The New KUT Public Media Studios – It’s More than a Building
For the past several weeks it has felt like “high school senior week” around KUT. We’ve been in some degree of this mode ever since the on-air capital fund drive – as we observe a series of “lasts” in our old studios. Last fund drive, last board meeting, last Studio 1A performance and last staff meeting.
Staff Meeting Remarks
July 19, 2012
In just over a week, we move to our new studios and begin a new era for KUT.
Almost every notable thing that KUT has done, certainly in last three decades – has been accomplished in this building, by you, your colleagues and your predecessors, much of it under less than ideal conditions.
Some of you are working in storerooms in a basement, others in converted closets. Many have no real space at all.
I remember one of the barriers to starting KUT News, was that there was no space for it. We didn’t let that stop us, we built it in an art studio, – and for many years they worked on this floor, with the closest studio being two floors down in the basement. Today, KUT News is part of our DNA – and a central part of the new studios.
KUT has done legendary work in this dark, anonymous building — when our city was grappling with the conflicting demands for development and environmental sustainability we broadcast an all-night city council meeting. Listeners went to bed listening to the meeting, woke up in the morning still hearing it going on and made their way to City Hall – to be heard themselves.
Studio 1A was the site of one of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s earliest performances and it was the scene of one of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ronnie Lane’s final performances, as well and thousands of performances in between and since. Jimmie Dale Gilmore was the first to perform in Studio 1A and the last, along with the Flatlanders, just two days ago.
We broadcast the Watergate hearings, word for word, read from transcripts with not a bit of inflection – some by a former KUT manager who was working at NPR at the time. We provided coverage of major national issues, some would say, constitutional crises – the Iran-Contra hearings, Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the Clinton impeachment hearings and the disputed 2000 election.
KUT News, I believe, is the only media institution to recognize every soldier casualty from Texas since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Including a moving tribute just yesterday, produced by Joy Diaz, reminding our community of the continuing sacrifice being made on behalf of our country.
We brought Johnny D, Paul Ray and John Aielli’s Eklektikos to the airwaves – Texas Music Matters, Left of the Dial, the Austin Music Minute, Arts Eclectic, Get Involved and more than a hundred other shows and features.
Families have been started, homes purchased and children raised and sent through college during the time that KUTers have worked in this building. And we’ve lost a few — our founder Bob Schenkkan, more recently Leo Siedo – and notoriously Dan Del Santo (you can ask Jay).
And 911 happened. We came together and for days worked around the clock. We broadcast continuous coverage from NPR; and then, to get a more global perspective the BBC. Then we opened up the airwaves to our community and Jay Trachtenberg let people mourn and vent live on the radio. John Aielli produced a masterful broadcast requiem for the victims. Teresa Ferguson and others filled Studio 1A for hours of music celebrating our freedom and mourning our loss. Only many days later did we come together in this room to reflect, to mourn, to cry, and confront our own sadness and shock.
Everything that KUT has accomplished has happened here.
Hundreds of awards. Over 90 for our journalism alone, and three National Edward R. Murrow Awards – one of the highest in journalism – in just the past two years. And more Austin Music Awards and Chronicle Readers Poll Awards than I can keep track of.
And we helped save the Cactus Cafe.
All this proves that what KUT accomplishes and means to this community, transcends the place from where we do it. It’s not about the building in which we work; it’s who we are and what we do that makes KUT so special.
And even though it’s not about the building, I was thrilled when Cliff Hargrove told me that he was in the new Studio 1A and the acoustics are “perfect;” that he loves the control room – and the Robin Shivers Artist Green Room that enables us to treat guests with some comfort, appreciation and dignity. It made me so happy I gave him a high five – because in many ways, Cliff is the “ears” of KUT – and if he’s happy, our listeners will be happy.
As we prepare to move, I just want to say that your daily work impacts — in a profoundly positive way — the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each week.
You deserve a work place that is as aspirational, collaborative and open to the community as you are. You deserve to have the best equipment, comfortable surroundings and an atmosphere that celebrates who you are and what you do.
Our audience clearly agrees and that’s why they helped build it.
So, on Monday, July 30, 2012, a new era for KUT begins. But in many ways it will be the same – because you’ll be there, and you are the ones who make KUT.
I can’t wait to be there with you.