KAJX frequency to take a siesta come June | AspenTimes.com

KAJX frequency to take a siesta come June

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

KAJX, the provider of public radio in the Roaring Fork Valley, will get a little weaker in June, when its main FM frequency is turned over to a megawatt, Spanish-speaking station.

KAJX’s frequency out of Aspen has been simulcast on 107.1 FM for two and a half years, because the company that licensed the station in 2000 was not initially ready to begin broadcasting in the valley. Because of the FCC’s “use it or lose it” policy, the company agreed to allow KAJX to use the frequency in the interim.

Since the frequency is 50,000 watts strong, listeners could tune in to public radio even while driving through Snowmass Canyon. But as of June, frequency owners Entravision are planning to regain control of 107.1 FM. Entravision will broadcast a “Mexican regional format” throughout the valley, as well as down the I-70 corridor to Rifle and Edwards.

“It was a temporary thing,” KAJX general manager Tom Eirman said of the station’s use of 107.1. “We’re very glad to have had it, and we’ve had it for two and a half years.”

The station will continue to broadcast at 91.5 and 91.1 FM in Aspen and 88.9 FM in Glenwood Springs. Eirman said KAJX has received a building permit to build a new tower and transmitter on Sunlight Mountain near Glenwood Springs that would have a 2,000-watt capability.

The 91.5 and 91.1 frequencies broadcast at 250 watts, and Eirman said the new station would achieve the goal of a valleywide signal, though he said the facility may not be built until next summer.

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But when 107.1 FM goes back to its original owners, Eirman confirmed that the station’s other frequencies are not strong enough to be heard in Snowmass Canyon.

“We made an offer to lease [107.1 FM] for another 18 months, and that was turned down,” Eirman said. “But it’s a pretty big corporation.”

Entravision, based in San Jose, Calif., operates radio stations in “high density Hispanic areas” all over the nation, including Los Angeles, Albuquerque, N.M., Sacramento, Calif., and Las Vegas. The company delivers 95 percent of its content via satellite from its San Jose headquarters.

Rob Quinn, general manager for one of Entravision’s Denver stations, said in the Roaring Fork Valley the programming would be the same. But Entravision localizes its content with local managers who provide information on weather and traffic jams for regular local updates.

On Wednesday at midnight the company began broadcasting a new FM station in Denver, having purchased 96.5 FM “The Peak” and turning it into “Radio Tri-Color.” Entravision has been in the Denver market for seven years, operating 92.1 FM “Radio Romantica,” and 1090 AM, also “Radio Tri-Color.”

Their most recent launch is a $47 million production, Quinn said.

“It’s basically Mexican country music,” Quinn said of Radio Tri-Color. “It’s a broad array of Ranchera, Nortena, Banda and many genres of music. We’ve been extremely successful in Denver – we’ve gotten it all down to a format that includes a healthy dose of community involvement.”

Quinn said the station produces its own concerts in Denver and might bring live acts to this part of the state once the local station is up and running. The company also holds events like health fairs for the Hispanic community and raises money for the Hispanic College Fund.

The new station’s offices will be in Basalt, and the station hopes to kick off on June 1.

“This has been a long build-out, and we’ve been patient,” Quinn said of the time it took between licensing the frequency in early 2000 and just now preparing programming. “I don’t know if it would be happening if things hadn’t worked out so well in Denver. There’s a very high level of awareness in Denver of the proliferation of the Hispanic population in the mountains, and our advertising staff is essentially able to say to their clients in Denver, ‘Would you like the mountains with that?'”

Quinn pointed to large Chevrolet dealers along the I-70 corridor who might not yet be advertising to the Hispanic population.