R.I.P. KUT

To: Stuart Vanderwilt, KUT General Manager
Hawk Mendenhall, KUT Programming Director
Sylvia Carson, KUT Marketing and Development Director
Roderick Hart, Dean of School of Communications, UT-Austin
From: Julia Kveton Apodaca, former contributor to KUT

Date: April 21, 2010

Re: Why I no longer contribute

How stupid do you think we are?  Just because you keep repeating the line about coming to us for funding only twice a year, do you think we haven’t noticed that you come to us every hour of every day for funding? I admire some of the well-known personalities who have recorded support spots for KUT, but when they describe what they love about the station, it sounds like they’re speaking about the good old KUT before it was transformed from the treasure it once was into a full-time fundraising vehicle. And speaking of vehicles, when will the torture stop? Seems like when the station is criticized for saturating the airwaves with smarmy, incessant, excruciatingly irritating pleas for vehicle donations, the response is to make the spots even stupider and play them even more often.

In fact, it seems that lately, any time KUT management is criticized by long-time loyal listeners who are disillusioned by the increasing corporatization of the station, it responds by shoving more of the corporatization in our faces. As if to say, “Fine; you don’t like all our advertisements in disguise? We’ll blast you with a round-the-clock announcement about why we need them.” The announcement says that underwriters now support 40% of the programming we love, yet the programming—and the programmers/DJs—we love continue to be chipped away and hacked off and unceremoniously dumped. Instead, we hear underwriting advertisements. And announcements about why underwriting advertisements are so important to us.

Speaking of advertising, how about a little truth in advertising? Why are those sacred Saturday broadcast hours still referred to as “Folkways?” Clearly, that show is now “The Folk Hour Followed By KGSR Until The News Comes On.” I reiterate that it’s not bad music; I just don’t understand why the precious few weekly hours specifically devoted to folk music are now filled with other kinds of music that can be played on other shows or other stations.

And do you think we’re so stupid that we haven’t noticed that Aeilli is leashed?

And I love to hear Austin music, but why do you think that’s just about the only music we want to hear?

Before the current management started its slow, steady strangulation of the marvel that KUT once was, KUT didn’t have to brag about being independent. It was. It didn’t have to boast about how many different songs per year it played. It just played them. It didn’t have to tell audiences that its DJs handpick the music they play because it was obvious they did. It didn’t have to have shills shore up support for the station. And it didn’t insult our intelligence by telling us, over and over, in on-air announcements that start weeks before the “on-air fund drive,” that contributing early will keep the fund drive short, when in fact, it simply lengthens it by several weeks.

As I mentioned in my previous letter (attached), I am delighted by many of the good changes that have occurred during the three decades I have made this wonderful city my home. But of all the bad changes—such as the pollution of Barton Springs, gridlocked traffic, and outrageous housing prices—the worst, in my opinion, is the killing of KUT by short-sighted, egotistical management. It’s the same affliction that threatens to kill (with KUT’s collusion) the cherished, incomparable, immeasurable treasure that is the Cactus Café. I used to proudly donate to KUT. Instead, I will now donate to Save the Cactus Café.

001KUT

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3 Responses

  1. “BBC World Service can be heard 24/7 on 90.5 HD-2 (an HD Radio is required).”

    Well KUT, that is certainly a good reason to buy HD radios, and to jam your adjacent-channel neighbors off the dial – right?

    Ever since Mike Starling (NPR Labs) fudged the power estimates for FM-HD with the “new” calculator, I have lost all respect for NPR and NPR Labs. I could care less about listening to NPR, and will never donate, especially due to their stand on HD Radio.

    Actually, due to this site, I am learning to hate NPR even more, and will start donating more time on my blog to them.

  2. Brava, Julia, bravissima. KUT is still the best station in town – but it used to be the best station on earth, and still could be, if mistakes could be corrected and egos controlled. Thank you for your letter. I hope it’s read – and heeded – by someone who has the power to change things at KUT.

  3. Thanks for a wonderfully cogent letter that puts into words what so many have been feeling about their now tarnished KUT.

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