KUT going strong with record funds

Amy Thornton

Although the KUT studio might not be visible to many students on campus, KUT Radio has shown that it has a voice in the Austin community and that it is only getting stronger.

The station’s semi-annual membership drive, which began Oct. 19, raised a record-setting $900,000 during the eight-day fundraiser. An affiliate of National Public Radio, KUT 90.5 is Austin’s listener-supported public radio and is based on the UT campus in the Communication complex.

KUT depends on individuals, businesses and program grants for more than 80 percent of its annual operating budget, and the increase in pledges indicates a growing audience.

“We have a large and consistent audience and without that, we would certainly be going the other direction,” said KUT Director Stewart Vanderwilt.

The station has received some listener feedback about the NPR commentator Juan Williams, who was fired for saying he gets nervous when he sees Muslim people on airplanes. The negative publicity does not seem to have impacted the drive.

“Most of our audience sees that the daily service that KUT provides transcends the incident,” Vanderwilt said. “What our day-to-day value provides is not defined by this, and our audience has been very open-minded about that.”

The money from the semi-annual fundraiser is used for direct programming and broadcasting expenses and supports KUT’s mission to offer national and global perspectives, news about Central Texas and a way to participate in the Austin music scene.

The financial momentum and increased audience comes at a good time for KUT, as the station anticipates moving into the Public Broadcast Center in June 2012.

“The way KUT is currently situated, it’s not easily accessible to the community,” said KUT spokeswoman Erin Geisler.

Though it’s currently under construction, the new building on Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets will enable KUT to be more prominent and accessible to both the UT and Austin communities, making the station more of a destination with its increased technological capabilities and audience capacity.

The new broadcast center will also allow departments to work together in a bigger space, providing a better learning experience for interns and a more collaborative environment.