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KERA to Bring Back the Music

by Jerome Weeks 9 Jun 2009 12:04 PM

KERA radio story: Expanded online story: After 13 years away, KERA is returning to the music business. 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 […]


  • KERA radio story:
  • Expanded online story:

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

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.

  • I’m very excited to hear about this! I’ve been listening to KEXP in Seattle and never thought Dallas would ever have anything similar.

    Thank you!!

  • Lydia

    This is fantastic news for North Texas! 2009 is shaping up to be a great year for the creative arts indeed!

  • This is where the money goe!

    I though the money went to programming, not expansion! Bizarre timing what with the end of the campaigns still fresh. Betrayal.

    • Music is an expansion of programming.

    • Stan

      Actually, if you read the press release, you’ll see that “financing was secured through nonprofit-focused lenders.” Which I take to mean that, like your home, KERA doesn’t ‘own’ the new station. The lenders do.

      So that would mean no ‘betrayal.’ Your last pledge didn’t really go to buying the new station. But some of the pledges for the next umpteen years probably will. You can continue to donate — or not — based on that.

  • I’m extremely excited to hear this. Just this past Sunday, I was bemoaning the fact that only there were only 2 hours a week worth of music on KERA. I adore the regular programming and am an avid listener. However, I’m so happy to hear that there will be a station for me to tune to when I finally get “talked out” in the late evenings each day. Thank you, KERA, for this great gift to North Texas. And thank you, Stephen, for breaking the news!

  • Ken Costlow

    Will there be any classical music programs on here, as well? I look forward to hearing the World Music.

  • I never really got over the switch to an all-talk format. I really miss the music! I discovered so many great artists on KERA back in the day. This is great!

  • Eric

    I recently moved from College Station to Deep Ellum and one of my biggest complaints has been the lack of good radio stations here in Dallas.

    It’s pretty safe to say that Bryan-College Station is no music mecca, but it had a pretty nice combo with KAMU and KEOS. I hope the new radio station will help create that kind of tandem here in Dallas.

    This is some of the most exciting news I’ve heard all year!

  • Boyd Foster

    A new public music station is great news. My wife and I drive to Austin often. Once we are past Waco, we tune to another public station, KNCT-FM (Simple Beautiful) 91.3 in Keene. The music is the most popluar songs and tunes from the last 75 years performed with full orchestras. We wish the DFW had a similar station. Is there any chance the new 91.7 will have, at least in part, this type of programming?

    Thank you!

  • Yeah! Paul Slavens for President!

  • Stephanie

    This is great news. I can’t wait to hear the new station. Dallas can certainly use more good music.

  • BL

    I hope the station will consider picking up some of the outstanding programming produced by KCRW in Los Angeles – DJs like Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas and Jason Bentley.

    KEXP in Seattle also has some great programs.

    NPR’s All Songs Considered and Live Concert Series go well with the World Cafe.

    What will be the mix of local vs. national programming?

  • Steve

    Excellent news! I dropped my membership for a number of years because of the loss of the daily music format. I came back one Saturday evening some years ago because of Lone Star Saturday Night – that is gone now, but I have high hopes for the new station. I may need to increase my membership donation this year!

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    What thrilling news. Will I get to hear a Gini Mascorro show as well? Rock of AGES!

  • Emilia

    What exciting new! Dallas will be a major player in the music scene again- it has been missed since the other Jazz station went away. Austin has a great AAA station KGSR. I hope this will even exceed this station. I am over 50 so this will appeal not to just the under 50 crowd. I love all the music that has been talked about in the news story and want to hear it all.

  • AlligatorShoes

    Where has Abby Goldstein been keeping herself, and could this spell homecoming? BRING BACK LONE STAR SATURDAY NIGHT!

  • This sounds exciting for both musicians and music lovers. I look forward to hearing it.
    I also would like to suggest somethings that I hope programmers will consider.

    1. Ask for advice from everyone before you set it up. Let this be a joint project with as many opinions as possible. The more people that help program it, the more people will listen to it.
    2. Don’t be TRENDY. PBS radio has a habit of sliding into trendiness over quality. IF and When others criticize you about not being cool enough, then you’ve done your job.
    3. Don’t limit the music to friends. Make sure that there is music from musicians that no one running the station knows personally. Don’t turn it into only music from those you know. Having a limited radio clique really hurts the station.
    4. Don’t rule out music because its revolutionary, or its unique and one of a kind. Don’t rule out music that challenges the status quo. Don’t be provincial.
    5. Instead of AAA limited selections, I’d just open it up to AMTG – all music that’s good. Why segregate music?

    Good luck

  • Lori

    That is great news! We have been missing KERA’s musical programming for years; will there be any classical offerings on the new frequency?

  • Dedrin

    I hate this they just cant cut my Christan raido station like that

    • Christi

      Dedrin, I completely agree with you! I am devistated and don’t understand why they would sell this station. Thank you for your support in KVTT and pray that someone will catch the vision to continue the format another way!

    • Scot

      KVTT and all of it’s wonderful employees live on at 1110 AM during the day, and all the time. Even Tom Doolly’s “the Journey” continues, but now in the afternoon (“abide in the vine”!) Isn’t God great?! 😉

  • Zelda Rose

    I’d strongly suggest that someone at KERA listen to the programming at KRVS for an example of how to mix national and locally-produced programming. One of the things I really missed when I moved was not being able to get their signal and had to settle for listening to them online.

    What I’d love to see is KERA2 promote the local music scene, since nobody else seems interested.