TELLURIDE – KOTO Special Events Director Janice “Jumpin’ Jan” Zink resigned on Tuesday, Jan. 7, after ten years on staff at the radio station where she began DJ-ing in 1979.
Zink’s resignation came after the radio station’s seven-member board presented her with a scaled-down contract for 2014, with just four locked-in special events (the Ride, Duck Race, Ski Swap and Lip Synch) and a significant pay cut.
In a phone conversation this week, Zink recalled her introduction to Telluride’s “non-commercial, non-under-written radio station” came during her first visit to Telluride, in 1978.
“Why is everybody playing the same music?” she asked real-estate broker Mavis Bennett after hearing “the same Beatles song” playing all over town.
“That’s KOTO, our local radio station,” Bennett told her. “I’m one of their DJs.”
By 1979, Zink was a KOTO DJ; soon, she was volunteering for KOTO special events, as well, ranging from the November Ski Swap to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival KOTO Beer Booth.
In 1994, Zink came onboard as a regular employee, and was soon presiding over a roster of special events, from DJ Day to the KOTO Black Bean Saute, the end-of-ski-season Street Dance, Duck Race, Halloween Party and Lip Synch, and adding, in recent years, two KOTO-staged summer concerts, the Ride and the Doo-Dah.
KOTO Executive Director Dina Coates Koebler said that Zink’s departure comes at a time of “restructuring.”
The board wants to continue the KOTO Halloween Party and end-of-ski-season KOTO Street Dance, Koebler said, and “we are actively pursuing some partners” for those two fundraisers “because we know that it’s really part of the tradition here. But we need to restructure it to where we don’t have all the financial risk.”
Zink’s departure “was a choice,” Koebler added. “Janice made her choice. We certainly respect the choice that she made, and we wish her the best.”
“I think it’s a travesty that Janice has had to leave KOTO,” said KOTO Boardmember Mark Izard, who, with Ashley Boling, was one of two dissenting votes regarding Zink’s new contract. “I have been a dissenting voice and a dissenting vote against this decision and other recent decisions, and this could have been avoided.”
Also on the board are Ray Farnsworth, Liz Salem, Robert Allen, Dave Johnson and Joe McClure.
Koebler, asked if she was surprised by Zink’s departure, chose her words carefully.
“Everyone at KOTO is so appreciative of all the years that Janice worked for KOTO, and brought wonderful acts to Telluride,” she said. “All I can say is, we’re very appreciative.”
But, she continued, “in a time when people have so many options about where to listen to music and news, it’s really important that we raise the bar for ourselves and our community and provide the best radio that we can. As a 501(c)3 we have fiduciary responsibilities, and I think sometimes people forget we have these other parameters within which we need to operate.
“We have to have a balanced funding stream,” Koebler said, which precludes dependence on relying too heavily “on any one source” that could dry up “in a bad year.” She urges all KOTO listeners to buy tickets now to the upcoming KOTO Lip Synch, on Jan. 24, at the Palm Theater, which sells out every year.
Koebler disputed assertions from sources close to the situation that Zink’s new contract called for a 50 percent reduction in pay (including cuts of contractual incentives for meeting and/or exceeding fundraising goals).
As to whether KOTO’s loss last year of its lucrative Telluride Bluegrass Festival Beer Booth, which in 2012 added an estimated $50,000 a year to KOTO coffers, factored into the vote to scale back Zink’s job description, Koebler, who has been at KOTO for one year, said: “That was before my time.”
Koebler reported that the Bluegrass beer booth's gross profit for KOTO in 2012 was $49,403, and that “2012 Special Events income was $421,774, with a gross profit of $66,948.” In 2013, Special Events income dropped to $391,210, with a gross profit of $70,790, although that number “may fluctuate a tiny bit as we are working on closing out FY 2013.
“These numbers do not reflect staff time allocated to special events,” Koebler said, but “just direct costs allocated toward each event.”
Zink declined to comment on her departure, other than to say, “I am not retiring.”
Nor did Zink come on the air Monday night with her popular Jumpin’ Jan show – a show she’s been doing, she said this week, “for 35 years.”
The board will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 5 p.m. in the Wilkinson Library Telluride Room. A petition calling for the resignation of two KOTO boardmembers can be viewed at