10 Questions with ... Bret Saunders
February 6, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have been going at it since I was 14 on my high school radio station. The last 14 of them have been with the all-powerful KBCO.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
The AM radio stations of the '70s, such as WLS/Chicago and CKLW and WXYZ/Detroit made a huge impression on me as a kid. I've wanted to be a part of this since I was 12.
2. Who are/were your mentors?
There are so many. Growing up it was Dick Purtan, Doug Podell, Howard Stern and a man who went by the name of The Electrifying Mojo in Detroit. When I think about the powerful persona he created ... he was absolutely the best. I did get to meet him later in my career, but none of the others. I suppose that I've learned from just about everyone I've worked for and with. I'm still inspired by the work of Terry Gross and Ira Glass on NPR. Of course, the KBCO air staff is terrific. I'm also fond of whoever is on WFMU in New Jersey right now. The people on that station do what they do for love and I respect that.
3. How many years have you been doing mornings at KBCO now?
If I'm still around in August, it will be 15 years.
4. How has the show evolved over the years?
It's better prepared and focused than when I started. I would like to think that I am more comfortable ... and funnier. Show prep is still the key so you can depart from there.
5. What do you like best about your job?
It's fun. The listeners surprise me and there's an intellectual energy I get to tap into.
6. What has been your biggest career highlight?
I suppose I should say something about going to some rock star's house or interviewing some world-changer. But the truth is I will never forget the first time I was involved in getting to #1 in the 25-54 demo. It was in the summer of 1999. We went to The Rio in Boulder to celebrate. A wonderful day and with a great team -- many of whom are still on board.
7. How do you interact with the others on your show such as Robbyn and The Sage?
Robbyn Hart and I have known each other since before we worked together at KBCO, so the friendship helps. She's one of the most effervescent personalities I've ever known. The Sage of World-Class Rock is my alter ego. I decided early on that I wouldn't be changing my voice for that, so he sounds exactly like me. He is a music trivia buff and frankly something of a know-it-all creep. Sometimes I wish that he would go away. But listeners come back and attempt to do battle with him every week. He even has his own cape and turban. That horrible bit has lasted 14 years.
8. How do you and producer Chris Griffin coordinate your efforts together?
We talk every day. Chris is instrumental in coming up with ideas and keeping me on track. We work with the brilliant programmer, Scott Arbough,to make this thing work.
9. What charity events/organizations are you involved with?
My son has autism, so I've worked with a lot of autism-related charities. I have a better understanding of the difficulties people with disabilities face than I did 10 years ago. I have been working with Food Bank of The Rockies and Volunteers of America for a while. I actually feel terrible that I can't help everyone who asks. That sounds arrogant to me and I feel terribly about that as well.
10. Tell us about your blog for the Denver Post.
I learned about jazz in high school and have always been really attracted to that creative freedom. In 2000 I started writing about jazz for the Denver Post, and my column runs in the paper every other Sunday. Talking with some of those creative-genius-types really makes me nervous, but I like going out of my depth sometimes.
Last non-industry job:
In the warehouse for the first Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor; late '80s.
The Blues Brothers (w/John Belushi) at Pine Knob in Michigan. 1979, maybe? I thought that they were so good until I heard the real thing.
Favorite band of all-time:
Impossible to answer. Funkadelic/The Stooges/Sun Ra Arkestra/Yo La Tengo/Ornette Coleman Quartet/NRBQ/Sonic Youth/James Brown/Sonny Rollins, etc.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I am trying to be a good father to my son. And nothing beats music. I have taken to running; it's pretty good.