|Broadcast area||Denver-Boulder, Colorado|
|Slogan||Denver's World Class Rock|
(also on HD Radio)
97.3 HD-2 The Studio C Channel
97.3 HD-3 News/Talk (KOA simulcast)
|Translator(s)||FM/HD1: 94.3 K232AC (Breckenridge)|
HD3: 94.1 K231AA (Boulder)
HD3: 94.1 K231BQ (Golden)
|First air date||October 1, 1949 (as KRNW)|
|Format||Adult Album Alternative (AAA)|
|ERP||100,000 watts horiz|
85,000 watts vert
|HAAT||469 meters (1539 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||K Boulder, COlorado|
|Former callsigns||KFEL (1949-1960)|
|Owner||iHeartMedia, Inc. |
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||KBPI, KDSP, KHOW, KOA, KPTT, KRFX, KTCL, KWBL|
KBCO (97.3 FM) is an Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio station licensed to Boulder, Colorado. It is owned by iHeartMedia and serves the Denver-Boulder area. The station's format, dubbed "World Class Rock," is an eclectic variety of pop, rock, blues, reggae and folk, recorded from the late-1960s to the present. Scott Arbough, who began as a part-time DJ at KBCO in 1985, is the current Program Director.
KBCO's studios and offices had once been located in Boulder. But now operations are in the iHeartMedia broadcast facility in South Denver. The transmitter is located southwest of Eldorado Springs, Colorado, at the top of Eldorado Mountain at an elevation of 8,400 feet above sea level, or 469 meters (1539 feet) in height above average terrain, with an effective radiated power close to 100,000 watts.
The current format on the station was derived in part from another Boulder station, KADE 1190 AM (now KVCU). KADE was a solar-powered daytimer station, which signed on and off the air in conjunction with the rising and setting of the sun. KADE was purchased in 1975 by Bob Greenlee. Two years later Greenlee also purchased KRNW, which then became KBCO-FM. The original studio was located in an office complex at 1900 Folsom Street in Boulder. The station's original transmitter was located on a tower atop Lee Hill. Bob Greenlee worked with consulting engineers and petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to boost KBCO's power.
The original format was co-designed by Dennis Constantine and Randy Morrison (formerly of KBPI Denver and WLS-FM/WDAI Chicago; he had also designed the format for KADE). At launch the airstaff included Dennis Constantine, the station's original program director, in the mornings; Bob Lynch overnight, Music Director Judy McNutt and production director Richard Ray. Jon Steele hosted 6-10 in the evenings.
The freedom allowed to the DJs in the early days sparked a high level of creativity. The station produced an award-winning series of yearly broadcasts, collectively known as "Intervention Day: Planet Earth's Premier Holiday." Intervention Day broadcasts were set in the future and celebrated the day the Inter-Galactic Community intervened to prevent Earth's leaders from destroying the planet. Celebrations were marked by music from the time prior intervention day. The broadcasts won the 1987 International Radio Festival of New York "Grand Award for Best Entertainment Program of the Year". Worldwide competition included ABC, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC.
In 1982, KBCO was the first station in Colorado to play music from CDs. In a partnership with local audio retailer Listen Up, CDs and playback equipment were shipped in from Japan.
Greenlee moved KADE and KBCO to a state of the art studio complex at 4801 Riverbend Road in East Boulder and then sold the stations to Noble Broadcasting in 1987. During this time of KBCO's history, deejays selected the songs to play on their own shows from a broad music library.
In 1988, KBCO Studio C was created by Production Director Tom Koetting with a performance by Melissa Etheridge in a small cramped production studio. The studio has since been upgraded, and many artists in Colorado for a concert tour or promotion tour stop by to play live on the radio. The station releases a CD every year in late November with the best or most memorable Studio C performances. The CDs, titled KBCO Studio C followed by the volume number, sell out quickly and all proceeds from the album are donated to the Boulder County AIDS Project and Food Bank of the Rockies. Two retrospective CDs have been released combining the best of the previous CDs and several unreleased songs.
KBCO has occasionally been rated #1 in the Denver-Boulder Arbitron ratings with overall listeners 12+, the first time in 1988. KBCO is often rated #1 with its target audience 25 to 54-year-olds. In 1996, the station was sold to Jacor Communications (a forerunner of current owner iHeartMedia). The sale resulted in a tightening of the format. KBCO DJs no longer have control over what they play except during special features. The playlist is chosen by the station's programming staff.
Current DJs include Bret Saunders, Ginger, Keefer, Robbyn Hart, Scott Arbough and Frank Bell. 
In 2005, KBCO received an experimental permit from the FCC and became the first FM radio station in the state of Colorado to implement "Multicasting." It airs two subchannels using the Ibquity Digital HD system. The station debuted an HD2 sub-channel playing only songs recorded in KBCO's "Studio C." The Studio C Channel is also available on KBCO's web site, along with the New Music Channel, an Internet channel playing all new releases.
- Official KBCO Website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KBCO
- Radio-Locator information on KBCO
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KBCO
- Query the FCC's FM station database for K231BQ
- Radio-Locator information on K231BQ
- Query the FCC's FM station database for K232AC
- Radio-Locator information on K232AC
- FCC history cards for KBCO
- Daily Camera Article About 2008 CD Sales
- Daily Camera Jan. 2010 article: KBCO to leave Boulder for new studio in Denver Tech Center