This year marks the 29th anniversary for KUVO/KVJZ radio station. One of the few radio stations in the nation playing jazz around the clock for seven days a week is growing strong because of the “promise of a community to support it” says Rodney Franks, who has been with the station in various roles for more than two decades.
“KUVO gives me a chance to share my love of music for two hours a day Monday through Friday,” says Franks, who hosts “Into the Evening” on weekdays. It’s “remarkable that Colorado has a radio station that has been on air and supported by the community for almost 30 years.”
Since 1985, the station has provided the Denver community with a rare blend of music and news. The independent, public radio station broadcast the very best in jazz, Latin jazz and blues – in addition to 17 locally-produced, host-inspired, culturally diverse programs. Music shows are integrated with NPR news, the local morning program “First Take with Lando and Chavis,” and special features.
The station recently entered into a merger that extends its reach to even more communication platforms. KUVO/KVJZ is a subsidiary of Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation incorporated in Colorado that includes Rocky Mountain PBS and its public-service journalism bureau, I-News Network, responsible for the “Losing Ground” report last year.
Doug Price, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain PBS, said in the January 2013 announcement, “We are very excited that we will be working more closely with both KUVO and I-News in the coming months and years. These partnerships – and others that are in the works now – will strengthen the public media imprint across the state and will greatly benefit all of our audience.”
KUVO General Manager Carlos Lando says the merger is going “extremely well. KUVO has managed to cross promote our programming with PBS. We (our hosts) are visual on Channel 6.”
As opposed to wondering if they can do something when it comes to new projects, Lando says, “Now we’re able to focus on quality. We can talk about it, put in in the budget and plan. We are thriving.”
Tracy Winchester, executive director of the Five Point Business District, is proud of the former FBPD board member’s leadership, but also the station’s continuing presence in Five Points after the merger. “They insisted on maintaining roots and their presence in the community. It makes me want to be a big supporter. KUVO is continuing the legacy for great jazz” in the Five Points community.
Arturo Gomez, an award-winning music director, has been part of “The Oasis in the City” since the spring of 2003. He says he “likes that it’s in the Points. (Five Points) reminds me of where I grew up in Pasadena, California.
From every angle KUVO appears to be keeping up with the beat. In keeping with the latest technology, the KUVO/KVJZ Public Radio App allows you to tune in anytime, from anywhere. The “Other Side of KUVO” is an eclectic music mix presented 24 hours a day, seven days a week, online and on 89.3 HD3 in Denver and 89.7 HD3 in Summit County.
A veteran in the radio industry for more than 40 years, Lando says that KUVO is the “cornerstone for all things arts.” KUVO features live broadcasts of local high school and collegiate musicians, as well as national touring artists, from its Phyllis A. Greer Performance Studio. Over the last 20 years, Lando says the station has hosted thousands of performances in the studio.
Throughout the years, KUVO has broadcast remotely from concerts, festivals and community functions. Live remotes have included several NPR “Toast of the Nation” broadcasts, “Live from Boettcher Concert Hall with Dianne Reeves,” Cinco de Mayo, the Colorado Black Arts Festival, A Taste of Greenwood Village, and the 9News Stuff For Students Drive.
Over the years, the station has won several national and local awards. KUVO also has the distinction of being the first Colorado FM radio station to begin broadcasting in High Definition. In May, the UK-based Telegraph named KUVO as one of the best internet radio stations. To honor its 80th anniversary, DownBeat Magazine listed 80 people, places and things that illustrate why jazz remains such a vibrant art form in 2014. KUVO was the only station in Colorado to receive recognition in the category, “Five Reasons to Love Jazz Radio.”
Unique Like That
For more than 24 years, Linard “Scotty” Scott has hosted Origins: Orgy in Rhythm, “the Black Experience translated into music.” He is a disc jockey and an archivist of Black music, having collected more than 25,000 albums, CDs, cassettes, books and other memorabilia. His show “traces the roots and explores the rich heritage of Black Music.” From Harlem to Dar es Salaam, from Trenchtown to Motown, from Ragtime to No Time; from Bebop thru Doo Wop to Hip Hop.
KUVO is an “awesome radio station. Folks really appreciate it,” says Scott, who has been with KUVO since its beginnings when he worked on 16th Street Mall and saw they had a booth seeking volunteers. He signed up, and the rest as they say is history.
Scott, who has been recognized for his years of service by Rocky Mountain PBS, says, when the dream happens or you have a seed and germinate it or an idea and stick with it, there’s “no telling what can happen. I remember when the Spectrum started around the same time.”
Having been around since its beginnings, Scott has seen how technology has impacted the industry, but he has his favorite tools. He has turntables at home and still plays vinyl. He says he’s “not down with the new technology.” However, he says “reluctantly and under protest (he’s) up to new technologies.”
Scott says one of the reasons KUVO has lasted is “the commitment of volunteers. It amazes me.” The listener’s support of hosts also catches Scott off guard. “I get to emcee concerts of folks (that) my folks listened to when I was growing up!” He has emceed for Nina Simone, Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders and Branford Marsalis among others.
On the strong role of volunteers in keeping KUVO alive, Gomez proudly says, “We’re unique like that.”
Live at the Vineyards
Lando says the station’s 9th annual signature fundraising event “will take us on a musical journey where we have everything from Jelly Roll Morton to the fund of the Neville Brothers. It’s really quite the party.”
Live at the Vineyards: A New Orleans All-Star Rhythm Revue will be held on Saturday, August 9 at the Balistreri Vineyards and features music, wine tasting gourmet feast, auction dance and party. Featured guests include jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison, pianist and vocalist Henry Butler, and guitar player and vocalist Leo Nocentelli.
Editor’s Note: For more information about KUVO or the Live at the Vineyard event, call the KUVO office at 303-446-7614 or 303-446-7631.