Andrew Weber

Freelance reporter

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.

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Austin
10:26 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Here's Some of the Armadillo Memorabilia Being Auctioned Off This Weekend

A poster from the Armadillo's 1971 opening night with art by Michael Priest.
Burley Auction Group

This Saturday, Eddie Wilson, longtime proprietor of Threadgill’s and former owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, will auction off a massive 500-item horde of memorabilia from the famous venue, which closed its doors in 1980.

Though the days of quarter-cup, dollar-pitcher beer prices may be bygone, Austinites looking to relive those cloudy memories can pick up plenty of classic concert posters with art from Austin luminary Michael Priest; an abundance of neon signs for now-defunct beers like Falstaff, Grand Prize, and Southern Special; and even the club’s house piano played by Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Randy Newman.

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Wayback Wednesday
3:06 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Meet Austin's Gunslinging Lawman, Ben Thompson

Thompson was a gunslinger, professional gambler, Confederate cavalier, a mercenary in Mexico and a convict before taking over the office of City Marshal in 1881.
Credit Austin History Center

Today’s Wayback Wednesday recognizes the 134th anniversary of Ben Thompson’s assumption of the position of City Marshal. The 134th anniversary of what was ostensibly a city police chief may not seem like an auspicious anniversary to revisit, but Thompson wasn’t your typical police chief.

In his life, Thompson was a gunfighter and professional gambler, served as a member of the Confederate Cavalry, was a hired gun for the first (and only) Emperor of Mexico and was indicted (and later acquitted) for murder while serving as the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.

Thompson was born in Knottingly, England in 1843, and his family moved to Austin in 1851. Six years later, while working as a newspaper typesetter, Thompson shot somebody – presumably for the first time. His friend, 14-year-old Joe Brown, bet Thompson that he couldn’t shoot.

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Life & Arts
11:16 am
Tue January 13, 2015

VIDEO: Matthew McConaughey's Audition for 'Dazed and Confused'

Wiley Wiggins and Matthew McConaughey audition for Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused."
Screengrab via Criterion Collection's YouTube channel

Last night, as lawmakers were polishing up their boots for the 84th Texas Legislature’s kickoff and Richard Linklater was, presumably, spit-shining his Golden Globe for Boyhood he won on Sunday, the Internet, as it often does, produced a nugget of gold.

As the Wall Street Journal writes, the Criterion Collection released Matthew McConaughey’s audition from Linklater’s seminal Austin-based comedy Dazed and Confused on YouTube. The film launched McConaughey’s career, proved Linklater could be both a commercially and critically successful filmmaker, and educated those outside of Austin on moontowers and Top Notch hamburgers.

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Austin
1:44 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Where to Find the Cheapest Gas in Austin

Gas prices have droped drastically in Austin over the last month.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Today, for the first time since 2009, oil prices dropped below $50 a barrel. Crude oil has shed nearly half of its value in the second half of 2014. While plummeting oil demand may throw the global economy off kilter, the falling prices have given drivers across the country reason to celebrate: cheap gas.

Nationally, the average gas price is around $2.19 per gallon, compared to $2.72 just a month ago, according to industry monitor GasBuddy.com. Austin’s average price is currently hovering around $1.98 a gallon. Still, some retailers have slashed prices below $1.99 and others are still charging well over $2 per gallon. With that in mind, here’s a list of where to find the top five cheapest, and most expensive, gallon of gas in Austin.

Wayback Wednesday
12:18 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Wayback Wednesday: Remembering the Armadillo World Headquarters

An archive photo of the 'Dillo. Threadgills North Lamar location holds most of the memorabilia from the Armadillo World Headquarters. Owner Eddie Wilson is set to auction off a portion of the memorabilia sometime next year.
Steve Hopson, via WikiMedia Creative Commons

Today’s New Year’s Eve edition of Wayback Wednesday looks back at the Armadillo World Headquarters. Thirty-four years ago today, Eddie Wilson's legendary club closed its doors after its decade-long run as a fixture in the Austin music scene.

The club hosted some of the most influential performers of the last fifty years, including Bruce Springsteen, Herbie Hancock, the Velvet Underground, Dr. John, Devo, Jose Feliciano, Bill Withers, Bette Midler, the Ramones and many others. The ‘Dillo was also a booster for many Texas artists – Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Asleep at the Wheel, Freddie King, Kinky Friedman, Doug Sahm and even a beardless ZZ Top all performed at the club regularly in its heyday.

Below, we’ve got a playlist of the Armadillo’s final show – featuring Asleep at the Wheel, Jerry Jeff Walker and Commander Cody – along with a set from the Talking Heads in 1979, a video of Armadillo regular Freddie King performing at the Travis County Jail after his April 1976 show, a performance from Frank Zappa in 1973 and a legendary 1972 Thanksgiving set from Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh, with Doug Sahm and Leon Russell.

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Austin
12:11 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

How to Have a Safe, DWI-Free New Year's Eve in Austin

Capital Metro will be offering free rides after 6 p.m. and extended service hours for MetroRail, MetroRapid and Night Owl buses.
Credit Capital Metro

While the city may have postponed its annual family-friendly fireworks due to possible inclement weather tonight, that's not likely to stop hordes of revelers descending on downtown to ring in 2015.

If you've ever been downtown on New Year's Eve after the clock strikes midnight, then you know it can be difficult to get home. On top of that, it's a No-Refusal night, so you'll want to plan ahead to get home safe. Check out our rundown of options below for overnight parking, safe rides home and, if you're staying in, a host of apps that'll deliver everything you need right to your door.

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Austin
11:18 am
Mon December 29, 2014

New Year Brings Expansion for Austin's Tinkering School

Typically, children and power tools don't mix.

But, for Kami Wilt, founder of the Austin Tinkering School, it’s been her mission over the last few years to help kids get messy – putting power tools and paintbrushes in students’ hands, while supervising and providing instruction when it’s needed.

Wilt hosts tinkering classes out of her backyard workshop, but, after a Kickstarter campaign that netted the school over $20,000 in contributions last month, she hopes to find a dedicated space in 2015 to continue to bring DIY-minded education to kids in Austin.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
10:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Liveblog: The 2014 Austin City Council Runoff Elections

Mayor-elect Steve Adler shakes a young supporters hand at his Election Night party.
Joy Diaz/KUT

After years of build-up and build-out, tonight the Austin City Council will finally transfer from an at-large, seven-member council to a geographically elected council with 10 members. Two of the council seats were decided on Election Day in November – Delia Garza won the District 2 seat and Ann Kitchen won District 5. Council Member Kathie Tovo, after nearly beating fellow Council Member Chris Riley with 49 percent of the vote, won the District 9 seat after Riley’s November concession.

The remaining seven races, and the race for Mayor of Austin, will be decided by today’s runoff elections.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in. Here’s a look at the Austin City Council runoff winners according to the Travis County Clerk's unofficial voting totals:

District 1 – Ora Houston wins with 74.25 percent of the vote over opponent DeWayne Lofton

District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria wins over Susana Almanza 59.76 percent over 40.24 percent

District 4 – Greg Casar wins the seat over opponent Laura Pressley with 64.62 percent of the vote. Pressley garnered 35.38 percent of the vote

District 6 – Don Zimmerman defeats Jimmy Flannigan with 51.21 percent in a close race. Flannigan carried Election Day, but his 48.79 percent in total runoffs wasn’t enough to win the seat.

District 7 – Leslie Pool wins with 66.23 percent over Jeb Boyt’s 33.77 percent.

District 8 – Ellen Troxclair wins the seat by less than 60 votes, earning 50.23 percent of the vote against opponent Ed Scruggs, who got 49.77 percent of the vote.

District 10 – Sheri Gallo defeats Mandy Dealey with 54.76 percent of the vote. Dealey got 45.24 percent of the vote.

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Google Fiber
9:38 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Google Fiber Opens Up Service Sign-Ups in South Austin

A map of the areas first in line to get Google Fiber Internet service.
Credit Google Fiber

Google Fiber announced the beginning of sign-ups yesterday in neighborhoods across South Austin.

The sign-up process puts enclaves, or “Fiberhoods,” in the queue for installation of the gigabit Internet service. Austinites living south of Barton Springs Road and north of U.S. Highway 290 will be the first to get service. 

Already there are 21 neighborhoods on that list of future Fiberhoods — nine in the surrounding area west of MoPac and between Barton Springs and 290; nine south of Lady Bird Lake; one neighborhood west of Manchaca Road; and two neighborhoods off South Congress Avenue. Those in the first group have until Jan. 29 to sign up for build out.

18 other neighborhoods just south of Lady Bird Lake have until Mar. 12 to sign up. 

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Fun Fun Fun Fest
1:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Fest-Goers Turn to Chargebacks After Friday's Fun Fun Fun Fest Line Snafu

Fun Fun Fun Fest attendees waited hours in the will call line that stretched as far as City Hall to get into the festival on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Fun Fun Fun Fest will call line blew up the Internet on Friday night.

The hours-long line that backed up across Lady Bird Lake inspired a parody twitter account, a couple of irate Reddit threads and prompted an apology from the fest’s organizers, Transmission Entertainment.

The variables that caused the backup stretch almost as far as the line itself – the festival’s queue this year formed into one line, as opposed to multiple lines like in previous years, because of construction at Auditorium Shores; the will call line was understaffed; talks between the City of Austin and Transmission broke down as they were trying to find a quick fix for the line. The list goes on. And so did the line. Until about 8 p.m., when organizers dissolved the front gate and allowed people a chance to catch the last Friday acts free of charge.

For some, (including this reporter) it was a footnote to an otherwise pleasant festival experience. Others, it seemed, wanted revenge.

Since Transmission has kept a strict no refund policy since 2006, some are turning to credit card chargebacks, a work-around that could refund those with un-scanned tickets on the grounds that they didn’t get what they paid for.

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Technology
11:21 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin Startup Uses Dumb Phones to Bring Smart Solutions to Africa's Ebola Epidemic

Developers Doing Development hopes to use texts and voicemails to Africans to help combat food, water and safety crises.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Smartphones are now the norm in the U.S., and in Austin, brandishing a flip phone in most situations is the social equivalent to wearing a dunce cap while riding a Segway. 

But in Africa and other developing countries, mobile-only networks dominate communications markets. In those places, a "brick", flip phone or “dumb” phone is a communication lifeline. 

So this weekend, Austin-based group Developers Doing Development is asking tech communities in both Austin and Madison, Wisconsin to bring smartphone-level coding to the dumb phone, and create apps that will provide on-the-ground updates and vital information to developing countries. 

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Transportation
10:58 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Audio Explainer: Austin's Billion-Dollar Rail and Roads Proposition

A map of the proposed 9.5 starter light rail line (in red) up for voter approval. Any extensions to the line would likely require additional property tax increases.
Credit Project Connect

Read our full explainer on the light rail and roads proposal here

A big-ticket item on the ballot in Austin this year is the $1 billion proposal to build a starter light rail line and improve state highways in the area.

The proposition, popularly known as Austin's Prop 1 (but on the ballot listed as 'Proposition, City of Austin'), has been a matter of much debate and a perennial talking point for those campaigning in city elections.

In the audio explainer below, KUT's Jennifer Stayton sits down with KUT reporter Terrence Henry, who's been covering the proposal, to talk about what's at stake, and what happens next, pass or fail.

2014 Elections
1:18 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Austin-Grown Voting App Looks to Test Here and Expand Nationally

The Voting App aims to "empower" voters by providing information on local, county, state and national candidates.
Andrew Weber/KUT

Joe Santori was never a particularly political guy. He designed videogames.

The most he worried about fair representation or mapping data was whether or not the Green Lantern Corps was properly represented or if a map would clutter users’ screens in “DC Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online role-playing game he worked on in 2011.

But in 2012, Santori got a gig working on the Texas Secretary of State’s Vote Texas app. It was, he says, remarkably similar: data for multiple parties had to be readily available on a screen, like in MMORPGs, and that data had to be specific to where that user was.

Santori decided that kind of data would be useful to Austin voters, and he set out on his own project: The Voting App.

Today, Santori’s firm ThinkVoting debuted The Voting App, a resource to view mock ballots, the League of Women Voters’ voting guide and candidate information across all of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.

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Ebola
2:02 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

UT-Austin Student Being Monitored for Ebola Symptoms, Has Low Risk of Infection (Update)

Credit Todd Wiseman/Phil Moyer via Texas Tribune

Officials from the University of Texas at Austin and Travis County say a female UT-Austin student was on board the Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas which carried the Dallas area Ebola-affected nurse Amber Vinson.

The Travis County Health and Human Services Department is monitoring for symptoms of Ebola.  The student was not in close contact with Vinson and she is not showing symptoms of the virus. Officials urge there’s a “low risk” she contracted the virus because she was out of the three-foot radius around Vinson referred to as the "zone of concern" by officials.

The student will not attend classes at UT-Austin until after Nov. 3, according to UT Campus Safety and Security.

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2014 Elections
12:56 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Meet the Candidates Running for Mayor of Austin

Austin voters will choose a new mayor on November 4, 2014.

KUT's Nathan Bernier sat invited the candidates running for the highest office in the City of Austin to our studios to speak with us about their visions for Austin.

Seven of the eight candidates talked about how they'll deal with issues such as affordability, traffic and transportation,  public education in an expanding city,  and why they want to be Mayor of Austin.

Still can't decide which candidate's getting your vote on Election Day? Below we've got the full audio and archived video of KUT's Ballot Boxing mayoral forum courtesy of KXAN.

Google Fiber
4:12 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Google Announces December Fiber Signups for South Austin

A map of the area in South and Southeast Austin that will be eligible for Google Fiber service.
Google Fiber

After months of anticipation, Google announced today that it will open up signups for its gigabit-speed Google Fiber Internet service in December, starting with neighborhoods in South and Southeast Austin.

“We can only launch one seventh of the city at the time,” Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber’s Austin operations, said of the slow rollout. “The network will include 3000 miles of new fiber optic cables. It’s like going to Canada and back.”

According to Strama, new users that live in South and Southeast Austin can signup for Google Fiber by the end of the year. The company says the process is taking longer because the fiber network had to be planned and designed from scratch.

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2014 Elections
10:45 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Map: Where Do Austin's City Council Candidates Live?

Austin's switch to geographic representation is, quite literally, all about where you live.

All of the 78 candidates vying for a spot in City Hall will represent their own enclave in the 10-1 district format, which doesn't offer the most clean-cut of district boundaries.

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Texas Standard
4:47 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Op-Ed: Austin Mom Kari Anne Roy on Child Protective Services & 'Unstructured Play'

Kari Anne Roy was visited by police and child protective services after a neighbor complained she had let her 6 year old son play outside across the street from her house.
Credit Courtesy of Kari Anne Roy

Austin parent Kari Anne Roy has attracted national attention and started a conversation about parental supervision.

In a blog post, Roy wrote that a well-intentioned neighbor escorted her 6-year-old son to her front porch and advised her that it was dangerous for him to be playing alone outside. Roy says her son was playing near a park bench 150 yards from her house, which, she says, is clearly visible from her porch. 

After the incident, she was visited by an Austin Police officer and later she and her children were interviewed by an investigator with Child Protective Services. She says she felt humiliated and angry, and that because of the incident — and the subsequent questioning from CPS — her three children felt as if they had done something wrong and "don't feel safe outside."

You can listen to Kari Anne Roy's commentary below. 

ACL 2014
12:42 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

How to Have a Carefree, Car-Free ACL Weekend

With Austin City Limits comes traffic, but there are plenty of options to avoid the
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

ACL is here. That means – whether you’re a native Austinite or an out-of-towner – there will be traffic.

I-35, MoPac, Congress Avenue, Barton Springs, South Lamar and any other stretch of paved road remotely near the downtown area will likely begin to resemble a parking lot by the time things kick-off this weekend. While there's plenty of parking, we can pretty much guarantee that none of it will be free.

So, with that in mind, here’s a guide to help you get from point A to point B without getting behind the wheel.

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Austin
6:26 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Austin Moves Closer to Legalizing Ridesharing Services, Uber & Lyft

Services like Uber Black are technically legal under the law. Drivers must have a chauffer's license and charge a minimum amount of $55.
Wikimedia Commons user Bull-Doser

The Austin City Council voted Thursday evening to move forward with plans to allow temporarily ridesharing services to operate legally in the city. But with many details still to be worked out, ordinance sponsor Chris Riley moved to vote to approve only on second reading.

"Given the concerns we've heard from both of the companies in the room and the uncertainty as to whether this will work at all, then I'm inclined to suggest that we just pass this on second reading and give this further consideration, because I don't think we want to give something final approval on an emergency basis only to find that it just doesn't work," Riley said just before the vote.

Among the issues discussed Thursday afternoon: insurance, access for people with disabilities, equity for taxicab operators, limits on the number of consecutive hours drivers could be on the roads, limits on surge pricing at times of emergency, driver background checks -- what about taxes?

The measure passed on second reading, with only Council Member Laura Morrison voting no. The Council will revisit the matter at their next meeting on October 16.

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