Day 5: Jack FM
There's a lot of radio to choose from in Denver, but there's only one station named Jack. Jack FM is known for a very eclectic playlist and smart-alec announcer known for such phrases as:
'Thanks for listening to Jack FM...and thanks for exhaling to keep all those plants alive.'
Full disclosure. I'm a big fan of Jack FM, and not just because of the name. So I was pretty excited to go behind the scenes of the station, which is tucked away in a non-descript office building in southeast Denver.
My excitement turned into the acceptance of modern radio's bitter truth. No DJ's. It's all run by computer. Jack FM receptionist and sales associate Lisa Olander says most fans of the station haven't a clue.
" I think its'a surprise.," she said. "A lot of people when I take them on tours of the studio and I show it to them (they say) 'Oh My Gosh! I can't believe there's no DJ's live here?'
But what about that announcer guy, that Jack you hear all the time saying 'Jack FM, playing what we want.' Big surprise. His name isn't Jack, it's Howard. And he lives in L.A. There's not even a picture to show. Just a kingly looking Jack character on a playing card in dark glasses. Scary.
"He was actually a radio guy," according to Jack FM founding partner Garry Wall. "He was a DJ at about six different radio stations. He couldn't hold a job. He was a know it all and he would insult all the program directors."
"When we were launching this station, we said we don't have a voice," Wall said. "And the program director said, I know this guy, he's a friend of mine, but I fired him already!"
He's got a job now. He's heard at Denver's Jack FM, and at Jack FM's all over the country. A set of writers comes up with all the snappy sayings. Denver was the first Jack FM in the U.S. and since then, Jack has gone global.
"Jack is now in Germany, its in Russia, its in Vienna, the U.K.," Wall explained. "We're about to go into Italy and Greece."
So what makes it work? Ask Tom Manoogian. You know him best as Lou From Littleton (the radio personality who calls everybody 'cuz). A few years ago, he and some investors bought Denver's Jack from that rich guy Phil Anschutz who wanted to get out of the radio business.
Tom and the investors got a pretty good deal. And the formula that worked then, is the same one that works now. "We play the music we want, 80's, 90's, current," Manoogian said. "You hear the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, the Fray, with no DJ's."
"It's kind of like hearing you own iPod in your car," he told me. "No chatter and all music. Listeners seem to really like that."
Manoogian's a smart guy. He also put a couple of other radio stations under Jack's roof, including sports talker 102.3 The Ticket. That one's done the old school way with live announcers, tech staff and callers.
But getting back to Jack FM. Why in the heck name it Jack?
"Why not? It's so easy!" according to Garry Wall. But Manoogian has a different answer. "The bottom line is that, the reason the station is named Jack FM," he said, pointing to yours truly,"is because of you!"
So what did you think? Did you like our Jack Series? Let me know by clicking on my byline. I'm the only Jack at the station. And I'm on Facebook too. See you next time.
Day 4: Jack Soehner
This is the story of Colorado karate kid, who's been a fighter from the very start. His name is Jack Soehner and most days you'll find him sparring with his brothers in the Soehner basement or backyard. They're all full of energy, fun, and mischief, and every single one of his brothers is a karate kid too.
Their martial arts skills have led to a full set of trophies and honors on the Soehner living room mantel, and there's not a lot of room left. The Soehner boys are very accomplished. Jack's a high blue belt, and for those non-karate types like me, that means he's pretty darn good.
One of the karate movements Jack practices all the time involves a set of breath control exercises designed to build energy and to develop control. But breathing didn't always come this easy to Jack. Shortly after birth, he was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV. This respiratory virus infects the lungs of babies and it can be devastating.
Jack's mom Bernadette told me that Jack spent most of his first year of life in the hospital. Some of his baby pictures tell it best. His little body was patched in to all kinds of tubes and machines. The scarring of Jack's airway from the virus led to 18 surgeries.
But Jack fought back. His mom calls him a huge trooper who not only survived, but thrived. As he grew, and as he became stronger, his parents decided to let Jack, be Jack, including signing him up for hockey and martial arts.
It's not all non-stop activity. Sometimes, letting Jack, be Jack means letting him have some downtime too. Jack's brothers make sure of that. "There's still that side," explained Bernadette. "They do watch him. They do take care of him. If he starts coughing, everything stops.
Ask Jack what he thinks of those protective brothers of his, and he'll give you a huge grin. "I love them!" he said. Looking at Jack today, you'd never know the fight he put up. just to be here. But there is one difference that sets him apart from other boys his age;a very subtle, but important difference.
"His outlook on things from that is huge," said Bernadette. "Everything's a stepping stone that leads to a good ending."
Day 3: Jack Hadley
Everybody knows El Chapultepec is the place to go on Saturday night if music's your thing. The 'Pec has pretty much stayed the same since it opened in LoDo back in '33. All the greats have played there. On this night, it's Jack Hadley's turn to be great.
It's just Jack, his stratocaster, and a trio. "I always have a trio, and I always try to work with the best guys that I can," Jack explains.
He wasn't always a music-maker. In fact, he's something of a late bloomer. "My background is actually in graphic design and art. I was in the advertising business for a long time." Jack told me.
He still does a bit of that, and some guitar tutoring to help pay the bills. Lots of long days that often don't end until 3 a.m.
But the payoff? Just take a good look at his face when he's up on stage, and the faces of the people out there in the dark who come to hear him play.
"Even if I don't remember the words, or I screw something else up, if I feel like I'm connecting to my instrument, that's where I go." Jack doesn't read music. He says he doesn't need to.
And that connection he often talks about started with the kind of music collection you might have had too. "Hendrix, rhythm and blues, soul music. But really what it comes down to is that I didn't realize until much later, that it all came out of the blues."
He's played festivals, and he's got more of those to come plus a pretty sweet gig in Chicago. But his heart, his soul and his guitar belong to Colorado, and a little place downtown called the 'Pec.
Day 2: Jack Murphy
Whenever you see a white van, a tall ladder, and a strapping big guy in a plaid shirt and knit cap hard at work, chances are it's Jack Murphy, doing a little bit of squirrel wrangling. Jack runs Urban Wildlife Rescue, and his goal is to rid your home of squirrels and other animal invaders non-lethally.
"I've been around animals all my life." Jack explained. "I was raised on the East coast, but right near the forest. I spent the first 30 years of my working life as a professional drummer. Then in the late 80's my wife and I decided to get into wildlife rehabilitation."
Jack says his number one goal is to educate people, even if that means talking himself out of a customer. "On a certain percentage of the calls people will have a squirrel in their attic, a skunk on their porch...I will explain if they want to do it themselves, they can sure try."
But most of the time, people would rather have Jack do it. "I really like doing it because it helps the animals. It's an alternative to the traditional way, which I think is very antiquated," he explained.
"The traditional way of just trapping animals and moving them around. We know now from science most animals that are relocated have a lousy survival rate and the method I use does not relocate any animals," he said.
"If they're living in the roof, I get them out of the roof, if they're living under a porch I get them out from under the porch, they can decide what they want to do next, but that way they're still in the same habitat and they're not being moved around or shuffled around."
In some cases, Jack uses a squirrel-blocker made of wire. He places it between the unwanted nest they've built in a person's home, and the tree they should be living in. Most of the time, it works just fine and the squirrels end up leaving.
Jack says he believes along the lines of Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sagan, that a mammal is a mammal. "Anything that is on this planet alive has as much of a right to be here as I do and I try and treat everything with that respect."
Of course that doesn't mean the animals always treat him the same way. He's been bitten plenty over the years. "A raccoon bite isn't bad, it's quick and then they stop and you're bleeding for a little bit. Most members of the weasel family, I've been bit by a couple of different weasels, a mink they're bad, and a skunk bite can be a little nasty, but the worst all time bite is a squirrel," he explained.
Despite that, Jack says he really feels good about his work. "I help a lot of animals out and it helps a lot of people out too, and nobody gets hurt."
To learn more about Urban Wildlife Rescue, please visit:
Day One: Jack Miller
I love hitting the road, especially when that road leads me to a place like Steamers Coffeehouse in Arvada. Jack Miller runs it, and he staffs it with the developmentally disabled.
"It started out as a small coffee shop, back in the day," Jack told me. "My background is I was an Olympic ski racer (Calgary '88), and from there I moved down to the front range, kind of owned some real estate offices, and became a real estate investor."
Jack noticed a small commercial building for sale and inside that building was a coffee shop. "I spoke to my wife Athan and I said 'You know it would be pretty cool to have a coffee shop and we can hire some developmentally disabled folks and make a go at it."
In the beginning, receipts were a whopping fifty dollars a day. Many months and three moves later, Jacks and Steamers Coffee House was born. Jack says he only wants to make enough money to keep the lights on, and to offer opportunities to people that might not get the chance otherwise.
"If they do, it's some sheltered workshop putting widgets together," Jack said. "Here, our employees get to meet the public... they're out in public while they're here. You know it's really neat for them, they get to learn a ton and also our customers that come in, it's real enjoyable for them."
Jack has partnered with Scott Parker, owner of Parker personal care homes in Arvada to make it all happen.
Jack says every single employee is a star in their own way. That's why he's devoted an entire wall of the place to their pictures. "It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's neat to see them grow and learn new skills, and you know some days it's interesting and you'd be surprised of some of the crazy things that happened in here, but you know it's just real satisfying as the owner to see the growth in these individuals and how satisfying it becomes for them."
Learn more about Steamers by visiting:
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