Austin NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM started off 2018 by adding more local programming to its lineup.
The station has expanded “Morning Edition,” which now ends at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Jennifer Stayton hosts the new 9 a.m. hour.
That means NPR’s “On Point,” which had been heard at 9 a.m., is now off the KUT schedule.
The 9 a.m. hour will have a heavy local emphasis, the station said, with more news breaks, as well as long-form interviews with local newsmakers.
“Austin’s interest in public radio journalism has never been higher, as shown by the increasing numbers of Austinites turning to KUT 90.5 for news each day,” said Hawk Mendenhall, associate general manager of broadcast and content services for KUT. “And as Austin has grown, so has the need for more news coverage. This additional hour of ‘Morning Edition’ will enable us to deliver more news from our community, the nation and the world on a daily basis.”
In other KUT programming news, Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” will replace “The Dinner Party Download,” which has ended production, Fridays at 9 p.m.
With “Car Talk” wrapping up production after 30 years on the air, 90.5 KUT-FM has made some adjustments to its weekend schedule.
The new weekend lineup, which took effect this month, features eight additional hours of news programming and new time slots for a number of shows.
“Weekend Edition” now ends at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday – running for an extra hour both days – and BBC World Service starts three hours earlier Saturday and Sunday, hitting the airwaves at 10 p.m.
A new addition is NPR’s “Only a Game,” airing at 6 a.m. Saturdays. The sports magazine show is hosted by NPR commentator Bill Littlefield.
Meanwhile, some of the station’s lowest-rated programs have been dropped from the weekend lineup, including “Public Radio Remix,” “Studio 360,” “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn” and “The Splendid Table.”
“Discontinuing shows is always a difficult decision and will disappoint some listeners,” KUT said in a written statement. “The goal of the new schedule is to deliver more of the news programming that has been so successful for KUT 90.5 across the week.”
Branson first joined KUT in 1986 as a volunteer, taking on a number of new responsibilities over the years. Before departing, he most recently had hosting duties from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays.
“We will miss his sharp wit and word play, including his delivery of, “‘BBC Newshour’ is coming up after ‘The World’ ends at 3,’” with a sly grin you could almost hear,” the station said in its listener message.
A search is underway for a new afternoon host, KUT said.
“Freakonomics Radio” explores the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports — using the tools of economics to explore real-world behavior. Host Stephen J. Dubner discovers the hidden side of everything in interviews with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — along with his “Freakonomics” co-author Steve Levitt.
“On Story,” 9 p.m Saturday
Austin Film Festival’s “On Story,” the Lone Star EMMY award-winning television series hosted by PBS affiliates across the nation, is coming to public radio as a one-hour program. “On Story” content is recorded live at the Austin Film Festival and Conference, as well as their year-round events. Pilots of the show aired monthly on KUT in 2015.
“The New Yorker Radio Hour,” 8 p.m. Sunday
“The New Yorker Radio Hour” gives “The New Yorker” a voice on public radio for the first time. On the show, “The New Yorker” Editor David Remnick is joined by the magazine’s award-winning writers in a weekly hour of radio that will both delight and inform. The show will feature a mix of profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations about the issues that matter, plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary “Shouts and Murmurs” page.
“Reveal,” 9 p.m. Wednesday
“Reveal,” the Peabody Award-winning investigative journalism program from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and PRX, will air as a weekly show. KUT aired “Reveal” as a monthly pilot program in 2015. The hour-long show – the first-ever weekly investigative journalism radio show – presents original work from CIR’s team along with various partners, including public radio stations and producers, as well as web sites, journalism centers and reporters from around the world.
The additions to the schedule mean there will be a few subtractions, as well. “American Routes” is being dropped. So are repeats of “On Being,” “Radiolab” and “The TED Radio Hour.”
Several other shows will get new time slots. They are:
When it comes to radio news, Austin station 90.5 KUT-FM aims to set the “Standard” with its latest program.
The show, “Texas Standard” makes its official debut Monday, running at 10 a.m. weekdays. It has, over the past few weeks, been airing sporadically as the NPR affiliate worked to beef up its news team and build out its studios on the University of Texas campus.
For now, it will be heard only in Austin, although it’ll go statewide in a few weeks, airing in a number of cities such as Dallas and Houston.
“We’ve known for a while now that we wanted to create a signature program for KUT that demonstrates the role public radio plays in civic discourse,” said Stewart Vanderwilt, general manager of KUT and sister station 98.9 KUTX-FM.
“So much of the news, no matter where it’s taking place, has a direct intersection with Texas. With ‘Texas Standard,’ we’re taking the top news events around the world and identifying their connections to Texas.”
About 10 KUT employees work almost exclusively on the show, Vanderwilt said, and “Texas Standard” will also pull some material from its affiliate stations.
Those stations are “kind of at their maximum news output right now,” said KUT veteran David Brown, who serves as host and managing editor for the show. “This allows us to share content and create a de-facto network. We have people telling us that, for the first time, listeners in their market will feel like they’re connected to the rest of Texas.”
Before joining the “Texas Standard” team, Brown worked on KUT’s “Texas Music Matters.” He says he sought out the host job more than a year ago while plans for the show were still in their infancy.
“There’s nothing like this being done on public radio right now,” Brown said. “We’re building a program from scratch that has tremendous potential.”
While KUT has produced local news programming for years, Vanderwilt said “Texas Standard” is, by design, a different animal that’s far more labor-intensive. That’s why the station didn’t immediately start off with daily broadcasts.
“We had several train wrecks,” he admitted. “They were really important to have, to show us where the needs are, because once the show starts, it never stops.”
With those kinks now addressed, Vanderwilt said Brown and his team are more than ready and it’s time for daily broadcasts to begin.
For a self-described “music fiend,” Brown said leaving “Texas Music Matters” was a difficult decision, but he’s confident he made the right choice.
“I love ‘Texas Music Matters,’” he said. “I’ve never worked on a show that’s won so many awards. But I got my start in news more than three decades ago. News has always been in my blood. It’s my bread and butter.”
Listen for some Texas twang on the next edition of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”
The popular show, which quizzes participants on current events, was taped in front of a capacity crowd Thursday night at the Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus and is scheduled to air on NPR affiliates nationwide this weekend.
Guests included local musician Dale Watson.
In Austin, “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday on 90.5 KUT-FM.
It’s not the first time the Chicago-based show has visited Austin – and host Peter Sagal said he hopes it won’t be the last.
“We love Austin,” he said. “Austin represents everything that’s best about America – and Texas. It’s this wonderful amalgamation of politics, the Mexican culture, food, tattoos … you name it.”
“Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” is a bit of an oddity on the news-heavy NPR schedule. In fact, when Sagal was first tapped to serve as host, he said he didn’t expect the gig to last very long. He was wrong. The show’s been on the air for 16 years and counting.
“People who listen to public radio need humor, just like the rest of us,” Sagal said. “There’s very little comedy on public radio. We almost have that to ourselves. It’s nice that there’s one hour a week where NPR isn’t serious.”
Taking the show out of the studio and recording it in front of a live audience from time to time is something Sagal, who has a background in theater, said he pushed for after taking over as host.
“For me, it was weird to be stuck in a studio,” he said. “I need to see people in front of me to see if they’re laughing, if we’re connecting. You need people to laugh, you need them to respond. If there’s someone who might reward you with a laugh, we all become these leaping porpoises in search of attention.”