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Changes aplenty at Austin radio stations

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Kristen Kurtis

Wow.

The radio beat has been crazy busy in recent days. KOKE-FM returned to Austin's airwaves after an absence of almost four decades. The University of Texas is hoping to buy a sibling frequency for NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM. And there were changes aplenty at our local sports talk stations.

For those of you whose heads are spinning – me included – let's recap recent developments.

KOKE-FM: As the American-Statesman was first to report, former 98.1 KVET-FM hosts Bob Cole and Eric Raines teamed up with local attorney Jason Nassour to create a new on-air home for Austin- and Texas-centric country music – songs that many of you believe, judging by the calls and emails I've received, aren't played nearly enough.

The new station, found at 98.5 FM and 99.3 FM, is a reboot of the classic KOKE-FM, which took Austin – and the world – by storm in the 1970s, launching a new "progressive country" format with an eclectic mix of country acts as well as other, non-country performers such as the Rolling Stones.

Cole, of course, serves as the station's weekday morning host. He'd been off the air since exiting the KVET-FM morning show in December. Listeners will also find weather updates from KEYE-TV chief meteorologist Troy Kimmel.

"It's great. It's fun. It's exciting," Cole told me earlier this month. "I'm tickled to death."

Cole and company have wasted no time resurrecting a Sunday morning gospel show axed by KVET-FM. It airs every Sunday from 8 to 11 a.m. on KOKE-FM.

Fans of Tom Allen's old "Country Gold" show are in luck, as well. Allen told me this week his show returns to the air today, running every Saturday from 5 to 10 a.m. Tune in to hear "the very best in classic country from the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s."

UT (maybe) buying 98.9 KXBT-FM: Austin could soon have two NPR-affiliated stations – one with round-the-clock news, the other featuring non-stop music.

UT has a deal in place to buy oldies station KXBT-FM from Dallas-based Border Media for $6 million, but University of Texas System regents must first give their blessing before money changes hands. Everyone thought that would happen at their July 11 meeting but, instead, regents abruptly tabled the issue.

They're apparently concerned about the price, a source told the Statesman, and want to explore the possibility of streaming online instead.

Industry veterans, including Dave Garland, a Houston-based radio station broker, insist, however, that the station's price tag sounds about right.

There's no word just yet on when regents might revisit the purchase.

Right now, KUT-FM airs a 50 /50 mix of news and music. The station is just days away from moving into new 20,000-square-foot studios at Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets.

Sports shuffle: Border Media's station selloff has ticked off plenty of sports radio fans.

New owners have replaced our full-time ESPN and ESPN Deportes affiliates with Christian music and Spanish talk, respectively, and several familiar hosts have disappeared from 104.9 the Horn (KTXX-FM).

In posts on orangebloods.com, a UT sports fan site, Geoff Ketchum and Chip Brown confirmed they'd been let go. Host Chance Mock is gone, as well, they said.

Ketchum said he got the news 30 minutes before he was set to go on the air.

"I'm burned out on radio right now for a lot of reasons," he wrote, "primarily the dirty behind-the-scenes shank jobs that take place constantly."

Our attempts to reach the station's new owner, Total Austin Sports Radio, were unsuccessful.

Though they're no longer on the air, both Brown and Ketchum say they're proud of their accomplishments over the years, everything from garnering sky-high ratings to raising money for area charities.

"We all busted our (expletive) to make 104.9 the No. 1 sports talk station in the market by a mile," Brown wrote.

Around the dial ...

Rain forced 93.3 KGSR-FM to cancel its July 11 Blues on the Green concert with BoDeans and Sahara Smith but, as promised, the show has been rescheduled. The new date is Aug. 1. More details at kgsr.com. ... Speaking of KGSR-FM, congrats to Kristen Kurtis, who has been promoted to assistant program director. She'll continue to serve as music director and midday host, as well. ... Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.

Contact Gary Dinges at gdinges@statesman.com or 912-5987

This one's not even close, folks.

Rihanna's "Where Have You Been" is — by a mile — Austin's most-played song, according to allaccess.com.

The ever-present hit was heard a whopping 262 times on local stations July 11-17.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (184) was a distant second, followed by Maroon 5's "Payphone" (167) and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" (161).

Moving up the charts: Tim McGraw's "Truck Yeah," Killers' "Runaways," Nicki Minaj's "Right by My Side," Calvin Harris's "Let's Go" and Flo Rida's "Whistle."

On the way down: Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," M83's "Midnight City," Kirko Bangz's "Drank in My Cup," Drake's "Make Me Proud" and "Call Me Maybe.

Here are the top five songs played on a random sampling of local stations:

Mega 103.5 HD2

Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso, "Calling" ("Lose My Mind") – 99 spins

Ferry Corsten, "Ain't No Stoppin'" – 98

Calvin Harris, "Let's Go" – 98

Deadmau5, "The Veldt" – 98

Martin Solveig, "The Night Out" – 82

Mix 94.7

Fun., "We Are Young" – 55 spins

Maroon 5, "Payphone" – 53

Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" – 47

Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know" – 40

Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe" – 39

96.7 KISS-FM

Rihanna, "Where Have You Been" – 115 spins

Maroon 5, "Payphone" – 114

Katy Perry, "Wide Awake" – 113

Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe" – 87

Usher, "Scream" – 81

KASE 101

Brantley Gilbert, "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" – 59 spins

Kenny Chesney, "Come Over" – 56

Gloriana, ("Kissed You") "Good Night" – 55

Eli Young Band, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" – 50

Jana Kramer, "Why Ya Wanna" – 49