Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Radio stations bring SXSW to national audience

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

Getting to South by Southwest isn't exactly easy for out-of-towners.

Flights are full, hotels are jam-packed and badge prices can be pretty steep.

But a collection of radio stations from across the country is making it possible for cash-strapped music lovers to still get a taste of the fest. On air and online, they'll be serving up audio and video from shows happening at venues around town this week.

"To be relevant, we need to be at events like this," says Kevin Cole, senior director of programming at Seattle's KEXP. "Our mission is to experiment with emerging technologies to give people new ways to enjoy music, and we want to extract as much from South by Southwest as we can."

The station will be broadcasting live from Mellow Johnny's for eight straight hours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, featuring live performances from four music acts each day – acts KEXP likely wouldn't be able to get back home.

"We get to take advantage of a really amazing event," Cole says, "and share some Seattle love, too."

Many broadcasters are staging their own concerts to introduce hometown acts to the hipster masses. Minneapolis Public Radio's the Current is – along with KEXP and Austin's KUT – one of seven stations presenting showcases Wednesday through Saturday on the Radio Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center.

"We wanted to have a local presence," says Mary Lucia, the Current's afternoon host. "We've got a very interesting lineup this year. It's a lot like the Current."

Happening from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, the Current's showcase will feature a couple big-name acts – DeVotchKa and Chapel Club – as well as P.O.S., an up-and-comer in the Minneapolis hip-hop scene.

"There's a lot of Minneapolis bands performing this year," Lucia says, "and South by Southwest is such great exposure for them."

Stations right here in Austin are getting in on the action, too, with KGSR bringing its signature shows at the Four Seasons back for another year.

Make a $5 donation to the Seton-Shivers Center and catch live music four straight mornings, this Wednesday through Saturday. New for 2011, the Saturday broadcast replaces shows held on Mondays and Tuesdays in past years.

"We thought we could get more acts we wouldn't normally be able to get by adding a Saturday show," program director Chris Edge explains.

The always-popular KGSR performances routinely draw capacity crowds, with many folks showing up well before dawn.

"Last year there were people showing up at 3 in the morning to get a good seat," Edge says. "I think the hotel even had to ask some people to move so they could finish their nightly cleaning."

KUT's convention center showcase features Black Joe Lewis, the Black Angels and Fitz and the Tantrums Friday from noon to 3 p.m., and Jody Denberg will host a station-sponsored day party Saturday starting at 11 a.m. at the Cactus Café. Over at Mix 94.7, morning co-host JB Hager has spent months sorting through countless bands to craft the perfect SXSW playlist. Stream it day or night at jbfestselect.com or mix947.com.

KUT back on top

After a one-month absence, KUT is once again the city's top-rated radio station.

Nonstop holiday tunes helped Majic 95.5 bump Austin's NPR affiliate from the No. 1 spot during the holiday ratings period, which ran Dec. 9 through Jan. 5. But, after returning to its regular soft-rock playlist, newly released numbers show Majic tumbled to seventh place in January.

New to the Top 10 list is Mix 94.7. KVET-FM also moved up a few notches, from 11th to ninth place. Univision's La Que Buena, meanwhile, saw its ratings dip a bit and fell out of the Top 10, along with KLBJ-FM.

Average quarter-hour ratings as of Feb. 2, courtesy of radio-info.com (numbers in parentheses indicate rank as of Jan. 5):

  • 1 KUT (2)
  • 2. KASE (3)
  • 3. KHFI (6)
  • 4. KLBJ-AM (7)
  • 5. KBPA (4)
  • 6. KLZT (8)
  • 7. KKMJ (1)
  • 8. KPEZ (5)
  • 9. KVET-FM (11)
  • 10. KAMX (12)

Around the dial ...

Throughout March, KUT is airing daily 90-second profiles of women who have made a difference in Texas history to mark Women's History Month. Listen for them four times a day, every day, or find them at kut.org. … Speaking of KUT, the station's news team received seven awards this month from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. News director Emily Donahue and her team took home four first-place awards, two second places and one honorable mention.

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987

On the Web