Ten years ago Sunday, Mile High Sports Radio took to the airwaves for the first time – live from Denver Broncos training camp – thanks to the hard work of a small group of crazy individuals who believed that there’s a place in the media for live, independent, locally owned and operated sports talk radio.
On Sunday, a small group of still crazy individuals was right there at Broncos camp, still broadcasting as Mile High Sports Radio despite a decade of being told we weren’t big enough, powerful enough, established enough, rich enough and numerous other “enoughs” that have counted us out over the years.
Rewind to that very first broadcast and it’s understandable why folks doubted that Mile High Sports Radio would survive.
Our studio hadn’t even been built. We were dialed in to a makeshift studio in a Tuff Shed in Longmont via an old standard phone line. Our over-the-air signal had an unmistakeable and audible “hum” the engineers and Century Link (then Qwest) took months to figure out and eliminate. We were buried down on the dial at 1510 AM on a signal that had been home to a handful of formats over the preceding years. The “radio staff” consisted of a couple of hosts and a board operator. We were owned by a magazine whose only “radio experience” was recording a one-hour weekly show to CD that was aired on tape delay in the evening hours on the local ESPN affiliate.
Ten years later, we’re still the group most everyone can’t believe is around. Still locally owned and operated, still independent and still cranking out more live, local sports talk programming than anyone else in town.
We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the years. (Shoot, every week continues to bring them.)
We’ve been the Denver home of (in order) Air Force Football and Basketball, DU Hockey and Basketball, Nebraska Football, the Colorado 14ers, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, CHSAA 4A/5A Football and Basketball Championships, Mountain West Basketball Tournament and Colorado State Football and Basketball.
We’ve seen competitors with big budgets and big promises come and go. (Sorry, Cuz.)
We’ve seen teams buy up their own stations and bail out others.
We’ve been stiffed by advertisers more times than we’d like to think about.
We’ve had our access threatened because we’re not big enough, or rich enough, or because we asked the wrong questions.
We’ve moved dial positions twice to provide better signals for our listeners.
We’ve survived lightning strikes and fires at our transmitters and innumerable other little technical mishaps through the years that only a handful of people ever knew existed.
And we’ve done it all on a budget that is less than a single big-name talent at our main competitors makes each month.
Well, for starters (as I mentioned in paragraph one), we’re crazy.
We’re crazy about sports – specifically Colorado sports. We’re crazy enough to work tirelessly and against the odds to cover those sports every day for your edification and enjoyment.
But we’re also dedicated. Dedicated to keeping local, independent media alive.
And we have the support of countless individuals who have helped us deliver Mile High Sports Radio to a loyal and dedicated audience for the past 10 years.
We have folks like Gary “Coach” Eklund, who first came to us with the “in” at AM 1510 and to this day holds down our Saturday mornings, batting cleanup for Mark Kiszla, Michael Klahr and Marty Seldin before him in the lineup.
We have the unmistakeable and unmatched Gil Whiteley, who just recently celebrated his 30th year on the air and has proudly spent 10 of them with us – more than any other station in his career.
We have the legends Irv Brown and Joe Williams, who even after Irv retired are still so dedicated to the craft that they share “The Big Show” alongside two of the most genuine and nicest men in the media, Benny Bash and Kent Erickson.
We have longtime TV talents Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro, who anchor our afternoon drive both on radio and TV (Comcast 105 & 900), not to mention being two of the hardest-working and best-connected news hounds in town.
We have radio talent that honed their skills elsewhere and now make our current lineup at Mile High Sports Radio hands down the best it’s even been. Names like Renaud Notaro, Dan Jacobs, Nate Lundy, Shawn Drotar, Sean Walsh, Ryan Edwards, Darren Copeland and Chris Gallegos.
We have seen talent move on to bigger and better stages. Guys like Red Sox play-by-play man Tim Neverett, SEC Network host Peter Burns, Weather Nation’s Chris Bianchi and FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt (to name drop a few).
We’ve attracted talent from other markets; folks who chose us and decided to call Denver their home. Thank you, TJ Carpenter and Connor Cape.
We have up-and-coming talent who are perfecting their craft and turning heads every day. Remember the names: Kyle Reese, Marcus Moore, David Hurlbut, Dan Forsythe, Bill Forsythe, Geoff Girsch, Aniello Piro and TJ McBride.
We have champions in the community, Joe Rico and Alex Ramirez, and icons in their respective sports, Marcelo Balboa, Mark Jackson and Kurt Hansen.
We have Danny Williams, who defies categorization. (Just listen 9 a.m. -11 a.m. and you’ll understand why.)
We have Ronnie Kohrt, the human Swiss Army knife leading a team of producers we cherish: Kyle Berry, Alex Johnston, Hannah Dowdy, David Johnson, Jake Meier and Logan Hesselius.
We have a list of former hosts, producers, staff and interns that would surely double my word count, but I’ll pause to acknowledge Josh Pennock (my right hand for years), Dan Bettlach, Dan Fellman, Dan Mohrmann (apparently guys named Dan love sports radio), Josh Dover (still our all-time best spot-up shooter), Zach Fogg (the humanitarian), and Lisa Snyder (who asked the greatest press conference question in Denver sports media history),
Without each of these individuals, Mile High Sports Radio would not have been there to broadcast this Sunday.
We have countless sponsors to thank for their years of support.
We must thank The Fan for their friendly rivalry and partnership through the years.
And we couldn’t have done it without the media relations departments of virtually every pro, semi-pro, college and high school team in Colorado; those folks must be acknowledged and thanked for their willingness to work with this bunch of crazies.
They told us 10 years ago we were crazy to try and start an independent, locally owned sports talk radio station.
To paraphrase one of the greatest songwriters of my lifetime, “Yep, and we’re still crazy after all these years.”