OURAY – She leans into the microphone, smiling in spite of the early hour, the threatening weather, and the fact that it is Monday. Inside this tiny basement radio studio in downtown Ouray, a logarithm of contentment pulses to the soft beat of electro-swing, the ooze of the blue lava lamp.
All is chill.
“It is right around 8:05 and this is Janet, live in the studio. If you want to hear anything, give me a call.”
Janet Dunham is the newest voice at Mountain Chill Radio, the independent radio station otherwise known as KRKQ 95.5 FM that hit the airwaves around Mountain Village, Norwood and Telluride last fall.
Brothers Ethan and Eric Funk started Mountain Chill as an Internet radio station several years ago. It was, more than anything, a way to provide sophisticated background music for their cerebral occupation as radio frequency engineers.
While Mountain Chill is new to the airwaves, it has already developed a reputation as “the planet’s destination for chill” – literally – over the past several years through its presence on the Internet. From Turin, Italy to Mallorca, Spain, from Stockholm to Sydney to Dublin and beyond, hundreds of listeners are tuned in at any given time at mountainchill.com or via i-Tunes (under the “ambient” music category) for their daily dose of chill.
Now that they’ve hit the big-time, with a recently acquired FCC permit and a transmitter atop Grayhead Mountain that allows Mountain Chill to be on the air as well as in the ether, the Funks have kept their day jobs, but stepped up their live DJ presence to include at least three live sets per day during the workweek.
To make it all happen, they needed to add another voice to the mix.
Enter Dunham. She has been a regular Mountain Chill listener and fan since it all began; she and husband Khris tune in via iTunes at their store, Khristopher’s Culinaire, on Main Street in Ouray. She also has the chill tunes dialed in when she’s at her other job, a work-from-home gig doing key-wording for a photo agency in upstate New York.
“It’s kind of always on, which is nice,” she said. “Chill is an addicting genre. It’s mellow enough not to interfere in your thought process.”
Dunham always wanted to be on the radio. For a while, she had her own show on KURA, Ouray’s student-run public radio station.
“So we thought of her for our morning show,” Eric said. “She's been doing a great job.”
“I love doing this,” Dunham said. “Getting this opportunity here is so amazing.” Her show, Morning Drive Time, airs Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. “We have listeners from everywhere,” she said. “I get a lot of emails from Europe, which is very cool, because it makes it seem like the world is so small. I’ve gotten emails from Switzerland and Australia, Berlin – just random places.”
And, Dunham adds, “You don’t know how many people are listening on the dial; you just don’t know how many people are out there.”
Her mix is chill, yet upbeat, and frequently reveals her weakness for the genre of electro-swing, and a band called Parov Stelar. “There’s also a lot of reggae. I really like remixes. I just like to wake people up a little bit,” she said.
Dunham’s got a great radio voice. It’s warm and smooth, well modulated, as if generated from strands of the bed music that plays behind her while she’s talking.
“Khris calls it my velvet voice,” she laughs. “I tell him, ‘That’s not the Jersey you get at home, let me tell ya.’”