The poster above hung in my house and then at Twist & Shout for years.
When I first moved to Denver in 1968, it was not at the forefront of hip and trendy the way it is now. At that time, it was on the back end of being a Cowtown, and while there was a culture counter to the norm, you had to look for it. Beginning in April of 1971, hipsters with their ears to the ground started finding out about KFML radio. A freeform, underground, radical radio station, broadcasting from the University of Denver neighborhood, it is not an exaggeration to say it changed my life and helped form the person I became. I was just a teenager at the time, but KFML seemed to point the way to a cooler, young-adulthood right around the corner. The music they played was sublime—the most cutting of the cutting-edge juxtaposed with unexpected throwbacks. (I remember a Sinatra song being sandwiched between The Chambers Brothers and Frank Zappa in one late-night set). It was surreal comedy, political commentary and lots of hippie ‘wink-wink’ to a knowing and willing listening audience.
KFML had a show called High Street where they would choose an old movie on local TV and have the listeners turn the sound on the TV down and the sound on KFML up. The deejays would voice-over the movie in what seemed to me at the time to be the most subversive thing ever. I couldn’t believe they were getting away with it. In addition, they broadcast live concerts, which was a gift from the heavens for someone too young to get into clubs. I still have the tapes I made of King Crimson and David Bromberg off KFML broadcasts.
KFML was one of the formative stepping stones pushing Denver from Hicksville to Happenin’ Town in the 60s and 70s. Having an underground radio station that so accurately reflected the youth community of the times was a tangible sign of Denver changing with the times. Many of the people involved with the station continued to be movers and shakers in local and national media, making KFML an important historical marker in any number of ways. If you’d like to learn more about the history of this great station, check out this website: http://www.kfml.org/.
One person involved with KFML back in the day was James Pagliasotti, who was also the first rock and roll critic for The Denver Post. Today, Jim just launched a new website called Radical Radio (www.radicalradio.media) which delves into the phenomenon of underground radio in general. The site has a big focus on KFML, including lots of samples of radio and music, along with loads of information and interviews, including one with yours-truly about being a listener.
Jim also wrote a book I recommend about growing up in Denver/Boulder and being part of the beautiful scene that he helped create. It’s called What It Was: Growing Up When The Music Mattered. If you spent any time in Denver/Boulder in those years, this book will stir a lot of memories and feelings.
– Paul Epstein, Co-Chair, Colorado Music Hall of Fame; founder/former owner of Twist & Shout; music historian and archivist
“I moved to Colorado in 1968 and started going to concerts almost immediately. I eagerly grabbed posters, flyers, ticket stubs, advertisements, concert recordings, pretty much any proof I could find that the event happened. In 1988, I started a record store called Twist & Shout, and my collecting of memorabilia went into even higher gear. Over the next 34 years, I had rare access to memorabilia of all types and sizes. Now that I’ve retired, the time seems right to start sharing these things, and the stories that go with them. So, every other Tuesday, I will ask you to Let Me Take You Down (to the basement) to check out some of the good stuff!” – Paul Epstein