KUTX Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is KUT buying the 98.9 FM frequency?
Pending Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, the University of Texas, on behalf of KUT, is purchasing the 98.9 FM frequency with the goal of enhancing KUT’s public service, audience and community engagement by delivering distinct news and music services across two stations.
Austin is home to the state’s center of higher education and the high tech industry, yet it’s one of only two state capitals in a major market without a full-time public radio news station. KUT 90.5 FM will expand to become a dedicated news, information and variety station broadcasting the national news and information programming listeners have come to expect from KUT, and will have the platform to provide a deeper level of context and a broader forum for the voices shaping Central Texas.
Music is part of Austin’s DNA. We see an opportunity to deliver an all-music service focused on the Austin Music Experience. KUTX 98.9 FM will provide a new music service for Central Texas not found anywhere else on the dial.
The two services will create a broader platform to share the intellectual and cultural assets of the university and Central Texas with a national and international audience. Additionally, they will provide more education and internship opportunities for students at The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere.
Ultimately we are providing more choices for the community and additional ways for KUT to achieve its mission of providing unique experiences to bring people together.
2. Why is the new station called KUTX?
The University has owned the station call letters, KUTX, for a number of years. Since 2010, they’ve been assigned to KUT’s repeater station in Somerville, broadcasting to the Bryan/College Station area on 88.1 FM. Prior to 2010, the call letters were assigned to a repeater station in San Angelo.
3. What will happen to the Somerville station?
This has yet to be determined.
4. What is the broadcast area for KUTX 98.9?
KUTX 98.9’s coverage is comparable to KUT’s, providing coverage of our five-county metro area.
5. When will KUTX 98.9 FM switch over to the new format? What will audiences hear on that frequency in the interim?
KUTX will become a noncommercial, public radio station and switch over to the new format sometime this fall, pending approval from the FCC. Border Media Partners will continue to program the station in the interim.
6. Will the new format include Oldies?
We’ll program KUTX 98.9 FM in a way that’s consistent with our goal of conveying the Austin music experience.
7. What is the KXBT 98.9 FM purchase price?
8. Where is KUT getting the $6M?
KUT, which currently carries no debt, is taking out a $4 million loan from the university. The remaining $2 million will come from new donor gifts and unrestricted KUT reserve funds.
9. Are any taxpayer funds being used for this purchase?
No. In fact, with the exception of approximately $500,000 annually in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, KUT does not receive any public money, including from the university.
10. What will happen to the KXBT employees?
Border Media is the best source for information on its employees. All KUT/KUTX jobs are posted on our employment page and anyone can apply.
11. How will KUT 90.5 FM programming change?
KUT 90.5 will become an all-news and information station giving us the opportunity to broaden and strengthen our public service mission. Listeners can expect to hear much of the same national news and public information programming currently on KUT, including NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me, A Prairie Home Companion and This American Life, among other national programs. This acquisition gives us room to broadcast more local and national news programs.
12. Will KUT need to hire more people?
While we’re still working out the details, we anticipate we will need to make a few hires. Check our employment page over the next six months for job postings.
13. What other markets have dual public radio stations?
In Texas Dallas (KERA, KXT), Houston (KUHF, KUHA) and San Antonio (KSTX, KPAC) operate dual stations. Other examples include Pittsburgh, Louisville and Minneapolis.
Austin is one of only two state capitals in a major market without a fulltime news and information public radio station. Central Texas has all the demographic and social attributes — high levels of education, political engagement, civic participation and a strong sense of place — needed for a full-time public radio news station to thrive.
14. By splitting services, won’t KUT end up losing listeners?
Because only a small portion of KUT listeners are music-exclusive we expect to gain new listeners for the all-news station. The 98.9 FM position on the dial — traditionally the commercial band — will enable KUTX to reach a broader music listening audience. Additionally, having two frequencies will enable us to cross-promote the stations.
15. In light of rapid changes in content delivery, how viable is radio in the future?
Radio is one of the most widely used media platforms in the U.S. Radio is free, universally available, easy-to-access and operate, and established as a trusted source for information, entertainment and companionship.
According to the radio ratings company Arbitron, “Radio consistently reaches 92 to 96 percent of virtually every demographic group.” With this market penetration and Austin’s population doubling roughly every 20 years the prospects for radio remain strong.
Our on-air broadcast is part of a portfolio of KUT services. We reach close to 300,000 people weekly through our on-air broadcast. Our online stream, iPhone app, website, live events, as well rebroadcasts of our content by other station across the state and around the nation, bring our reach to roughly 500,000 people each week.