Note: I am no longer living in Austin, Texas and have not updated this information since July 2004.
Several individuals have asked whether they may take ownership of this web page in order to keep its information up-to-date. If you are thus motivated, I encourage you to rewrite this radio guide using your own words, and publish it via the website (or other medium) of your choice. Alternatively, if you merely wish to update or add to what I've written, I have licensed the following text under a Creative Commons Public Domain ("CC0") License.
Jazz Radio in Austin, Texas
An Unofficial Guide
Austin, Texas does not have round-the-clock jazz radio like some larger cities do, but we are still very fortunate to have a number of stations which air excellent jazz programming. Jazz programs may be heard every day of the week on five different radio stations: KAZI 88.7 FM, KUT 90.5 FM, KOOP 91.7 FM, KKMJ 95.5 FM, and KGSR 107.1 FM. KVRX 91.7 FM is run by the students of the University of Texas, and its schedule and personnel change each semester, so at any given time there could be a jazz program there (and no, that isn't a typo, KVRX and KOOP share the same frequency).
It is the author's hope that this guide will point jazz-loving (or potentially jazz-loving) Austinites to the right places. Also, travelers might wish to utilize this guide before making a trip to Austin, lest they get the jitters while being away from their local stations. Jazz is a wide-ranging spectrum of music, and its listeners can be adamant about their individual preferences for one style or another, but there should be something here for everyone.
This is not an "official" guide to jazz radio in Austin, and it is not the author's intention to speak for the various radio stations that air these programs.
|KAZI 88.7 FM||Station Info|
KAZI's Sunday Afternoon Jazz
Sunday, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Pam Jones and Jonathan are the alternating hosts of this show. Featuring contemporary jazz artists like Steve Cole, Pamela Williams, and Ronny Jordan.
Cookin' and Relaxin' with Dave Laczko
Monday*, 9:00 PM - Midnight
What can you say about a radio show named after two classic Miles Davis albums? Obviously, the name means that this is a jazz show, although on the night I wrote this, the show kicked off with Earth, Wind, and Fire. On this same night, host Dave Laczko also played Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Benny Carter, Joe Henderson, and Jack DeJohnette, so he really draws widely from all over the jazz map. Not too many radio stations would be willing to play something like Miles Davis' On the Corner (perhaps his most controversial album), much less follow it up later with "Candy" by the Nat Cole Trio, but you could hear it all on "Cookin' and Relaxin'." Dave Laczko is also the jazz buyer at Tower Records, which places him in charge of the city's largest jazz selection.
* "Cookin' and Relaxin'" does not air on the last Monday of the month, when "Smokey Joe's Cafe," hosted by "G.," presents early rhythm and blues.
Let's Cool One with Greg Rickard
Tuesday, 10:00 PM - Midnight
This is my favorite radio program in Austin. Each program begins with the theme song (by Thelonious Monk), and closes with the "midnight song" (could be any song that contains a reference to midnight). Greg Rickard plays it all, "from the low down to the far out." On one night, you might hear both Ramsey Lewis and Sun Ra, with a whole lot in between: Eddie Harris, Charles Mingus, Pharoah Sanders, Hugh Masekela, and Charlie Haden, to name just a few. The focus is on jazz, but Greg includes a lot of other music as well: you might hear Ray Charles, Fontella Bass, West Nkosi, Gil Scott-Heron, and Fela Kuti, maybe even all in one night (this show even turned me on to Charlie Rich). Very often I have run out and bought a CD that I heard on "Let's Cool One" - the show has introduced me to the Holmes Brothers, Arnett Cobb, and Hamiet Bluiett's Barbecue Band, among many other artists.
Jazz Unlimited with Roger C. Brown
Thursday, 9:00 PM** - Midnight
"Jazz Unlimited" presents a wide spectrum of the old and the new, but in particular is a good place to hear some hard bop (e.g., Art Blakey, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimmy McGriff), as host Roger Brown seems to have a penchant for the style. Roger Brown, in addition to hosting "Jazz Unlimited," is also involved with the Jazz at St. James Concert Series (at which David "Fathead" Newman performed for a couple of years).
** except when Austin City Council coverage runs beyond 9:00 PM.
|KUT 90.5 FM||Station Info|
Jazz, Etc. with Jay Trachtenberg
Monday - Thursday, 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Jay Trachtenberg hosts the longest-running jazz radio program in Austin (I remember several years ago when the show used to air on late Friday night). Jay made a lot of effort to showcase the centennial celebration of Duke Ellington's birthday, and put together a nice special for Blue Note Records' sixtieth anniversary. I always feel like I'm kept up-to-date on new CD releases and re-issues when I tune in. One might hear Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, John Scofield, Cedar Walton, or Arturo Sandoval.
Paul Ray's Jazz with Paul Ray
Tuesday - Wednesday, 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
In addition to KUT's Monday and Thursday overnight shifts, Paul Ray hosts "Paul Ray's Jazz" on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Paul might decide to go with a theme, like jazz renditions of classical music (Stan Kenton's rendition of Lohengrin, for instance) or, going with a Charlie Haden theme, might slip in some Liberation Music Orchestra after a cut by Quartet West. I can thank Paul Ray for introducing me to the music of Grant Green. Paul Ray has been voted "Best D.J." in the Austin Chronicle on numerous occasions, and is the perennial Master of Ceremonies at the Austin Music Awards.
|KOOP 91.7 FM||Station Info||Program Schedule|
|Note: KOOP shares its broadcast frequency with KVRX.|
Friday, Noon - 2:00 PM
"2 hour magic subway ride thru the gravel streets of non-commercial jazz."
Big Band Swing and Classic Jazz with Thomas Durnin
Saturday, 9:00 - 10:00 AM
"Traditional jazz, from Dixieland to Swing."
|KVRX 91.7 FM||Station Info|
|Note: KVRX shares its broadcast frequency with KOOP, but also has internet-only programming during its off-hours.|
Close Enough for Jazz
Monday, 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM
"Yeah, it's real live jazz! This is KVRX's two hours devoted to jazz and creative improvisation. Come explore what's going on in jazz today and yesterday. (And BYOW: Bring Your Own Wynton. Very little will be provided.)"
|KKMJ 95.5 FM||Station Info|
Majic Sunday Morning Jazz with Jabari Warfield
Sunday, 7:00 AM - Noon
Host Jabari Warfield presents contemporary jazz, featuring artists like Marcus Miller, Ron Brown, and Kirk Whalum.
|KGSR 107.1 FM||Station Info|
Jazz Junction with Jay Trachtenberg
Sunday, 11:00 AM - Noon
In addition to his "Jazz Etc." program at KUT, Jay also hosts "Jazz Junction" for KGSR. As with "Jazz, Etc.," "Jazz Junction" is rather eclectic, playing new releases alongside artists such as Nina Simone and Oscar Peterson (among many others).
Defunct Jazz Programs: In recent years, Austin has had a few stations, KAJZ, KQQQ 92.1 FM, and KQQT 106.3 FM, which featured a contemporary jazz format (e.g. Smooth Jazz; Quiet Storm). This isn't my cup of tea but I do know quite a few people who miss it. They might be glad to know that DJ Jabari Warfield is now with KKMJ (see above). Also, KAZI's "Sunday Afternoon Jazz" helps to fill this niche (as do additional programs on KKMJ and KGSR, though these are syndicated shows, and not "home-grown" in Austin).