News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Did Texas Host the First Thanksgiving?

Nov 24, 2015
Courtesy of the University of Texas at El Paso Library, via Jose Cisneros

It's common knowledge that in 1621 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth. 

But some say the “real” first Thanksgiving took place over 20 years before near present day El Paso, when at least 400 Spaniards, in an exploration led by Juan de Oñate, feasted with the Mansos tribe.

Like any good Thanksgiving discussion, there’s a thread of discord sown through that narrative. While everyone recognizes its importance in the history of North America, some argue that, unlike the feast at Plymouth, it’s not a harvest festival.

KUT News

If you’re thinking of volunteering this Thanksgiving holiday, you might have an image in mind of doling out piping hot spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and green beans. But up until recently, city code required all volunteers to be certified to do so.


Every five years Austin Energy reevaluates the rates it charges customers. That process will begin in the spring when, for the first time, there will be an independent advocate at the table speaking for Austin Energy customers.

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

Introducing ATXplained

Nov 20, 2015

Every day at KUT, we try to think about what you want to know. That’s what drives the decisions we make about the stories we tell. But we wanted to try an experiment to bring you, the audience, closer to the news and storytelling we do at KUT.

So we’re starting a project called ATXplained. Get it? Say it faster. There you go.

The project starts with a simple question: What are you curious about?

Photo provided by Kimberly.

This week, Travis County Commissioners approved the sale of seven and-a-half acres of county-owned property in East Austin to be donated to the local Salvation Army for a new women and children’s shelter adjacent to the current Austin Shelter for Women and Children. From Sept. 2013 to Sept. 2014, that shelter served 120 women and 249 children in crisis who needed a place to stay and services to get back on their feet.

Kimberly is one of the many women who sought help at the shelter (she asked that we not use her last name, as her children attend local schools). But, before things started unraveling, Kimberly was working and had a house and two children. Here, you can listen to Kimberley's story in her own words.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

A member of the Austin City Council says he wants to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to Austin, which is putting him at odds with the mayor.

Texas' One-Time Refugee Governor

Nov 18, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Since last week’s attacks on Paris, more than 30 governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have stated that they plan on preventing any resettlement of Syrian refugees within their borders and have called on the federal government to consider rescinding a September pledge to house 10,000 refugees in the U.S. over the next year.

While some question the legality of blocking resettlements, Abbott has stood firmly on the issue. But one of his gubernatorial predecessors, E.J. Davis, was both a refugee himself and helped lead Texan refugees out of the war-torn state and on to Union-occupied New Orleans.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Austin City Council has completed almost one year in its new configuration as a 10-1 system – with ten Council members representing ten different districts alongside one mayor.

Now, a new study out of UT Austin is trying to find whether the 10-1 system had an affect on voter turnout and civic engagement.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

The Travis County Commissioners Court finalized the sale of county-owned land in East Austin for the purpose of building a shelter to house homeless women and children today.

Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of more than 7.5 acres of property on Tannehill Lane in East Austin for the new facility, which will be operated by the Salvation Army.

Jon Shapley/KUT News

The home rental listing site Airbnb has announced a promise to work with cities and to pay what it calls its “fair share of taxes.” This news comes as Austin’s City Council has begun cracking down on short-term rentals. At a public hearing Thursday Council will hear feedback about its plan to put a hold on some rentals.

Update Friday 11 a.m. At Thursday's meeting, City Council passed a one-year moratorium on type 2 short term rental (STR) permits. The moratorium will expire in a year, unless the Council decides to extend it.

It looks like Kalu James is living the life as a musician. He's standing under a neon sign, ready to play guitar at Austin's famous Continental Club. And when he's not here, he's hustling to pay his bills.

"Being a full-time musician means you have three other side jobs, you know?" he says.


Yesterday, KUT turned 57. So for this edition of Wayback Wednesday, we've cracked open the old photo album to share a few memories from the station's nearly 60 years on the UT Austin campus. 

Seeing as we're a radio station, we've also decided to share some of our best audio from our earliest years as well, including a reading from lauded poet Allen Ginsberg, a frank discussion about education and crime with legendary Texas politician Barbara Jordan, a lecture on non-violence in the tumultuous 1970s with Joan Baez and Ira Sandperl, and a discussion on writing and filmmaking with Texas laureate Larry McMurtry.

Take a look back in the slideshow above and take a listen in the audio player below.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Earlier this year, Austin Mayor Steve Adler made a promise to get all of the city’s homeless veterans off the streets by Veterans Day.

Adler, the city and its partners say the so-called House Our Heroes program didn’t make its deadline, but they’re making inroads.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Monday night, Yvette Griego walked into Perez Elementary School in Dove Springs. She followed the hallway to the library, where City of Austin staff was gathered to field questions about home buyouts from victims of the recent Central Texas floods. Many of the affected Dove Springs residents, though, say that they’ve heard these answers from the City before — two years ago, after flooding hit their neighborhood around Halloween in 2013.

Courtesy of Travis County Courts

UPDATE Monday: Austin Police are saying a person of interest in the shooting of State District Judge Julie Kocurek has been arrested. Austin Police say in a statement released over social media that the person is being held on unrelated charges in Houston.

"We will not make any further comments at this time due to our ongoing investigation," the statement said

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin City Council members met Sunday to vote on a handful of flood disaster relief items.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

This weekend, Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest takes over most of Auditorium Shores. And while the lineup changes each year, you can expect certain things: music, fans and alcohol. This year, though, the Fest is introducing something new. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Recreation centers in Austin are still open through Sunday to help people with shelter, supplies and questions about their properties.

At the Dove Springs Recreation Center earlier this week, Leona Albrecht, her husband and six kids were sitting down eating a meal donated by a church group. Their apartment near the Onion Creek Bridge was flooded late last week.

"We probably lost half to three fourths of the house, and at the moment, no way to replace it," Albrecht says. "All we can do is just trash everything."

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor —  The City of Austin has lost its lawsuit to declare certain portions of the Texas tax code unconstitutional. The city had sued the Travis Central Appraisal District and owners of commercial and vacant properties in an attempt to overturn provisions related to how properties are appraised, claiming that those provisions unfairly favor commercial and vacant property owners and cause those properties to be undervalued.