Not a Playlist

A story on the Austin American-Statesman website about KDRP in Dripping Springs, the low-power FM station that picked up longtime DJ stalwart (and national award-winner) Larry Monroe — unceremoniously dumped from shows on “public” station KUT — drew some kudos from his fan base. The story, “Nonprofit KDRP radio in Dripping Springs gains following,” by Patrick George, traces the history of the nonprofit venture. But it also featured some insight by Larry into the KUT “playlist” that’s not a playlist, if you listen to station management — who’ve gone gaga over AAA music to the extent that the songs played there are often indistinguishable from those on five or six other local (commercial) stations. As Larry explained:

I am very happy to be at KDRP where I have complete artistic freedom. KUT is now a AAA format station. Before I retired KUT required music hosts to play four rotation tracks each hour. Rotation tracks were strictly enforced from a group of new cds selected by the music department and only the recommended tracks from those cds could be played. In addition three “core artists” had to be played each hour and I had to play two tracks from cds from the “new” rack. Nine of the 12 or so tracks I played each hour had station fingerprints on them. There was no way to do artistic radio with that format, the best I could do was make little puzzles. Add to that an incredible amount of scheduled “clutter” and station self aggrandizing promotion. No matter what they tell you KUT program hosts do not have the freedom to choose what they play. At KDRP I do have that freedom and I intend to make the best radio programs I can for our ever-growing listening audience. Thank you KDRP.

On KDRP (link on right). Larry has revived the free-form shows “Blue Monday” and the “Phil Music Program” eviscerated on Austin’s “public” radio station, moves that, along with others, triggered the saveKUTaustin protest movement. Larry is now free of the moneyed suits — the best and the brightest — whose hot pursuit of Arbitron numbers, corporate support, and, not inconsquentially, their own fame and fortune pace the consolidators’ rush to the mundane, belying the clarion call of the movement espoused on the website 170millionamericans.org — “to ensure universal access to high-quality non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens, and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and minorities” (see “Having It Both Ways,” here).

“Austin Slim” added one interesting comment to the Statesman article:

“Our main purpose is to serve the community” says it all. Three cheers for KDRP! The community thanks KDRP for hiring Larry Monroe. And don’t think it went unnoticed that KUT, while getting “best station” in the Chronicle poll, only had two DJs in the top five: Paul Ray and John Aielli. KUT management is still playing to a youth market that isn’t even listening to the radio.

What’s interesting about it is that the two DJs from KUT who made the top five? They were the other two free-form stalwarts whose hours were slashed under the current regime.

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4 Responses

  1. […] Once upon a time, one of the main tenets of public broadcasting was that they were to serve the under-served. And to make the listeners in their local communities aware of the treasures around them. When those same stations turned their backs on their local scenes in favor of cheap national feed and the Almighty Dollar, this was one of the predictable results. I imagine that somewhere out there in NPR land there was mention of Pinetop Perkin’s passing, maybe even a sample played from his last CD. But if there was a national tribute to Calvin Russell’s passing then I’ll eat my leather hat. As for the local level, during Larry’s tribute I checked the set list over at his former station, KUT-FM — not a single song by Calvin. Instead there was the usual AAA rotation that the station managers imposed some years ago  (see “Not a Playlist,” here). […]

  2. KDRP broadcasts over the air on 103.1 and is rebroadcast on 100.1. There is a coverage map on their website but it’s basically South Austin, Dripping Springs & the Hill Country. Bell & Milam counties would need to use the streaming internet feed. There are buttons for both Windows and Macs on their “listen” page. You can also get an app for smartphones as well. Larry also puts up his set lists on his personal website and in fact has this Monday’s list up now for a preview of the Muddy Waters birthday show.

  3. i’m glad to find my two fav. dj’s my $ will take another road and find a new home ? are dial,web & will i be able to receive waves in bell & milam co.

  4. KUT-FM under its current management has become, basically, a commercial station. Its public station license has been hijacked, but it stays just within the legal boundaries to keep the other commercial stations from taking legal action. KDRP on the other hand is becoming the model of what public stations were intended to be, serving the local community and providing programming to under-represented markets. Adding talents such as Larry Monroe & Sammy Allred will guarantee an increase in their donations, which I am sure will go right back into the station coffers, none of the bloated six-figure salaries that the KUT managers are getting away with.

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