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All I want for Christmas radio is local news, live deejays, a few niche formats

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

There's a lot to like about Austin radio. Really, there is.

But, let's be honest. There's some stuff we dislike, too.

So, with Christmas right around the corner, I'm asking Santa for a couple radio-related gifts.

And, since I've been such a good boy this year, I'm sure dear ol' Saint Nick and his elves will come through for me. Cuz, if not, I'll cry. Seriously.

Here we go ...

A 24/7/365 local news station. Yes, we have NewsRadio 590 and KUT. And, yes, they do a fine job at the times they're live and local. But what about the rest of the day? I want Central Texas news, weather and traffic whenever I turn on the radio. Mornings and evenings. Weekdays and weekends. Not some nationally syndicated partisan screaming match. Not relationship advice. Local news. Yes, I realize this would be a ridiculously expensive endeavor. That's why broadcasters can pull it off only in the largest of cities. But a boy can dream ...

More live, local programming. A lot of folks don't realize a good chunk of the deejay chatter you hear on the radio is prerecorded – particularly at night and on the weekends. Often, it's from someone who's not even in Austin, thanks to computer voice-tracking technology. Sure, this generic, piped-in blather cuts costs. But it also robs radio of the local flavor we expect. Weather alerts. Details on upcoming events. And shout-outs to real people who really live in our area. (I'm looking at you, Delilah.)

More stations, more options. Because we're so close to San Antonio and Waco, Austin doesn't have as many radio stations as you'd expect in a city this size. Spacing requirements intended to keep stations in one city from bleeding over into adjacent cities mean that's not likely to change anytime soon. So don't hold your breath for a station devoted to, say, jazz. Or any of the other, more niche formats relegated to HD — if they even exist — in this town. Too bad, huh?

There's my list. What about you? What are you hoping to see on the radio dial in 2011? Shoot me an e-mail at gdinges@statesman.com and let me know.

Evacuate the dance floor

The commercial-free dance party at 102.7 FM is, sadly, over.

Mega, which airs on BOB-FM's 103.5 HD2 signal and streams online at megahd2.com, made a brief guest appearance on that frequency right after Thanksgiving, giving listeners without HD radios a chance to see what they've been missing.

"We got quite a bit of buzz out of it for its short run on a low-power FM frequency," program director Krash Kelly said.

Tune to 102.7 FM now, and you'll hear a simulcast of KGSR. The second frequency for KGSR is intended to improve reception for listeners in South Austin and Hays County who were having trouble hearing the station after its move to 93.3 FM.

Austin is KASE country

November ratings are out, and country station KASE 101 remains No. 1.

NPR affiliate KUT is second, followed by KISS-FM. BOB-FM, which was ranked third in October, dropped three spots to No. 6.

Radio giants Clear Channel and Emmis each run four of the city's Top 10 frequencies, while Entercom and the University of Texas have one apiece.

The average quarter hour ratings, courtesy of radio-info.com (numbers in parentheses indicate October rank):

1. KASE 100.7 (1)

2. KUT 90.5 (2)

3. KHFI 96.7 (4)

4. KLBJ-AM 590 (5)

5. KKMJ 95.5 (7)

6. KBPA 103.5 (3)

7. KLBJ-FM 93.7 (6)

8. KLZT 107.1 (9)

9. KPEZ 102.3 (8)

10. KVET 98.1 (10)

Around the dial ...

KOOP 91.7 FM is celebrating 16 years on the air. The station – "run for the community by the community" – was honored with a proclamation at Thursday's Austin City Council meeting. A "Sweet 16" party featuring Slaid Cleaves, Sara Hickman and Kelly Willis is set for Jan. 13 at Antone's. Tickets start at $20. Get more details at koop.org.

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987