After more than 25 years at the American-Statesman, including seven years as its editor, Debbie Hiott will helm KUT 90.5, Austin’s NPR station, and KUTX 98.9, its music station, as their next general manager.
She will also serve as executive director of media operations for the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas.
Known for her persistent pursuit of the news and her steady managerial hand, Hiott enhanced the American-Statesman's investigative team and led the newsroom to three Texas Newspaper of the Year awards. She was among the employees who took a buyout from new Statesman owner Gatehouse Media last year.
“KUT and KUTX are great public assets, and I look forward to helping the talented staff there bring more local news and entertainment to the Austin area,” Hiott said in a written statement. “The stations, along with Texas Student Media, play important roles for their communities, and I’m honored and excited to have a role in that critical mission.”
Texas Student Media includes the Daily Texan newspaper, KVRX radio, the satirical newspaper Texas Travesty, Texas Student Television, Cactus Yearbook, Burnt X and Longhorn Life.
During the past year, KUT and its sister station have attracted negative coverage in the media for the ways its leadership handled problems with inclusion, pay and workplace culture. Their internal and external responses have been muddled. For instance, a story by freelancer Eva Ruth Moravec, "KUT responds to allegations of 'serious issues' in newsroom," has been removed from its website.
Interim general manager Patti Smith resigned soon after that story appeared in September.
“Debbie is a respected leader who brings outstanding experience, knowledge and character to KUT, KUTX and Texas Student Media,” said Jay Bernhardt, dean of the Moody College of Communication. “She is exceptionally well suited to help guide these outstanding public media stations and student media platforms to even greater levels of community reach and impact.”
Hiott will assume her new role on Jan. 14.