans, incognito, as she preps her second studio album, “Alchemy,” out this fall.
“As a local musician, these events help me hone my craft,” she says. “I strive to connect with listeners multidimensionally and these events help me learn what elements are emotionally evocative to them. Audiences feel comfortable being honest and giving uninhibited feedback.”
Colorado artists also appreciate the exposure they get on air. The Gasoline Lollipops—the freshest Colorado band to make the national scene—credits the Colorado Sound for their success. “I can’t thank the Colorado Sound enough for introducing Gasoline Lollipops to the state of Colorado. So many people come up to us at every single show and tell us how they first heard us on Colorado Sound. I don’t know where we would be as a band today if it weren’t for the Colorado Sound, but suffice it to say, I’d probably still be living in the train yard off of East Colfax,” says the band’s lead singer, Clay Rose.
The Colorado Sound puts the community in community radio so turn your dial that-a-way and give them listen. Get to know the music you’ve always needed in your life but never knew.
Check out the Colorado Sound at 105.5 (Front Range), 88.9 (Steamboat Springs), 94.3 (Summit County) and at coloradosound.org or download their free app “The Colorado Sound.”