Denver is one of few cities in America with three dedicated sports talk radio stations however one of the three went silent this week. Mile High Sports Radio is off the air once again.
It’s been a tumultuous past couple of years for the little radio station that could. Between its ever shifting on air talent pool, a stream of lineup changes and the sale of its FM 93.7 / AM 1550 signals Mile High Sports has been in constant motion. The station relocated to 94.1 FM in Denver only about one year ago but already it’s moving again. The signal has been sold, along with AM 1550 to a company called Marco Broadcasting which is apparently replacing the MHS content with music.
The first indication listeners had that Mile High Sports was moving again was that they got when they attempted to tune in the signals yesterday. Rather than the verbose Brandon Spano fans found pop tunes. Mile High Sports made no effort to notify listeners in advance. The station was just - poof - gone.
As disconcerting as it was for listeners to find out that the station had disappeared it was even more rattling to the various hosts who were not notified of the impending change until yesterday morning - after 94.1 had already switched formats - via email.
Mile High Sports radio is a brokered station. In other words, rather than paying wages to on-air talents who are employed by the station MHS leases air time to individual hosts who in turn own their shows and their advertising inventory. The hosts are hosts only part of the time. Successful ones are full times sales people who dedicate much of their efforts to securing sponsorships and collecting from advertisers. That’s how they make their livings - after they turn over the hourly fee to MHS that they pay to access the station’s air waves.
Brokered radio is a bit of a double-edged sword. The method allows folks to be on air instantly who would otherwise have to work their way up in the traditional radio industry. There are virtually zero barriers to access. Quality, however, tends to be all over the map. Since there’s only a small production staff and no program director to speak of MHS can only exert so much control over the content on the station. Still, there is a lot of talent to be found there - talent that doesn’t necessarily have another outlet in Denver.
Now Mile High Sports is off the air - however temporarily - hosts like Brandon Spano, Danny Williams, Eric Goodman and Renaud Notaro have no outlet to air their shows. That means that they cannot honor their contracts with sponsors. Having gotten no forewarning that the signal was going dark doubtlessly has them scrambling to explain the situation to advertisers as well as to their fans. It’s perfectly understandable that Mile High Sports needs to locate another signal. It happens. But for its paying customers - the hosts - not to have been given any advance notice is surprising to say the least.
Mile High’s web site offers this explanation for what is happening:
“Mile High Sports Radio is making changes! In the coming days, we will be announcing where you’ll be able to find all of your favorite shows. The new version of MHSR will be bigger and better than ever! We appreciate the support of our loyal listeners and sponsors, and look forward to continuing to provide Colorado sports fans with the best live and local sports talk in Denver. Stay tuned!”
The objective appears to be for the station to be back on air by June first. Whether or not it actually will be is difficult to say. Dealings with radio signals and with the FCC can be tedious. One thing is for certain; the temporarily displaced radio personalities who call MHS home are hopeful.
Mile High may return in its current form or - who knows? - it could somehow wind up involved with the ownership shakeup at 104.3 the Fan which is due to change hands any time now as part of the sale of Lincoln Financial media. All listeners can do is wait and see. Mile High Sports has a tendency to keep things pretty quiet until after they have already happened - as their hosts discovered yesterday.
*One small bit of disclosure. I am a friend and a fan of Mile High Sports and by no means a neutral observer. I co-host the Renknowitall program with Renaud Notaro on Thursdays and have worked with other MHS shows including the Press Box with Peter Burns and Mark Kiszla.