Longtime Colorado Springs conservative radio talk show host Chuck Baker died Monday at 76 of long-term dementia, the family said.
The outspoken host of "on the Carpet" on KVOR-FM, Baker gained national attention in 1994 when a Fountain man claimed that he drove to Washington, D.C., and sprayed the White House with more than two dozen bullets after listening to Baker urge armed revolution using the bolt action of a rifle as a sound effect.
Baker denied his show influenced Francisco Duran, but those close to him acknowledged his fiery political opinions while attributing it to fearlessness in speaking out on issues he cared about.
"He wasn't afraid to take on issues and take on the government and things that he perceived as the wrong direction," said former El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark.
He also cared deeply about Colorado Springs, its residents and the people who kept them safe, Clark and his son said.
Matt Baker, recalled a Sunday morning when he was 8 years old when his father woke him early so he could go to the radio station with him. The night before, a woman and her three children had lost their house in a fire.
That morning, Chuck hosted a telethon to raise money for the family. Matt took some of the calls. By 11:30 that morning, the radio station and the lobby of the station's building were filled with furniture, toys and everything the family would need to start over.
"He did anything he could to make a person's life better," Matt Baker said.
In 1997, when the Colorado Springs Fire Department's Station 3 was at risk of shutting down, Baker gave those fighting to save it a platform on his show.
"He gave us a place to talk about public safety, fire response time and the importance of the station for the people living in its vicinity," said Clark.
Clark said Baker's focus on local issues made his show unique, which was recognized by his employer.
In 1993, KVOR's program director, Jim Arthur, refused to move Baker's afternoon show to make space for Larry King.
"He's great -I'd love to have Larry King -but we'd have to sacrifice local programming to do it, and from that point of view, it's an easy decision," Arthur told the Gazette at the time.
"His voice helped bring community and build community," said Kevin Maguire, former owner of Overhead Doors. Baker was featured in a commercial for Overhead Doors that has run on TV for over 10 years.
No date has been set for a memorial service, but family members said it would likely be held next week. Anyone wishing to donate is asked to make a contribution to the Chuck Baker Memorial Fund at ENT Federal Credit Union. Proceeds will go towards Bakers nursing home and dementia awareness efforts.