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Todays Musing: What is the deal with KGSR?

February 3, 2010

A few mornings ago, I was forced to publicly recognize an inevitable fact.  That KGSR, Austin’s premiere “Keepin’ It Weird” radio station has officially abandoned its format and gone the way of corporate-owned radio.  Everyone in Austin is well familiar with the fact that KGSR recently switched its call number on the dial; they went from 107.1 to 93.3 back in November.  They also announced at the same time that they were adding songs to their playlists in order to “expand” their repertoire.

Maybe it’s just the rapid demise of Austin music institutions recently, but KGSR’s musical foray into territory once scoffed at by its DJs, main clientele, and music lovers everywhere has prompted me to call it: KGSR is no longer cool.  If you listen to KGSR on a regular basis, you’re sure to have seen it happening slowly, but oh so surely.  You were probably baffled when you heard “Tuneless Song” from 199-whatever the first time, but surely, the tenth time you’ve tuned in and heard “Semi-Charmed Life” by 90s one-hit wunderkind Third Eye Blind, or any song by Rob Thomas, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Dishwalla, there’s no denying that it’s all too true.  And, though they still play many Austin-friendly tunes, sandwiching that Ryan Bingham song, Vampire Weekend, or Robert Plant and Allison Krauss between every few corporate-approved songs is something many of the stations in Austin do; KGSR is no longer a place to hear music you wouldn’t hear anywhere else.

The simple fact is that KGSR expanded their signal and expanded their playlists in order to be more palatable to the newly-reached audiences.  And that’s unfortunate for those of us who originally come from cities where Phil Collins and Journey are still regularly played as if music stopped being produced in the mid-80s, for whom Radio Austin was a refuge from that pop song you never liked and grew to hate more with each play.

KGSR’s downfall is unfortunate, but not entirely unpredictable.  In an economy like this, money calls beyond all other things.  What is fortunate is that there are still some truly independent radio stations in Austin, such as the student-run KVRX, KOOP Radio, and KUT (NPR).  And perhaps it’s time we pay more attention to those types of stations anyway.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Naomi permalink
    February 4, 2010 10:11 am

    That blows. Now all we get is Taylor Swift, some new girl Ke$ha (I don’t know wtf is up with this bia), and Lil’ Wayne. Such a sad radio life. 😦

  2. February 8, 2010 2:27 pm

    God, this is so true! I was in my car YESTERDAY, browsing radio stations, and on 93.3 heard: “This is KGSR, comin’ at you live from Austin, TX!” and what did I hear next? REO f-ing Speedwagon.

    The thing is – I don’t hate on pop/70s-80s-90s adult contemporary, we all need our Whitney H. fix now and then. But there are other radio stations here who fill this role already. KGSR, like so many corporate radio stations, was likely struggling to survive and had to take this step. That’s the cool thing about community supported radio! I love you, KOOP, KVRX and KUT.

    • February 8, 2010 7:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment! My main beef is with KGSR not just coming right out and saying, “Hey guess what, we like money and that means you have to listen to REO Speedwagon.” Totally agree on the adult contempo…I’ll admit to cranking up “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and its moral equivalents on more than one occasion!

  3. Steven permalink
    February 15, 2010 10:19 pm

    KGSR is dead. I know what you mean. Its kinda depressing – long-time, hardcore KGSR listener here. Things started falling apart when Susan Castle left, then Jody, then the 93.3 change, then the playlist change to add Spin Doctors, Matchbox 20, etc….I just don’t even bother listening anymore. And they also have that rube, “music geek” in the morning who is just plain annoying. I’ve been listening now to KEXP and am also searching for an ‘Americana’ station to get my Nanci Griffith, REK, Lucinda, Lyle, etc fix. Thanks for the blog.

    • February 16, 2010 1:34 am

      Hey Steven, thanks for the comment. Good point about the Americana…that’s still a gap that needs to be filled in Austin radio. Maybe KUT or one of the KEXP DJs will take notice.

  4. Michael Bliss permalink
    June 26, 2012 10:34 am

    I am also a VERY long time listener to KGSR from Chattnooga, Southern Ca and now northern Ca. I miss the old format like crazy. Seems like an opportunity for someone in the local area to start a new station…..and return the sound waves of old KGSR……any takers?Michael Bliss

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