KXT's Summer Cut at Gexa Suffered from the Same Problems as the Station Itself

Categories: Last Night

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Mike Brooks
Chris Walla made his final Dallas appearance with Death Cab for Cutie last Friday.
KXT Summer Cut
With Death Cab for Cutie, Iron & Wine, Hold Steady
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Friday, August 15, 2014

At the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X boulevards sits the Dallas MLK Center, where on Friday, six days after Missouri teenager Michael Brown was killed, residents of Dallas gathered to hold a candlelight vigil. It was here that I found myself at 6 p.m. standing amongst a crowd in the shadow of a statue of Dr. King observing a moment of silence in the 100-degree heat.

Times are heavy in America, particularly in Missouri, but there in the heat and silence I realized we're closer to each other than we think. Around me stood people of varied race, all here to show support for each other, to show that while the division exists, we can come together. Unfortunately, a mile away at the Gexa Energy Pavilion, the division never felt stronger.

See also:
Death Cab for Cutie Turn a New Page as They Headline KXT's Summer Cut
Death Cab for Cutie to Headline KXT Summer Cut 2014

I'll be blunt: KXT has a diversity issue. The station itself has suffered from an identity issue since its launch five years ago in 2009, never sure if it's wanted to be an independent music station or the station for "cool dads." This has resulted in an uneven playlist, one that comes off as diverse only at night when the NPR-produced World Cafe takes over the signal. Sundays have been the haven for fans of a truly diverse playlist thanks to the phenomenally curated Paul Slavens show, and the airing of the history lesson that is American Routes, but without these highlights you're left with a homogenized rotation of artists who are overwhelmingly white and safe. The few blips of minority artists being played tend to go the safe route of canonized artists along the lines of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, artists who are universally liked and not likely to ruffle any feathers.

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Mike Brooks

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Mike Brooks

Making matters worse is the fact that KXT touts itself as the only station to play local artists, while ignoring the fact that it tends to play the same 10 artists in a row, and, with the exception of Seryn's lead singer, none of these artists are People of Color. This is an area with an incredibly diverse music scene, one made up of people of all races, creeds and sexualities, yet KXT has turned a blind eye toward many of them. There's no excuse for not playing R&B and hip-hop when Dallas is experiencing a boom in both those genres. Why do I not hear Sam Lao when I turn on my radio? Why do I only hear A.Dd+ on the Ticket? Shouldn't the local station be sharing these artists?

The booking of KXT's annual Summer Cut festival puts a spotlight on these issues. The bands booked to perform, with the exception of one act, are all white and male. The lone exception was Thao Nguyen's excellent band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, who were shuffled off to the side stage. This was a miscue, not only because it opens the station up to further criticism, but also because the act performing on the main stage at the same time as Thao failed to garner a crowd close to the size of what she drew.

The Hold Steady have long been known as the "best bar band in the world," a title they more than deserve, but one that does have its limits. An act who's crafted a sound meant to reverberate off the back walls of a venue doesn't do well with a venue that lacks walls. And, despite the best efforts of some of its fans, their act didn't translate well.

South Carolina-raised, Virginia-educated and Texas-weathered act Iron & Wine fared much better as Sam Beam took to the stage alone to perform his songs of lament and love. Such is the devotion of his fan base that the breaking of a string elicits wild cheers. Beam, knowing his surroundings, stuck to his songs about Texas, including a rendition of "Waves of Galveston" that was prefaced by a Dallas-approved shot at Houston.


Location Info

Map

Gexa Energy Pavilion

1818 First Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Music


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25 comments
hdavis99
hdavis99

Having access on my dial to American Routes, World Cafe, Undercurrents, local music AND Paul Slavens is enough for me. And no commercials!? Perfect. (Have you TRIED sitting through a commercial break on any of the other, corporate, top 40 stations around here??) There's still a pretty varied selection on KXT, even if sometimes I cringe. Hopefully faithful listeners will also hear a certain flair in Gini's play sets. She often highlights song connections in a fun, sneaky, the same way NPR often will slip in related covers between segments - there's a connection, but you only notice if you're paying attention. Keeps it fun for me. Reliable news clips, an impressive website, concert presentations....I could've go on. People should stop focusing on lulls we may hear from time to time, and the occasional, egregious aural violation (Offspring?); this station is way more than that.

dgmga
dgmga

Most ridiculous review the Observer has ever published. If you want hip hop, great, go to that station, if you want pop, there is a station for that too. Leave KXT just as it is.

As for the comment left by Dallaskjg, from the board of KNON, you are a fool to be pimping your station at a bad review of the only other decent station in Dallas, you should support anything that isn't a media mogul like Cumulus.

Zipster90
Zipster90

KXT has a demographic they would like to satisfy. Apparently it's young dads that really like Chris Issak. That's fine by me. I'll listen to my own music instead, and satellite radio when it doesn't suck, which is rare.

the_dude47
the_dude47

kxt is pretty diverse, i don't expect to find beyonce or the rest of the idiots found on pop radio there (if i did i'd drop support for them in a nano second)

granted i don't really listen to much radio anyway, but i do like a lot of what they do as i would have never heard it elsewhere. 

just look at their playlist, nobody does that in town.

MeanGreen
MeanGreen

I would stop listening to KXT if they started mixing in local hip hop.


Btw, they played some tracks off The Photo Album too. This was the 3rd time i've seen DCfC since 2006 and possibly the best as they played more pre-transatlanticism tracks than I've ever heard them play before. I was surprised at some omissions (such as Transatlanticism and Tiny Vessels) 

MattL11
MattL11

This is a much more legitimate criticism of KXT than I've heard elsewhere (or on this blog), i.e. "KXT sucks because they play [random artist the person hates (usually the Eagles)]." While less homogeneous than virtually any other music station in the area (not a strong selling point), there are a lot of genres that they will simply never play.  


However, they're in a difficult position. While music bloggers and critics, along with a small percentage of the radio-listening public, may be willing to listen to a true cross section of genres and styles, the greater population of radio-listeners is probably too fragmented and spoiled for choice to stick by a station that starts regularly playing stuff the larger groups within that population would never listen to. Given their donor-based funding model, it's understandable that they try for as much "diversity" as possible while still sticking to a certain segment of the musical landscape. 


Would it be cool for some of the more ignored genres to get their own shows? Maybe, but then you either risk KNON-ization or charges of segregation (i.e "why does the 'white' music get the best timeslots?"). Still, I think it would be worth trying. 


As I read what I've thus far written, it strikes me that it was not done well. But fuck it, I have other shit to do this afternoon. 

anonanon313
anonanon313

A bloo bloo muh diversity. Really? MLK and the victim of a police shooting as a segue to 'hurp durp too many white men'. From the same DO that whined about the NYT article that talked about the JFK assassination in relation to the gentrification of oak cliff? What's next? Maybe a casual use of the #YAW hashtag because there are cheerleaders at a cowboys game?

dallaskjg
dallaskjg

Diversity and local music is at KNON 89.3 - the Voice of the People. If you don't like what we're playing, just wait and we'll change the station for you. 


I'm on the KNON Board of Directors and I can't even tell the DJs what to play. If you want DJs passionate about music - that you can actually call on the phone to ask about tracks they played - you need to switch to KNON. 

eclecticunderground
eclecticunderground

I think the issue is that, as a public radio station, KXT should strive to be a voice of the entire community, not just the subset that likes "cool dad" music (myself among them). Those are bands I like and I enjoyed the show, but the "Indie Rock Class of 2003" remark rang pretty true. 


I've criticized KXT for how its music blocs often lack coherence. I'll praise it for the fact that it plays a lot of music I don't hear on other stations. It might better serve its mission and address some of its flaws if it had a few more programs that broke out of its cool dad image and into some other genres for an hour or two now and then.

anonanon313
anonanon313

A bloo bloo muh lack of divershitty. Really? MLK and the victim of a police shooting as a segue to 'hurp durp too many white men'. From the same DO that whined about the NYT article that talked about the JFK assassination in relation to the gentrification of oak cliff? What's next? Maybe a casual use of the #YAW hashtag because there are cheerleaders at a cowboys game?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

One of the most absurd reviews ever written. I wonder what the performer's sets actually sounded like? is that normally what a review of the performance is about?

First there's the remark The station itself has suffered from an identity issue since its launch five years ago in 2009 followed by Why do I not hear Sam Lao when I turn on my radio? Why do I only hear A.Dd+ on the Ticket?

First, KXT is NOT a hip-hop or rap station, so why would they play Sam Lao? why would KXT play A.Dd+? there are hip-hop and rap stations broadcasting in the market who play these artists, so if that is what you want to hear tune onto those staions, not KXT. Hmm, I wonder why those rap and hip hop stations don't play Head and the Heart? ridiculous to say the least...

An "identity crisis" would be trying to play genre that do not comport with the other artists KXT plays, such as rap and hip hop vs the alt rock/folk and classic artists KXT plays now. your desire for these rap and hip hop artists to enter the KXT playlist would result in the very "identity crisis" you accuse them of.

Second, I don't stop and consider what race or ethnicity a music artist happens to be: I listen to the music and decide if it is a style and sound that I like. My hope is that you too can someday stop focusing on what an artist's race or ethnicity is but rather get past that hangup and listen to the product itself.

shandango
shandango

See, I think of it as just "music for NPR people" and the white, gentle music makes sense in that regard.  I don't think they ever really billed themselves as anything other than that so maybe it's a little over ambitious to assume the same "cool dad" would be fine with a local hip hop program (I'm sure some would be but if they aren't doing great then alienating their core is probably not in the plan.) I flip over there now and then to hear whatever mildly pleasant thing is on, usually change it if a local musician is on (sorry, not been impressed with anything local they've played as it's usually Sarah Jaffe or some other white, gentle band imitating another non-local, more successful band.) 

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

Is it really a diversity issue or does DO have a writer issue ever since Wilonsky moved beyond the music section of the DO? 

Seems the M.O. of the staff is to write about how a show didn't fit a preconceived notion of how the show should be.  At least this isn't quite the slam piece that gets done when it is a country act.  Why not get really novel and complain about K104 and the multitude of tejano stations not playing enough Lilith Fair artists. 


And if you want to hear blues just turn the dial to KNON.

crford1
crford1

KXT is far and away, the best station in town.  The great thing about radio, if you don't like the playlist, you can always change the station.  I happen to love the music that they play and make a monthly contribution to help keep them on the air.

OxbowIncident
OxbowIncident

I just discovered this channel after years of being a Ticket listener. It is my new favorite music channel. Yesterdays syndicated American Routes was one of the best segments I've heard on a music station in Dallas in a long time. I think your critique is a little harsh. The station has an identity problem? Well, that is perfect for Dallas. This city has always had an identity problem.

charmoffensive
charmoffensive

The fact that there are no comments on this 5 hrs after its initial posting should be frightening to KXT--seems the station elicits zero passion. I want KXT to succeed, but every point the author makes is valid.

Nictacular
Nictacular

I was one of the limited, sprinkled minorities!


Anonymousasiwannabe
Anonymousasiwannabe

@mavdog  Ummmm I think the point being made is that most music listeners who want to avoid "mainstream" radio stations and are looking for an alternative such as KXT, actually listen to MANY DIFFERENT GENRES of music, often one right after the other.  Also, your comment reeks a little of "separate but equal," which makes this a little political when it shouldn't be.  But honestly, what's wrong with a little dynamic?  Check out Sirius XMU, which does a good job of mixing up genres while still maintaining a central focus (I'm not saying KXT should copy XMU, I'm just using that as an example).

Dyahriah
Dyahriah

@becoolerifyoudid Yes, thank you!  DO writing has grown unbelievably trite since Wilonsky's departure.  Schutze is THE ONLY THING that people seriously read here anymore.  Still, I keep checking in, hoping for a turnaround...

Guesty
Guesty

@Anonymousasiwannabe @mavdog Still, the notion that KXT is suffering an identity issue seems to conflict with the notion that KXT has become radio for cool dads who like indie rock.  Why isn't that an identity?  I understand why that might not be the author's preferred identity, but that does not mean that there is an identity issue. And even XMU still wouldn't play the variety that the author implies would be necessary to satisfy the desire for diversity (e.g. A.Dd+ wouldn't get any airplay on XMU, though I believe Sam Lao would).

rondostar
rondostar

@Guesty I've actually heard A.Dd+ on Sirius XMU, as well as Booty Fade. Granted it was on a Blog Radio segment by Gorilla Vs. Bear, but still.

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