KVRX student DJs play music from sunset to sunrise

Thomas Boswell

While the majority of Austin sleeps soundly in their bedrooms, KVRX student disk jockeys armed with full cups of coffee and playlists that ooze obscurity, sit wide-eyed and ready to rock out until sunrise.

Located in the HSM, Texas Student Media’s student-run radio station, KVRX, celebrated its 20th anniversary this spring.  Monday through Friday, the DJs host a live broadcast on FM 91.7 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and stream music online 24/7. Texas Student Media also houses The Daily Texan.

Radio-television-film senior Blake Gentry, the station manager, began working for KVRX during his first semester at UT. He said the all-student staff is rare to see among university radio stations.

“The thing that makes KVRX extremely unique is that it’s completely student run,” Gentry said.  “The decisions are made by us. Most campus radio stations are more like an NPR station hosted at a university.”

Gentry said the KVRX crew works hard to uphold the station’s slogan, “None of the Hits, All of the Time.”  

“Our rule of thumb is we don’t play artists that have charted on the top 200,” Gentry said. “We are helping the listeners.”

Gentry’s position requires him to oversee the 11 staff members and volunteer DJs. He said one of his most difficult tasks is finding DJs to fill the less desirable time slots, which are usually between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“We cannot have dead air, but it’s harder to get people to embrace it,” Gentry said. “I enjoyed my 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. slot, I enjoyed my 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. slot, and maybe I'm crazy for that, but I just hope we can attract people like that."

Electrical engineering junior Carly Stalder, who has worked the graveyard shifts for over a year, hosts the 12 a.m. Tuesday show “Garnet Girls.”

“My show focuses on female artists, mostly rock,” Stalder said. “I really like just being able to share music that I like with Austin. It’s a cool way to get connected.”

Along with playing the music they personally enjoy, the DJs said they welcome feedback and speaking with listeners is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

“It’s really cool to know that people are listening,” Stalder said. “I’ve just gotten the occasional appreciation call like, ‘Hey I really like what you’re playing’ and that’s just the greatest thing to hear.”

When the DJs can’t create a full playlist or need more music to fill their time slots, they pull from what they call the “new bin,” a stash of new albums they review. Undiscovered artists, such as neo-pysch artist Jacco Gardner, often find their way into the “new bin.”

“It keeps the content fresh,” Gentry said. “We have albums literally from all over the world coming through our station. We are giving exposure to these artists.”

Paul Soto, Plan II and english senior, started working for the station two weeks ago. He co-hosts a show called “Bottom of the Bag: Residues of Funk,” which airs Mondays at 3 a.m.

Soto and Stalder said finding an organization that shares a common passion has been rewarding. Their favorite part is staying out late with fellow students and gathering in the CD library to discover new music.

“It’s the first time I’ve tried out an organization on campus that I’m actually drawn too,” Soto said. “To be in a room with thousands of CDs, not only have I found a consistent time and place to exercise my love for music but also have the opportunity to share music with people.”