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KGLN bids adios to Hispanic format

A year-long experiment in home-grown, Spanish-language radio is ending at KGLN.

Starting at 12 a.m. on Oct. 7, the Glenwood Springs-based AM radio station will replace its Spanish-language format with 24-hour CNN Headline News.

KGLN general manager Gabe Chenoweth cited lack of support in the business community, and the economic downturn following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, as the two main reasons for the format change.



“When we made the switch to Hispanic programming, we felt it had a great chance to succeed, and it did initially,” Chenoweth said. “I’m proud of the choice we made to offer 24-hour music and news to an overlooked segment of our local community. But it’s time to move on and seek other opportunities that will help us succeed and continue to serve the people of this valley.”

A competing Spanish-language radio station, the Basalt-based KPVW-FM, went on the air in June.



KGLN operations manager Debra Brainard declined to comment on the impact KPVW had on her station. “We’d been looking at things for quite a while,” Brainard said. “There were a lot of factors in the switch.”

The KGLN versus KPVW matchup was a David-and-Goliath showdown. KGLN, along with KMTS-FM, is owned by the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado West Broadcasting. KPVW is owned by Entravision, which operates four Spanish-language radio stations in Denver, more than 40 Spanish-language radio stations across the United States, and 22 television stations.

When KPVW went on the air in June, KGLN programming director Guillermo Trejo acknowledged that he wasn’t looking forward to competing against a “bigger, more powerful station.” At the same time, Trejo said, “they have a right to be here.”

Besides deep pockets, KPVW also has a bigger market than KGLN. The local station must decrease its transmitter’s power at sunset due to FCC regulations.

Chenoweth and Brainard have high praise for Trejo and the work he did as KGLN’s programming director. Trejo said he will be leaving KGLN in early October.

“Guillermo is a talented broadcaster, and he knows the business inside and out,” Chenoweth said. “There’s no way it would have lasted this long were it not for his immeasurable contributions … but it was just too much for one person to handle.”

Brainard said she enjoyed working with Trejo for business and personal reasons. “I’ve been blessed to work with him,” Brainard said. “Before he came to KGLN, I didn’t know much about the Hispanic culture … I’ve learned a lot about it from Guillermo.”

A slightly somber Trejo returned the compliments. “It was a lot of fun working with them,” Trejo said. “We did a lot of things together … I’m going to miss them.”

Trejo said another thing he’ll miss is playing music requests for his listeners. “That was one of the most important parts. I hate to see it die,” he said.

Although KGLN is going back to English-language programming, Brainard said she is proud of what the station accomplished and the service it provided the Hispanic community during the past year. Ranking at the top of the list was KGLN’s Spanish-language news broadcasts during the Coal Seam Fire in June.

“We were able to tell people where to go, where to find help. It was great we were able to offer that,” Brainard said.

As far as the future goes, Trejo said he hopes to stay in the area. He said he first moved to the Roaring Fork Valley five years ago after working at radio stations in Houston and Atlanta.

The 52-year-old radio station has changed its format several times over the years. Chenoweth said in the 1980s, KGLN featured pop music. In the later 1980s, KGLN switched to contemporary Christian music. When Colorado West bought KGLN in 1988, the format switched to adult contemporary, featuring the likes of Perry Como and big band music. In 1994, the station switched to oldies from the 1950s through 1970s.

With its change to all talk radio, KGLN is joining a national trend that started when FM radio started making inroads into more markets in the 1970s.

Chenoweth said most AM radio stations now feature news, talk and sports, because for music, FM signals are clearer.

Chenoweth said KGLN hasn’t decided on a schedule for local news, but KMTS news director Ron Milhorn will provide news on the hour. Other upcoming local broadcasts will include the Oct. 16 political candidate forum presented by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.


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