What musical experience most set you on the path to a career in radio?
My parents influenced me quite a bit in that department. They always had the radio on in the car, then they got me a radio when I was a kid, then eventually a stereo with a turntable. They liked a lot of the R&B, soul and pop that shaped my ear in the ‘70s, then as I began to develop my own tastes in music, rock ’n’ roll stepped in. I played the hell out of Blondie’s first album, which my aunt found for me one Christmas, and my favorite, Sgt. Pepper. An absolute headphone experience. I was obsessed. But growing up with radio as a kid, I learned the names of my favorite DJs and wondered what exactly it took to have a career like that. Little did I know, the paths are many, and have their own adventures.
What’s your favorite Austin music experience so far?
Oh my. Not a fair question at all! How much time have you got? May I write a novel in this section? I guess one that left me tremendously star-struck was seeing Patti Smith in Studio 1A, but seeing her before her performance, talking with Jody Denberg, was very special. It was surreal. Also seeing Sharon Jones perform in Studio 1A in our old location, and the warm way she greeted all of us and took the time to speak with fans afterward. But my favorite experiences are all the times I see people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, getting to know as friends, and whose music I’ve been sharing with listeners for quite some time on KUT and then KUTX, who get onstage and just knock people out with their incredible performances. I live that experience nearly every single day of my life here in Austin, and it never goes away. The excitement stays with me. And this is all kinds of music, many different styles. I’m a proud geek, and there I am at these shows with a goofy grin on my face, elated. It always humbles me. I’m like a proud parent.
Why public rather than commercial radio?
Commercial radio is really only truly about advertising dollars. I can’t speak on behalf of others when it comes to musical tastes, but there’s this homogenized quality about today’s commercial radio that doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand, public radio has been a route of discovery, from the time my father introduced me to KTEP 88.5 in my hometown of El Paso, to the wonderful music I learned about through KUT and KUTX. And we’re in an extraordinary situation in our city, where radio stations like ours can flourish and continue to grow because of the quality of programming. We share incredible music every day. The live performances we host are electrifying.
How do you spend your time when you’re not spinning records on the air?
Dear, oh dear. If it isn’t reading, Seeing a lot of classic film – most of my time would be spent watching Turner Classic Movies, if I had cable. And checking out a lot of comedy from the UK – The Mighty Boosh, Ross Noble, Dylan Moran, Alan Davies, Julia Davis, a lot of stuff by the late Victoria Wood, who was brilliant. A lot of people in the U.S. don’t know that Hugh Laurie isn’t American. He got his start with his partner in comedy crime, Stephen Fry. And Hugh’s also a fantastic musician. I met him once, filming part of a musical documentary in Luckenbach. I made an absolute idiot out of myself. It took two and a half beers to get the courage to go right up to him and say, “Hello, Hugh! I’m…Laurie.” So embarrassing. And he very sweetly leaned closer to answer, “I’m assuming it’s spelled the same.”
Finish the sentence: “Austin Music Is ….”
“…always here for me.” So many different kinds of music going on here, and it’s collectively an empowering force lifting me up, even during my darkest hours. It always is here for me.