Amplifying the Airwaves

Texas’ capital city isn’t nicknamed the “Live Music Capital of the World” for nothing. And now, thanks to a new acquisition, UT’s beloved public radio station, KUT-FM 90.5, is better positioned to take advantage of the Austin music scene.

In August, the UT System Board of Regents approved KUT’s $6 million purchase of KXBT 98.9, set to become a noncommercial music station. From Willie Nelson to Kat Edmonson and Ghostland Observatory, the new station—now known as KUTX—will be dedicated to showcasing the Austin music experience, including performances in KUT’s new and improved Studio 1A and the Cactus Cafe.

“Music—local and national—is part of Austin’s DNA,” says director and general manager of KUT radio Stewart Vanderwilt. “What’s great about the Austin music environment is that it’s constantly evolving, and there’s no dominant genre.”

KUT 90.5 will become a dedicated news and information station that will continue to broadcast popular shows, including NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and This American Life. The elimination of music on 90.5 will allow more time for in-depth national news coverage—a void in Austin’s current radio offerings.

“Austin is home to the state’s center of higher education, government, and the high-tech industry, yet it’s one of only two state capitals in a major market without a full-time public radio news station,” Vanderwilt says.

KUT’s new 20,000-square-foot, two-story home in the Belo Center for New Media is suited beautifully for the new addition, with two on-air control rooms, a newsroom, interview studios, and a live-session studio.

Pending FCC approval, KUTX 98.9 is expected to begin airing in mid-December.

From top: Austin country band The Crooks plays in KUT’s new Studio 1A; Shelves of music inside KUT’s new studio in the Belo Center for New Media.

Credit: Matt Valentine.


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