Denver jazz station KUVO appoints Nikki Swarn as next general manager

Swarn follows in the footsteps of longtime General Manager Carlos Lando.

The Rocky Mountain Public Media headquarters, September 20, 2022. Kyle Harris/Denverite

The Rocky Mountain Public Media headquarters, September 20, 2022. Kyle Harris/Denverite

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Nikki Swarn, who founded the public hip-hop and R&B radio station The Drop in 2019, has been appointed by Rocky Mountain Public Media to serve as general manager for both that project and Denver’s legacy jazz station KUVO.

Her career in jazz radio dates back to KHIH jazz in Denver. Since then, she’s held leadership roles at KS 107.5, KYGO, ESPN, and Alice 105.9. She’s the first African American woman to hold a general manager position at a radio station in Colorado, according to an announcement by Rocky Mountain Public Media.

“I am humbled and honored to serve our Colorado community in this capacity. The impact that KUVO has stretches beyond our state borders as we share a love for community, culture, and music with the world,” Swarn said in a statement. “Together in concert, both stations remain committed to developing and delivering content that explores and shares community voices and perspectives by providing platforms for access and authenticity.”

Flo Hernandez-Ramos at home in Denver's Highland neighborhood. Aug. 4, 2022.

Flo Hernandez-Ramos at home in Denver's Highland neighborhood. Aug. 4, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Swarn will be joined by KUVO founder Flo Hernandez-Ramos, who will be returning to the organization to take on the role of strategy and team-building consultant and to serve on the Rocky Mountain Public Media board of directors.

Outgoing KUVO General Manager Carlos Lando will continue to host “The Morning Set with Carlos Lando” and work as a senior radio advisor for Rocky Mountain Public Media.

“Nikki, Carlos and Flo all bring with them knowledge of the past, present and future of KUVO,” says Rocky Mountain Public Media President and CEO Amanda Mountain, in a statement. “Together, we are building bridges between our organization and our communities to create true co-ownership of Rocky Mountain Public Media that supports our continued relevancy and expands positive community impact.”

KUVO, which fired legacy DJs this year, has been criticized online and at community meetings by longtime donors and supporters.

A community meeting about the state of KUVO, September 20, 2022. Kyle Harris/Denverite

A community meeting about the state of KUVO, September 20, 2022. Kyle Harris/Denverite

Criticisms ranged from frustrations with how the station decided who would stay on air and who would leave, how management treated employees, and changes in programming designed to attract a younger demographic that some listeners characterized as too much “smooth jazz.”

Swarn, who participated in community meetings about KUVO’s vision, said she’s ready to engage the wider community as the station evolves.

“I’m excited to continue collaborating with THE DROP and KUVO teams as we strengthen our community relationships and earn trust,” she said. “It is our hope that, through active engagement and listening, we inspire excellence, nurture emerging artists, and cultivate relevant content and connections with those whom we serve.”

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