You may have heard the dulcet tones of 16-year old Mountain Maes spinning some jazz sides on KDNK last Saturday night. Or perhaps you’ve heard his stories, public affairs shows and music sets on the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program (AZYEP) for almost a decade. Mountain’s dream, to be a tech engineer, emerged from AZYEP or, as he puts it, “AZYEP is where it started and tech is where it’s going.” Here’s more from a recent conversation edited for length and clarity.
AHM: Tell us about yourself.
MM: I was born in Glenwood Springs at Valley View, but I’m fifth-generation Carbondale. My parents are Ami and Chris Maes. I go to Roaring Fork High School. I’m a sophomore. That’s going well for me and I think the best part is I still have time for my out-of-school activities.
AHM: Talk about your out-of-school activities.
MM: It all started at [AZYEP]. I started off as a youth DJ and I thought that was great. It gave me a really good sense of public speaking, like, I could get up in a crowd in front of people and just talk! Then, I started with the Andy Zanca News Team and that’s when I got my hands on audio equipment. I started interviewing people and then I started [digital audio] editing, which I now can do with my eyes closed. Interviewing and recording people really changed the way I look at and talk to people.
AHM: How so?
MM: I think it made me ask better questions. Instead of asking pointless questions, asking really deep, intense questions.
AHM: It increased your critical thinking skills?
MM: Yes, because sometimes you may not have as much time with a guest and you really want to get as much as you can out of just a few questions. I also think an important question I learned was: ‘Is there anything else you’d like to add?’ It’s a universal question and you always get really cool things out of that.
AHM: Talk more about your work.
MM: Then, I started tech — sound engineering and lighting. I didn’t know how to do much but I was making it work. I would do little one-off events for the school. Someone would call the school and ask for a building rental. If it was the auditorium, I came with it, like, ‘oh look, a child is running your sound,’ but I was doing a really good job.
MM: I feel like I really started to take off when I stopped by the KDNK booth at Mountain Fair [in 2017] and I got to go on air with Gavin [Dahl, former KDNK station manager]. It was a ton of fun. We just talked and we were rolling, you know? This youth DJ, running the Mountain Fair broadcast!
That’s also where I met this guy named Ralph Pitt, who is really an inspiration to me today. He’s a recording engineer. He can fix anything and is just a really smart guy that I learned 99% of my audio knowledge from. Then, I started doing more live things for KDNK.
AHM: What kind of live things?
MM: I did a broadcast from the classroom of a middle school dance. I got hired to do the Second Sunday in the Park remote broadcasts. Then, last year, I was the head remote person for Mountain Fair for KDNK. I was out there all weekend, which was great.
Now I’m working for GrassRoots TV, doing some of their live-on-location stuff for Steve’s Guitars every Friday night. I’m directing the Town of Basalt government meetings. I’m in charge of designing all the graphics for the [web] stream, putting it on-air on Channel 17 and making sure the camera is pointed at the right person. I’ve also been filming Aspen High School’s hockey games for the last six weeks. I’m Sol Theater’s lighting designer in Carbondale…
AHM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
MM: Hopefully, I’ll have my own production company that I’ve already been starting to grow locally.
AHM: If you could have dinner with three people — living or dead — who would you choose?
MM: I would like to go back and have more dinners with my great-grandpa, Bob, who passed away this summer. He was just a really great person. I would have liked to talk to him more and record his stories more. Then, Tom Cruise, to talk to him about his acting career and Lin-Manuel Miranda because he has such experience in theater.
AHM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MM: I think we have a great community here in Carbondale. There’s nothing like Carbondale and there’s nothing like the people. I thank you for reaching out to me to do this. I will be extremely honored to be in The Sopris Sun.