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KERA to Bring Back the Music

by Jerome Weeks 9 Jun 2009 1:04 PM

After 13 years away, KERA is returning to the music business. Click the audio player to listen to the KERA radio story: The North Texas NPR affiliate has bought the station, 91.7 FM, KVTT (“The Truth”) from Covenant Educational Media, Inc. for $18 million. KERA will maintain its popular news-and-public affairs programming, while the new […]



After 13 years away, KERA is returning to the music business.

Click the audio player to listen to the KERA radio story:

The North Texas NPR affiliate has bought the station, 91.7 FM, KVTT (“The Truth”) from Covenant Educational Media, Inc. for $18 million. KERA will maintain its popular news-and-public affairs programming, while the new station will broadcast full-time music programming. KERA hasn’t broadcast a music format since the 1996 decision to go to weekday news and public affairs.

The new station, which will have new call letters, will start broadcasting in late summer-early fall 2009. It will be “Triple A” (Adult Album Alternative) – essentially the format that KERA helped pioneer. AAA offers a wide spectrum of adult-oriented playlists, including world music, folk, acoustic, indie and alternative country and rock.

Typical AAA programs (some of which may be considered) are:

  • World Café with its eclectic range from Moby to David Bowie to Yo-Yo Ma to Lyle Lovett. It originates from WXPN in Philadelphia.
  • Nick Spitzer’s American Routes, produced in New Orleans and featuring just about any kind of “roots” music to come from that area: blues, rockabilly, country, zydeco, soul, jazz and gospel.
  • Echoes, John Diliberto’s ambient-electronica-new-age show from Pennsylvania.

The new station is committed to local programming and coverage, such as KERA’s 90.1 at Night, hosted by Paul Slavens. Original programming on the new station will eventually include studio performances, interviews and arts-related news, commentary and a concert calendar.

This will be the only free, full-market non-commercial station in North Texas to broadcast the AAA format. One reason that KERA chose to purchase 91.7 FM at this time is that the Dallas-Fort Worth area has only three, full-market, non-commercial FM licenses. KVTT was one and it was up for sale. This means that the new station will serve the same basic coverage area that KERA does, complementing the services that sister station KERA 90.1 offers to North Texas.

Image of blues rock guitar (above) of Mick Clarke, leaping guitarist (out front) from MIO

  • Jim Kidd

    Thank You! I will now resume pledging. I was a loyal member from the days of the Saturday Blockbusters,Hugh Lampman and Jim Lowe’s Big Band show. 90.1 talk radio really overdoes it and offers little variety. I hope the new 91.7 does not forget it’s early 90.1 music roots.

  • Angus Wynne

    This is astounding news, certain to have major impact on those for whom your once-heralded daily music service was almost lifeblood and for other music fans who are currently almost completely ignored in the great radio wasteland of North Texas. Congratulations to you for taking this bold step towards re-establishing eclectic music programming in our community.

  • This splendid news, indeed! Wonderful, delightful, brilliant! Now I have 2 whole stations to listen to in the car!

    More Paul Slavens!

  • Can’t wait! 20 years ago this was useful, but stations were allowed to play a few discretionary tracks. It is especially important now that we have this variety, in today’s age of massive consolidation and ultra-narrow playlist formatting.

    • Jennifer

      Looking forward to listening!

  • Kristin Atwell

    I’ve been waiting for this! Thank you thank you!! I second Angus’ comment – bravo for your boldness!!

    • What a wonderful surprise. This could not come at a better time for our musician community and Dallas music fans. There is no question that strong, music-centered radio programming helps build audiences for our local music scene. The programming has been sorely missed. Thanks for bringing it back, and then some!

      • Tom & Ruth Williams

        We’ve been supporters and will increase our donation for the additional music programming. Thanks very much – this is great!

      • Ha! Tolbert, I was answering Matthew as you were writing in. (See my comment above.) We’ll get the word out about where to send material just as soon as we know.

  • Muerco

    Great news! We really need a non-commercial music station around here, seriously.

    I hope that you’ll consider at off hours being a little more free-form and not just wedded to the AAA format 24/7. But in any event this is excellent.

    • Pat Ramseur

      Fantastic news! I was a regular KERA listener back in the day and can’t wait to tune in again.

    • Can’t believe this is happening. Halleluiah! If we’re importing shows as well, perhaps one of them could be Chris Douridas’ weekend show on KCRW? That’d be so right, on many levels.

    • Can’t believe this is happening. Halleluiah! If we’re also importing programs from elsewhere, how about Chris Douridas’ show from KCRW? That’d be so right on many levels.

    • Terri Raith

      I was a $120/yr member for years until the “Talk format” happened in 1996. I had been out of town and it took me a day to realize the change was NOT temporary. NO MORE MUSIC. I IMMEDIATELY cancelled my membership, and have never allowed myself to rejoin. I miss the days of Talking Heads, Patsy Cline, and Mozart in the same half hour. Paul Slavins show is brilliant, and I hope that the new station continues the great tradition of the old 90.1
      I’ll be pledging again!! Dallas is surely a large enough, cosmopolitan market to support an intelligent, eclectic venue. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

  • Steve Fawcett

    Christmas in June! What a great gift. I’ll be giving back.

    • Betsy

      Wonderful news!!! World Cafe’… Be still my heart!

  • Great news!

    Just one request… somehow, someway, please bring back an eclectic program entitled “Texas Weather”.

    • I’m THRILLED!

      Just now heard this and it made my day. Thank you KERA for bringing back the music to DFW.

  • David McQuaid

    This is awesome news! I was crushed when my favorite radio station KERA stopped the music. I hope you’ll have Kim Corbett on, and I agree with Tim’s comment above about possibly getting Chris Douridas! How about Liza Richardson? Big day for Dallas music!

    • Marci

      I could almost weep it has been too long, and it used to be soo good. We need this, no more having to listen to XPN on the internet, we can bring back our own breed of music! THANK YOU!

  • James Naples

    Hallelujah. Finally, music for grownups returns to Dallas.

  • Marci

    The dry spell is over! It has been too long, thank you for this great news, bring back our own breed of music!

  • Mellen

    Great News. I boycotted pledge drives for 5 years in protest for dropping music on KERA. This is a brilliant move and about damn time. I want to second David McQuaid’s suggestion about getting Chris and Liza. Also want to nominate Abby Goldstein. Will the new station have REAL LIVE DJ’s or yust feed music from other sources. I vote live. TOO COOL.

  • Bring it on!

    • Jim Lovell

      This is fantastic news! I also quit contributing with the all-blab format. The music format was so unique! So eclectic! I love how it featured local talent. Will Abby Goldstein host her own show again?

  • So, the obvious question for us local artists: Where and to whom do we send our material?

  • Hey Matthew,
    Great question and I can’t wait to be able to answer it. KERA is just at the beginning of planning for the new station. As soon as we have a contact for you, we’ll put the word out.

    And thanks to all for your support. It’s great to see folks are as excited as we are here at Art&Seek about yesterday’s news!

    • Tolbert Pitman

      Music coming back, was the best news I got yesterday! Okay, where do I send my material? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Ezra Boggs

    Thank You!!!!!!

    And I concur, please give us an abundance of Dr. Slavens’ genius coupled alongside the very missed Chris Douridas!!!

  • I never understood why KERA went all talk. It took the icing off the cake. Now we have a whole new cake! Add my voice to the welcoming chorus. Dallas has reason to celebrate.

  • Randy Lisbona

    This is incredible. I saw a small article about it in the paper today. 90.1 used to play great music (now only on Sunday nights.) I’m looking forward to be able to catch up on the news and then switch to music. I think KERA has got to be one of the better public radio stations in the country. When I’m traveling I’m almost always disappointed in the local public radio stations. My favorite day of the week is tinkering in the garage Sunday nights and listening to Paul Slavens.

  • Brad

    This is very exciting news. I had discovered many great bands & musicians on the World Café, so when it was no longer broadcast on KERA, I didn’t know where to turn for music. Local, profit-driven commercial radio seems more like a money-making machine than a place where great talent is discovered, so it’s great to know some of my favorite shows (The World Café & Echoes, especially) might be coming back.

    Thank you!

  • A’int Jemimah

    Are you hiding Abby Goldstein for the big roll-out? Like, is she going to pop out of a cake or something?

  • Ed

    About time for some music here. A great station to model after is WYEP in Pittsburgh, PA.

  • C.J.

    I need a show.

  • Leigh Johnson

    Excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent!

    Please make sure there is a nice big juicy spot carved out for local artists. We have an amazing array of talent around the metroplex (let alone the rest of the state) and I miss having a station dedicated to supporting that talent.

    Incidentally, does this mean I have to double my annual pledge?

    • Mark

      I live in Louisiana and would come over for the weekends and loved to listen in the hotel room or while riding around town going from place to place. I was sorely disappointed when the switch to talk was made, just like I recently was when I found the Whole Foods on Lower Greenville had closed. :'(

      And, I’ll add David Minor to the above list of 90.1 alumni I’d like to return to the airwaves.

      And hopefully no voice tracking and/or computer generated playlists. Do “Hand picked music” as they say on KCRW….

  • Larry

    It seems to me that the Metroplex audiences don’t deserve another eclectic music radio channel given the fact that they haven’t noticed a top-notch show of that kind that has been in the area for almost twenty years now. It’s called Global Mix, and it’s broadcast on KNTU, 88.1 FM every Saturday night from 9:00 – midnight. A quick glance at the genres and artists on Mix reveals that the new KERA channel will be bringing nothing new to this market except for the programing duration – which is a bonus. However, what makes and breaks a music show is not any particular genre or eclecticism but the musical taste of the hosts, which often has nothing to do with their formal music education. My job has taken me across the world, and I always tried to tune in at the local music stations. I have also checked out the internet radio outlets, but I haven’t found anything that comes even close quality-wise to Global Mix. If you don’t believe me, try to check it out while you’re waiting for the new KERA deus ex machina.

  • Miss de Music

    Looking forward to the enjoyment of paying pledge $$ for programming I used to happily donate to!

    KERA had a one of a kind music sense. We have lacked that musi-sensibility for more than 13 years (the erosion began well before 1996. I used to willingly hand over dough for the outstanding local music formats. at one point, each time I did, a music program exited only to be filled with something I would not care to pay for.)

    Welcome back! Hurry! We’ve been waiting a lifetime to fill this void! While we can certainly listen to 88.1FM, it is not the same tenor of program honed by the former KERA music folks. Global? yes. Local? not as much in the mix. KERA had a unique flair in mixing parts global, parts local, parts extraordinary.

    Ad astra per aspera….

  • Leonard Schweitzer

    Why no classical music planned? The other station (101.1) is interminable commercials and interminable early early music composers who put you to sleep. Please add some classical music, e.g., chamber music, vocal.