What You're Hearing On KXT Isn't Matchbox Twenty. Says Station VP: It's "Natural Growth."

Categories: DFW Music News
child_cover_ears.jpg
Our author's reaction to KXT's playlist of late.
Yesterday morning, on the way in to work, I flipped the dial, as usual, to KKXT-91.7 FM, otherwise known around town as KXT, the just-over-a-year-old music-only NPR affiliate. What happened next was deeply unsettling: I was mentally transported back to Glen Lake Methodist Camp, circa 1996 -- transported to a sweaty room filled with 12-year-olds raising their rockin'est voices in praise to the Lord with the Jars of Clay hit "Flood."

I wondered: Did KXT sell out their frequency to a Christian rock station?

Later that day, I discovered the #KXTfail Twitter hashtag, and witnessed a mild Facebook uproar, too. People are confused -- and pissed -- about hearing song selections from Matchbox Twenty, the Gin Blossoms, Everlast and Green Day on a station they once believed to be all about indie rock, alt-country and other genres that have long gone unappreciated by mainstream radio.

So, today, I called KXT's momma-company, KERA, to find out the what-the-what. And I was told by the veep of radio at North Texas Public Media that nothing is the what, that's what.

It's all about being "inclusive."
"Starting with this year, we are playing more well-known songs and artists than last year," Jeff Ramirez told me. "This is part of the natural growth of any new radio station."

I asked him if they knew about the Twitter hashtag and the Facebook comments. He said they did.

"We appreciate the passion that some of our listeners have," Ramirez said, adding that playlist honing is something they've done since KXT's inception. "We've been as responsive as possible and, all along, we've adjusted and edited the playlist. That's something we've been doing ever since we launched over a year ago."

Ramirez said that increasing the mainstream hits is part of KXT's plan to "make sure we're sustainable." But if KXT loses pledges to #KXTfail, their sustainability plan could have the opposite of its intended effect.

All's I know is, I never want to hear that church camp praise band rocking out in my head ever, ever again.

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105 comments
Irl
Irl

I'm just wondering why I can tune in to the NPR website and hear the sort of music I heard when KXT took over the 91.7 frequency and launched, yet now when I tune in to KKXT it is nothing like what I hear and see from NPR music.......I'm sorry, isn't this an NPR station, and not a Clear Channel or Infinity, or.......guess my donations weren't enough to make the cut

Dave.from.Acquisitions
Dave.from.Acquisitions

I know it's early, but I haven't heard ANY of that 90's consultant crap that they inundated us with since late last week. Hopefully they've been listening.

On the kxt.org homepage, there's now a request line:

"KXT 91.7 members can help build the best music library in North Texas".

Interesting.

BP
BP

I pledged to KXT 6 months ago. Thank God for hearing Elvis Costello and XTC on there. I will not be doing that again if I hear John Fogerty's "The Old Man is Down the Road" on that station again, which I heard 2 weeks ago mid day. If they start playing CCR well then it's a lost cause folks.There are hundreds of American and British/Irish indie bands, and from all corners of the Earth and even DFW and Denton that could be played. I could list them all, but this is why God created specialty shows at stations. Unfortunately we only get 3 hours per week of two shows in this city with good indie music, and they're both on @ 8 p.m. on Sunday. The graveyard station @ 93.3 FM has had at least 2 stations, The Zone and Merge in the that started out OK, and then died. Why? They started playing the Nora Jones background coffee house music stuff like Matchbox 20, that "Freshman" song by the band that sound likes every other band from the late 90s, and every Pearl Jam wannabe band known to man, much like another station in town minus the rock.I can't believe very talented bands like The Old 97s (Rhett Miller was featured in a "30 Rock" episode and in that "The Break Up" movie for God's sake- play them already people), Centro-Matic and countless other DFW bands can't get heard on a weekday unless it's on KXT. Thankfully KXT gets that people actually want them besides on just a specialty show. Hopefully KXT will not fail and maybe Dallas radio can get it's mojo back. For now I'm sticking to the AC Club, the Paul Slavens Show, and Undercurrents and am turning the dial if I hear Fogerty. KXT has the potential to last a very long time if the music directors and mgmt would figure out what they want it to be and stick to it.

just a dude
just a dude

I'm glad someone wrote about this. A year ago I was jazzed up (and indeed was a 'founding member' or whatever they called it for those of us who donated from the get-go) - I used to tell people, "They play the stuff nobody else does". Now, it sounds like a mix of the Classic Rock station and Lite FM. Just awful.

bflood36
bflood36

Ratings probably aren't that big of a deal to KXT, but they won't survive very long with a grand total of 37 members.

SWChaos
SWChaos

Has KXT lived up to it's potential over the past year? No. But this shift in direction is not the way to go, It's more akin to identity suicide. How is making your station (which is publicly supported) more like other local AAC/Classic rock stations (Which are commerical and therefore free) a good way to establish a place for your station in the long term? Darin (Mumbles March 17th at the Dub.) mentioned something about "small pockets of creativity" in Dallas, for a short time it appeared that KXT was willing to reach out to those pockets and possibly build something with it. Alienating a majority of your audience in an attempt at "Natural Growth"? Looks like a spot on the radio dial will be opening up in the near future.

still waiting
still waiting

I sent this e-mail to KXT just the other day:

I just wanted to say that I'm kinda displeased with the abrupt "shift" in programming that has occurred. I was an early adopter (and contributor -- Launch Crew) of KXT when it first came out because DFW finally had its own KGSR, so to speak. Good alternative, good Americana, good music that just wasn't played on any of the other stations. Recently, I've notice a change to classic rock -- and not just the stuff that you hear on 92.5, but bad classic rock. And some really goofy stuff, too.

What is going on? When your station first came out, I rarely changed the stations. Now, I find myself listening to other stations more and more. if the trend continues, I may reconsider renewing my membership. I really thought KXT would stay true to its word -- unique programming that you don't find anywhere else.

One more thing: I also thought that the station was commerical free. I'm hearing more and more plugs from businesses that sponsor the station. Again, it doesn't seem that KXT is staying true to its word. thanks

And this is the response I received:

Thank you for contacting Audience and Member Services. Your comments are very important to us as we continue to develop and build KXT into a great station. Please know that new, independent and local music is a huge part of what KXT will always stand for. The goal of the changes you've heard recently on KXT is to make the station sound better, better define our music-based public service and continue to grow our audience over time. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to share your comments regarding KXT. If you have any additional questions or comments please contact Audience and Member Services (214)740-9272 or you can respond to this email.

and I did respond to the email.....still waiting for that reply.....

ChrisU
ChrisU

old car, no satellite, no ipod. so when they started up i thought 'wow this is too good to be true, i'm listening to music in my car again'. guess it's time for me to join the 21st century.

Inmemoryofradio
Inmemoryofradio

Jeff Ramirez better own this "Yeah, we don't really care if our listeners gripe" attitude. He should wear it like a placard around his neck. They'll need something to hang him with during this next, assuredly brutal, pledge drive.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Seeing that KXT is aiming to be the "hip indie" station that KNON has failed in their mission to be, I would first say get rid of most of the syndicated shows and consultant playlists, Man cannot live by World Stage, Shamrock&Thistle and soft alt hits of the mid 90s alone. Liles is on the right track when it comes to what a true indie station should play, great hosts w/ their own playlists. I'd rather have more of a WFMU-type of station, with cool indie music and hosts. As much as I love Gini Mascorro, she's more suited for the KERA crowd, not indie music. Andrea, why not throw your hat into the ring to do a show? I'd listen and pledge accordingly.

Theo
Theo

Here's the fundraising question: why donate to a station that plays nothing remarkable?

Chapman
Chapman

Well, 90% of the KXT playlist is a snoozefest anyway. God forbid they play anything not sporting a hipsterbeard and a fucking banjo. Not that ANYBODY needs past radio hits drilled through their head. again. But, I beg for anything with a pulse after listening for more than a few minutes. Yes, there are surprises on KXT every now and then but, they are very few and far between.

All I want is a radio station that actually challenges, not coddles to a trend. I expected that from KERA/KXT. Instead we continue to get the endless void of Dallas radio. That's why I saved my donation this year and applied it to music purchases.

Radio can suck it. And they do.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Three things.

1. Short version: 'We've decided to attempt to 'sell out' to raise more money. Please send as many soccer moms who went to high school in the 90's our way.'

2. I never listen to local radio, but I checked the Yes site linked below and they just played 'Just A Girl' by No Doubt. In 2011. Without irony. Yeah.

3. In the immortal words of the Prophet, would it kill ya to play some Foghat?

Andrea Grimes
Andrea Grimes

I am dead of people complaining KXT's playlists are too "obscure." You know why music is obscure to you? Because you turned it off when you realized it wasn't Carlos Fucking Santana. I don't know what people who can't be bothered to listen to a good song and learn the band's name are doing complaining about a radio station, anyway.

Perpetual Warfare
Perpetual Warfare

They need to hire Flabby Holstein to play some more Jewish Lesbian Folk Music!

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

"This is why Dallas is shit music, classic rock, strip center, chain store, town" I think Big John has hit upon the crux of the biscuit here...This city has never been a den of creativity in that regard. There are small pockets of people who like to paint outside the lines, etc cliche, cliche for artistic types but for the most part the reason classic rock and shit like that works is it's a no risk proposition. Most people turn on the radio these days to be reminded of (insert whatever makes you feel good) the discovery of new music or different music isn't in the cards. The whole bitching about what's being played is based on the songs being played remind people of shitty art. Jars of Clay, etc. I don't think KXT set out to become WFMU, the could have, maybe they should, but as big john said not enough people to float the boat. Give Liles a night, expand Slavens and if there IS a consultant in there making these changes based on "solid data from the leading markets in this format" throw the clown out, you're moving in the WRONG direction, The Merge didn't work and you're leaning that way.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Are there enough music snobs out there to support a public radio station?

Sounds like the answer is no. Better hope a really rich music snob bankrolls station operations.

bflood36
bflood36

To be fair, it is a tightrope for radio stations. The ratings for when KXT was more obscure were terrible (as they are now). I like some familiarity with what I am hearing. Mix in the new, obscure stuff from time to time along with established quality music.

Osteology
Osteology

If you can't find the request line (I couldn't for a while) - It's on the scrolling image on the homepage. Fast forward through the other 'headlines' and you'll find it. Have to be a member to submit.....

BP
BP

I'm glad they're there as they play bands, even local bands other stations won't touch. If they play a Fugazi song (yes they have plenty you can play on the radio- trust me on this) Billy Bragg, P.J. Harvey (not the Down By the Water song), some old Superchunk, Ride, The Pogues, or The Futureheads then I'll be happy. Sadly it's hard to hear those bands in this city unless you play them on the air yourself.

BP
BP

make that "get its mojo back" its early.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

"The goal of the changes you've heard recently on KXT is to make the station sound better, better define our music-based public service and continue to grow our audience over time. "

*Cough* *Cough* Bullhsit *Cough* *Cough* Eat Me *Cough* *Cough*

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

I support Gini. You get up at early and try to do that!

Andrea Grimes
Andrea Grimes

Based on some of the responses to this blog item, I think my joining the KXT roster would be worse than an all-Hootie request hour. :)

InfamousQBert
InfamousQBert

i've been thinking of trying to start a protest when their next membership drive comes around. have people, especially old members, call in and say "i'm not donating until you fix the format". fill up the phones with protesters instead of donators.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

I Love "obscure"! Because only the main stream has value, right? Jimmy's is obscure, Subway has value. Little Forest Hills is obscure, Frisco has value. The Pearl Cup is obscure, Starbucks has value. Bukowski is obscure, Three and a half men has value. Cliff Notes is obscure, Barnes and Noble has value. Midlake is obscure, Dave Mathews has value. The Kessler is obscure, Superpages has value. KNON is obscure, Jack-FM has value. It is the singular thing that drives me the most crazy about Dallas, the startling, grinding, blinding, juggernaut of vanilla, bland, homogeneity - The judgment that only popular things are good.

Pslave
Pslave

That is a bad thing you said. Shame on you. just sayin

NPR listener
NPR listener

Jewish Lesbian Folk music? Sounds exquisite!

Willcdowdy
Willcdowdy

it seems to me that probably the best way to up listenership (sp?) is to actively seek out new music and great new bands. to be a taste maker instead of a taste taker. considering the internet, any radio station has ways to reach not only people in dallas but people all across the world, if they were to "break" a new band, and be one of the earliest radio stations to play a certain song/artist they would likely gain more new listeners than they would by watering things down. it just seems to me that that's what most listeners of KXT are into.... i don't want to hear the same song 3 times a day on KXT (which i HAVE, unfortunately), i want to hear new awesome songs and older "classic" songs that never would have been heard on the radio until KXT

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Hell - I almost cried the day it went on the air. I pimped it to all my friends, pushed it on my kids, and posted it all over facebook/twitter, and gave them money. I'm not asking for WWOZ in Dallas, but to give up after a year is utter bullshit. Music is MOTHER.FUCKING.ART!! And listener supported stations need to be run like museums, not like businesses. There needs to be a concept, a culture, a philosophy, and then you need to STICK WITH IT. Giving art to the community is about enriching the soul, not about ratings.

ReelGeorge
ReelGeorge

http://www.yes.com/#KKXT

Here's a link to see what's actually played over the last hour or so. It works for nearly any station - just change the call letters at the end of the address. Handy, eh?

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

So people who do not accept the garbage classic rock music format are "snobs"?

John
John

Hi Jeff Ramirez!

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Why does a member supported radio station care about "ratings"?

"Mix in the new, obscure stuff from time to time along with established quality music. "

This is why Dallas is shit music, classic rock, strip center, chain store, town....

The issue with KXT is NOT that there is no good music out there, even local music. The issue it that there are not enough people to play it for

proud music snob
proud music snob

I remember Gini doing traffic reports on the Ticket and always being very opinionated and down to earth whenever they talked to her. On KXT, as others have mentioned, she's a bit monotone and dull. This could easily be overlooked if the playlists weren't polluted with some of the unfortunate bands already discussed.

Here's hoping KXT finds the right music director to turn things around. Grimes, Wilonsky, Freedman! Put yer applications in.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Big Jon, I respect anyone who can pull a AM drive shift. But, what Im saying is her sultry dulcet tones might do better mid-day or PM drive, IMHO. NPR voice has to be tempered especially w/ indie radio and in that drive shift, as I always find I go into nod-off mode when I hear NPR voice at 6:30 on a tuesday morning...;)

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

there's a lotta things about KXT you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand. You don't wanna get mixed up with a station like that. It's a loner, Dottie. A rebel......

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

LOL andrea, dont let the "Dallas Haters" get you down...

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

Very Cool. Also, it shows what we know....It is a very boring station. Rockpile in and of itself is not boring. But when you put it between Lola by the Kinks and Blind Melon's No Rain it makes Teacher Teacher sound like a shining moment in songwriting history....

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

They still have expenses to cover, don't they? Obviously catering to that specific a demographic wasn't cutting it. I didn't say their decision was brilliant, but it's apparent they feel they have to expand the audience a tad. I'm an occasional listener, and I'm sure not going to lament mixing in some more mainstream stuff. Third Eye Blind is not a big deal, at least they aren't putting on Bieber. They have a long way to go before they get close to the craptacular level of choices like The Edge.

bflood36
bflood36

Good music is subjective. It seems a lot of people think music is good for the very fact that it is obscure.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

It's just started being polluted after 1/1/11

In fact, it seemed to me they let her loose for a couple of months leading up to the bull;shit change

ChrisU
ChrisU

you should have also listed Liles, he has a pretty good application on this post

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@scruffy You didn't answer my question, and what does the economic model look like for a commercial station vs a non commercial one? So you are saying the DMA should only put installation in that will "cover their expenses"?

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