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Unlicensed radio in Salida

Brief by Central Staff

Media – May 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Up in the Air

Salida’s FM dial has gained another signal: Free Range Radio at 101.1 megahertz. It’s a local volunteer effort, and when we checked, it was on the air from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Our informant advised us that the signal was fairly clear throughout town, except near the high school, and our own tests bear this out. We heard a variety of music, ranging from bluegrass to sixties classics.

Free Range Radio has no call letters, since it isn’t licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has cracked down on some similar transmitters, while others appear to thrive.

Can we fast-forward?

The April 6 Salida City Council meeting, all four hours of it, was broadcast the evening of April 10 on public-access cable channel 10.

The voices came through fine, although the image quality was considerably less than superb — understandable, since council chambers aren’t illuminated with video cameras in mind.

We’re pleased that the city government has agreed to air the meetings. For one thing, the chairs are a lot more comfortable at home, where refreshments and restrooms are convenient, too. For another, it’s good television with emotions, drama, conflict, and occasional resolution.

But mainly, we see it as a good step toward a better-informed public and a more-accountable government, and we hope that other public bodies — county commissions, school boards, planning and zoning committees — start broadcasting their meetings too, and not just in Salida. That’s one reason that franchise cable monopolies are supposed to make public-access channels available.

We’ve often been accused of never having anything good to say about Salida’s municipal government. Well, this is a good thing. Thanks, and keep it up.

Almanac: RIP

The quarterly San Juan Almanac, based in Durango, has ceased publication after its Winter 1997-98 edition. The three principals –Lisa Lenard, Mark Seis, and Ken Wright — said the magazine had consumed all their seed capital without developing a sufficient advertising base to carry it.

Well, we know that feeling, even though we soldier on here, either through good old American persistence or foolish Colorado bull-headedness.

The Almanac has been up and down throughout its five years, starting as a non-profit, halting, then resuming as a commercial venture. But, as the editors noted, “The reality is that the Almanac is a failed species in the natural selection of the free market.”

One of the editors, Ken Wright, is a frequent contributor to Colorado Central.

Birth of Bones

The Gunnison Country has a new literary quarterly, Bones, with fiction, art, photography, and poetry, and the first edition is on the stands.

It’s produced by Tara Crotty and Matthew Midnight Gaylen, and sells for $5.95 a copy, or $20 a year. You can get a free sample of the first one, though, with an email to Gaylen:, or a postal request to Bones, 323 South Taylor, Gunnison CO 81230-2145.

Letter Rip

In recent months, the Leadville Herald-Democrat has carried many “Letters to the Editor” which were highly critical of the school district and its administration.

This inspired Superintendent Peg Portscheller to fax a letter on Feb. 24 to publisher Merle Baranczyk in Salida. Unless the weekly newspaper changed its policy on letters, she wrote, “we will immediately cancel our organizational subscriptions to The Herald Democrat, encourage all 250+ of our employees to do likewise, and withdraw all advertising dollars.”

Further, “both our corporate attorney and my personal attorney are reviewing recent letters to the editor to determine whether or not legal action is appropriate.”

Herald editor Grant Dunham said he and Baranczyk met with Portscheller. In the future, the newspaper will better enforce existing policies against name-calling (no more “Missy Peg”), but will also have its reporters look into some of the allegations made in the letters that raised Portscheller’s ire.

“No matter how hard you work in this business, you can always do a better job,” Dunham said, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”