Award-winning public radio station KUT-FM already sounds like Austin, arguably more than any of the other mostly homogeneous stations on the air. And now, KUT is about to embark on a project to create a new radio station and venue facility that will be the envy of all of those commercial also-on-the-air choices.
You’re going to start hearing more about it beginning Monday, May 7, because the station is breaking new ground both literally and figuratively. “KUT 90.5 will conduct a five-day on-air campaign to raise nearly $1 million to complete the $9.8 million campaign. The on-air campaign marks the first time KUT has reached out to listeners for support in constructing the KUT Public Media Studios,” says KUT’s Erin Geisler.
The new space will be next door to the new Belo Center for New Media and across Dean Keeton Street north of the KLRU-TV studios. It will be a daily destination for robust discussion, unique live musical performances, and cultural experiences, Geisler says.
Why will other radio stations drool over this facility? This two-story, 20,000-square-foot, LEED-designed KUT Public Media center will have everything they ever dream of having:
- A staffed lobby with visible KUT brand and donor recognition.
- Studio 1A — one of the most famous recording and broadcasting studios in Austin — will emerge from its rarely seen basement location to become Performance Studio 1A, a 72-seat, glass-walled space that will incorporate the community into some of KUT’s 200 annual in-studio performances.
- The Community Engagement Room will promote daily interaction between KUT and the public via forums, workshops and events.
- The producer commons will be an open and technologically advanced work area that brings together — for the first time — KUT’s newsroom, on-air hosts, music producers, online producers and interns to collaborate. The newsroom is right in the center where it should be.
- Each studio, control room and producer desktop will be networked together — making every corner of the station part of a powerful integrated media production facility.
- The facilities will double KUT’s current capacity to provide professional-level internships, offering critical hands-on education on the role of responsible journalism.
- Two on-air control rooms — located on the same floor as the producers — will enable KUT to broadcast content on multiple channels.
- For the first time, KUT will have a green room to provide a welcoming and comfortable space for artists, authors, scholars, politicians and newsmakers to prepare for their appearances.
- The street-level plaza and outdoor stage will be connected by a performance lawn and provide a view into Performance Studio 1A.
- A 300-seat university auditorium accessible to KUT to host lectures, performances and public discussions of critical community issues.
Located on the corner of Dean Keeton and Guadalupe, it will be an information and entertainment hub unlike any other station.
Sure, Clear Channel with its huge facilities housing multiple radio stations at Penn Field off South Congress Avenue is impressive — but even it cannot match these state-of-the-art plans.
“From the Performance Studio 1A, to the producer commons, to the open floor plan, the KUT Public Media Studios have been built to demonstrate KUT’s work from the inside out,” says Stewart Vanderwilt, director and general manager of KUT 90.5. “We are now inviting our listeners to participate in making history by helping fund the final phase of construction and propel KUT into the future.”
KUT 90.5 will conduct a five-day on-air campaign to raise nearly $1 million to complete the $9.8 million campaign.
KUT-FM was a founding member of NPR. The state created a news department only a decade ago, and since then, KUT News has won more than 100 state, national and international awards for journalistic excellence. Recently, KUT’s news coverage garnered five regional Edward R. Murrow awards, including “Overall Excellence”, competing against other commercial and public radio stations.
That’s five awards out of nine categories — not bad. No other local radio station can claim that either.
The University of Texas’ continuing commitment to communication of all types has come a long way. The new KUT Studios are the next logical step. It also is a statement: Radio as a medium is not dead. The way to keep radio alive is to keep it local. That’s what KUT is doing in a big way with its emphasis on local news and, as they put it, “hand-picked” music.