Left, Right, and Long Form: From FSTV to Wired and Vanity Fair, Colorado Writers and Journalists Are Tapping New Audiences

May 6 2011, 9:10 AM

The staff of Denver-based Free Speech TV is up-front and unapologetic about its liberal point of view. "We are progressive in our politics, critical of the Obama administration when we need to be, not wedded to any unit of the Democratic Party," says executive director Don Rojas, who has earned the support of various high-profile community members, like former mayors Federico Peña and Wellington Webb, since he's been at the helm of the humble but steadfast station (Denver Post). That assistance has come in the form of letters to cable giant Comcast, which has "promised" to bring on new special-interest channels, including those that cater to minorities, as part of Comcast's government-approved acquisition of NBC Universal.

Although the station has been around since 1995, it's repositioning itself as the "anti-Fox" with original programming that may come to include an arrangement with various new lefty personalities from across the globe and even locally, such as man-of-many-progressive-media-talents (talk radio host, author, talking head, columnist) David Sirota.

Sirota, whose latest book has received a good amount of national attention, has seen a ratings boom at his AM-760 morning show thanks to female listeners—a rare demographic in the realm of talk radio, points out Westword blogger and longtime media critic Michael Roberts. On the other side of the political divide, Roberts also talks with David Harsanyi, the former conservative Denver Post columnist who traded his gig at the local daily to write for Glenn Beck's new online endeavor, The Blaze. Harsanyi is betting Beck's site will bring him a larger audience than the Post could have, although numbers released earlier this week from ABC put the paper's digital-edition circulation at the fourth-highest in the country (Denver Business Journal).

Leaving the partisan politics behind, 5280's Maximillian Potter and Westword's Joel Warner are representing this month in the long-form category with articles in Vanity Fair and Wired, respectively. Potter's VF composition took him to the vineyards of Burgundy, where he dug into an "unprecedented" crime that threatened to kill the precious vines of the exclusive Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Warner, meanwhile, stayed stateside for his Wired article, which follows University of Colorado Boulder professor Peter McGraw as he applies his Grand Unified Theory of humor (aka the benign violation theory) to find out what makes things funny—or not so funny.

Potter discussed his story (as well as his feature in last month's 5280) with the podcasters at the Denver Diatribe recently. Among the hosts is Warner, who also fills a guest spot on Wired's Storyboard podcast this week.