I put up a Facebook page this morning as a rallying place for people, such as myself, who are concerned with KUT cutting the schedules of Larry Monroe and Paul Ray back to almost nothing. As I was doing so I reflected on what KUT has meant to me, how important it has been to me throughout my life.
KUT played a major role in my development as a human being, for better or worse (I’d like to think for the better).
I’m not positive but I think KUT might have been the only FM station in Austin in the 60s. It was certainly the only one I cared to try and listen to. FM radios weren’t even that common. I didn’t have one but there was one on the Nutone intercom system that was in our house (that nobody used except me to listen to the radio…). I would go to the base station, tune in KUT and come back to my room to listen.
I heard Abbie Hoffman give speeches live from the Student Union, broadcast unedited on KUT. I think he used a number of the Seven Dirty Words in those speeches. I was impressed.
I heard the blues – real blues – for the first time on KUT. I remember it specifically: Leadbelly playing “Midnight Special”. It changed my life.
I was 12.
I used to fall asleep every night with KUT playing on the intercom and I was always awakened by their sign-off at midnight using Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner”.
I once won a copy of Johnny Winter’s “Progressive Blues Experiment” (recorded at the Vulcan Gas Co.) from being the first caller to one of the shows on KUT. My mom had to drive me down to the station to pick up the album (which I still have) and the guy was surprised I was just a kid.
Later, as I became a musician, KUT played an even more important role in my life. It was a place to be heard, to make fans, to reinforce validity to our musical efforts. We used to “storm the studio” on Folkways. Fairly often. Just kind of showed up and Dave Obermann or Dan Foster would let us play a few tunes live with one or two mics. We did a “Live Set” when we released our cassette tape (pre-CD folks!).
KUT continues to be a vital component in my life. They have been incredibly supportive, instrumental in fact, in the launch of KRTS Marfa Public Radio. I dare say KRTS couldn’t have launched were it not for KUT and we still have close ties. The Border Blasters get a lot of support from Folkways, and Phil Music. We did a “Live From Studio 1A” not too long ago with Tom Pittman thanks to Kevin Conner and Kory Cook.
I’ve never met Larry Monroe but I guarantee he’s a friend of mine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened in rapt appreciation to him weave songs together in ways that not only make each song better because of what was before and after, but that created a certain feeling – precious & fleeting. That is the magic of a true DJ that can never synthesized or programmed from afar. And Larry is one of the best of the best.
Paul Ray always gives me just what I need when I need it. At Folk Alliance this year (our first time) we played 8 times in 3 days. And I love folk music, don’t get me wrong, but when I went back to the hotel room in between performances and schmoozing the first thing I did was turn up “Twine Time” on my laptop as loud as it would go.
KUT may not have cut “Twine Time” or “Blue Monday” but at some point that would seem to be the logical conclusion. Or, after all, if an artist doesn’t have a viable outlet for their craft what choice do they have but to look elsewhere?
This is bad for KUT, bad for KUT’s listeners, bad for Austin, bad for Music.
I urge you to join the Facebook page to show our support for Larry and Paul: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112566211435&ref=nf and to let KUT know of their mistake in this. Friends don’t let friends do dumb things.