Ben Philpott

Senior Editor

Ben Philpott is the Sr. Editor for KUT. He’s also co-host of The Ticket 2016, a podcast produced by KUT and the Texas Tribune covering the presidential election. Ben has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and has been named Radio Journalist of the Year by the Houston Press club four times.

Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

Ways to Connect

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The rules of a special legislative session are pretty simple: The governor rules. Only the governor can call a special session, and only the governor can set the agenda. That's why it was a little curious when three bills dealing with groundwater popped up in the Texas House on Thursday.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

House Speaker Joe Straus has made himself enemy No. 1 among the state’s most conservative voters. His crime? His management style.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

State lawmakers are back in Austin to kick off some legislative overtime.

And, as it's been reported over and over and over again, the special session is needed because lawmakers couldn’t pass a bill to keep a handful of state agencies open and operating. That got some of our listeners wondering if lawmakers could’ve spend their time at the Capitol a little more efficiently.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Last week, Texas made national news when state lawmakers got into a shouting match that escalated into shoving and even death threats.

But anger among politicians working at the Texas Capitol had been growing for weeks, and some lay blame for that at the feet of a small group of extremely conservative lawmakers. They call themselves the Texas Freedom Caucus

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas lawmakers wrap up a very busy week at the Capitol today, and last night had a little bit of everything that you’ll find at the end of a legislative session.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Texas House of Representatives has given tentative approval of a bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities. The chamber passed Senate Bill 4 early Thursday morning on a 93-54 vote after about 16 hours of debate. The bill would penalize jurisdictions that limit local law enforcement's cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Voters don't like Congress. Only about 40 percent of the country approves of the job the president is doing. And, because of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on elections, people feel like their voices don't count as much as a large campaign donation.

Filipa Rodrigues / KUT

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it has changed, whom it affects and its future. 

National Weather Service

UPDATE 10:27 pm: Storms have moved into Austin area. No tornado warnings so far, but the National Weather Service says the storms could contain small hail and 40 mph winds.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature gaveled in this week, kicking off 140 days of press conferences, hearings, debates and votes on new legislation. But while that action begins to ramp up, another major political pastime is on hold.

Lawmakers are not allowed to raise campaign cash during a legislative session. But that didn't stop the state's top officials from letting potential opponents know how much money they have in the bank.

Texas Tribune/Bob Daemmrich

The 85th session of the Texas Legislature opened Tuesday to lots of pomp, plenty of circumstance and, well, not much else.  

Liang Shi for KUT

It's just a week until the start of the 85th session of the Texas Legislature. And, while you've probably heard lots of stories about lawmaker priorities for the 140-day session, it's not always about what bills are being debated, but whether the Texas House or Senate is leading the charge.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The University of Texas at Austin announced this morning that head football coach Charlie Strong has been fired. Strong had a few signature wins while at the school, but was not able to put together a winning season. Strong posted a 16-21 record at UT, the longest stretch of losing seasons at the university since 1935 to 1938.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently released his top 10 priorities for the 2017 legislative session. And now with several hundred bills filed, we have some glimpses of how he plans to meet his goals.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

We all know Texas is a red state. Democrats haven't won a statewide election since 1994, and Republicans have carried the state in every presidential election since 1976.

The question of how that came to be got Gilda Garcia wondering, so she asked TXDecides – our statewide public radio collaborative that's answering Texas voters' questions ahead of Election Day.

"I remember growing up my parents talking about Texas being all Democratic – period," Garcia said. "So what happened?"

In short, it's complicated.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

This week, the Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott taped before a crowd at KLRU's historic studio 6A, former host of the iconic TV show "Austin City Limits."

Daniel Reese for KUT News

After years of planning and consideration, a proposal to build a commuter rail line from Georgetown to San Antonio is now dead. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) voted last night to remove the Lone Star Rail District from its long-range plan. 


Join KUT's Ben Philpott and The Texas Tribune's Jay Root for a live recording of their podcast, The Ticket 2016 – a look at presidential politics from a Texas perspective. Ben and Jay will kick off the evening with a review of the latest news from the campaign trail, including some debate comedy from our friends at 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

You've heard it all before. Texas is a red state. Democrats are hoping that shade of red will fade this November as voter registrations increase, but could more voters actually change the outcome? 


It's been two years since the Austin City Council was overhauled from 6 at-large council seats to 10 single member districts - plus the mayor. Now, 5 of those new seats are up for re-election.

To help voters learn more about incumbents running for re-election – and those challenging to replace them – KUT News and the Austin Monitor have set up candidate forums in each of the districts up for grabs in November.

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