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KVET alums say farewell to former studios

Gary Dinges, Static

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Get ready to say goodbye to another piece of Austin history.

The former KASE/KVET studios at 705 N. Lamar Blvd. will soon be razed to make way for a sleek new structure featuring ground-floor retail space topped by a four-level parking garage.

The project is one of several that Austin-based Schlosser Development has in the works near the North Lamar Boulevard and West Sixth Street intersection, in what's now being called the city's Market District.

Though it has been many, many years since 1300 KVET-AM, 98.1 KVET-FM and 100.7 KASE-FM moved to South Congress Avenue, that homely building adjacent to BookPeople and the flagship Whole Foods store still holds a special place in the hearts of many current and former employees. Several gathered recently to take one last look before the bulldozers arrive.

I asked a few of them to share their thoughts with me — and with you.

There's not enough space to run everything here, so head to my blog — austin360.com/tvblog — to read what I couldn't fit, including a trip down Memory Lane with former KVET-FM morning host Bob Cole.

Tom Allen, former "Country Gold" host: "The list of country music stars who visited the old KVET/KASE building at 705 N. Lamar through the years reads like a ‘who's who' in country music.

"One afternoon in 1981, I was on the air at KVET when our receptionist came in to tell me a new singer and his manager were out in the lobby, and they were wondering if I would have the time to say hello. I said, ‘Sure, bring them in.'

"I sat the young man down next to a microphone and began to interview him on the air. Come to find out, he was from this area. We chatted about country music in Central Texas, and then I proceeded to play his first record for MCA Records. It was great.

"We instantly added the song to our playlist, and the long and formidable career of George Strait had begun. The song was the first of many hits, ‘Unwound.' "

Stephen Johnston, former morning show producer: "I've slept in that building, worked 20-hour days in that building, I fell down those back metal stairs during an ice storm, and quickly discovered that one of the diet soda buttons on the old Coke machine was really Coors Light.

"Even though I am no longer in broadcasting, those were formative years with incredible people. It was an honor to work there and be a part of something great."

Michael Hart, former production director: "As with any radio station, you never know who might drop by. Late one morning, I was producing a concert spot in our production room and, with my headsets on, was totally in a world of my own.

"I didn't even hear the door open or see who sat down in one of the chairs, and, eventually when I turned around, I got quite a start. Sitting in one of the chairs was none other than the great character actor Slim Pickens. I removed my headsets, and he started grinning and in that drawl of his said, ‘Hope you don't mind if I came in. I was just lookin' for a place to rest my feet.' "

Austin's Jammin' again

Clear Channel-owned Jammin' 103.1 made its debut Tuesday, serving up rhythmic hits from today and yesterday — everyone from the Isley Brothers to Flo Rida.

Other artists you're likely to hear include Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and Stevie Wonder.

"Jammin' 103.1 provides Austin a varied format that is not offered anywhere else on the dial," said Jay Shannon, operations manager for Clear Channel's Austin stations.

Does the Jammin' moniker sound familiar? It should. Clear Channel previously operated Jammin' 105.9 before selling that frequency to Crista Broadcasting, which rechristened it as Spirit 105.9.

The 103.1 frequency was most recently home to a simulcast of sister station 1300 AM the Zone. Other local stations owned by San Antonio-based Clear Channel include 96.7 KISS-FM, KVET 98.1 FM, KASE 101 and 102.3 the Beat.

Around the dial ...

Andi McKay has been named afternoon host on 98.9 FM Austin's Greatest Hits. Listen for her weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. ... Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.

Four weeks, four wins.

"Wild Ones" is a bona fide hit, grabbing the top spot on Austin radio's most-played list yet again.

Flo Rida's latest song was heard on local stations 237 times April 30 through May 6, according to AllAccess.com.

It was a close call, though. Fun.'s "We Are Young" (228) and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (219) were in hot pursuit.

Moving up the charts: Maroon 5's "Payphone," Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You," Jake Owen's "Alone With You," Offspring's "Days Go By," Rihanna's "Birthday Cake," Jennifer Lopez's "Dance Again" and Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg's "Young, Wild & Free."

On the way down: The Wanted's "Glad You Came," Gym Class Heroes' "(Expletive) Back Home," Jason Aldean's "Fly Over States," GroupLove's "Tongue Tied," Nicki Minaj's "Starships" and David Guetta's "Turn Me On."

Top five songs played on a sampling of local stations:

103.5 BOB-FM

- Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain" — 10 spins

- Adele, "Someone Like You" — 10

- Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger" ("What Doesn't Kill You") — 10

- Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kicks" — 10

- Maroon 5, "Moves Like Jagger" — 10

96.7 KISS-FM

- Flo Rida, "Wild Ones" — 117 spins

- Fun., "We Are Young" — 115

- Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know" — 91

- The Wanted, "Glad You Came" — 87

- Katy Perry, "Part of Me" — 84

102.3 the Beat

- Drake, "The Motto" — 123 spins

- Flo Rida, "Wild Ones" — 120

- Drake, "Take Care" — 118

- Wiz Khalifa/Snoop Dogg, "Young, Wild & Free" — 115

- David Guetta, "Turn Me On" — 67

101X

- Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know" — 48 spins

- Foster the People, "Don't Stop" ("Color On the Walls") — 47

- M83, "Midnight City" — 46

- Linkin Park, "Burn It Down" — 27

- Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks" — 27

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