Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tune, Er, Click In

A Newspaper Does Radio

Ray Wiley Hubbard’s “Screw You. We’re from Texas!!!” was the first song on Austin’s newest music source. The source—Austin, the Austin American-Statesman’s newest medium. DJ L.A. Lloyd promised listeners off the top that artists featured on the new Internet radio station would have Austin connections creating a recognizable Austin sound.

The studio for is imbedded within the newspaper’s headquarters on Lady Bird Lake near South Congress. A radio station in a newspaper? Yup. Of course, the powerful thing about Internet radio is that it can be accessed worldwide.

I use Google’s Chrome for my favorite browser. Apparently, Chrome may not communicate with the site. I switched to Internet Explorer, suggested by their “Help” drop down. Then, I had to download Adobe Flash Player to “tune in.” After downloading the flash player, the music flowed from Chrome as well. There were a couple of technical snafus during the first hour and some of the “buttons” don’t work—something that’s bound to happen.

The second song, was Willie Nelson’s “Maria, Shut Up and Kiss Me” in recognition of Nelson’s 78th birthday today (April 30, 2011). DJ Lloyd promised to play Willie at the top of the hour all day. Ironically, on the other side of downtown Austin at KUT-FM, longtime radio host Kevin Conner was also honoring Nelson during his Saturday morning show.

The third song? BB King’s “The Thrill is Gone?” Great song, but I don’t hear Austin in it. King has played Austin City Limits. I guess that’s close enough. The fourth song was “I Got Drunk” by Uncle Tupelo. “Booty City” by Black Joe Lewis. DJ Lloyd alluded to Waterloo Records noting the high ranking of Lewis’ current album. I think the reference was to create another connection to Austin and to soften the segue to the next song: The Green Cards’ “Time”, a stark contrast to “Booty City”, but it proves that is intent on playing all genres.

“What It Is” by Mark Knopler followed The Green Cards. So much for Austin connections.
“Dixie Chicken” by Little Feat was Lloyd’s next offering, followed by “Pyro” by Kings of Leon, Bob Schneider and “The World Passes You By”, Fiona Apple and the John Lennon song, “Across the Universe”, Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe”, Norah Jones singing “Feeling the Same Way”, Dwight Yoakam with the old song “Little Sister”, Alexi Murdoch singing “A Song for You”, Jimi Hendrix and “Castles Made of Sand” (Austin?), finishing the first hour with Paula Nelson & the Guilty Pleasures with Willie Nelson doing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” (I thought it should have been “Whiskey River”.).

In the first hour of the show, there had been a few “promos” (promotional spots) and NO commercials. It was an hour and 20-minutes before I heard the first commercial. I had to believe that wasn’t going to be all music all of the time. It will grow into another revenue stream for Cox Media. Of course, the gateway to the site is covered with ads and promos.

Notably, the announcement of came on Facebook. The post said “tune in” at noon:

“The sound of Austin is hard to describe, but it's instantly recognizable. You love it ... and we love it, too. That's why we've launched, a site delivering 24/7/365 music by artists from Austin and across Texas. At home, at work, on your mobile device ... you'll hear Bob Schneider, Slaid Cleaves, Iron & Wine, Kelly Willis and so many more. The Live Music Capital of the World deserves an outlet devoted to promoting local musicians. And, very soon, we'll have it.”

One promo said, “The future of radio is here …” Well, not quite. It’s been here.
Of course all terrestrial, traditional radio stations stream their on-air signal online too. KGSR FM when it truly lived up to the now retired slogan “sounds like Austin”, pushed its Internet radio presence and had transplanted Austinites listening around the globe.

KUT-FM and Kevin Conner, I’ve said before, probably “sounds like Austin” more than any other station nowadays. Some would argue that KVET-FM’s country sound is the true Music Capital of the World’s sound, however. Further, many of the offerings of KOOP-FM are Austin-only.

Internet-only “stations” like Pandora and LastFm challenge the ethos of local radio. If, indeed, can achieve that local flavor, it might gain a following.

© Jim McNabb, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coming Soon to Your Browser

Add Another Slice From the Online News Pie

Austin Radio stations, AM and FM, are lined up one after another, each offering differing content. Some is music, some is news, some is “talk” and commentary. Some is in English. Some is in Spanish. Most are commercial, but some are public. Hyper-local, low-power radio stations are reaching out to niche audiences.

Since the digital conversion, much the same has happened to local TV. No longer are there only the major network affiliates. Each licensed television station has the capability of launching side-band stations, and most have. Each is trying to carve out a niche and create a new revenue stream, with the exception of KLRU-TV (PBS). KLRU also has two side-band stations of its own.

It’s only natural that the same thing would happen online. Of course, each of these local mediums has a complementary web site. In the past two or three years several stand-alone news, information, or opinion sites have sprung up.

Now another Austin-centric web site will launch mid-summer supplying readers with a wide range of information and news focusing on the things making Austin unique. Former News 8 News Director Kevin Benz is Editor-in-Chief of what will be an online news magazine called CultureMapAustin. (Find it at

“CultureMap aims for a less cynical, more optimistic editorial tone,” Benz says. “Our journalists will cover news we hope will directly touch those who live here. We hope everyone will see themselves reflected in the stories we do about the things that make Austin a special place to live.”

Benz used the phrase, “Our journalists…” That’s significant. is not an aggregation of blogs. Benz says his site will pay its writers for their columns and content. He’s adamant. “We’re going to be different from others—no pay for play, no payola. We’ll have fair coverage.”

The writers are backed by a staff consisting of “some of the smartest people in this business,” Benz says. “Our CEO, Stephen Newman helped launch the New York Times online presence and spent a decade at CNN. Our Managing Editor, Caitlin Ryan worked at Conde-Nast, Google, and most recently was Editor of Rare magazine here in Austin.” Benz, himself, has deep Austin roots having done news here for 23 years. “ I watched a great town become a world-class city, and yet we’ve worked hard to maintain that quirky, cultural vibe, that allure, that keeps people coming and keeps so many of us here. That allure will be the stuff of CultureMap.”

Of course, the chief competitor is’s companion site, of course, has the paid staff of the Austin American-Statesman. By far, has the most page-views in town. will fight it out with them and other sites like,,, and others.

CultureMapAustin will be a commercial web site as are Austin360,, the and others. is not for profit, underwritten by Trilogy Employee Foundation. is also nonprofit focusing all efforts on politics and beholden to none.

After enjoying some success based on bloggers, Austin Post recently hired a cadre of reporters to cover the news of the day and supplement their citizen writers. Unlike Austin Post, CultureMapAustin will cover news as it relates to Austin’s quality of life. “We’re the big umbrella,” Benz says.

CultureMapAustin will include articles Benz says are under covered: Literature and books, high arts such as ballet and dance, the Austin Symphony, theater, the film industry, visual design including architecture, interior design, and graphic design. Calendars and listings for music and events will be vetted.

“Further, we intend to use all the media available to tell better, more compelling stories,” Benz says. We’ll use the written word of course, and we’ll include still photography and photo essays, video and video essays, as well as social media to give our community an entertaining and informative look at what makes Austin the fun, weird, world-class city it is.” Benz intends to have a “lively” presence on Facebook.

CultureMapAustin’s concept and “look” will be similar to launched some 15-months ago. Benz says it “…has become a vital part of the cultural conversation in that city,” and he expects the same success here.

Of course, current census figures indicate that the Houston MSA is roughly three times the size of Austin and its demographics are quite different. It’s a much bigger pie being sliced up for recognition and revenue, and different people are consuming it.

It will be interesting to see how CultureMapAustin with its professional approach to online journalism succeeds in this market. Benz recognizes Austin is unique. Austin is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all market. So, the new site will have to set itself apart from the others to see success.

© Jim McNabb, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who's Doing the Best?


Who is doing award-winning radio news in Austin? It’s the station that could be struggling for funding if Congress has its way. KUT-FM, National Public Radio (NPR) public radio station swept the Region 6, Texas and Oklahoma, large market 2011 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards announced today. (April 21, 2011)

KUT-FM grabbed five awards. No other Austin radio or television station won in any category of the Murrow awards. The KUT-FM awards are for “Continuing Coverage”, “Hard News”, “Documentary”, and “Series”.

Announcement of the awards came via email from the Radio Television Digital News Association:

“The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Murrow's pursuit of excellence in journalism embodies the spirit of the awards that carry his name. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession.”

As a regional winner, KUT-FM automatically becomes eligible for the national awards competition, judged in June. The national Edward R. Murrow Awards will be presented in October at the RTDNA Awards Dinner in New York.

Here is a breakdown of the KUT-FM awards:

Audio Continuing Coverage
KUT-FM - Austin, TX
Bernier Doctors on Healthcare

Audio Reporting: Hard News
KUT-FM - Austin, TX
Bernier Doctors on Healthcare

Audio News Documentary
KUT-FM - Austin, TX
Where I'm From

Audio News Series
KUT-FM - Austin, TX
NASA End of the Space Shuttle

KUT-FM - Austin, TX
Texas Topics Writing Samples 2010

Congratulations to KUT-FM. Now, go make a donation to keep them up and running.

© Jim McNabb, 2011