KUTX fans on Animal Crossing: pay a visit to KUTX’s Studio 1A in New Horizons!
If you’re longing for pre-pandemic live sessions in KUTX’s Studio 1A, come to the islands! My island, to be exact.
Dubbed “Avocado Island” by my elementary-aged daughter (in honor of her favorite food), it appears at first glance to be unremarkable – there’s nothing thematic going on, the art section of our museum is empty, and we still haven’t grown any gold roses. But head to the basement of my house and you’ll find Avocado’s crown jewel, and the project of many summer hours where I should’ve instead been learning to knit or reading an actual book: a recreation of KUTX’s Studio 1A.
Just fire up one of our KUTX at Home interviews, or a favorite past Studio 1A session, then take your seat in this state-of-the-art facility fashioned entirely of stuff purchased at Nook’s Crossing, or gifted by floating balloons or my New Horizons-playing KUT/KUTX coworkers (thank you, Ana Paula, for the drum kit.) Pay a visit anytime via Dream Code: DA-7816-6830-3135.
< You can also scan this QR code for your own KUTX logo, which you can wear as a sleeveless tank a-la-Jody-Denberg, or slap on any customizable item. Just log in to the Nintendo Switch app on your smartphone (not your Nook phone), choose Animal Crossing, then Designs, then scan the code using your phone’s camera. Next, open the Custom Designs app on your Nook phone (not your smartphone) and download the new design.
Use your Switch or smartphone to grab a photo – of your Studio 1A dream-visit, or sporting your KUTX shirt – and share it on social (be sure to tag us!)
And enjoy a couple other goodies, below, for KUTX fans of Animal Crossing: videos from Sylvan Esso and T Pain that pay tribute to everyone’s favorite time suck, plus a Zoom performance from the musicians behind the New Horizons theme song.
See you in my basement! (Yeah, that sounds creepier than I intended.)
– Jacquie Fuller, KUTX Assistant Program Director and resident of Avocado Island
Get to Know KUTX’s New Weekday Morning Host, Taylor Wallace
Photos by David Brendan Hall
There’s an old scout song that goes: make new friends, but keep the old / one is silver and the other’s gold.
After 50 years on the air, Austin gold John Aielli, who is recovering from a stroke, has retired the name of his show, “Eklektikos,” and passed the morning torch to host Taylor Wallace.
However, Taylor’s not exactly a new friend at KUTX 98.9. In addition to formerly hosting weekday evenings, Taylor also worked as John’s producer for three years. As your new morning pal from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays, Taylor brings her own love of music and quirkiness to the time slot.
We posed a few questions to Taylor about how she got her start, what inspires her and why you should tune in. And if that’s not enough for you, get to know Taylor even better in this September 18 Austin Chronicle story “Taylor Wallace Takes Over KUTX Morning Show” and by following her on Twitter @TDubonNothing and Instagram @pineladyofmetropolitanorlando (Bob Vance bought her perfume too).
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?
I’ve always been a want-to-do-it-all person (a true ENFP). I remember listening to Kidd Kradick with my mom on the way to elementary school, then Jagger and Julie (morning co-hosts on the now-dissolved DFW alt-rock station the Edge) during middle and high school, and I always thought, “this would be such a cool job! You just get to gab, talk about music, and interview artists. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!”
Literally being a radio host was the first career I wanted as a kid. But, through my childhood, I went through phases where I wanted to be a detective, vet, writer, professional musician, doctor, and probably a dozen other things I don’t remember any more.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I’m alternating between novels and music history, or people’s history non-fiction, exploring and mastering new recipes, catering to my very affectionate cat, spending as much time on my porch or walking around my neighborhood as possible, gorging on my daily menu of podcasts, and – my true guilty pleasure and escape from reality – watching “90 Day Fiancé” and listening to … several … podcasts that cover it.
Oh! And listening to music and collecting records, but I think that goes without saying. Really anything that involves learning. Learning is my favorite hobby.
When did you start working at KUTX?
I started as a KUT intern back in the summer of 2012 (before KUT moved its music service to KUTX 98.9 in 2013) when we migrated the music library to digital. I was on a team of interns who hung out in the music library ripping CDs into the new system and getting to nerd out with some of the music hosts. It’s where I met John Aielli, Jay Trachtenberg, Susan Castle, and Jeff McCord. John and I even saw Idina Menzel together that summer.
What inspires your programming?
Inclusion. I don’t believe in the “a certain percentage of your show needs to be this” philosophy. It needs to be all-around diverse and inclusive across race, gender and sexual orientation. As a pansexual person, it irks me when people forget about queerness in programming. But this isn’t limited to the person holding the mic. Broken Bells is one-half Danger Mouse. Brix Smith, Poison Ivy and Kim Deal wrote plenty of songs in bands where a dude was behind the mic – and they shouldn’t be discredited because of that. When you’re being mindful, percentages don’t matter.
Why should people tune in to KUTX between 6-9 am?
Hey, if we all have to be up that early, we may as well have fun and get down!
What can listeners expect when they tune into 98.9 weekday mornings?
Absolute buffoonery channeled into a morning of music that I hope is fun for everyone.
Why work in public radio vs. commercial radio?
Well, for one, I don’t have to worry about format flipping, random management changeover or being erroneously fired as a result. And no one’s making me play Imagine Dragons.
Among the many Austin music non-profits that KUTX supports, Swan Songs has long been one close to our hearts. Swan Songs is dedicated to fulfilling musical last wishes by organizing personalized concerts for individuals nearing the end of life. Musicians who perform are compensated, so in addition to bringing comfort through music, the organization supports Austin musicians.
Since the organization’s founding in 2005, Swan Songs has provided concerts for more than 1,000 terminally-ill Central Texans, at no cost to the recipient, family or healthcare facility. Traditionally, these concerts were performed at bedsides, in homes, and in care facilities. However, the current pandemic forced Swan Songs to pivot. Most of their recipients had compromised immune systems, facilities weren’t allowing visitors, and it quickly became clear that singing was a high-risk activity in terms of virus transmission. Swan Songs founder and CEO Christine Albert explained to me by email how the organization responded. “We met the moment by engaging musicians to record virtual concerts of diverse styles and genres of music, making them available on our website.” Swan Songs essentially created a menu of pre-recorded concerts that families or facilities could easily access when needed.
“Gradually, as our community adjusted to the new normal,” Albert said, “the requests for specific music for individuals began to come in again.” Swan Songs’ musicians began to fulfill those requests by recording personalized concerts. “Now that the weather has cooled,” she added, “we’re also fulfilling requests with outdoor, safe-distanced concerts, both at care facilities and private homes.”
Like a lot of organizations, the pandemic has also hit Swan Songs’ bottom line. “We have lost some funding, for sure,” said Albert. “Sponsors who were not able to contribute this year, people needing to scale back their financial commitment, planned events that were put on hold.” But thanks to the organization’s strong board and years of community support, she says “We are not in danger of shutting our doors.”
Nevertheless, Swan Songs’ annual gala, Swan Song Serenade, remains a crucial source of both revenue and outreach for the organization. This year, the event will be held virtually on October 25, with a virtual silent auction, artist testimonials, and special performance by Texas music giant Robert Earl Keen. “Creating a virtual Serenade is giving us the opportunity to tell our story and highlight our programs more deeply than we do at the in-person gala,” said Albert. “We are excited about that and I believe that supporters and viewers will come away with an even greater understanding of and appreciation for what we do.”
Visit Swan Songs’ website to purchase passes to the gala and to learn more about their mission, services, and how you can get involved.
– Jacquie Fuller, KUTX Assistant Program Director
Ready to learn something new? Austin musicians are ready to teach you!
Summer is nearly upon us. With state parks requiring reservations, pool openings delayed, and the mercury creeping upward, you might be wondering how you’ll the pass these most unprecedented of dog days. You’ve cycled through all the House Party trivia, sewn enough face masks to cover the neighborhood, and your Animal Crossing island is so tricked out it should be featured in Travel & Leisure. Now what?
Maybe you’re parenting school-aged kids, and wondering how you can keep them occupied this summer so you can do important things like, you know, work (as well as hide out in the bathroom for half-hour stretches.)
Let’s not sugar-coat it – the last few months have sucked. But seeking silver linings is a natural human inclination, so if you’ve got down-time, why not use it to learn a new skill? From acoustic guitar to voice lessons to music production, KUTX has a way you (or your child) can level up your music skills, while helping Austin music professionals who are struggling financially from venue closures. It’s a little bit of win-win during a time when we’ve all lost a lot.
Dust off your uke (or drums, or Garage Band, or whatever) and check out our list of Austin-area musicians who are available to teach music classes remotely by clicking the learn button, below. And if you’re a musician who wants to be added to the list (or you know one who is), click the teach button to add yourself (or share this post with them!)
Got questions or comments, or need to be removed from the list? Email us!
Endless summer? Try endless spring break! A number of school districts – including AISD, Pflugerville, and others – have extended spring break by weeks, at a minimum. We know this will impact parents and caregivers in a variety of ways, ranging from inconvenience to severe financial stress, and we hope you’re weathering it as best as you’re able. While we can’t help with childcare or the financial stuff, we can provide a little sonic relief by keeping the music going on KUTX, and we’ve also tapped some of our staff for their advice on surviving Covid-19 school closures with kids.
Jam as a Fam
My husband and kids and myself all play instruments of some kind so I’m hoping this time together will lead to some family jamming. I’m excited to learn lots of Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Steven Universe songs and get lost in the music with the people I love the most in the world. But even if you don’t play an instrument, you can still carve out time to listen to music with your kids. Singing loudly could be encouraged. Living Room dance parties could ensue. I’ve found that music really does calm me down, whether I’m listening to it or playing it, or shaking my booty to it, so I’m going to try and work as much music as possible into these next couple of weeks.
Tip: KUTX’s Sunday evening kids show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child is keeping a running list of livestream performances by kids’ music artists – like regular Austin visitors Red Yarn and 123 Andrés. Kids’ music not your family’s jam? Check out Austin360’s running list of livestream performances by Austin artists.
Make Way for Ducklings
My fam and I live in Mueller, and there just happen to be a bunch of ducklings living at Mueller Lake right now. We’ve decided to go down at least once a day and take pictures of the ducklings as they grow. That gets us out of the house while allowing Dave and I to make sure the kids are keeping a safe social distance from others. It also gives us something to look forward to: DUCKLINGS! There may be some safe, outdoor opportunity for you and your fam, too!
Tip: Say hello to neighbors from a distance, and avoid playscapes and other areas that may have been touched by others.
Make Peace With Screens
Normally, I’m anti my kids sitting in front of a screen … but, y’all, this is a strange time. The situation is changing from minute-to-minute, and we’re all stuck mostly inside. So, we’re gonna let screen time rules be much more generous than normal. For our kids, and for us. And we’re not going to feel bad about it one bit!
Explore The Neighborhood
Our family and parent-friends regularly log outdoor time on the weekends, but it’s usually hitting up a playground or a restaurant with a playground, both of which are advised as no-nos by health experts right now. Self-isolating since Saturday, we’ve been taking lots of neighborhood walks, and I’m realizing how infrequently we simply walk our neighborhood’s streets as a family. There are cool people with small children literally living on our same block, yet we see one another once per year (yup – Halloween.) The irony of this isolation is that I suspect a lot of us are going to actually see more of our neighbors than we do in non-pandemic times.
If it’s rainy out, grab an umbrella and rain boots, or turn to the TV for some indoor exercise. Go Noodle – used in a lot of local schools – features videos encouraging both mindfulness and movement-based play, including an entire channel dedicated to one of my favorite kids acts, Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
Illustrator Carson Ellis, whose work you might recognize from album covers of her spouse’s band, The Decemberists, is hosting a Quarantine Art Club, with daily drawing assignments posted to her blog and Instagram account. You and your kids can draw along with Carson and share you own work on social using the hashtags she’s provided.
For fans of Piggy, Gerald, and bus-driving pigeons, Mo Willems is hosting live, lunchtime doodle sessions on You Tube, daily at 12 CT for the next couple of weeks.
Keep ‘Em Sharp
The STARR test might be cancelled, but they’re still missing out on important instruction in school. The following shows are so entertaining, your kids won’t even know they’re LEARNING!
For the pre-K to early elementary set, Netflix’s STEM-heavy Story Bots will teach your kids everything from how cell phones work to how planets are formed. You’ll enjoy the special guests – like Reggie Watts, John Legend, and Jason Sudeikis – as well as some jokes only parents will get, like this Die Hard reference from a rain drop. For slightly older kids, Netflix’s equally STEM-heavy Brainchild is hosted by a former UT Austin student and executive produced by Pharrell Williams.
Also for pre-K to early elementary kids, the BBC’s Alphablocks and Numberblocks series will help you worry less about all the screen time they’re logging. Thanks to the latter, my first-grader is already doing multiplication and division, and I’m way less afraid of this Common Core business.
Are your kids into music? Browse in-studio performances from KUTX and other public radio stations for some of their favorite artists, and have them watch these instead of bands’ official music videos. For the younger kids, especially, this will help them better understand which instruments are making which sounds. The Classical music arm of my former employer, Minnesota Public Radio, also has a great video learning series on music, like this video that explains the difference between major and minor key.
I have my spouse to credit with this one. I’m a PJs-all-day kind of mom, but my spouse (after two days of PJs) started dressing our kid at 7am and taking her for a walk. We took it a step further and borrowed a tip from a friend – we made a home-school schedule for weekdays (which experts also recommend.) The structure keeps our kid’s cries of I don’t know what to do at bay, and allows us to get some work done from home. It will also hopefully help her transition back to school life … or school from home, depending on AISD’s next steps.
Keep ‘Em Busy
I was a stay-at-home for the first 6 and a half years of my child’s life, so I know how hard it can be to keep things fun and exciting. The next few weeks will be trying times for many parents – bless them all now! A great learning tool I discovered a few years ago is The Kid Should See This. They maintain a pretty active Twitter account plus a robust website. As a bonus recommendation, KiwiCo has a ton of cool DIY hands-on learning crafts/experiments you can do at home. (Jacquie Fuller seconds the vote for KiwiCo’s free activities, as well as their paid subscription service.)
KUTX’s Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child was featured recently in a New York Times‘ list of podcasts for kids. Follow Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child on Twitter for more updates on live stream music events for the kids, and tune in for new episodes every Sunday night at 6 on KUTX.
Fingers crossed, we hope to see you at Rock the Park in May (our April event has been postponed for September.)