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Radio 1190 Music Director Jessi Whitten goes old-school and cues up a record to play on the air last fall.
Radio 1190 Music Director Jessi Whitten goes old-school and cues up a record to play on the air last fall.

There are a lots of radio stations in the Boulder and Denver market, but many students prefer to tune in to the University of Colorado’s super-hip Radio 1190.

The underground radio station — which broadcasts at 1190 AM and online at — is located in the basement of the University Memorial Center. CU students man the operation, and students and members of the community host many of the station’s favorite shows.

Tune in

Radio 1190 can be heard on an old-fashioned radio at 1190 AM or, more likely, on the Internets at To learn about volunteer opportunities or just harass the DJs, call 303-492-5031.

Best of ’09

The top 10 albums of 2009, as chosen by Radio 1190’s listeners and staff:

1. The Flaming Lips, Embryonic

2. The Very Best, Warm Heart of Africa

3. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca

4. Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs

5. Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest

6. J Dilla, Jay Stay Paid

7. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion

8. Built to Spill, There is No Enemy

9. Megafaun, Gather, Form & Fly

10. Brilliant Colors, Introducing

Whether your tastes run from indie rock to alt-country or hip-hop, Radio 1190 DJs specialize in airing the best new music hitting the scene.

To really amp things up, Radio 1190 hosts hundreds of concerts and events to create this very cool music community.

Mike Flanagan is Radio 1190’s general manager and he’s very proud of the indie station.

“Radio 1190 is a student-run, fully FCC-licensed broadcast facility here at the University of Colorado,” Flanagan said. “Our call letters are KCUV, but we’re known by our Radio 1190 brand.

“We just had our 10th anniversary, and we feature student DJs and specialty shows. We’re a very eclectic college radio format and we explore lots of new indie music.”

Radio 1190 has become one of the cutting edge radio stations in the Boulder/Denver market. This radio station plays a lot of artists before they hit national status.

A typical Radio 1190 daily playlist might include cuts by Animal Collective, The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead and Maps & Atlases.

“We play indie music that evades the mainstream,” Flanagan said. “We play bands before they end up on Letterman and Jay Leno. There are a lot of bands that we try to get on the air before you hear them any place else.

“We try to play music that’s on the cutting edge. That can be hip-hop, indie or rock. We play every genre under the sun.”

Speciality shows

Radio 1190 divides its airtime between DJs and the station’s very eclectic specialty shows.

The station features unique programs like the hip-hop show “Basementalism,” the Bollywood-flavored “Beats of the East” and the international music program “Culture Clash.”

“We have some very interesting specialty shows,” Flanagan said. “We have ‘Under the Covers’ that just plays cover songs. We also have the ‘Local Shakedown’ show every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

“We also have the ‘Zappa Hour,’ the ‘Krewe de Louisiane,’ ‘Uncle Jeff’s Route 78 West’ — and our ‘Basementalism’ underground hip-hop show.”

Meanwhile, the DJs air a mix of personal selections and the station’s newest music. The disc jockeys can pick their favorite cuts from the new music.

Eclectic sounds

Radio 1190 gears it musical sounds to an 18-to-24-year-old college demographic. However, Flanagan said Radio 1190 hears from listeners aged 40 to 60 during its pledge drives.

“People love the eclectic, inventive adventure of Radio 1190,” Flanagan said. “This is one of the few places on the dial where that spirit still lives. We have listeners of all ages that love the element of surprise of what we might play.

“We also play a lot of local music, and we have artists come in and play live. There aren’t a lot of radio stations where listeners can hear a concert live.”

Radio 1190 reaches out into the Boulder and Denver music communities by hosting a full schedule of concerts and events.

“We have a long-standing working relationship with many local clubs and theaters,” Flanagan said. “Presenting shows has become a main focal point of our promotional scheme. We have a nice edge, because we can play the band and then present them in concert.”

Here are some of the upcoming Radio 1190 concerts: Vampire Weekend at Red Rocks on Sept. 3, Sound Tribe Sector 9 at Red Rocks Sept. 10-11 and Menomena at the Fox Theatre on Sept. 21.

Helping out

Radio 1190 still needs money to run its operations, so the station hosts seasonal pledge drives. The fall pledge drive starts Oct. 1 and the station’s gearing up for the event.

“We are funded by the people that listen to us,” Flanagan said. “We get some student fees, but most of our operating expenses come from people that listen to us.

“The pledge drive is a wonderful way for people to help us pay our bills and become involved with the station. This is a great time of the year to get involved with Radio 1190 — and you can volunteer any time.”

Radio 1190 will host volunteer meetings the first two weeks of the semester.

Even if you don’t volunteer, you can hear Radio 1190 any place in the world. While the broadcasts from CU have limited ranges, the station can be heard 24/7 online at

“We got an e-mail from a soldier in Afghanistan that told us we keep him sane,” Flanagan said. “We also hear from people as far away as Yugoslavia and France.

“We’ve got quite the global community. There’s always something fresh, interesting and new on our airwaves.”

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