In Which We Ask The New KXT Program Director About #KXTFail, Among Other Things.

Categories: Interviews
MarkAbuzzahabwhitewall.jpg
We may or may not have found Mark Abuzzahab's Driver's License photo.
No, Mark Abuzzahab, the new program director at KXT-91.7 FM (and their very first, by the way), isn't here yet. Won't be for a few more weeks. He's still down in Austin, finishing up his stint as the music director at KGSR-93.3 FM Radio Austin. Then the Minneapolis native will be heading up to Toronto for a stint to check out the North by Northeast festival. After that, finally, he'll come back down to Texas and begin his new gig.

So, yeah, we've got some time before he starts -- which will be sometime at the end of this month, most likely.

But, still, we had some questions for the guy. Like, why come to KXT in the first place? After all, he's already got a pretty sweet gig down in Austin, and at a station many see as a model for KXT. We also wanted to know what his goals for the station will be. Mostly, though, we wanted to know if he'd heard of #kxtfail, and, if so, what he thought about it.

So we called and asked him about these things. Turns out, he had heard of the somewhat infamous regional hashtag. And he's got some hot sports opinions on it, too -- and on some other topics as well. Most important, though, is the fact that he seems to really like what he's seeing in the still-young station.

We'll let him explain. Read on after the jump as we put him through the ringer.

We kind of got the CliffsNotes version in the press release announcing your hire, but I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about your background and how you got to this point. I understand that you were an on-air personality before you were doing music director stuff?
Yeah. I actually do a little of both -- right now I'm at KGSR in Austin. I'm on the air in the afternoon, and I'm the music director. Music director is kind of an odd title, I guess. It's different everywhere you go. Basically, as a music director right now, I'm kind of like a filter. A lot of the music posts go through my desk before people process it. What I do is set up artist visits, live performances on the air, the live performances that we do for special events like South by Southwest or the Austin City Limits Music Festival. It's coordinating a lot of that stuff -- getting in touch with record labels, managers, sometimes the artists directly.

Are you going to be on-air at KXT as well?
I believe so, yeah.

What is the difference, title-wise, between music director and program director? Is there a difference? Or is it just semantics?
Like I said, it varies. Every radio station is different. Usually, the program director is in charge of the on-air product, really.

What made this gig particularly attractive to you? The station you're at down there has a really strong reputation up here -- to the point where people were talking about KGSR as a model for KXT to emulate once it was announced that it was coming. So why leave and come here?
The thing that excited me the most was that it's a new station, and the fact that it's a public station, which would enable me to have a little bit more close of a close tie to the audience. It's growing really quickly, and that's what attracted me. It's something different.

What's the time frame we're looking at? When are you actually coming up here and switching over from KGSR to KXT?
My last day at KGSR is this Wednesday, the 16th. I'm taking a little time off, then going up to Toronto for North by Northeast, which is like the Canadian equivalent of South by Southwest. I've always wanted to go. We've got a panel there with a few people, including Chris Douridas, who used to work at KERA back when they did music. I'm serving on that panel, but I've also got a few days up there to check out the neighborhood, although, looking through the schedule there, there's a lot of bands that I want to check out. I'm from Minneapolis originally, and The Replacements documentary is being screened there, so I'm very excited. It's so much smaller than than South by Southwest, though. South by Southwest can be a little overwhelming.

For sure. And that's another topic entirely, which we can save for another day. So, back to KXT: What are the goals once you do get started here?
My goals are really built on the foundation that's already there. Just to kind of build KXT into a big station, and to continue supporting local music and a wide variety of music.

What are your impressions of the station at the moment?
I'm real impressed with the staff, and everyone I've met so far. We're doing some really cool things. I'm really excited to work with all the people at KERA and Art & Seek, and the people at KXT that I've met.

The real interesting thing for us at the Observer is that, when KXT announced that it was going to launch, there was an immediate huge swell of support from our readership. I think it was a natural thing -- kind of a shared readership and listenership thing, where there was bound to be some crossover. Almost immediately, there a ton a lot of support for it. Then, on a dime, things flipped and there was a little bit of backlash. Are you familiar at all with the Twitter hashtag #KXTfail and that whole brouhaha?
Yeah, I followed it for a little bit.


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15 comments
Playlist
Playlist

and most times when they play local bands they dont reflect them on their playlists. What up with thats?

MattL1
MattL1

You know what would be great?  If they played only the music I wanted to hear and nothing else.  

Dude_who_likes_musics
Dude_who_likes_musics

Please no Counting Crows, Alanis, Dave Matthews, etc. The dial runneth over with this crap already. And if you absolutely must play STP, for the love of god don't play an acoustic version of "Plush."

John Neely Bryan
John Neely Bryan

If he wants me to listen and be a member they can't play Layla, Pink Floyd, Radar Love, etc.

Sarita
Sarita

I just hope there's a way to stop the Blues Traveler. I do not believe there is some kind of untapped Dallas market for cheesey 90s music. MAKE IT STOP

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Heres a suggestion for Mark: Yank off the "feed programming" thats taking up most of the KXT day parts(fancy radio term for airtime LOL) and bring in more local on-air hosts and programming, not to mention actually get out and hosts local show nights around town, especially in deep ellum and oak cliff. I would bet Jeff Lilies(Kessler) and Mike Snyder(All Good Cafe) would relish in that exposure

MattL1
MattL1

Actually, I think most of the day IS locally programmed.  Aside from 1-3 in the afternoon, that is.

Daniel Hopkins
Daniel Hopkins

Local shows like tonight's KXT sponsored Calhoun, Radiant, Menkena show at The Kessler Theater?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I think the big issue w/ me is weekends, when all they run is syndicated programming like world stage and Shamrock & Thistle. Id love to hear some local folks similar to KNON come in and host shows of all genres, especially Texas/Red Dirt Country and Blues..

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

LOL...Man am I tired today, I didnt even see that...;)

Let me rephrase..Id love KXT to come to these locations, create and broadcast shows on a weekly basis, similar to a Soundstage or ACL for radio. Feature local, regional and national acts, other NPR stations produce programming of this nature, why cant we??

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

uhhh, you've obviously never heard of humor either ;)

Naw, I tuned out when they started playing stuff I heard on KDGE in 1993. One day, it was great music such as Passion Pit followed by Okkervil River, then the next it turned into a superset of stuff I heard in HS even-flowing all over. I grew up in the heyday of The Edge, but I like hearing indie bands more than the big label stuff these days...

Judas Priest
Judas Priest

Uh, KXT has never played Bon Jovi.  Nickelback either.  A search of their playlists reflects that.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Playing the hits such as Bon Jovi? #KXTFail

MattL1
MattL1

They don't have either of those shows anymore.  The weekend is also mostly locally programmed.

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