Wednesday November 7, 2018 My friend and mentor, Pierre Wolfe passed away. I met Pierre in the early 90’s being introduced by Paul Stebbins, then owner of KNUS Radio, Denver, at the Normandy Restaurant. I never dreamed my life would change almost immediately. By then, Pierre was already a living legend in Denver, having been the owner of one of the best restaurants in Colorado, TV Chef and Radio personality.
I was 51, and an avid world traveler, amateur cook, broadcaster and aspiring “bon vivant”. Pierre opened many doors for me I could have never done myself. I soon became the manager and engineer for KNUS. Pierre’s radio program became a center piece for our Saturday programing. Pierre knew everyone. He introduced me to Kenny Hamblin, John, John Cretti, Sam Arnold, and Jimmy Turner. With Pierre’s help we were able to build KNUS into at successful radio station contender in the Denver Market. Of course it didn’t hurt that we also had Rush Limbaugh 3 hours daily.
In addition to my duties managing KNUS, I started traveling with Paul Stebbins to all the remote broadcasts Pierre and Sam Arnold were doing. Although Paul was the main technical person on the scene, I pitched in as well, as Paul was blind, so I was his eyes for the events. We did lots of remotes including broadcasting from the Broadmoor Resort at Christmas and numerous food and wine events in the mountains.
Eventually Paul Stebbins sold the station to Al Martischang. The station was moved to the Martischang Plaza on Alameda. I continued to be the manager and Pierre continued to introduce me to everyone in Denver. I got know Pierre’s family including his Daughter, Chef Karen at the Normandy, his wife Jean and his son Ron.
In 1993 Pierre introduced me to a local Art Gallery owner. The gallery owner arranged for us to travel to Havana Cuba and broadcast the first live call-in radio program from Cuba since the early 60’s. Not only was Pierre broadcasting his live program daily from Havana he was also the entire event “road manager”. Pierre negotiated all the hotel arrangement and travel. This was no small task. Pierre did an pre-trip to Cuba to recon the area. We had to transport a large satellite dish, several huge equipment crates to facilitate the broadcast as well as getting Kenny Hamblin & Sue, Scott Clifton our satellite engineer and myself from
Denver to Havana. Needless to say this in it’s self was a major undertaking, since Travel to Cuba could only be done under a special Cultural Exchange Program. Pierre was a masterful negotiator and organizer. Somehow he was able to pull this 10 day event off without a hitch and under budget.
Yes, we did stay at the iconic, National Hotel in Havana and dine at the best restaurants. Seldom were we charged for dining at the restaurants, as Pierre and I always had a tape recorder with us. Once the Restaurant people realize their friends and relatives in the US might hear their voices we were never presented a bill. Only Pierre could make something like this happen.
During our trip to Havana I was distracted by hearing Rush Limbaugh was coming to Fort Collins to be present at a non-event that became known as “Dan’s Bake Sale”. I was able to get our Denver people to turn this event (Dan’s Bake Sale) into the most successful instant event I was ever involved with. While is was still in Cuba the station people organized 50 buses, lead by Kenny Hamblin and his Motorcycle gang to transport our KNUS listeners to the event in Fort Collins the following week. 70,000 people turned out for this Non-Event. NBC called it “the Conservative Woodstock”. Once again Pierre was working with me arranging the logistic’s, that included a Police escort for the caravan of buses as well as getting us TV and Press Coverage on all the local TV stations and even NBC Nationwide.
As the time moved on, KNUS was sold to Salem Communications and I was able to purchase 1060 KLMO in Longmont
Colorado with by friends and associates, the Hood Family. We increased the power to 50,000 watts, we purchased stations in Vail, Colorado Springs, Gunnison and Buena Vista. Once again Pierre Wolfe was at my side again bringing talent to our station. By then Pierre’s national radio program, “America’s Dining and Travel Guide” was becoming very popular.
One evening by the fireplace at the Normandy, Pierre invited me to become the co-host of the program “America’s Dining and Travel Guide”. I was completely blown away. I had occasionally filled in for Pierre when he was traveling, but never expected to become the Co-Host. By then he was also doing a local Saturday program, “The Good Life” on our stations known then as the Radio Colorado Network in addition to the 2 hours of “America’s Dining and Travel Guide” on Sundays.
Once I was the co-host, Pierre was able to broadcast anywhere in the world because of my technical expertise. I always thought the only reason I became the so called Co-host was because of my technical abilities, not necessarily because I added that much to the air content. Nonetheless, Pierre decided to give me a new name, Mr. Five Star, since I really enjoyed all the great 5 star resort, hotels and restaurants we visited together. Pictured here was a special evening with Pierre at the Starkey International Mansion Denver.
Over the years Pierre and I traveled and broadcast from dozens of wonderful venues all over the world. In Ireland we did a 10 day motor coach tour covering Ashford Castle, Dromoland Castle, Dublin and Waterford. Then, it was to the Bahamas for the Bahamian Olympic food festival. Pierre was one of the Judges. When the Miami Herald food critic could’t make it a the last minute, Pierre again elevated me from Co-
Host, Engineer to Judge.
For many years we were always broadcasting live from the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. One year Pierre and Jean were off on a special trip and I was dispatched to be the Host of the Aspen Food and Wine festival. I imported my adult children to assist me.
For years we broadcast live from Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride, Breckenridge, Las Vegas and many times from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
Our crowing trip together was Jordan. I don’t think I would ever have considered traveling to this country, obviously the neighborhood is not so great, considering Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are all next door. We stayed in a fabulous Marriott (More like a Ritz Carlton) in Amman.
We visited the ancient Roman buildings at Jerash. There were so many great adventures in Jordan like Petra. Here we stayed in the Movenpick resort hotel with a unique roof garden. We were also involved in the “Great Camel race”. We didn’t come in last, but not at the head of the pack. BTW: Pierre was once the owner of many horses. Pierre and I attended a Middle East Cooking school for an evening, where we were shown how to make many local dishes, then we became part of the preparation staff.
Next it was off to
Aquaba to another 5 star hotel, the Movenpick. Then, a night with the bedouin’s in the desert, staying in tents and dining on typical bedouin food, Goat and Rice cooked in a covered pit. The last part of the trip was the Dead Sea where we were lavished at the Dead Sea MovenPick. This was definitely a life experience.
It was indeed an honor and pleasure to have been privileged to work and travel with Pierre over the years. Pierre was blessed with a wonderful, smart, interesting wife and great children, Karen and Ron. I was also there to see the grandchildren enjoy their grandparents as well. Pierre was always so proud of his entire family, always weaving them into the conversation and broadcasts.
As a friend, traveling companion, and radio comrade, Pierre was so unique, intriguing, fun, challenging, entertaining, curious, devoted, energetic, driven and always willing to explore and try anything.
I miss you Pierre, and will with your same enthusiasm to celebrate your life!
There will be a celebration of Pierre Wolfe’s life with friends and family in the Denver area sometime in December 2018. Check back here for time and place.
Here are some additional pictures I recently found.
One Reply to “Fairwell Pierre Wolfe”
Thank you for that wonderful look at Pierre’s life. I knew he and Jean well as I worked for them for 14 years and was the one who stayed at their house and took care of their dogs while they traveled the world. I just found out about his passing today as I was checking the internet to see if Jean had gotten her cookbook published yet. He was a wonderful man and a force of nature. Always kind and optimistic.