KBCO 97.3 FM is a consistently eclectic radio station based in Boulder, Colorado, US. It is accessible to Internet users and is recommended to all people looking for an introductory foray into American music.
KBCO has been around since the late 1970s. Westword1 has credited it with creating the Adult Album Alternative format. The ‘Triple A’ format covers a wide range of popular music categories including lesser-known pop, new age, rock classics, and the occasional country or jazz tune. The station's common theme is likeable songs with clear lyrics, strong melodies, and no profanity. The format is designed to attract a broad range of young to middle-aged people who value personal knowledge about current music trends.
Typical Goings On
Weekdays2 at KBCO begin somewhat more soberly than most American stations, which often suffer from Happy Morning Radio DJ Syndrome. Instead, Bret Saunders3 begins the day with trivia, topical guests, and relatively calm banter about the news. One of his trademarks is the challenge on Wednesdays where callers attempt to stump him on a rock trivia question, usually to no avail. Sanders' show was recently voted the 'Best Morning Radio Show' in Colorado by Westword.
The midday is taken by another calm personality, Ginger, who frequently plays songs on request. The afternoons are the domain of Oz, whose Five O'clock Commuter Comedy is usually good for a laugh. Oz sometimes plays a game of 'My Three Songs', where you guess what the songs have in common. This is typically much harder than it sounds.
Outside the daily play, New Music Mondays provide a healthy excuse for the station to play new artists and overlooked songs by established artists. Also, GrooveShow Nation is a selection of beat-driven music from techno rave fare to acid jazz to reggae. GrooveShow Nation is popular with the party crowd, and is played on Sunday nights starting at 10pm.
Studio C began in 1988 when then-unknown performer Melissa Etheridge visited the station. They set up some microphones in the hallway, and Etheridge began to play her guitar and sing. The pleasant acoustic songs inspired high demand from callers, and so the station began asking other guests to perform similarly. These days, Studio C is a frequent stop-off for both established and unestablished visiting musicians. KBCO does have a full production studio, but live acoustic performances are still very common.
Limited quantities of Studio C discs are released annually in select Colorado music stores. The proceeds go to the Boulder County AIDS Project. In most cases, the CDs are sold out within a week. Hardcore music collectors often scramble to buy the CDs from afar after discovering that one of their favourite artists is featured in a rare acoustic performance. A used Volume 1 CD recently sold for more than $400 at a used record store. A very limited ten volume set was distributed as a prize to lucky callers in 1999, but its value is undetermined. Nobody who won the set seems willing to part with theirs.
KBCO's website is an increasingly complete picture of the station's doings. You can click through it to learn more about the DJs and their shows, see photographs from recent Studio C concerts, and read about related events in Colorado.
It is easy to listen to KBCO on the Internet. The station's live feed is listed first. You can also access the laest Studio C sessions, clips from New Music Mondays, an archive channel that covers the station's past hits, and Bret Saunder's eclectic finds. You must have Windows Media Player installed on your computer to listen in. If you do not have this common browser plug-in, follow the link at the bottom of the page to download it.
KBCO's site also offers several email lists you may join to receive periodic updates. KBCO Interactive for internet-only users mainly includes music surveys and serves to qualify local listeners for prizes. Considerably more useful for those further away are the email lists for Studio C alerts and GrooveShow Nation information updates.
KBCO sponsors two unusual events in Colorado. In the summer, the Kinetics Contest features amateur craft that must move swiftly over land and then prove seaworthy enough to cross the Boulder County Reservoir. The Cardboard Derby in the winter challenges contestants to create a craft made only of cardboard boxes and then propel this craft down a steep ski slope. For both contests, unusual and humorous designs are highly encouraged. Prizes are awarded for both speed and creativity.
KBCO also sponsors at least one Christmas concert per year. One big-name group usually plays, partly because several modern stars feel indebted to KBCO for giving them exposure when their music was relatively unknown. The concert is typically broadcast live, and the proceeds go to a local women's shelter.