Colorado Public Radio shines a light on local Black artists during Black History Month


Image via Shelby O’Brien

Music shines a light on Black History Month.

When it comes to local radio, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) is taking charge and creating a wider path for inclusivity and cultural acceptance. In honor of Black History Month, four radio stations connected with CPR — CPR News, CPR ClassicalIndie 102.3 and KRCC (Colorado Springs) — are highlighting older and newer Black artists for the whole month of February.

In 2022, The Arapahoe Pinnacle got to chat with Indie 102.3 program director, Willobee Carlan, about how CPR celebrates Black History month.

“The way we celebrate Black History Month aligns with our missions of diversity, inclusivity and equality,” Carlan said. “The hosts pick an artist they want to talk about and then they write these 1-minute blurbs… then we play their music every day for the whole month.”

CPR has pieced together a Black History Classical Events Calendar with various concerts around the state throughout the month. CPR Classical will highlight Black History Month with features each day at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“We don’t stop at just the on-air programming we also have created a companion piece on our website,” Carlan said. “[We made a] Spotify playlist for the month that the hosts have curated and on social media our social media director has been doing a series this month on up-and-coming Black artists.”

One of those playlists on Spotify is called Power of the Music Vol. 3.


Not only are they shining a light on well-known Black artists who made such a significant impact in the music industry, CPR is also giving unknown artists the chance to be seen. CPR has a project every month called The Local 303.

The project highlights local artists, who were either born in Colorado or live there now, and gives them publicity and the chance to perform. This month will include hip-hop artists like Katana Da Don, At’Eaze, Nahkeem, and Chris Cart3r, soul and jazz singer DZIRAE GOLD, and Jaiel from the pop genre, according to Alisha Sweeney’s February Local 303 post.

For Carlan, the overall goal for CPR is clear: “[What we] are trying to do is cast a wider net for folks who listen to the radio to expose them to more types of music they might not necessarily get anywhere else.”

When it comes to radio, the listeners play a huge role in whether or not the station will be successful. It can be hard to maintain an audience when the style of music vastly changes from one song to the next.

“The response is very positive. I think in this day and age and in this climate, it would be hard to find anybody who is against what we are doing,” Carlan said. “We don’t change our format. We try to fold in everything else we do while adding to our programming.”

Carlan went on to explain that CPR likes to expose the audience to something they have never heard before while also playing songs the audience will most likely know and are familiar with.

Not only does CPR celebrate Black History Month but they also celebrate other events including but not limited to Pride Week, Woman’s History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.