Jim Radio

Jim Ellinger, the Jim Radio of Austin Airwaves, was fresh back from installing a radio station in Haiti. He then attended the National Federation of Community Broadcasters conference in St. Paul, where he ran into Gregg McVicar, producer of “Undercurrents,” a syndicated AAA radio show that replaced the overnight slots of two longtime deejays at KUT in Austin, Larry Monroe and Paul Ray. (Their hours were sliced under the minimum required to retain health care.) “Undercurrents” costs the station all of $3,200 a year to air. One show replaced was “Phil Music,” a Monroe vehicle for decades with a tongue-in-cheek name.

Of the meeting, Jim said the following:

Greg is a fine radio fellow, having produced the Strawberry Fest’s radio station for 25 years. He is well aware that his show is generally unpopular in Austin. He has never been here. Undercurrents has value to small and rural stations that cannot afford original content overnight. It has no place on the Austin airwaves, I told him. He is aware of how shabbily KUT treated its own folks. I gave Gregg a “Where’s Phil Music?” sticker.

He forwarded the following photos of the meeting.

The photo credit belongs, of course, to Austin Airwaves. Jim is off next to Detroit, northern California, Ghana, and somewhere in northern Europe until August, but he did send along a few news items, the first referencing both KUT and WGBH:

Public Interactive’s new Web publishing service to be built on Drupal

Public Interactive has chosen Drupal, the open source content management system, for the new web publishing system that is about to launch piloting on six client station websites, including one created through a content partnership between KUT and the Texas Tribune. Doug Gaff, PI’s new director of technology, announced the decision on the Inside NPR blog: “While all of the major CMSes are excellent in their own right, Drupal was an especially good fit for the platform. It’s one of the most extensible and general-purpose CMSes in use today. It has one of the strongest and most active open source communities. The module library is very extensive and diverse. Drupal is well suited for deploying to mobile devices, and there is a strong affinity for Drupal in the public media space.” Some pubcasting stations have already adopted Drupal for online publishing: San Francisco’s KALW Radio, for CrossCurrents, a local news program with a dynamic website, and WGBH in Boston, for the website of its new World multicast channel. Bob Lyons, director of radio and new media initiatives, told Current that WGBH is using Drupal for some other websites as well — small ones that its digital team wants to launch quickly.

The stations, apparently, are finding all kinds of whiz-bang ways to spend the money they’ve saved by cutting out local talent. The other item he sent along is “further evidence of the demise of Austin radio,” he says:

Clear Channel, via its station overage holding company Aloha Station Trust, is spinning KFMK-FM to a religious broadcaster that hitherto restricted its operations to Washington State. And the contract contains a bit of good news for Clear Channel/Aloha employees in Austin. According to the contract, the seller’s employees in this case are expressly unavailable to the buyer, without written permission, for a period of one year. That’s good news for existing employees — usually the impact on employment is a transfer to the new company or a job loss. But of course, that clause is no guarantee that no jobs will be lost.

It’s absolutely good news for radio workers on the other side, however. The buyer, Crista Ministries, will have to do some hiring to staff the station. KFMK-FM, licensed to Round Rock, TX, is going for $6.25M cash. It came on the market when Clear Channel changed its ownership structure and lost grandfathered status for a number of oversized local clusters. Crista, headed by Deborah Limb, Robert J. Lonac and Stan Mak, owns KCIS-AM & KCMS-FM in Edmonds, WA, and KWPZ-FM in Lyndon, WA.

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One Response

  1. Just to be clear: Undercurrents didn’t replace the Phil Music Show, which was on during prime time hours Thursdays on KUT. The Undercurrents time slot is after midnight the nights it airs….

    But the Phil Music Show was yanked as part of the 2009 slash and burn at KUT. And is still sorely missed….

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