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Together again, Aspen's KSNO joins Vail's KZYR and Steamboat's KBCR
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Together again, Aspen's KSNO joins Vail's KZYR and Steamboat's KBCR

Cool Radio, LLC resumes management after lease ends

ASPEN, Colo.—The owner of KZYR’s parent company expressed relief at getting Aspen’s KSNO radio back under the Cool Radio, LLC management umbrella Nov. 1.

Tom Dobrez, owner of the Vail Valley’s longstanding KZYR, Steamboat’s two KBCR stations (FM country and AM ESPN) and KSNO, said the lease on KSNO’s license ended the first of the month after Colorado Marketing called it quits with the station. The company, owned by Aspen entrepreneur Marcos Rodriguez, began the lease in June 2009. He cited tough financial dynamics and overhead costs as the reason for the break.

Rodriguez has a long history of radio ownership, including numerous stations in Texas. He founded and currently owns KUUR Your Radio in Aspen and TV Aspen, and recently came on board with Radio CMC – a new campus radio station for the Roaring Fork Valley. As well, he owns a number of real estate companies in  including Aspen Real Estate Company.

“Quite honestly, we were anxious to get it back,” Dobrez said of the KSNO transfer. Right now, Cool Radio is in the throes of hiring a new local staff in Aspen, to include a manager. Earlier this fall, Rodriguez laid off station manager and morning host Don Chaney.

Dobrez expects to increase KSNO’s visibility and to ramp up involvement in community events and philanthropy. But he’s planning no changes in the format -- commonly described as Triple A, or songwriters radio – to the 103.9 FM channel.

“People get very passionate about their radio stations,” he said, addressing Aspen’s long history with KSNO. The station was launched in 1964 by Bill Dunaway and Barbara McGloughlin. Originally on the AM dial, KSNO was said to be an outlet for McGloughlin’s Montovani and Dunaway’s news.

Through several ownerships, the station went FM in the early 1980s and focused on country music. Later in the 1980s it became a rock hits station, and by 1989 it became “The Breeze” with a syndicated jazz format. KZYR owner Cliff Gardner bought the station in the mid 1990s and aired alternative rock under The Mountain moniker. Dobrez bought KSNO and KZYR in 2001, and two years later purchased the Steamboat stations.

He says the Colorado mountains are a good place for community radio. “You can do things here,” he said. “You’ve got an audience that tends to be very sophisticated in the mountains.”

He says the radio industry as a whole has been “kind of beat up” in the business journals, but that there’s opportunity for those who can adapt to the business climate.

“We as an industry had to learn a lot,” he said. “And every business before the Internet was probably out-modeled in some way.”

He says it’s critical to be connected to the individual communities and to bolster the on-air product with social/digital presence. And, as he mentioned before, he wants to establish a bigger visibility in the Roaring Fork market.
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