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KAJX catching new waves

John Colson
Mark Fox/The Aspen Times
ALL |

Change is on the air at Aspen’s public radio station, KAJX-FM, as its executive director shakes up the station’s programming schedule and its personnel.Perhaps the biggest change is that several longtime local radio personalities will no longer have their regular half-hour, weekday evening time slots.Jim Baker’s “All About the Arts,” Anne Brown’s “The Annie Brown Show” and John Noonan’s “Aspen Media Review” will all have their final airings this week.Baker is leaving Aspen to move to the East Coast. Brown and Noonan will still air, Executive Director Brent Gardner-Smith said, but it will be in shorter, professionally produced feature pieces rather than half-hour studio conversations with various people.

Noonan, who has been on the air for nearly 14 years, has interviewed a variety of authors, radio commentators and others on the show, which has been airing at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays.Brown, a local psychotherapist, has used her time “to delve deep into interviews with people who are out following their passion and realizing their dreams,” according to a description on the station’s website.Baker has been the executive director of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village and has interviewed valley and visiting artists. As of Monday, an expanded 4 to 6:30 p.m. airing of the National Public Radio news show “All Things Considered” will replace the trio’s evening time slots.Gardner-Smith on Tuesday said eliminating the local shows is nothing personal. “I just think we could do better radio,” he said.He said the changes are largely in reaction to listener remarks during the station’s recent on-air pledge drive. Many, he said, were critical of certain portions of the local programming and asked for more national shows and local hard news.

“If you look at the success of the station,” he said, “it’s due in large part to the quality programming that NPR produces.”

He said he has hopes the discipline that shorter time segments require and the professional production values will help both veteran KAJX volunteers get better and actually get more air time than they did as interview-show hosts.”It’s very easy to spin this as Brent’s stripping all the local voices from the airwaves,” Gardner-Smith said. But he maintains the opposite is true, partly because he is beefing up the station’s local news department.Gardner-Smith said he will be opening up a local news time slot at roughly 5:45 p.m., fitting into a gap in “All Things Considered.” He said the station will be able to make use of other times many NPR programs make available to local stations.The station is hiring its third news reporter, Gardner-Smith said, which should mean more local air time for the news staff, as well as Noonan and Brown. Part of the station’s mission, Gardner-Smith said, is to cover the valley’s “nonprofit scene”; he said he expects that to play a large part in filling up the expanded news slots.

The search is on now for a Spanish-speaking man or woman who will cover Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle news. The funding for the new reporter comes through a deal between KAJX and the Manaus Fund, a local philanthropic group that helps nonprofit organizations.Gardner-Smith also is looking for a new program director after the recent departure of Steve Skinner, who took the job of manager of KDNK-FM in Carbondale, another public radio station.Also in the changes: KAJX will move the NPR national financial news show “Marketplace,” from 6 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays.And NPR’s “Day To Day” will replace the BBC World Service’s 11 a.m. call-in news show “World Have Your Say.” “Day To Day,” a news and talk format originating in California, was previously on KAJX at noon weekdays until the station took it off the air last December after a chorus of listener protests.


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