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Updated: 8:23 a.m. Monday, Sept. 3, 2012 | Posted: 6:00 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2012

Austin's losing its oldies radio station

Static



By Gary Dinges

Austin's losing its oldies station.

The University of Texas' pending $6 million purchase of KXBT-FM from Dallas-based Border Media means 98.9 Austin's Greatest Hits will soon disappear. The deal allows UT to split National Public Radio affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM's news and music programming across two frequencies.

News will stay on 90.5 FM. KUT-FM's music will shift to 98.9 FM, which gets new call letters: KUTX-FM. And those oldies tunes, a format not heard on any other station in town? They're, ahem, history.

Why's this happening?

Well, a couple reasons. Border Media is getting out of the radio business. The company recently sold its other Austin-area stations: 92.5 KXXS-FM, 104.9 KTXX-FM, 1260 KWNX-AM and 1530 KZNX-AM.

New owners, obviously, get to make programming decisions. That's exactly what happened at former Border station 104.9 the Horn, where managers have made plenty of recent schedule changes that have infuriated sports fans. I've tried to get answers but, so far, no one over there's talking. (Call me maybe?)

But back to oldies ... the listenership, as you might expect, tends to skew a bit old.

Even though KXBT-FM is beating several well-known Austin stations in the overall ratings, it's farther down the list when it comes to the so-called "money demographics," such as women ages 18-34, that ad buyers crave. That's why some advertisers shy away from oldies stations, making them less lucrative to operate in many cases.

Oldies has been tried before in Austin. A couple times in recent memory, actually. Could we get another shot in the future? Sure, anything's possible ... but don't hold your breath. If you're in search of a replacement, try hitting the Web. Much of what you hear on KXBT-FM comes from nationally syndicated music services, so you can replicate the experience with stops at sites such as trueoldies channel.com or tomkent.com.

KHFI ranks No. 1

Austin's top-rated radio station continues to be 96.7 KHFI-FM.

Known on air as KISS-FM, the home of Demi Lovato, Flo Rida, Rihanna and other pop-friendly acts has held the No. 1 spot most of this year, frequently grabbing almost twice as many listeners as its nearest competitor.

In July, second place went to 103.5 KBPA-FM, followed by 100.7 KASE-FM. Re-entering the top 10 is 93.3 KGSR-FM. Its ratings are on the rise as programmers continue to tweak the station's playlist.

Average quarter-hour ratings as of July 18, from allaccess.com (numbers in parentheses indicate rank as of June 20):

1. 96.7 KHFI-FM (1)

2. 103.5 KBPA-FM (2)

3. 100.7 KASE-FM (4)

4. 590 KLBJ-AM (6)

5. 102.3 KPEZ-FM (3)

6. 95.5 KKMJ-FM (10)

7. 90.5 KUT-FM (5)

8. 107.1 KLZT-FM (11)

9. 93.7 KLBJ-FM (8)

10. 93.3 KGSR-FM (13)

Around the dial ...

Thirteen broadcasters will be inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame this year, including two with ties to the Austin area: longtime DJ Dick "Pickens" Laine and Dick Oppenheimer, who has owned and managed several local stations. ... Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.

Contact Gary Dinges at gdinges@statesman.com or 912-5987.

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