KVRX is a refuge for students

Gab Soong

This is my love song and thank you to KVRX.

Coming to UT my freshman year was particularly intimidating because I was transitioning from a small town where my graduating class consisted of 74 people. I was the only person from my Louisiana high school to attend UT, and I didn’t find my place here until I stumbled into a KVRX general meeting during my second semester. I was terrified. It felt like everyone was older than me, cooler than me, and knew way more about music than I did. I almost walked away, especially after a boy laughed at me for listening to Mac DeMarco — more on that later — but I decided to stay, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. During my three semesters and one summer as a KVRX DJ, I’ve watched the organization drastically evolve. It went from a small group of friends who loved music to a well-known, well-oiled machine with over 200 people involved.

KVRX 91.7FM is an entirely student-run radio station, one of the few left in the whole country. Our content spans all the way from Korean pop music to political talk shows, with a focus on lesser-known artists — especially local, Texas artists. Our slogan is “None of the Hits, All of the Time” and our goal is to bring more diversity to the music scene. We host shows at local venues, and KVRX recently teamed up with the Austin Music Commission to create LiveATX, a concert series devoted to promoting high-quality, underrepresented, local musical acts. At KVRX, we celebrate the unpopular. This attitude radiates throughout the whole organization.

I’m not saying KVRX is perfect. In the past, I’ve had to deal with a handful of boys criticizing my music taste and speaking over me, but these problems of misogyny are not unique to our radio station; misogyny existed in KVRX because it exists everywhere. Nonetheless, that’s no excuse to allow mistreatment to happen. And within our community, we do everything in our power to make each member feel welcomed and valuable. And each semester, there is improvement. The boy who laughed at my music taste my freshman year has since left the station. More women have taken on leadership positions. Our anti-bullying policy is louder and clearer than ever. Our current station manager has implemented a system for DJs to be able to report any interaction that makes them feel uncomfortable. No group has ever made me feel as loved and accepted as KVRX.

As a half-Chinese, half-Hispanic woman, I’ve had to deal with racism and sexism throughout my whole life. When I’m in class, when I’m at a party, when I’m at my internship — I have to carry the weight of my identity at all times. There are days when I forget it’s there, and there are days when people refuse to let me forget. Each time I walk into KVRX, I have the luxury of forgetting. And for this, I thank all the women and people of color who have come before me and shaped this organization into the wonderful environment it is today.

KVRX is one of the most inclusive organizations on campus, as students from all majors, classifications, race, sexual orientation, class and gender identities are not simply accepted, but celebrated. There is no rigorous application or interview process — as long as people love music, we are happy to have them. This is one of the reasons why KVRX is so special. Our diversity is what makes us strong.

While I still have my weekly music show and all my responsibilities as a DJ, I am also on staff for the first time this semester as the public relations director. Being a woman in a position of authority in a coed organization comes with a specific set of trials. However, I’ve found that my fellow staff members have never belittled me, always listen and genuinely value my opinion.

While the station has matured over the semesters, so have I. I’ve met my best friends through KVRX, I’ve found a clearer route for my career path and I have a newfound confidence in myself. My experiences speaking on air, expressing my opinions at staff and general meetings and hosting social events for the DJs has made me a better person both professionally and personally.

So, thank you, KVRX. Thank you for keeping Austin weird, thank you for introducing me to my favorite bands, thank you for empowering me to take on a leadership position, thank you for bringing amazing people into my life and thank you most of all for not only accepting me for who I am, but loving me for it.