"Music is spiritual. The music business is not." - Van Morrison
Enter Carmen Allgood, the first DJ in America to produce a commercial, independent radio show. Producer and host, Carmen has been doing this since 1986, first with the Colorado Wave and then moving on to an international audience with the Indie Music Wave. Her "homegrown music showcase" has featured over 15,000 independent artists and has more than 200 broadcasting affiliates.
Carmen answered a few questions recently about the Wave, music trends and the local scene in Denver...
Q: When & why did you start The Colorado Wave? Can you tell me a little about your background?
Carmen: That’s a loaded question. In a previous life, I was a late night DJ at a Classic Rock station in OKC – in the mid-80’s. I frequented a tiny little night club on Paseo Street and heard some of the most amazing music, and was in a position to at least toy with the idea of producing an independent music radio show. First thing I did was appeal to the greedy side of radio, lined up a bunch of sponsors, went to the General Manager and said: “Look at all this money!” and started the Homegrown Artists Hour on KKLR 97.7 FM.
This was just before the advent of CD’s, so all the material I received was on vinyl or cassette tape. I ran the show for a couple of years on Saturdays at midnight, upped the ante with the sponsors, and re-broadcast the show on Sundays at 6 PM. Far as I know, this was the first commercial, independent music radio show in the world, and was actually quite a hit and very profitable for the station as well.
Fast forward – I moved to Colorado in 1989, ran a vegetarian restaurant and natural foods store during the 90’s, but my true passion and calling is in broadcasting. During the 90’s I kept my feet wet by hanging out at KGNU off and on, and in 2000 found this little station in the mountains, put out a call for music through COMA – The Colorado Music Association, now known as COMBO, and the music started pouring in. This show was named The Colorado Wave and was a weekly, one hour show. Once a month I would produce a 3 hour live show called The Tidal Wave, featuring all Colorado bands.
In 2002 I slid down the hill into Denver, and banged on the door of KQMT 99.5 FM – The Mountain, and kept knocking for 7 months until I landed a show on Monday nights at 11 PM. That show is still called Mountain Homegrown. Long story longer, I decided to give syndication a shot, and set sail in 2005 with The Colorado Wave, once again. After a couple of years it occurred to me that it would make more sense to produce a show that would be easier to shop outside of the state if I used a different name – thus Indie Music Wave. IMW actually describes what the show is, so that has made life easier. I don’t push The Colorado Wave anymore, and in fact just picked up a station in Summit County – KMPB 88.7 FM and 100.7 FM that carries Indie Music Wave. KMPB runs the shows Saturday at 7 PM and Sunday at 9 PM.
Q: What markets do you serve? Can you describe your services?
Carmen: The Wavez are carried on multiple cross-platforms – AM and FM terrestrial radio, streaming stations, mobile, podcasts, on demand, and have an estimated general audience of 300,000 listeners per week all over the world. The Internet, needless to say, has been great for all artists, including myself. No boundaries, no lines, and no one to tell you: “Hell no! You won’t glow!” The shows are released to about 200 broadcasting platforms each week. New music discovery is certainly a red hot buzz word on the planet right now, and I’m all for it. The primary focus and service provided by my shows is to give
independent artists from around the world a credible, well-recognized program on which to showcase their music with a bunch of other famous unknowns.
Q: What are the advantages & disadvantages of your format? What would you like to change?
Carmen: I don’t think of these shows in terms of disadvantages. The obvious advantage is that I provide an outlet for indie artists to be heard on a show that’s carried by a lot of stations around the world. The stations like it because they don’t have to produce these shows, and they get a top-notch program that features a lot of great music that you can’t hear on most commercial stations. My personal bennie is that I get a lot of free music! And it keeps me in radio. It’s a win-win-win situation for all involved.
Q: Where would you like to see the Wave in 3 years?
Carmen: In my dreams, I’d love to see Indie Music Wave on about 600 stations. Never hurts to dream big, does it? I don’t spend nearly enough time on the syndication – so if anyone out there is reading this, and think you might like to tackle this end of the business – please contact me! Just in the US – there are more than 14,000 terrestrial radio stations, so that’s a lot of room for growth.
Q: Who are some of your favorite local music acts?
Carmen: Boy, there are so many great artists in our neighborhood, and I love all of them. We could write a novel here so the best bet is just to tune in to a show and let the music speak for me and for itself.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on the local music scene? What do you like & dislike & what would you change if you could?
Carmen: I’m not a musician, and this is why I play other peoples music. It must be tough being an artist – trying to book yourself, promote, get paid a decent wage, and keep the band energized and together. I frequent quite a few social networking sites to try to get a handle on the ‘scene’ and learn something everyday. I don’t think I’m in a position to change anything about the local scene, and certainly don’t have any judgments about it. Best I can do is try to present as many bands in a positive light to the biggest audience I can muster up, and hope it makes people happy.
Q: Anything else you'd like the public to know about your enterprise?
Carmen: Sure – tune in, turn on, turn it up! The biggest surprise any listener garners from tuning into these shows is how awesome the music is. No… really! If you’re a musician, music submission guidelines are on the Band and Pro Biz page on my website. The other side of the coin is that music is one of the biggest things the world has going for it in terms of generating happiness and unity around the world. Quite frankly, it’s the only thing we will listen to, and makes the world a better place in which to live. Stay tuned!