A dose of BGS for KAJX
Local journalist Brent Gardner-Smith has been tapped as the new executive director of the Roaring Fork Valley public radio station, its board of directors announced Wednesday. Gardner-Smith will replace outgoing station manager Tom Eirman, who left Aspen last month for a job at Carnegie Hall.
“Brent’s background in broadcasting and journalism, along with his long tenure in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, makes him an ideal candidate to take KAJX to a new level,” said David Hyman, chairman of the the KAJX board.
With this new position, Gardner-Smith – currently a reporter at The Aspen Times – will have added nearly every media outlet in Aspen to his resume. Gardner-Smith first moved to Aspen in 1982 for a stint as an announcer for KSPN, and, over the last two decades, worked for KSNO, the Aspen Daily News, Roaring Fork Sunday and, since December 2000, The Times. This last position led to a recent award for “best news story” from the Colorado Press Association.
Gardner-Smith hopes to use his background in local news in his new position at KAJX. His plans for the station include an expanded news presence in the valley, allowing for a renewed dedication to local news.
“The idea would be to bring in a lot more local voices, in terms of people we talk to and cover,” Gardner-Smith said. “There’s a huge opportunity to put a voice to the community, to let the community hear itself.”
This new position will also allow Gardner-Smith to nurture “a lifelong enthusiasm and appreciation for the power of public radio.” Gardner-Smith’s first stint in public radio came in 1981, when he joined the staff of KCHO-FM while attending California State University, Chico. He also worked as a volunteer at KAJX in the early 1990s, hosting “Jazz on a Wednesday Night” and developing his own morning interview program for the station.
Gardner-Smith expects to end his two-plus-year stint with the Times in May, and will take over at KAJX in early June. Former KAJX operations manager Mike Waters will join his efforts in his new role as station manager.
According to Aspen Times Editor in Chief Mike Hagan, the news of Gardner-Smith’s leaving came as a surprise, and he said he will be sorely missed.
“Frankly, I had reservations when we hired Brent because he had been competing against The Aspen Times for years,” Hagan said. “However, he quickly proved me wrong by becoming one of the most dependable and thorough reporters I’ve ever worked with. Brent brought a lot to the Times, and it will be very difficult to replace him.”
Through pure hard work, suggestions and often outright criticism, Gardner-Smith always challenged everyone in the newsroom, helping to take the paper to a higher level, Hagan said.
“Everyone in the newsroom always knew where Brent stood on any subject, be it a news item or the quality of the paper in general. Let’s just say Brent never minces words,” said Hagan. “I’ll miss that.”
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