KUT-FM set a pledge record Wednesday, raising $854,000 during its nine-day fall fund drive despite the controversy that followed its decision to cut the airtime of longtime disc jockeys Larry Monroe and Paul Ray in a cost-cutting move. KUT raised $825,000 in its spring pledge drive.
Much of the airtime previously filled by Monroe and Ray was replaced by nationally syndicated programming, angering some local music fans.
The SaveKUTAustin protest group, headed by former Austin Mayor Lee Cooke, was formed, and though membership has dwindled from 23 to 11 in recent weeks, the group said it will continue to meet every Wednesday, as it has since KUT announced the airtime cuts in July. The group's "Support Larry Monroe and Paul Ray at KUT" Facebook page had 1,720 members as of Wednesday.
"Austin is a town known for taking care of its own," SaveKUTAustin member Jim Ellinger said. "We feel that Paul and Larry were treated unfairly, and we'd like KUT to make it right."
Public Affairs Manager Erin Geisler said the backlash "had no effect that we're aware of" on the drive. "The average amount of donations is smaller than usual, which is true across the board for public radio, but we're getting more of them."
In the most recent Arbitron radio ratings, KUT is No. 1 for the 12-and-older and 25-and-older groups in Austin.
"Today KUT is serving more listeners than ever before," said Associate General Manager Hawk Mendenhall, "and a significant number of those listeners are choosing to invest in programming that's become an integral part of their lives."
Eighty-six percent of KUT's annual operating budget comes from listeners and local businesses, the station said in a news release Wednesday.