What musical experience most set you on the path to a career in radio?
I discovered music early – my father loved music and had a fairly open mind, at least about some things. I read every piece of music writing I could get my hands on, played music in high school bands, got into piano, and began acquiring albums at a furious pace. This was helped along by the fact that I was lucky enough to have some adventurous radio happening around me when I was growing up. I was fairly obsessed, and hearing creative people on the radio made me quickly realize its enormous potential. The first job I ever had – at age fifteen – was at a radio station.
What’s your favorite Austin music experience so far?
There have been so many. Early on seeing so many formative Austin giants, to playing and seeing other bands at Rauls, Club Foot, Liberty Lunch, the Beach, the Continental Club, all long gone save the Continental, to more recent local acts blowing the roof off newer venues like ABGB, Emos, the Mohawk (ok, no roof). Many great moments have come from our Studio 1A, both the old and the new one. I talked a friend into bringing Allen Toussaint by; sitting in the same room with him and many other lost legends are incredible memories. When I first got to Austin I was going out to see Austin musicians virtually every night and a great number of special musical nights have stayed with me over the years. Willie’s 60th birthday bash, with Bob Dylan and Ray Charles in attendance, stands out. One of the weirdest and most unusual events was a thing called Gloriathon, when Austin musicians from every musical spectrum tag teamed to play ‘Gloria’ for 24 hours to close down Liberty Lunch. Van Morrison even joined in the act over the phone from some festival in the UK. Simultaneously an absurd and powerful Austin music moment.
Why public rather than commercial radio?
Well, I’ve done both, but after enduring several buyouts and overnight format changes, I thought I was done with radio and its instability,and moved on to other things in the music business for several years. My friend Hayes McCauley convinced me to try KUT, and I’ve been around in one capacity or another since 1990. There are many good commercial stations, and this is an unfair generalization, but to me public radio has always been first and foremost about music, while commercial radio has other priorities.
How do you spend your time when you’re not spinning records on the air?
As music director I program new music for the station. When I’m not at work I’m often listening to things old and new, going to shows, and hanging out with my friends. We talk about many things, but it always comes down to – what else? – music.
Finish the sentence: “Austin Music Is ….”
…the lifeblood of this town and the reason I have lived here for over three decades.