The Austin Chronicle‘s year-end summary of music news by Austin Powell included this mention of “Cactusgate”:
University Unions Executive Director Andy Smith set the tone locally with a callous 5pm press release on Friday, Jan. 29, announcing the closure of the Cactus Cafe due to financial concerns. The seven-month-long absurdist saga that followed had more right turns than Franz Kafka‘s The Trial, ultimately resulting in the departure of longtime manager Griff Luneburg (see “Blood on the Tracks,” Feb. 6, 2009) to the tune of Butch Hancock‘s heroic No Two More Alike marathon in June.
In September, the campus landmark was officially “repurposed” under the direction of KUT and newcomer Matthew Muñoz. While the venture has gotten off to a rough start — according to financial statements obtained through Open Records Requests, the venue lost more than $35,000 in the first two months after the transition — the local NPR affiliate has upheld the venue’s integrity if not its quirky bookings. Moreover, the station has bolstered its wealth of talent presumably to assist in the effort (and to offset the retirement of Blue Monday host Larry Monroe), adding KGSR alumnus Susan Castle and former Woxy Program Director Mike Taylor, the only visible silver lining thus far to the latter station having its local Web radio plug pulled in March.
Just this week, in fact, KUT signed local radio’s most valuable free agent, Jody Denberg, whose one-year noncompete clause with KGSR, the station he led for 19 years, ended on Dec. 9. The industry veteran will be working part-time, filling in for vacationing deejays (e.g., during Jay Trachtenberg’s midday slot on Friday, Dec. 31) and contributing to Texas Music Matters.
The Facebook page supporting deejays Larry Monroe, Paul Ray, and John Aielli (link on right), still 1700 strong, carried a few comments regarding the changes:
Yep, finally ‘out of the closet’ for the first day of 2011 on ‘Folkways’ this morning: K. Conner’s intro said ‘..where you hear all kinds of music’…. He didn’t even give lip service by saying programming would be ‘folk the first 2 hours’ and then Americana after that — even though we all know that perhaps you only hear a folk tune once in a while those first 2 hours. Well, as of now, I don’t listen anymore. I’m through with Saturday Folkways. It’s a sham. Just change the name and put it out of its misery.
Jazz-guitar great Michael Barnes added this:
Jody Denberg is to come out of retirement to sub for Jay Trachtenberg on KUT. Ouch! KUT is SUPPOSED to be a home for music and news you can’t get in the commercial world. Transformation into KGSR (with news) is almost complete.
Local wag Jim Vest responded:
You got that right Mike! I guess I’m behind the curve on this, first I heard was today when Jay Trachtenberg was signing off. So now we’ll have Jody Denberg, Susan Castle, Kevin Conner & Matt Riley all on the air at KUT. And we’ve had KGSR’s (old) playlist for a long time now, so presto chango, commercial radio has now moved to the (once) public airwaves. Craig’s been talking about stations being assimilated into the NPR Borg, this is being assimilated into . . . The Slime?
And, responding to a question about when this all happened:
Happened today. Then he’ll be back for Jay’s show tomorrow & be in for John Aielli on Friday. I haven’t heard of anything past that point. Much as I hate the KGSRization of KUT, it was nice hearing him back on the air today. I’m a fan of Jody’s. But now I’m wondering if this is a way of bringing him in slowly, maybe working towards that Saturday night slot where Twine Time sits. Maybe a return of Jody’s old show “Critic’s Choice”? Watch out Paul!
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