- CASEY BRADLEY GENT
- Michael Luper
When it comes to the titles of hip-hop anthems like Nicki Minaj's "Blazin" and Wiz Khalifa's "Still Blazin," it's not very hard to figure out what the songs are celebrating. But when it comes to radio station names, the management at Blazin 98.5 FM would like you to consider other possible connotations.
"Yes, I know it's called Blazin, and I know that's how it started, and that was kind of the direction they were going," says General Manager Michael Luper. "But, at the end of the day, I don't want it to be misinterpreted. We're not a marijuana station. We're promoting the blazin' music."
Which is not to say that Blazin is abandoning its 420-friendly followers. Dispensaries continue to be among the station's primary advertisers, and a main focus of its Daily Dose Talk Show (which actually only airs Saturday mornings). Luper says he's proud of the fact that the station has been "blazing a trail" in a market that's been slow to recognize Colorado's booming cannabis industry.
Still, the station has come a long way since parent company SoCo Radio first tested the market in 2015 with its short-lived K-HIGH, an AM station whose "all pot-talk, all the time" format featured shows like Wake N Bake, High Noon and Let's Hash It Out. In a CBS This Morning interview at the time, SoCo Radio president Mike Knar described himself as a conservative Republican who'd reversed his views on cannabis after his son, who'd had violent reactions to chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, responded positively to synthetic medical marijuana.
K-HIGH soon went internet-only — and is now just an online ghost site — but the company returned last May with Blazin 98.5. While the new FM station initially brought on board a few of its predecessor's on-air personalities, the music-to-talk ratio has increased exponentially.
"It's always been a good station, but you always want to get better," says SoCo VP Marty Celano, who brought Luper on as station manager two months ago. "I knew he would come in with not only the knowledge, which is the main thing, but also his management ability and his military background. Those are things that I've always looked for."
And while ads with the words "no red card needed" won't be disappearing from the Blazin airwaves anytime soon, some of the currently airing station ID's — like one with coughing sounds that brags "we're so hot with hits, we're smoking" — most likely will.