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Airwaves, a listener publication from Colorado Public Radio.


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In the last three years, CPR’s Annual Instrument Drive has collected more than 2,000 donated instruments and distributed many of them to deserving schools throughout Colorado. This year, listeners demonstrated incredible generosity, donating more than 750 instruments, which are now being repaired at the Colorado Institute of Musical Instrument Technology.

Some of those instruments came with handwritten notes from donors, including one from Jim Hidahl of Denver, who wanted to be sure the new caretaker of his baritone horn knew how much it meant to him. “I hope that you learn this instrument and get as much benefit from it as I did. Enjoy it and take care of it,” wrote Jim.

Teachers at schools that have been awarded instruments in past years have told us people like Jim are giving hundreds of students new opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Valerie White, a music teacher at Kit Carson Elementary, commented, “The impact these instruments will have on our students is immeasurable. They will help students gain confidence to take more musical risks at the upper levels, and will offer more opportunities for students at the lower levels. In a program that is striving for excellence, these donations help the students achieve their best.”

Instruments donated during the instrument drive will enable students to succeed in the classroom, but learning to play an instrument could also make a big difference in a child’s future. Jim Hidahl noted, “My parent’s insistence that I learn to play an instrument was among the most important things they did for me. It gave me an appreciation for music. I had opportunities in my continuing education because of that knowledge and skill…and I learned about the value of persistence.”

CPR is still accepting applications from schools interested in receiving donated instruments. If you'd like your school to be considered for these instruments, please submit an application by April 30.

Photo: Students from Kit Carson Elementary prepare for music class. Photo credit: Kit Carson Elementary.

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CPR News will provide a unique window into the world of Colorado business owners as part of a new series that focuses on job creation and business growth in Colorado. 

“Using the Public Insight Network (PIN), we’ve reached out to business owners here in Colorado to hear their stories,”
said Lee Hill, CPR's PIN reporter and analyst. “Our goal is to present different perspectives about government legislation and business, and also find out if lawmakers have been effective when it comes to helping local business owners create jobs.”

Listen for these stories on CPR’s news service over the coming months. If you’re a business owner, consider joining CPR’s growing Public Insight Network to tell us about your experience.

Photo: "Colorado Matters" host Ryan Warner interviews local business leaders Yosh Eisbart, Wy Livingston and Amanda O’Connor.

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It’s not an easy job, but selecting songs to add to the OpenAir music library is one that Music Director Jessi Whitten finds hugely rewarding. “Being the music director for a new-music station means non-stop research and exploration in order to dig up fresh projects, new releases and emerging sounds to add to our programming,” said Jessi. “Every day is different as the music library evolves and we discover new bands and genres.”

A typical day for Jessi starts with a listening session where she evaluates the stack of music submissions that have come in. “I'm listening closely to hear how the music fits with our programming and whether it has a place in the OpenAir library," said Jessi. "It’s a very different listening experience than if it were for pleasure because I have to consider so many factors—the audience, the time of day the music is suited for, the mood it incites, the bands or songs that would play alongside it, the value it brings to the Colorado community, and finally, I always ask the question, if I turned the dial to 1340 AM and heard this song, would I recognize that I was listening to OpenAir?” 

Jessi is also responsible for booking many of the studio recording sessions OpenAir broadcasts, which means she’s always networking to build relationships with bands and record labels. Last month, she traveled to Austin, Texas, with OpenAir Host and Web Director Brandee Castle to attend one of the county’s largest music festivals, South By Southwest. “It was a great experience because we got to meet so many bands and explore a lot of new music outside of Colorado,” said Jessi. “At a festival of that size, you can meet so many different people and I think we came back with a lot of good contacts that will help us add to the music library.”

Since returning from Austin, Jessi has been busy booking recording sessions with some of the bands she met, including Motopony, Chairlift, Caveman and Milagres.

Photo: Jessi Whitten.

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CPR Board member Bob Contiguglia spent nearly 40 years practicing medicine as a nephrologist. While his career was incredibly demanding, it didn’t prevent him from becoming a successful leader in the non-profit community.

Bob has served on CPR’s Board of Directors for the past four years. He has also held seats on the boards of U.S. Soccer, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, positions that have given him valuable experience as a non-profit leader at the national and international levels.

“It doesn’t matter if a board consists of 100 people from across the world, or a dozen people united by a common interest; the responsibilities are pretty similar—planning, budgeting and evaluating success—these things are all part of the job,” said Bob. “What makes a board effective is when the interests of each board member are solely focused on doing good for the organization, and I think that is certainly the case at Colorado Public Radio.”

Bob currently serves as chair of the Development Committee. In that role, he is focused on finding innovative ways to raise funds for CPR’s programs but continues to be surprised by the level of support CPR receives from listeners. “Listeners are incredibly loyal and passionate about CPR's services. It’s been really fun to be part of a growing organization that so many people value and trust.”

Looking forward, Bob sees a bright future for public radio. “The media landscape today is changing so dramatically, and CPR is one of the few outlets to address the need for quality journalism now, and in the future. We hear from listeners all the time who really depend on CPR’s programs, and I can’t see that changing, so I think the future looks very optimistic.”

Photo: CPR Board member Bob Contiguglia with the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy.