Hartley: A shameless plea to spare me phone duty | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: A shameless plea to spare me phone duty

Todd Hartley
I’m With Stupid

Those of you who know me know that despite my bald pate, near-constant stubble and middle-aged paunch, I am one of the least adult grown-ups in the world. Part of that comes from living in the Neverland that is the Roaring Fork Valley, certainly, but the main reason is that I’m an expert at shirking responsibility. I always have been, and by the looks of things, apparently I always will be.

That’s why it may come as a surprise to some of you to learn that in addition to being the CEO of Zero Budget Productions Inc., a wildly successful creative-services company, I also sit on the board of directors of an esteemed nonprofit organization in Carbondale, the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program.

That’s right: I’m a CEO and a director of a nonprofit; it doesn’t get much more adult than that. Who’s an overgrown 8-year-old now, Rella?

Anyway, I could go on and on about what it’s like to run a huge multinational corporation like Zero Budget Productions, but I’d rather talk about the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program because I think it’s worth talking about.

I first learned about the youth empowerment program when I started volunteer DJing at KDNK Carbondale Community Radio a couple of years ago. I’d love to say that my decision to start volunteering was as altruistically motivated as my directorship, but it wasn’t. KDNK’s general manager and program director are both friends of mine and said it was fun, and I relished the idea of subjecting people to my music, so now I host a show every other Friday.

The Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program, which has its office in the KDNK building, is a program that lets local kids and teens conduct interviews, prepare reports and broadcast live radio shows a couple of times a week. It’s a great program that’s popular with both Anglo and Latino youth, it teaches kids valuable skills that they may be able to use later in life, and best of all it’s completely free to any kids 8 and older who want to participate.

The empowerment part is best explained through the story of the program’s namesake, Andy Zanca, at one time the youngest DJ in Colorado. Andy grew up in Carbondale, and he was, in his sister’s words, “a troubled, at-risk kid.” He didn’t fit in well at school, and his family life wasn’t the best, but he found a home among the misfits at KDNK and started DJing at age 10.

Something about being on the air, playing his music and being given a voice that people would actually hear drew Andy out of his shell and proved so empowering that he spent the next dozen years as a DJ until taking his own life in 1998 at age 21.

Andy’s sister, Annemarie, having seen what being on the radio did for her brother, felt so strongly about youth radio that she started the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program to give other kids — at-risk or otherwise — an opportunity to have similar experiences. That was 15 years ago, and ever since then the program has been scraping by and just managing to stay alive from one year to the next.

I met some of the kids who came by the station to do a show, and a friend whose son is in the program told me how much her son enjoyed it. So when I was asked to join the board, I happily said yes, thinking it would be nice to help keep the program afloat until my own son can participate if he wants to.

With that as a prelude, allow me to finally come to the point of this column. As a director of the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program, one of my duties is to help raise funds so that we can have an actual operating budget. Typically, this would involve calling people and asking for money, but if you know me you know that there’s almost no chance of me doing that. I’ve tried sales. I suck at it, and I hated it.

So that’s where you, my faithful readers, come in. I want you to picture me in a brown, hooded robe, with a white beard and a lightsaber at my waist. I’m going to wave my hand in front of your face, and you will do just what I say because I’m a grown-up and you’re powerless to resist my Jedi mind tricks.


“You will go to http://www.azyep.org and give generously so that Todd Hartley doesn’t have to call you and ask you for money.”

You got that? Good. Now do it.

Todd Hartley is not the droid you’re looking for. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://zerobudget.net.


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