Battle for the airwaves

by Ted Holteen

I wish I could be happy and/or surprised that two of the big three musical acts this week both come to us in the form of moneymakers for our publicly funded radio stations, but alas, I long ago replaced my rose-colored lenses with these much more jaded ones. Sure, I see things more clearly than say, you, but such awareness brings with it a terrible sense of loss. While most of you see no harm in being bombarded by pleas to crossing to Farmington or Aztec to save $600 on a $45,000 Volkswagen, followed eventually by “Aqualung” for the third time that day, I on the other hand sit helplessly and watch as the local populace gets dumber by the hour. Such is the plague of FM radio in the U.S.A. in 2006. I’ve made the switch to satellite radio myself, so like many of you I’ve seen the future of radio and know that it includes neither Big Dogs nor Points, which is the good part. The downside to the most recent revolution in broadcasting is the absence of local radio, which when done properly, is a vital and irreplaceable part of any strong community not in San Juan County, N.M. Not that you’d know it from listening to the radio around here, but we are not in fact in San Juan County, N.M. We’re in Durango, Bayfield, Silverton and even Ignacio, and fortunately, we’ve got two of the best public stations in the Four Corners, so take that, Moab. And screw you again, Telluride. Let’s take a closer look.

I’ll start with KSUT, because their concert comes first this week. Question: where can one find actual local news, just like in the newspaper but with more talking, without listening to KIQX? KSUT. (I should note that I have several friends at KIQX, and they do focus on servicing local listeners and are good folks. However, in my brief time in their employ, I was forced to follow a play list for the first time in my radio career and actually spoke the words, “that’s the Backstreet Boys here on KIQX – we’ll check the weather after this from Riteway Flooring & Tile.” I still feel dirty.) Anyway, KSUT also has music programmed by people you can actually speak to, NPR stuff, which is still the best news and arts programming on the dial, and an ongoing mission to be immersed in what goes on in its listening area. That’s the stuff that XM and Sirius will never be able to provide, but we’ve got to pay for it and likely always, will. In fact, rumor has it that Victor Locke, for whose voice it is said that radio was actually invented so more people could hear it, makes more in a year than the top two execs at BP combined.

So you see the need to raise funds. And so for the second year in a row, KSUT welcomes The Iguanas to Durango Mountain Resort this Saturday at 7 p.m. This is a perfect example of why KSUT matters. Last year, not many people had heard of the Iguanas, a party-type band from Louisiana, but with some airplay on the station and the support of a membership that gets it, it was a smashing success and very well attended. This year it should sell out, everyone will have a good time, and if they have any sense about them should take advantage of the discount lodging fares being made available and stay right on through ’til Sunday. It’s kind of cool staying at a condo at DMR – makes you feel like a tourist. I can never resist asking the front desk if you can see Mesa Verde from the chairlift or if the train stops at the mountain. I suggest you do the same.

As for that other station, KDUR, it’s a


really big week for them, too. On Tuesday, KDUR and Durango Acoustic Music present The Bottle Rockets at the Arts Center. In short, this will kick ass. They’ve been around for a bit more than a decade, founded in St. Louis by Brian Henneman, who oddly enough was a roadie for Uncle Tupelo and played on a couple of Wilco albums as well. Now he works in a music store and tours when necessary. More to the point, this is one of those shows where if you don’t go you’ll say something later like, “I wish I had gone to that,” so save us all the trouble and get your ticket quickly. This should also sell out. The Lawn Chair Kings are opening, so don’t arrive too late. I think they’re about to get discovered, and you can say you were there when it happened. I can say I want money if they get discovered because it was my idea. Oh, yes, by the way the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

I need to get a couple of other items mentioned real quick like. My long-windedness has prevented me from giving the proper attention to another big-time deal at the FLC Community Concert Hall. It’s probably good that I don’t have enough space to say anything negative about Ricky Skaggs’ politics, and instead can just say that Ricky’s playing the Concert Hall Friday night with his band Kentucky Thunder. He’s a musical genius whose reputation precedes him, and I wish he wouldn’t talk so we could just enjoy the music and not have to wonder if it’s OK to like the music despite the kooky right-wing invective that accompanies it. Opening is local band Rock & Rye, which will be warming up for their free performance Thursday night all by themselves. That’s something the Concert Hall is doing all summer, in case I neglected to mention that. Free bluegrass every Thursday night.

Friday night is also a night for bittersweet farewells. Hotmops will make their final Durango performance at the Summit before relocating to the Front Range to follow their dreams with more traffic and the aforementioned bad radio in spades. They’ll be back again on Saturday night sharing the stage with Rocksalt, and even sharing Rocksalt’s steel guitar player. Somehow, Rob Lawrence is going to stay on stage for what I’m estimating to be about four or five hours. I, for one, fear for his safety, but he seems to know what he’s doing. His faith keeps him strong. As for Steve Morris and the Hotmops crew, it’s been a fun run – best of luck up north and don’t trust whitey. Go with God.

You know why this column’s getting so damn long every week? People keep sending me stuff. So keep sending me stuff and maybe I’ll get a second page. Wouldn’t that be cool?