When it comes to radio news, Austin station 90.5 KUT-FM aims to set the "Standard" with its latest program.
The show, "Texas Standard" makes its official debut Monday, running at 10 a.m. weekdays. It has, over the past few weeks, been airing sporadically as the NPR affiliate worked to beef up its news team and build out its studios on the University of Texas campus.
For now, it will be heard only in Austin, although it’ll go statewide in a few weeks, airing in a number of cities such as Dallas and Houston.
"We’ve known for a while now that we wanted to create a signature program for KUT that demonstrates the role public radio plays in civic discourse," said Stewart Vanderwilt, general manager of KUT and sister station 98.9 KUTX-FM.
"So much of the news, no matter where it’s taking place, has a direct intersection with Texas. With ‘Texas Standard,’ we’re taking the top news events around the world and identifying their connections to Texas."
About 10 KUT employees work almost exclusively on the show, Vanderwilt said, and "Texas Standard" will also pull some material from its affiliate stations.
Those stations are "kind of at their maximum news output right now," said KUT veteran David Brown, who serves as host and managing editor for the show. "This allows us to share content and create a de-facto network. We have people telling us that, for the first time, listeners in their market will feel like they’re connected to the rest of Texas."
Before joining the "Texas Standard" team, Brown worked on KUT’s "Texas Music Matters." He says he sought out the host job more than a year ago while plans for the show were still in their infancy.
"There’s nothing like this being done on public radio right now," Brown said. "We’re building a program from scratch that has tremendous potential."
While KUT has produced local news programming for years, Vanderwilt said "Texas Standard" is, by design, a different animal that’s far more labor-intensive. That’s why the station didn’t immediately start off with daily broadcasts.
"We had several train wrecks," he admitted. "They were really important to have, to show us where the needs are, because once the show starts, it never stops."
With those kinks now addressed, Vanderwilt said Brown and his team are more than ready and it’s time for daily broadcasts to begin.
For a self-described "music fiend," Brown said leaving "Texas Music Matters" was a difficult decision, but he’s confident he made the right choice.
"I love ‘Texas Music Matters,’" he said. "I’ve never worked on a show that’s won so many awards. But I got my start in news more than three decades ago. News has always been in my blood. It’s my bread and butter."
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