Editor’s note: This article was originally published January 22, 2014
It’s been just more than a year since 98.9 FM KUTX launched, and director and general manager Stewart Vanderwilt is feeling fantastic.
"The audience has responded in a really positive way," he said last week, noting that KUTX, the all-music sister station to Austin’s National Public Radio affiliate KUT 90.5 FM, has exceeded expectations in terms of listenership. According to Vanderwilt, who also is director and general manager for KUT, the fledgling station ranks among the top three adult alternative public radio stations in the country. The station also fared well in its first pledge drives, said Vanderwilt, who was happy with how both stations performed.
At launch, the station developed the slogan "The Austin Music Experience" as a mission statement to guide the programming. Throughout the year the definition of the Austin Music Experience has continued to evolve. DJs play songs by local bands and touring acts coming through town and share historical interviews and live recordings from the station’s extensive archive. Working out of a shiny new facility on the University of Texas campus the station also hosts hundreds of live sessions with local bands and touring acts, most of which are open to the public. Artists who have appeared in Studio 1a include everyone from expert Austin songwriter Patty Griffin and her beau Robert Plant to soul revivalist Charles Bradley and seminal punk band Death. All of the performances have been archived and KUTX boasts a YouTube channel featuring 323 videos that have received upward of a million page views.
Read more about KUTX’s first year on the air. (paywall)
Year one highlights
On air: 5 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday
Despite only 45 minutes of sleep and the jumbled brain that accompanies that kind of sleep deprivation, being the first deejay on the air when we launched KUTX at 6:04 a.m. on Jan. 2nd ranks at the top of my 2013 highlight reel. It was truly exciting to kick off such a musically adventurous radio station in a city that I love for a community that treasures the unconventional. A dream realized for so many who made it happen, it was an honor to be the first one to jump in the pool.
On air: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday
My personal highlight from the first year at KUTX was being privy to the Studio 1A sessions. Hard to pick just one, but highlights included Patty Griffin & Robert Plant, Patti Smith, Lyle Lovett & Robert Earl Keen, David Lindley, Bruce Cockburn, Neko Case, Jimmy Webb and more that I can’t even remember right now!
On air: noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday
It’s hard to pick one specific thing but recording a one-on-one interview/performance with Jason Moran, the jazz pianist, McArthur "Genius" Award-winner and Artistic Advisor for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. One of the real perks of this job is getting to have an intimate conversation with brilliant artists such as Allen Toussaint, Ray Davies or Jason Moran.
John L Hanson Jr. a.k.a. John E. Dee
On air: 4 to 7 p.m. Friday
Being asked to host the "Old School Dance Party" on Fridays.
Upcoming KUTX events
KUTX birthday and benefit
KUTX celebrates one year on the air with Neko Case, Iron & Wine and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
KUTX launched this daylong concert last year, and it returns Feb. 15. Eight bands of diverse genres ("The Austin Music Experience) will play in venues across East Austin, starting at noon. The shows are free; see the full lineup at kutx.org/mapjam.