Another DJ leaves KSNO
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Employment pressures are heating up at KSNO radio with the departure of another disc jockey, the second to leave in less than two months.
As of yesterday, KSNO program director Don Chaney, a longtime radio personality in the Roaring Fork Valley and Denver markets, is no longer spinning discs at the station’s Mill Street studio.
His departure comes just weeks after lifelong local Brian Keleher left the station.
The meltdown at KSNO began in the second week of November, when the station fired Keleher in what sources say was a cost-saving measure.
Keleher, 33, was hired last February by Chaney to be KSNO’s afternoon/evening drive-time DJ. He has been an on-again, off-again presence in local radio since 1992.
Keleher, Chaney and lifelong Aspenite Carolyne Harvey hosted four-hour slots between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Harvey, who uses her maiden name, Heldman, on the air, was, at least until November, a part-time employee. Chaney and Keleher both worked full time, producing most of the promos and advertisements heard on the air.
The lineup was part of an attempt to build a local alternative to KSPN, long the dominant station in the valley.
After Keleher was axed, Harvey was moved to the 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. slot while Chaney filled in from noon to 6 p.m.
KSPN is owned by a Baltimore company, Salisbury Broadcasting. It owned both KSNO and KSPN until December 2001, when Tom Dobrez of Chicago purchased KSNO. Dobrez also owns KZYR in Vail.
“It’s hard for a station to lose two guys who know a lot about this community and love radio,” Keleher said. “I think KSPN picked up its game when we raised the bar. I think they’re better for it.”
Chaney’s departure leaves just three on-air personalities at KSNO who are both live and local ? newsmen Scott Bayens and Jim Lawrence and DJ Harvey. Account representative Beth Albert can be heard as the night DJ, but her program is taped during the day.
“I think we had a good thing going, we were close to taking the golden ring, but the station management just pulled the plug too early,” Keleher said. “The real losers are the community’s listeners.”
It remains unclear how station management plans to fill the six-hour slot that’s opens with Chaney’s departure. Calls seeking comment were referred to KSNO/KZYR operations manager Tony Mauro’s Vail office, even though sources confirmed he was in Aspen yesterday to make a final offer to Chaney.
According to sources, Chaney first threatened to quit in November in protest of Keleher’s firing. By early December, Chaney said neither Mauro nor Dobrez were answering his calls requesting a meeting or conference call to resolve the situation.
Chaney formally tendered his resignation last week, giving two weeks’ notice, but by yesterday, it was clear he was finished at the station. He did not go on the air Monday afternoon.
“I was waiting for the call that told me the owner was going to fix everything,” Chaney said. “Instead the manager called me in and offered something entirely different, and I wasn’t willing to accept it.”
Chaney and Keleher, both of whom have newborn infants, are starting an advertising and marketing firm. Both have longstanding ties in the community and extensive experience in radio production.
“I was already planning to start an ad agency,” Chaney said. “This just moves it up.”
The new company, 24six Communications, is already attracting attention from local firms.
“We’re in serious negotiations with four potential clients. We haven’t even advertised yet and people are already trying to get ahold of us,” Keleher said.
“We feel it’s time for an agency to show clients how to completely integrate their marketing. We don’t want to just place ads for people, we want to connect them with people who live here,” Chaney said.
[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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