Studio at Children’s Hospital Colorado offers many soothing sounds

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AURORA | Gov. John Hickenlooper’s familiar, thin-lipped croak was floating across Aurora airwaves Monday afternoon, but the content of his message was noticeably void of the typical political fodder.

Instead of stumping on Colorado’s surging economy or his administration’s wonky health policy agenda, The Governor leaned into a sleek condenser microphone in a glass-paned room nestled within Children’s Hospital Colorado and proceeded to answer a barrage of questions that proved far more revealing than those hurled at him on any debate stage.

They were questions like: If he could dip any food in chocolate, what would it be?

“Maybe, like something salty. Maybe, like a small pickle,” Hickenlooper said.

And: Where in Colorado would he place the world’s greatest, strongest bubble machine?

“On top of Mt. Evans. Or maybe if they’re really traditional bubbles, maybe the best bubble machine would go right in the lobby of Children’s Hospital.”

And the ever-important: Which is your favorite Princess?

“I love the story of the Princess and the Pea.”

To top off that trio of revelatory claims, Gov. Hickenlooper did his best to pluck an autographed banjo and speak his name backward.

No, he’s not losing his mind and his loopy anecdotes aren’t likely to end up on a new Politico list of recent gaffes.

That’s because antics like the governor’s are not only standard, but encouraged at the Seacrest Studio, a chrome-coated room tucked into the eastern wall of the Children’s lobby in north Aurora. Established at Children’s just over one year ago, the tricked-out, fully-professional radio studio serves as a venue for local and national celebrities to stop by and entertain at the hospital, and, more importantly, gives the hundreds of patients at Children’s a chance to take a break from the grueling, endless stream of tubes, tests and treatments. And the facility not only allows kids to hone their disc jockeying abilities, but above all, it lets them temporarily act in a way that at hospitals — even one specially outfitted for the young — is trying: like kids.

“It’s a place where kids can put whatever they’re dealing with in the present moment behind them for a little while and remember they’re a kid,” said Chris Coleman, manager of broadcast and production at the studio and one of the booth’s two full-time employees along with child life specialist Cody Hudson.

Tethered to media guru Ryan Seacrest’s nonprofit The Seacrest Foundation, Coleman explained that the Children’s studio has helped soften the heartbreaking situations of illness many kids at Children’s, like Daniel Hailpern, endure. There are currently eight similar facility’s to the one at Children’s at hospitals around the country, with plans for two more by the year’s end.

“It’s amazing,” Hailpern, a soon-to-be high school sophomore, said. “And it’s just so amazing to see other kids come in and have fun.”

Hailpern has become the unofficial posterchild of the Seacrest Studio over the past year, hosting two weekly sports shows while undergoing treatment for Leukemia. Broadcast on closed-circuit channel BBOY45 throughout the hospital, Hailpern’s pair of shows were a Friday preview and a Monday review of the week’s NFL games last season.

Established at Children’s just over one year ago, the tricked-out, fully-professional radio studio serves as a venue for local and national celebrities to stop by and entertain at the hospital, and, more importantly, gives the hundreds of patients at Children’s a chance to take a break from the grueling, endless stream of tubes, tests and treatments. And the facility not only allows kids to hone their disc jockeying abilities, but above all, it lets them temporarily act in a way that at hospitals — even one specially outfitted for the young — is trying: like kids.

After receiving a bone marrow transplant last November, Hailpern said that he first got involved in the studio after winning a contest for the best parody of “Let It Go” from the Disney smash “Frozen.” His take — dubbed “Broncos Go” — was so well-received, Coleman helped produce a music video for the number that involved more than 300 Children’s patients dancing and running across the hospital grounds. The resulting video now has more than 39,000 views on YouTube.

“That’s not a lot by some people’s standards, but it’s still pretty cool,” Hailpern said.

The video also helped earn Hailpern the recent title of the official Children’s Colorado Denver Broncos Ambassador. Hailpern added that his recovery from the marrow transplant — supposed to last about one year — is about three months ahead of schedule and pending the result of a final test, he aims to be back to class at Denver Jewish Day School this fall.

Stories like Hailpern’s abound at the Children’s media lab, according to Coleman, who said that the facility and its programs act as an incentive that helps get reluctant kids in the car and on their way to necessary, though sometimes devastatingly painful, treatments.

“It breaks down all sorts of barriers for the kids and makes something that could be difficult and scary into something that can be happy, if you can believe that,” Coleman said. “I’ve had parents break down in tears saying, ‘You have taken one of the most-difficult times in our entire life and turned it into one of the best.’ And you can’t ask for much more than that.”