New jazz radio show The Morning Set launches this week
“Yes [musicians] are honest about what they do, then you experience what’s inside their soul,” Lando says.
He explains that the same principle applies to radio, a medium with which he has worked for fifty years. He’s loved it ever since he bought his first Silvertone radio as a teenager in Puerto Rico, where he grew up.
“I’m really serious about how I reconnect with our community,” he says. “Not just musically, but the things that happen in the community.”
Lando wants to bring that community spirit to The whole morning. As a starting point, the show will focus on the people who come together under the flag of jazz and have them tell their stories.
“Where’s Denver’s Jazz Legacy?” he asks. “Where did it come from? Why do we have this dynamic scene today? Well, give credit where credit is due: Five Points. Five Points is the essence of everything we do around of what we call jazz.
Denver’s jazz scene originated in Five Points, says Lando, the historically black neighborhood on the north end of Denver. He also wants to celebrate the origins of the city’s Latin music, which comes from a slightly different field. While Lando sees The whole morning as music rather than a talk show, it will also be a forum for Denver’s various underrepresented communities, covering both light topics, such as the Mexican rodeo coming to town, and serious topics, including including gentrification at Curtis Park or violence in the city.
“What’s going on at Curtis Park?” he says. “What happens in Five Points? What’s going on at Aurora? These things are important. These are short types of informative dialogues that I or a guest would have that we need to make sure people in our community are aware. … We just want to be there as a resource.
Lando adds that while jazz will form the backbone of the show, he wants the music to remain diverse. He sees other people from the station — which has more than three dozen hosts — come on the show and bring everything from Brazilian music to Southwestern Mexican music. The station also plays tons of local artists and strives to be open to different sounds.
“If you have something worth hearing and technically the recording sounds good and it’s all there performance-wise, we try not to be subjective,” he says. . “Music is subjective, but we just try to say, ‘It sounds good.’ Let’s see what people think if we release it.
Lando was first exposed to radio as a child. His father, a career soldier, introduced him to music from an early age. The Army Radio Service also had to cater to a wide variety of tastes, so Lando took on a wealth of help. “I heard country and I heard soul,” he recalls. “My dad was hearing some of this stuff early on, some of it just from where he was stationed, but mostly from the radio.”
His father, also a big music lover, played records on his day off to relax, showing his son the music he loved in his youth.
“You work hard for your family, and you come home and go to bed,” Lando says. “However, on Saturday mornings, when it was your time, you put on the record player. And you play that music that you grew up listening to on the radio. It was important. Records were a big deal.”
Radio drew Lando to jazz, and he enjoys all varieties of the expansive genre. But it was more than music he heard.
“I enjoyed the music,” he recalls. “But then I started to appreciate the hosts, the people on the radio who made me appreciate the music. I said, ‘Wow, I can do this. I want to do this.'”
It first aired in Puerto Rico in 1968 and worked on the island and New York State for several years before moving to Colorado in the early 1980s. He has worked for KUVO since 1987 and was the general manager of the non-profit radio station for the past decade.
Lando says he was fortunate to have worked at radio stations that put the community first. It’s important to have a dialogue with the community you serve, he says, so that the station and the community are in tune with each other. This operating principle means that he has always been attracted to public radio. KUVO, which began in 1985, was the first Latino-controlled radio station in Denver and produced material relevant to that community that had often been ignored.
“That’s how KUVO started,” Lando says. “It evolved into other things, but musically speaking, we’re probably the most diverse music station under the jazz label that you’re going to find on the planet.”
The whole morning premieres Monday, March 28 and plays weekdays from 7-10 a.m. on KUVO Jazz 89.3.