When Dario Correa decided to take his internet Sports show, Denver Sports Nation, to terrestrial radio, he followed his friend and hero, Cecil Lammey to Denver's 102.3 FM.
The station, known until recently as "the Ticket", is the property of Front Range Sports Network. In 2011 the company, headed by Tom "Lou from Littleton" Manoogian and "Dealin'" Doug Moreland, made the decision to scrap its "Live and Local" model in favor of syndicated broadcasting by way of ESPN Radio's National feed.
Denver's best morning Sports Talk show, which featured CBS4's Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller, was sacked, as was Ridin' Shotgun with Cecil Lammey, a wonderful program with a dedicated listener base which ran for only a few short weeks.
Vic, Gary and Cecil, all popular local personalities, were bumped in favor of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning and The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
Coverage of local sports took a back seat at 102.3.
Still, the station is where Dario and his partner Adam wanted to take their fledgling show.
Cecil Lammey, who was retained by the station to do weekend duty (and who coveted the opportunity to work with ESPN) was the one guy in Denver Sports Radio who believed in the duo. Lammey had appeared with them on their internet radio show (at Blog Talk Radio) and he identified with their hustle. "Just keep grindin'", Cecil told Dario. It is wasn't for Cecil the station never would have given he and Adam a second look. Lammey pulled for them.
Dario and Adam eventually able to come to terms with 102.3's Program Director, Tim Spence, on a Sunday afternoon time slot. Denver Sports Nation Radio debuted in Mid-March, right before Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos. The show was an immediate success in that in generated plenty of phone calls and Twitter traffic. The timing of the launch could not have been better.
That week had been one of the most electric in Denver Sports history.
Like many radio stations, 102.3 FM sells "brokered" programming - what folks in the industry call "play to play". In other words, Dario and Adam leased their time in the 102.3 studio.
They sold all their own advertising - something most people don't realize that on-air personalities do. Dario and Adam managed to wrangle enough sponsors to cover all their hourly expenses and still keep a few bucks.
Still, they weren't comfortable.
Dario didn't feel that Spence respected his effort. "He wasn't very nice to me," Dario said, "He didn't see me as credible."
There's some question as to whether or not Spence changed the terms of their arrangement as time went on. Dario was never asked to sign any contract of any kind. Neither was Adam. They felt a little bit like intruders.
Rarely does a small, upstart, brokered weekend radio show wind up generating as much interest as Denver Sports Nation did. Dario and Adam had been doing the show on the internet for well over a year before they decided to go on-air. For that reason, they came onto 102.3 ESPN with a following that managers of the station were not even aware of. They brought quality to their time slot and, along with it, listeners.
One of them was James Merilatt, co-founder and President of Mile High Sports. James was aware of Dario and Adam through Twitter and from a couple posts right here at South Stands Denver (which James follows). He took an interest in their show.
Merilatt and his partner Doug Otewill, along with Station Manager, Casey Lite, arranged to meet with D in Denver and Adam Kay at their downtown studio suite.
After chewing the fat for over two hours, Merilatt and Otewill became convinced that Denver Sport Nation was a great fit for their radio model: Local guys, local sports. They made Dario and Adam an offer.
With no contract at 102.3 to be broken, the fellows were faced with a difficult decision. On the one hand, Cecil Lammey and Tim Spence had, together, given them their first break in radio - and their show was only one month old. Dario and Adam did not want to walk out on the guys that opened their first door to them. Not this soon, anyway. On the other hand, they wanted to be wanted.
Mile High Sports wanted them.
After deliberating for a week, Dario and Adam made the horribly difficult decision to move their fledgling radio show to Mile High Sports. They start next Saturday at 5 pm. 93.7 FM, AM 1510. They will join a great group of guys there. And they get a new big sister in Robin Carlin.
"There really is a sense of family.", Dario says, "Mile High Sports just feels like home to us."
I have been a big fan of D in Denver for a long time. I can remember listening to the calls he made to various shows dating back to the Zoo on KOA (with Scott Hastings and Dave Logan).
I wrote about him in a piece titled: D in Denver revs up Denver Sports Nation a few months ago. Dario is an unabashed Denver Sports fan. His partner, Adam, is a stat nerd with golden pipes. Together, they have great balance and do a solid show.
Please listen to it. And let Mile High Sports know that you like it. It's easy to do. Just Tweet them @MileHighSports.
Denver Sports Nation will start up on Saturday evenings this coming weekend and should soon be on Sundays, too. We are hoping to listen to a Broncos post-game with Dario and Adam show this fall!