For the second time in the last few years, a dance-techno radio station in metropolitan Denver, Colorado has been started on the FM dial, persisted for less than a year, and died.
This time around the station in question is Hot 107.1 (out of Bennet) ("Denver's Dance Hits"), which as of 3 p.m. on Friday was stunting as "Pot 107.1 Denver's Dope Hits" in honor of Colorado's recent passage of Amendment 64 legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal consumption within a regulated distribution system. Today, at 3 p.m., the undisclosed new format that will replace the old station will be announced.
It's sister indie alternative station, 101.5 FM, died quite a while ago back when 107.1 was a dreadfully boring pop station prior to its conversion to the dance-techno format, after similarly failing to attract advertisers. I'm hoping that the follow on format to 107.1 FM this time around will be better than the conservative talk radio format that replaced 101.5 FM two years ago.
I like dance-techno music and I'm more than a little miffed that it didn't work out this time around. You'd think that a music format was long standing and consistent popularity in nightclubs across the area that is a mainstay of European radio dials could make it in Denver.
But, it didn't. While it was better at accumulating advertisers that the last effort, ultimately hair products, for profit colleges, credit unions, and pleas for listeners to use their unused dental benefits for the year on cosmetic treatments weren't enough to keep the station afloat. But for the Obama campaign's investment in political ads on the station targeted at one of its key demographics, it would no doubt have expired sooner.
Part of me wonders if Neilson's rating system, upon which advertising revenues are based, is simply missing a younger demographic, but it is equally plausible that not many people in demographics that drive much consumer spending like to listen to dance-techno music on the radio. Then again, maybe the new radio station simply didn't have enough quality advertising sales representatives. The promoters of the station may have been music purists without enough of a head for business to make it work financially.
Part of the problem was also technical. The amount of static in the station's signal, patchy reception in much of the metro area, and a parade of technical blunders by the station's DJs and engineering staff certainly didn't help it to survive. It isn't entirely clear if these defects are inherently part of this particular piece of the airwaves under its FCC license (Eastern Adams County may simply not be the optimal place from which to broadcast to metro Denver) or is simply due to a lack of financial investment in the fledgling venture.
More mystically, perhaps the Town of Bennett, otherwise best known for being home to a major spamming operation that was shut down by the federal government, a serious train wreck, and censoring opera, is simply ill fated.
I also continue to be amazed that my daughter's iPod and those of her middle school friends seem to regularly find excellent music that isn't playing on any radio station at all, helped in part by resources like Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and other Internet resources. Why commercial stations can't manage to tap the excellent talent that middle school kids can find but commercial radio station music directors are oblivious to is a mystery to me, although U.S. intellectual property laws, Federal Communications Commission regulations, and licensing arrangements with major record studios may play a part (Spotify, notably, is a Swedish based venture). College radio stations and Colorado Public Radio's Open Air at 1340 AM have the variety, but often lack the quality control needed to be worth listening to for anyone but the true adventurer.
Then again, maybe most people are boring, and interesting niche tastes simply have a better shot at commercial success in Internet based media ventures than in true mass media.