Transformational gift to help KUT and KUTX serve growing region

Marsha Miller

$1.5 million gift honors legendary host John Aielli

KUT 90.5

Published October 25, 2023 at 12:49 PM CDT

Two Austin philanthropists and former journalists are pledging $1.5 million over three years to KUT and KUTX to improve and sustain news and music services, and to honor the legendary host John Aielli.

The gift from Lynne Dobson and Greg Wooldridge is the largest outright gift the station has ever received. It will support Texas Capitol beat reporting and expand the staff of the station’s daily news magazine, Texas Standard. More than 40 journalists currently work in the newsroom on the local news, Texas Standard, and on digital and multimedia teams.

Their gift, via The Tejemos Foundation, will allow for the naming of KUT’s community room after Aielli, who hosted the quirky “Eklektikos” music show on KUT 90.5 and later on KUTX 98.9. He died last year after 56 years on the air.

Debbie Hiott, KUT and KUTX general manager, said “this contribution is transformative in helping KUT meet local demand for service and regional growth. Austin is getting bigger and its issues are more complex. That’s why we must build and sustain a newsroom that can expand. This generous gift is going to help us do that, and hopefully it will encourage others who believe in local news and what we do, to step up as well.”

Dobson and Wooldridge have more than 50 years of journalism experience between them in newsrooms across the country, including the “Austin American-Statesman” in the late 80s through 2002, where Lynne was a staff photographer and Greg was a sports and features editor. They also worked in the Dobson family business, Whataburger Restaurants, for many years in community and non-profit outreach, communications and public relations. Lynne is a 1979 honors graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas College of Communication and worked as a “Daily Texan” staff photographer. She was inducted into the 2023 Daily Texan Hall of Fame.

“Music, nature, parks and green spaces are the lifeblood of Austin, and truth in journalism and social justice are the lifeblood of society. KUT provides a voice for all of this,” says Wooldridge.

For years they have supported the music community by giving to HAAM, KMFA, Conspirare, The Austin Symphony, and KUT and KUTX. They are devoted to revitalizing and protecting parks and the environment with The Trail Conservancy, Pease Park and Waterloo Greenway. Equitable educational outreach is a priority in their commitment to Communities In Schools, Lifeworks, Breakthrough Austin and The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. In 2022, they created, co-edited and co-produced a photo, quote book about Governor Ann Richards, “The One Ann Only,” as part of the Ann Richards Legacy Project.

Their focus on racial and social justice, equality and history preservation led to involvement with Charleston’s new International African American Museum and to their support of the Austin Community Foundation’s The Black Fund and Hispanic Impact Fund. Their global work in Africa and India funds organizations working to improve lives in the sectors of reproductive, maternal healthcare, education, disability and clean water.

About KUT 90.5, Austin’s NPR station, and KUTX 98.9, the Austin Music Experience 
KUT News delivers in-depth stories by and about people in Austin – for Austin – with the highest journalistic standards from a variety of thoughtful perspectives. A founding member of NPR, KUT News has won hundreds of state, national and international awards for journalistic excellence. KUTX, named “Best Radio Station” in the Austin Music Awards poll nine times, is the destination for new music from the artists driving the sound of Austin today. KUT and KUTX’s work is directly supported by a community of members and local businesses.

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