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Old Austin Tales - The PsychoBaby Hearse Prowls the Streets of Austin - October 31, 1991
First of all, if you were counting on an OP photo, here is one for you. As I remember it, that was the original design on the hearse and the T-shirt, the latter of which I'm sure you can buy at a premium somewhere on e-bay .
Before the internet, if you wanted to be exposed to new music you heard about it through word of mouth, in media like MTV or the radio, or you bought random things at the record store/mall. When it comes to Austin radio stations in the 1980s, most people according to contemporaneous ratings liked country music. If you liked rock or pop you had a few stations that played basically the same things with few exceptions. By the 1990s there were at least a few stations playing classic rock (KLBJ 93.7, z-102 starting in 1993), two stations playing pop and hair metal (B93.3 and K-96.7), and a few more stations playing soft rock/pop or "adult contemporary" (Magic 95.5, KEYI-103.5, Froggy 94.7, etc., then later on KGSR 107.1).
On the upper end of the Austin FM dial there was Tejano music, and at the lower end were low power stations that were not always so easily categorized. KAZI 88.7 could fill a whole other post of its own. They played "urban" music like rap and hip hop, along with some gospel, with an emphasis on local and Texas artists. KVRX/KOOP 91.7 also originated in the early 90s and has a storied history. There was also the under-appreciated classical station, and Austin's oldest station, KUT. Back then KUT, like now, was the NPR station, but was perhaps on fewer people's radar. However, they did play music at times, and they hosted a show called "Alternative Wave" starting in the mid 80s, showcasing new wave bands and at that time what was considered "alternative" rock. There was another show on KLBJ-FM called Local Licks Live that showcased local artists. That kind of music was unheard of on the pop radio stations here in town that were playing the aforementioned Lisa Lisa & CJ, among other radio-edited hair metal favorites like Skid Row, Warrant, and Guns&Roses. Local music, along with "alternative" bands like The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth did not get any airplay outside of those few hours on those two stations. Big corporate-owned radio stations considered this music "college rock" and didn't think there was a mainstream market for it. Then in the summer of '91 along came a gentleman by the name of Kurt Cobain who changed everything and proved them wrong.
At the time this was happening I was an edgy, impressionable teen in my early high school years. I got a boombox one year for christmas that I kept on for so long that it burnt out, so point being I was always listening to the radio. It sounds cheezy but I swear I remember the first time I heard a local pop station play "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It was at night when I was doing homework for school. I can't remember who the DJ was on B-93 but they said flat out "This is going to change the world". I remember being a little bit skeptical. I watched MTV at the time but in between episodes of Liquid Television I wasn't paying attention to the old show called Alternative Nation. That ended up becoming the new model for what was going to be "cool" in the 1990s. The era of flannel-wearing grunge was beginning to hit the mainstream, and right around that same time is when K-nack went on the air.
And the result was possibly the greatest era in Austin radio since KLBJ-AM went on the air in the 1930s. We shall not see its like again. What was so special about K-nack? I'm going to need some help in explaining. As this 2012 culturemapAustin article puts it:
That really doesn't do it justice, and there is precious little else about K-nack at all on the internet today. I decided to go digging in the archives of the Statesman and The Austin Chronicle so that we can remember one of the best things that came out of Slacker-era Austin besides Quackenbush's and Madonna's pap smear.
K-NACK HAD THE BALLS TO PLAY ITIn 1990, Austin's music landscape looked and felt a lot different than it is today. The grunge scene was still gestating in the womb of Seattle, and college radio was more of a degree elective than a music genre.
That was before Halloween night 1991 when K-NACK radio (official call sign KNNC 107.7) hit the Austin airwaves and ushered in a new era of fearless alternative indie music that still resonates with musicians and listeners in the Live Music Capital. To many die-hard music fans who remember the (gasp!) pre-Spotify days of DJ-selected radio play, K-NACK is still the best music station to ever come out of Austin.
Mike Henry is one such die-hard. "K-NACK was where you learned about bands. There was no Internet in those days, so you had to tune in and trust what the DJs told you was cool. They changed how we looked at local music and how we found out what was happening in the rest of the world."
Henry has lived and worked in Austin's thriving music industry for over twenty years, first as a booking agent for the iconic Electric Lounge and now as co-owner of the east side's thriving ND. Having known and worked with many of the now legendary bands that got their start with K-NACK twenty years ago, Henry's fervor is still dialed up to 11.
"K-NACK was a huge supporter of local bands, and they committed to promoting them alongside these emerging national bands," says Henry. "I worked with Spoon back when they were just getting started, and they got heavy airplay. . . next to Nirvana, REM, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Depeche Mode. This was monumental for the local bands just getting on their feet."
Quoting the Statesman from October 31, 1991:
Quoting from The Statesman from November 21, 1991
KNNC-FM targets collegiate crowd - Station debuting today offers alternative rock, acts that appeal to local student crowdA new, alternative rock radio station debuts in the Austin market today. KNNC-FM is bringing the sounds of Depeche Mode, the Talking Heads, U2, the Cure, REM and other bands popular with the college crowd to 107.7 FM.
The station, to be called "Kay-knack," will have "a kind of pop/AOR (album-oriented rock) hybrid feel," said Richard Rees, general manager. "We'll play a lot of up-and-coming bands, bands that have sold well here or done well in concert but aren't getting any airplay - bands like Jane's Addiction, Big Audio Dynamite, Siouxsie and the Banshees."
While the station will provide a musical alternative, Rees said, it will not be the same alternative as "adult alternative" KGSR-FM. "If anything, we'll complement each other," Rees said, "but there will be very limited crossover." Both stations might play Suzanne Vega and Indigo Girls, Rees said, but "we will not be acoustic-sounding like KGSR. We're an alternative rock format, but not adult alternative. We'll be more commercial than a college station, but will play a lot of the same songs. We're really going after the college audience, and the young professionals.
"This is a niche format," Rees said. "We're not looking to be No. 1. We play a specific kind of music, and a specific kind of audience will seek us out and stay with us."
Rees said he expects the station to be profitable, even without drawing huge numbers of listeners, by keeping the operation lean. He was formerly successful with the same format in Salt Lake City, he said.
The format will be fine-tuned to fit the Austin market, Rees said. "We want to have a local feel. We want to get involved in the local scene and play local artists. Nobody should expect a lot right out front. We need a better feel of what is a very progressive local scene."
The local connection will be fostered by hiring local disc jockeys - including Jay Michaels, formerly of KHFI-FM; Ray Saggern, a DJ at the Back Room; and "Whammo," a local street DJ, - and by listening to listeners, Rees said. "We have to feel our way into it. We're starting off with what we know best. As the market dictates, we'll react to it."
The studios and transmitter of the Class A, 6,000-watt station are in Georgetown. Rees expects the signal to fade in some parts of town, but predicts general coverage of the Austin area.
Rees believes the station will compete most directly with contemporary hit stations KHFI and B-93 (KBTS-FM). KNNC could take listeners from hot adult contemporary KEYI-FM, and perhaps attract younger listeners from rock stations KLBJ-FM and Z-102 (KPEZ-FM), as well.
"We're excited," Rees said. "We're here to break new music. We're going to have a lot of fun."
These articles also don't do the station enough justice. In these early days they would play just about anything. Young impressionable suburban teens like myself who were weened on studio-pushed pop music like George Michael and Bryan Adams were for the first time exposed to the likes of The Dead Milkmen, GWAR, Skinny Puppy, and Ministry. And there were whole other sub-genres of music beyond "Alternative" such as industrial and electronic that were also inserted into playlists in-between the most-requested hits of the day they would play. I remember one early DJ, named "Wammo", famously got fired for playing an Ice-T song full of curse words I think during FCC no-no hours.
Age-9 insights - Boombox tunes in subtleties of radio competition among local rock and pop `alternative' stationsAn incident at my house this weekend, a tiny thing in itself, suggests that some stations have an appeal that doesn't show up on the ratings surveys, which measure listeners ages 12 and over.
A neighbor boy, who is 9, spent the night with my son. He brought his boombox, and while they were playing he tuned in B-93 (KBTS-FM). My professional curiosity was piqued. When I asked him why he was listening to B-93, he said, "Because I like rock 'n' roll."
That hit me wrong. I guess it just goes to show that people look at things differently. I thought, if he wanted rock, he should tune in KLBJ-FM, Z-102 (KPEZ-FM), or, since he's on a generational cutting edge, the new alternative rocker KNNC-FM. B-93 and KHFI-FM, Austin's contemporary hit stations, play a type of music I think of as pop rather than rock.
This little encounter has made me look more closely at the newest wrinkle in Austin's radio competition.
When KNNC debuted Oct. 31, it struck me as logical that the station would compete most directly with Austin's established rockers, KLBJ-FM and Z-102. KNNC is aimed at the college crowd, playing recent rock by such acts as Depeche Mode, REM, U2, the Talking Heads and the Cure.
But certain Austin radio insiders have since told me that the real picture may be very different, that KNNC will be competing most directly against B-93 and KHFI - because, this reasoning goes, listeners who are looking for the latest thing in music, listeners who would like Depeche Mode in the first place, are more likely to be attracted to electronic effects, such as sampling, and a dance beat.
My son's friend's comment suggests that there may be some truth in this view. And comparative listening reveals at least some points of contact. For instance, I heard Depeche Mode on both B-93 and KNNC one morning this week.
No question, KNNC appeals to the same age group as the contemporary hit stations - mainly listeners under 30, the self-styled Generation X. But I still feel that the sounds appeal to different audiences.
In both contemporary pop and contemporary rock, the appeal is mainly to a younger demographic - say teens to 25-year-olds. But pop and rock are aimed at different psychographics - that is, different lifestyles or different self-images.
Pop is driven by commercial interests, so its appeal is more to fashion consciousness; rock tends to be based more on artistic concerns, and its primal beat and message lyrics appeal to a more rebellious attitude. Pop goes for conformity; rock for nonconformity. (Of course, rock's commercial success relies on a conformity of nonformists, but that's another issue.)
The distinction is not nearly this neat. There are all kinds of crossover acts - and Depeche Mode might be the best example. But the distinction, to the extent that it exists in the minds of the listeners, is nevertheless important.
Still trying to understand the new competition picture, I tried another theory: KNNC is to B-93 as KGSR-FM is to KLBJ. This was appealing, because both KNNC and KGSR call themselves "alternative" - which raises the question "alternative to what?" But a bit of reflection shot that theory down. Because, again, both KGSR and KNNC play rock music; B-93 and KHFI play pop music. And to my ear, there's a big difference.
So I return to my original idea. I think KNNC will draw its listeners mainly from KLBJ-FM. Z-102 appears the least vulnerable of Austin's rock stations to KNNC's challenge, because by playing mainly classic rock, Z-102 targets an older audience. KGSR may feel some pressure, because KNNC offers listeners a different alternative.
But KLBJ may be more vulnerable. KLBJ not only plays new rock songs, but it also relies on a heavy dose of rock hits that are 10 or even 20 years old. Listeners who are looking for the latest thing, and who may have little patience for retro-rock, now have another alternative.
This is not to say that KLBJ will lose its place near the top of the ratings heap. But we may hear KLBJ adjusting its music mix toward either an older or a newer sound, to meet KNNC's challenge.
So being exposed to all this new music, both commercial and independent, and being able to listen 24 hours a day, was a revolutionary experience. Looking back I fell for the hype hook, line and sinker. I think K-nack influenced me to talk to girls with skater haircuts and at one point I was probably a few Bauhaus songs away from going full goth. But they had a slick marketing department who came up with the idea of the K-nack hearse.
I don't know of any good photos of the hearse on the internet but I'm dying to find at least one good one. In the meantime, ripped from the Psychobaby Time Capsule facebook group, I give you this one of a group of former K-nack employees standing in front of the hearse and this other one of two former K-nack employees standing in front of it, showing the psychobaby. Technically the title of this post is incorrect, I don't think they bought the hearse until they were around for a few years. I know it came to my high school at least once and where someone gave out station-themed swag.
Once they were established for a while they toned down from playing virtually anything. They settled into a model of what we would think 101x is like today, except with more local music. Bands like Spoon, Dah-veed, and Sincola got heavy airplay at different points. People like Andy Langer helped bring local artists to citywide attention on weekly shows. In that first year a Houston-based concert promoter organized a touring act of "alternative" artists around Texas cities. In Austin this took the form of a large outdoor concert called K-nackFest out at Lake Walter E. Long featuring the touring acts alongside popular local artists. Things didn't go as planned.
Quoting The Statesman from June 18, 1992:
That was the before, and now for the after, quoting The Statesman from June 30, 1992:
Fest promoters still have the knackFrom the perspective of Houston's Pace Concerts, the advance sales were so slow for next week's "K-NACK Fest" - the June 26 alternative-rock extravanganza, sponsored by KNNC (107.7 FM), at Lake Walter E. Long Park - that the company decided to end its participation in the event. Even so, the Austin promoters still involved insist that the show will go on, and that the advance receipts give no cause for alarm.
"The show's going to happen without a doubt," said Jim Ramsey, whose Broken Finger Productions is presenting the event in conjunction with French Smith at Roadstar. "This is the first show of the summer, and it's got a big buzz on the street. It's the right time, the right music."
The package features college-rock favorites including Peter Murphy, the Soup Dragons, Material Issue, Live, Cracker, the Nymphs, Flaming Lips and Sun-60, and is slated to run for almost 12 hours beginning at 1 p.m. With no discount for buying the $17 ticket in advance, and no reserved seating, there is little incentive to purchase tickets more than a week before the concert.
"We figure if we've got 500 tickets (sold) now, and the show's a week and a half away, we're smokin'," continued Ramsey. "I did Stevie (Ray Vaughan) in '84, a Saturday show, and on Friday we had 900 tickets sold. I thought we'd do 5,000-6,000. We ended up doing 11,000."
The break-even point for the promoters is 500 tickets. Pace is continuing to promote a similar package in Houston, Dallas and New Orleans.
Not exactly a rousing success. I can find scant evidence of it today, but if memory serves they went on to have at least a few more outdoor shows like this, all of which had better attendance. I don't think I went to any of them. But looking back today those early K-nackFests were more of an ancestor of what ACLfest has become today than Aqua Fest was. Even if these concerts didn't live up to the promoters' expectations, they did more to further the exposure of local bands than would have been possible without them.
Alternative music fest battles mainstream glitches - Backstage friction dampens sparkIt sure wasn't Woodstock, though a couple of bands sardonically invoked that event from the stage of Friday's K-NACK Fest. While the lineup for the all-day outdoor affair had been assembled to sample the current state of alternative rock - new musical values for a new generation - the offstage machinations seemed very much like business as usual.
When your correspondent arrived at Lake Walter E. Long Park shortly after the scheduled 1 p.m. start, there were more folks scurrying to prepare the stage than there were paying customers in front of it. It seemed that the equipment truck for headliner Peter Murphy hadn't arrived until an hour before showtime. The Murphy camp had a contractual agreement that it could use its own lights, making the staging more complex than the typical plug-'er-in and let-'er-rip festival.
Such complications caused a delay of more than an hour in getting the show under way, which didn't prove to be much of a logistical problem, as the 10-act bill shrunk to eight bands during the course of the proceedings. First to go were the Nymphs, who had been touring as Murphy's opening act, but had broken up in the middle of the tour a couple of nights earlier. Ah, the tensions of the road.
The next casualties were Scotland's Soup Dragons, who had played with Murphy the previous evening, with frayed nerves on both sides. The band was upset in part because it had expected to be co-headliner, but found its billing significantly smaller in the fest's advertising. Asked to close the show, the Soup Dragons refused, and then decided they didn't want to precede Murphy, either. After a few hours of negotiations through trans-Atlantic conference calls, the band hit the road.
By then, the low turnout was making the fest package seem something less than a crucial career move for the bands. The lineup had played its first date the previous evening in New Orleans, where the draw was reportedly less than a thousand. In Austin, a crowd in the low dozens watched the early afternoon bands, with the attendance crawling into the low thousands by evening. The show had a much greater advance sale the next night in Dallas, where sponsoring station KDGE (The Edge) has more impact than Austin's similarly-programmed KNNC (K-NACK).
(Another point of comparison: In Dallas, Murphy was scheduled to close the show beginning at 9:15. Given Austin's peculiar penchant for fashionable lateness, the initial schedule called for him to take the K-NACK stage at 11:30 p.m., which caused him to balk at the late hour, and subsequently caused Soup Dragons to cancel in the face of Murphy's power play.)
For all the backstage intrigue and the slight turnout, there were some musical pleasures and revelations as the show progressed. Chief among the latter were the Spent Poets, a new band from San Francisco that seems like a studio creation on its self-titled debut album, but showed that it could deliver the goods live. Combining pop hooks, rock dynamics and a strong sense of the absurd, the band had some of the loopy playfulness of Jellyfish (fellow San Franciscans) without any of the nostalgia. In fact, the set's high point came with Grassheads, an attack on aging hippies listening to Sgt. Pepper on headphones, letting their minds turn to the mush of Squeaky Fromme.
The band sounded even sharper in comparison with the performances surrounding it. Opening the show was L.A.'s Sun-60, whose propulsive eclecticism never quite resolved itself into any memorable material. Following the Spent Poets was Wire Train, which has been releasing a series of decreasingly distinguished albums since the early '80s, and is getting a little long in the tooth to be considered alternative anything. Where the Dylanesque ambitions of frontman Kevin Hunter once resulted in taut rock, the band's music now seems more like inconsequential pastiche.
After the extended guitar distortions of Flaming Lips offered a high-decibel alternative to such musical complacency, Cracker took the stage to deliver daylight's best set. Where the music of frontman David Lowery had been precociously oblique in his days with Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker's Southern-fried riffing and irresistible rhythmic grooves hit home without affectation or musical meandering. The music was as straightforward as a band could be with one member (bassist Davey Faragher) performing in seamed stockings and a minidress, and another (guitarist Johnny Hickman) stripped down to his underwear.
So the crowd wouldn't feel cheated at the absence of Soup Dragons - whose dance-floor remake of the Rolling Stone's I'm Free was the band's lone hit - Cracker tossed the song into the middle of its set, before blasting its way through Neil Young's F*!#in' Up and segueing into its own heartwarming Don't F--- Me Up (With Peace and Love). Woodstock, indeed.
The tough task of following Cracker fell to Material Issue, whose aggressive brand of Top 40 melodicism would have been called "power pop" in the age of the Knack, but sounds more like the Jam if that band had been Merseybeat rather than mod revivalists. Frontman Jim Ellison and band aren't doing anything new in their music, but the trio does it with an attitude and spirit that this listener finds irresistible. In a club, Material Issue can blow the roof off the joint, but didn't generate quite as much response on a big stage with a small crowd and no roof.
The evening concluded with Live and Peter Murphy, but without your correspondent, who'd had enough after seven hours in the sun (and all that liquid you're supposed to consume to counteract the heat). Live is a very young, very earnest and (in some quarters) very popular band from Pennsylvania, with a messianic sense of mission in its music that can seem a little preposterous, particularly to those of us who have learned that the mysteries of the universe extend further than the lessons of freshman philosophy.
As for Britain's high-concept Peter Murphy, in his earlier days with Bauhaus he was aping David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, and as a solo artist now sounds more like Bowie in his Cat People phase, crooning angst-ridden love songs for similarly (and exquisitely) tortured souls. I'm sure he looked divine under his own lights.
In all the excitement of the afternoon - or perhaps in an acid flashback of Summer-of-Love nostalgia - your correspondent somehow became separated from his prescription sunglasses. If anyone came across a gray pair in a brown case, please call here, and I'll share all the scurrilous Soup Dragons stories and other fest gossip that we can't verify for a family newspaper.
Starting in 1993 there were a series of smaller concerts at venues like The Back Room called HomeGroan Live featuring local artists promoted on the station and by 1994 there was a series of CDs put out by Raydog's (one of the DJs) 11th Hour Records called Homegroan Vols. I-IV.
By this time after they had been around a few years and the some of the edge was gone, the other pop stations were starting to erode K-nack's already mediocre ratings by playing the same music. Despite the commitment to local music, the station was ultimately a slave to the ratings, and so the trendy music of the day became the order of the day. Bands like Live and Matchbox 20 and Soul Hat were mainstream enough to be played on the big pop stations but still got requested on K-nack, while the weird, quirky bands of the 90s and the older 80s "alternative" music took a back seat. Things went on like this for a while as the early 90s became the mid 90s, but in the world of corporate radio there was a group very interested in what was going on with K-nack in Austin.
Quoting from The Austin Chronicle, in the edition from Friday, Sept. 8, 1995:
Well DJ Melody Lee was wrong, they were trying to run K-nack out and K-nack folded. Space is running short so I've got to wrap this up. In early 1997 the company that owned 101X bought out the investors that owned K-nack. Shortly afterward they fired everyone there, ceased original programming at K-nack and used the frequency to rebroadcast 101x. And then they sold the station to someone else who eventually sold it to Univision, and today I think it's Spanish language rock music. 101x hired some of the old K-nack DJs in the 2000s, including Lynn Lawless, who I think is the originator of the 'flashback lunch' on K-nack and brought it over to 101x.
The Shot Heard 'Round the DialIt's taken a while, but the three favorite words in Austin radio are no longer "Stevie Ray Vaughan." Now it's "New Rock Revolution," and every couple of years or so, Austin gets another one. First, it was K-NACK four years ago, and because radio was only beginning to suffer from acute hair-band withdrawal, the upstart station was dismissed as a bunch of freaks who had just moved from the far left of the dial to the far right. Then a little band called Nirvana came along and left radio programmers scratching their heads, thinking there might just be something to this "alternative" thing after all.
It would take another station's coming to Austin, and a serious overhaul of one of its most entrenched stations, to make this point clear. The ABC-owned Z-Rock, its harder-than-you playlist shot through with flannel-garbed hitmakers Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, went on the air in the summer of 1993. Z-Rock immediately won its target demographic, 18-to-34-year-olds, and jolted longtime Austin rock giant KLBJ-FM out of the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) complacency of Boston, the Eagles, and Rush, and into the maelstrom known alternately as "current rock," "alternative rock," and, yes, "the new rock revolution." But still, that was only the beginning.
When Kurt Cobain pulled the trigger in April 1994, the sound that echoed wasn't the bang of a shotgun, but the ching of a cash register. With its first full-fledged martyr on board, alternative rock broke through once and for all into the mainstream and became a true pop culture phenomenon. Punk, dead to the world five years before but suddenly fueled by the staggering record sales of Green Day and the Offspring, stepped up to claim its slice of the pie. Suddenly, and finally, radio programmers had a bona fide format on their hands: a little AOR from Seattle, a little Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) from California, and a lot of money from corporate America. And on June 9, 1995, it came to Austin. But why?
"We thought there was a niche," says Sara Trexler, 101X (KROX-FM) program director, before correcting herself. "Not a niche, but there was a hole in the market in terms of having alternative music that was not mixed with either classic rock or heavy, heavy urban dance kind of stuff, and was specifically for this sort of generation format.
"And no one else was doing that," continues Trexler. "You have KLBJ, which plays some new rock, there's no doubt about it, but they also play a lot of classic rock. Then you have KHFI, which may play Hootie and Blues Traveler and that kind of jangly guitar end, maybe some Green Day, but they're not going to play Juliana Hatfield, they're not going to play Filter, and they're not going to play Supersuckers. Those were the two stations with the two big sticks that were saying, `Hello, we see you young people out there, but we're really not that interested in you; we don't really care."
To try to cover that perceived gap between KLBJ and KHFI, the new kid in town, KROX, or 101X as it has come to call itself, drew from just about every available avenue in the Austin radio spectrum, as well as a couple of new ones. Jocks Ray Seggern and Rachel Marisay, and 101X's basic playlist, came from K-NACK; morning drive jock Ernie Mills drove south from Dallas' Edge, a nationally recognized pioneer of the new rock format; Production Director Jane Shasserre jumped ship from Z-Rock, hence most of 101X's commercials retain some of that in-your-face quality; the station made instant local connections by using sister station KGSR's sales staff to handle advertising; the on-air delivery and general attitude is pure Top 40/CHR; and KROX's aggressive attitude toward club tie-ins and remotes is closest to KLBJ's. Throw in a Butthole Surfer and a unique "rock & roll talk show" on Thursday nights, and you've got a radio station - one that wants, and needs, to make money hand over fist.
"People hate to hear this," says Trexler, "but the number one reason radio exists is to make money. If the station doesn't make money, it doesn't exist anymore. It doesn't matter if it's KLBJ or K-NACK. That's the bottom line; it's gotta make money. At 100,000 watts, we obviously have to make money, we have to have ratings. So we have to be mass appeal, we have to be popular."
But having to be popular doesn't necessarily translate into being popular, and some of the most heated debate about 101X's arrival centers around just how many people will tune into a format that's being done to death across the dial. In other words, is it a niche or is it bigger? "We're not a niche format," explains Trexler. "We're not trying to carve out a niche. We want to be accessible to a lot of people. I don't want to be selfish with my listeners. I want it to be something that a lot of people can listen to, that a lot of people can like. It's a mass appeal format now."
Not surprisingly, other stations don't see it quite like that, or if they do, they're not quite sure why there's another station trying to do something they were already doing. "I don't really see [101X] as any kind of landmark, because I thought K-NACK was basically playing this stuff before 101X came along, " says KLBJ-FM program director Jeff Carrol. "101X just has a better signal. So, I don't see them as anything really new to Austin. They're just trying to do it a little bit different and a little bit better."
"I think [101X] was a good wake-up call for us," says K-NACK General Manageco-owner Richard Rees. "It's a good exercise in job experience to have a true competitor again. Before, when we were on the air, it was like 'a bunch of weirdos listening to that new rock stuff down at K-NACK.' It was tough to get credibility. Now, it's like, `Wow. Instant credibility. Maybe what you guys were doing wasn't such a bad thing.' "
"I don't really consider 101X a direct competitor," Z-Rock program director Daryl O'Neal says. "If you look at their playlist, they have about 40 to 50 percent of our titles, and the rest is a pure modern-rock format similar to KRBE in Houston or the Edge in Dallas. I don't think there's a place for them, to be quite frank. When you've got KLBJ, K-NACK, Z-Rock, and, to a large degree, KHFI, playing a lot of the same music, to come in and open a station that plays the same music, there's no hole for it.
"When we came to Austin, there was a hole," continues O'Neal. "There was a huge hole. You had KLBJ playing what they had been for forever, Z-102 the classic rock station, [and] K-NACK being alternative. CHR back then was CHR. There wasn't any hard rock, and so when we debuted, we debuted number one with 18-34 adults. That's a hole in the market; that's when you go, `I can fill this.' Everything new has a curve to it, sure, and certainly I think we've settled in to where we ought to be, but I don't see that kind of hole [for 101X]."
If there's not a hole, then judging by the amount of money Sinclair Communications has sunk into 101X, it's going to stick around long enough to create one. So is everybody else. KLBJ is owned by the Johnson family [as in Lyndon Baines Johnson], Z-Rock by Disney via ABC/Capital Cities, and K-NACK by Rees and a group of wealthy investors. So, what Austin audiences are in for is an old-fashioned dogfight among radio stations who all play the same music - or close enough.
Nobody. The term "alternative," at least in its original sense, is as dead as Kurt Cobain, and probably died with him. "Nirvana did break through on a lot of levels because they were able to put out something raw and fresh," Rees says. "Everything since Nirvana has been a regurgitation of their sound."
"Alternative is such a weird term," Carrol says. "I don't really think it's alternative. Everybody in the industry calls it that, but it's really become mainstream. It's not that everybody's tastes have become alternative, it's that the music that's being put out now is good enough that the masses like it as well as the people who used to be into alternative music because it was different from what was being played on mass-appeal radio stations."
"I would say that in terms of being alternative, we are an alternative to whatever else is out there," Trexler says. "There's no doubt about that. Nobody else has Gibby Haynes on; we've got lots of interviews that constantly go on; we have a flashback lunch that's a pretty bitchin' free-for-all nostalgia-fest. There's a lot of stuff that we can do that nobody else is doing. Maybe it's not always a free-form station, but it's certainly not as rigid as a lot of places."
So, essentially, as far as true alternative programming goes, we're back to where we were before all this alternative rock business started - left of the dial. David Jinright, station manager of the University of Texas at Austin student radio station KVRX, thinks college radio should push commercial radio to play better music. "We have the freedom to do things new and different, because we only have to answer to our listeners," he says. "College radio doesn't care about getting the largest audience. We care that the music gets somewhere."
Fortunately, college has something that commercial radio doesn't; the freedom to experiment. And sometimes, those experiments turn out something really great. Commercial stations, on the other hand, just have to make money. In order to make money, stations have to sell product, both musical and non-musical and they find out real quick that mass audiences are the ones with the cash, so it's their needs that get served first. This usually means a jock will get call after call requesting Tripping Daisy and Alanis Morissette. This is not great radio, but it pays the bills. And it has its bright spots, too.
"Sara [Trexler] gives me a lot more leeway than I've had anywhere else," says 101X overnight jock Ray "Dogg" Seggern, who's worked at seven Austin radio stations. "But there are limits. I couldn't do what Gibby does."
"When K-NACK came on, I started getting to play better music, as far as I was concerned," says Johnny Walker, KLBJ nighttime jock. "And when Z-Rock came on, we had to do the same thing; I started playing better stuff. I get away with a lot more now with 101X in town, because I can go in to the PD and say, `Hey, look, man. We need to be playing this stuff.' And we are." For the most part, the jocks would rather just deal with their shifts, even the endless Silverchair requests, than take part in any protracted inter-station wars. Most agree that the rock radio market is as tapped as it can be, but welcome the competition anyway.
"Our listeners have been pretty loyal, they're pretty faithful," K-NACK afternoon drive jock Melody Lee says. "They keep listening and keep calling us with positive input, so, we're not really distressed or feel like we're in any competition at all with 101X. We want to stress that - we don't feel like they're our competition. Everyone's competitors in this market. To say that one station is competition or might take away our listeners is absurd when we've always had competition with the other stations. I think the town is more than big enough to take the two. There's been a lot of talk about them trying to run us out and [that] K-NACK's gonna fold, but that's just not true."
No one will know for sure what kind of impact 101X will have on the market for at least another month, when the next Arbitron book comes out. It would take a lot for 101X to dethrone KLBJ, still Austin's rock ratings king, but Z-Rock showed two years ago that it can be done. Whether or not 101X is a niche format or a mass appeal is up to the listener. They're out to prove everyone else wrong, and they might do it. Maybe the best thing that's come out of 101X's arrival is that it's made the other stations stop and think about their own identities. That's never bad for the listeners.
"You can think of it this way," Trexler says. "We suck less than the other stations. It's kind of like if you're watching Beavis and Butt-head and they go, `Well, it doesn't suck that much.'"
In 2012 there was a two-night 20th anniversary concert but beyond that K-nack imo doesn't get the props it deserves. Share your memories of K-nack and/or your photos of the hearse if you have any.
No bonus pics today I'm afraid but there are some good ones on that facebook group page I linked to earlier. But by all means have a few other bonus links instead:
Bonus Link #1 - Winner on KNNC - 1993? (not my video)
Bonus Link #2 - KNAC Homegroan Vol. II - 1994 (look in discog posted earlier for track listing)
Bonus Link #3 - Cubby & Ken Fusion Air Check - 1994 (RIP Cubby)
A Cantor Fitzgerald Christmas
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> Date: Friday, November 20, 2020 Subject: Proposal To: "[email protected]" <[email protected]> Cc: ~60 recipients
If you and Howie can have a real conversation with Donald about this PSA, then you can also consider it the formal Investment Banking application from the new spokesmen at the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.
These two will donate all of their assets into it on Christmas Day, under the terms and conditions below.
Please also gather any media for my Folder. You and Howie will need a good Primary Dealer relationship, so Cantor Fitzgerald will act as the well deserved financial chassis here.
Just as losing mom and dad prepared us for the initial shock of 9/11, so nineteen years reveal our final instructions:
With the same force on Dec. 25, 2020, the 501(c)(3), Cantor Fitzgerald, its affiliates, and its families may participate in a brand new style of wedding. I scored front row seats. The only other invitees are those mentioned to this email string, many of whom you know.
These terms expire in 72 hours.
I love you, g
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Dave Chaos <[email protected]> wrote: This looks very different from the first proposal It appears you are interested in promoting a trust ? An infomercial ? What exactly is the content you'd like to air ? KNON WILL NOT air the above content under any circumstances
On Sun, Nov 8, 2020 at 6:10 PM The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: Dave and Christian,
Sorry about the delay. Comments look good: we prefer ten weeks without commercial interruption. Expect members of the group Tiger 21 to provide the escrow details.
We’ll need a date and time for the first hour, when Arash Mohomad P******* and James Robert Denke announce this new 501(c)(3), its unique tax status, and the contents already outlined in “Episode 1”.
In a show of solidarity, we’re asking Genevieve Collins to participate in the audit. We’ll invite some bipartisan folks to join the panel she moderates, simultaneously surprising listeners.
Jack Van Wunnik on your floor is the CPA for any tax-specific questions you may have:
- This is a new legal entity, structured with existing frameworks commonly known as “trusts”.
- Consisting of one (1) trust filed within the legal framework of every country on Earth, this universal Trust (“Trust”) grows into a borderless government by the final episode of the wedding. Its population of internationally recognized, remote citizens proceed to normalize relations with existing United Nations governments.
- No one, including its founding team, may participate in the Trust until the final episode, when the Trust is formed. Afterward, any human being may apply to participate in the Trust.
- Applicants must pass one (1) stringent proficiency test, for which the Trust and its members prepare them to take. Those who participate in the series are exempt from the test.
- Any individual (“Participant”) accepted into the Trust will receive one (1) checkbook, one (1) debit card, and one (1) benefits package, including comprehensive healthcare and retirement coverage. Once activated, these items can be used to purchase any good or service at anytime.
- In order to activate the accounts listed above, Participants must access a universal web portal (“Portal”) and complete tax steps 12-15 below. Afterward, Participants may populate their personal folder (“Folder”) with images, audio, video, digital print and other media to document the principal engine of the Trust. As Intellectual property of the Trust, Media files will be timestamped chronologically as permanent, auditable records inside any Folder.
- Due to their storytelling nature, Folders may contain significant records of personal, business, travel, and other matters. Participants may not share these contents with anyone other than the Chairman of the Board (“Chairman”) of the Trust.
- Participation is life long. After the natural death of any Participant, the Trust will make the entire contents of the aforementioned Folder available for public review. This allows future Participants to explore dormant Folders to match their contents to current Folders. When a match is confirmed, the Chairman will notify one (1) Participant immediately.
- Participants may produce up to one (1) film and one (1) book using the publishing and editing software within each Folder. Approved works may be updated and republished periodically. The Chairman maintains sole discretion over which films and books may be shared publicly before any Participant’s natural death.
- Prior to being made public, Participant films and books must be approved by a face-to-face meeting with the Chairman. All Participants are required to film and upload any meeting to their Folders for review.
- The mission of the Trust is to empower low and middle income individuals to become Board Members (“Board Members”) of the Trust. Only those granted a Chairman meeting, pending confirmation by existing Board Members, may become Board Members themselves. All Board Members share equal voting rights within the Trust.
- Participants must submit tax forms to their appropriate local tax authorities (example: IRS Form W-4 for United States Income Tax), claiming exempt status for the period beginning July 20, 2020. Participants must notify all appropriate local, state and federal tax authorities of their exemption.
- Participants must also withdraw from social security, pension, healthcare, and dental plan accounts, usually funded through employer payroll. Business-owner Participants must do similarly with proprietor accounts, equivalent to those listed above.
- Participants may utilize any and all Trust assets at the Chairman’s sole discretion. Likewise, Participants must assign all private assets (if any) to the Trust. These assets may include banking, brokerage, business and otherwise financial accounts, deeds, titles, interests, certificates, financial instruments, rights intellectual property, and hard assets. Though they work in various professions,
- Participants must maintain an annual income of zero ($0.00) to sustain the chassis of the Trust. Additionally, all income must be directed to the Trust in order for each Participant to maintain no-income tax status. Income may include wages, business interest, investment interest, and other passive sources. Inquiries made by local tax authorities, or any other authority, must be directed to one of the remote offices of the Board of Directors (“Board of Directors”); its offices will open in New York City, Beirut, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Shiraz, Toronto, Split, Prague, Lisbon, Kyoto, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Lima, Medellin, Bogota, Mexico City, Houston, and Dallas, Texas.
- Two cofounders witnessed the creation of the Trust over two (2), consecutive 19 year periods. These are its only initial Board Members, announcing the public formation of the Trust. These initial Board Members are subject to full background investigations, including their private records, business interests, past relationships, careers, and transgressions, to which they admit sporadically throughout the series. Designed to help Participants inventory their own, transgressions are required uploads before additional files can be added to any new Folder.
- Both founders accept independent radio station KNON to broadcast ten (10) hours of the details of the Trust, its tax implications, its creation and subsequent storyline. During their broadcast, the cofounders will treat listeners and any questions with compassion and respect. The same will be requested of listeners. Panel questioning will be conducted in a timely, fair manner throughout the series, in order to encourage the fewest, unanswered questions at its conclusion.
- In the final episode of the series, each cofounder will execute the formation paperwork of the Trust, which has projected, worldwide Board Membership of only 55,555 individuals in its first year. The cofounders explain this ratio to listeners. Due to the vastly larger applicant pool size, the question Panel may only include those attached to this email or those called with direct involvement in the creation of the Trust’s first Folder. These may include some surprising individuals, including but not limited to: Genevieve Collins, George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, former secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin, former Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Dick Grasso, former New Orleans Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, Former Presidential Intern Monica Lewinsky, writers Judy Bloom and Elizabeth Sanders, Patricia Clarkson, Patrick Bateman, Paul Rudd, John Slattery, Benicio Del Toro, John Leguizamo, CEO American Airlines Doug Parker, CFO Southwest Airlines Tammy Romo, chefs Philippe Chow and Rick Moonen, Michael Mann, Gusmano Cesaretti, Wynton Marsalis, Naseer Shamma, Taj Mahal, Alan Braxe, DJ Falcon, Don Vappie, Trent Reznor, select members of Tiger 21, and among others, producer Mark Ellis, aka “Flood”.
- The series will be dedicated to Charles C. Bergman, the late Chairman of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
This will be great fun.
On Saturday, October 24, 2020, The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: Joe?
On Saturday, October 24, 2020, Dave Chaos <[email protected]> wrote: Please let me know whom I am communicating with through this email exchange James, Arash, Mohomad or Isa I have seen all of these names on this email thread Some questions I have are in red $105,000 will be deposited in escrow for the benefit of Agape Broadcasting Foundation Inc. (“Agape”) in exchange for a live, ten hour broadcast titled, The Marriage at KNON (“Marriage”). Who is the escrow agent. The Marriage will air nightly from 9-10pm CST, during ten nights spanning from October 25, 2020 to November 3, 2020. These dates won't be possible. Do you want 10 nights in a row of a once a week broadcast ? Agape will provide current fundraising and/or profitability estimates for the existing 9-10pm time slots prior to the Marriage broadcast. Any funds raised in excess of two times (“2X”) the existing estimates for current programming during the 9-10pm time slots will be deducted from the amount payable to Agape. For example, if the current programming is estimated to raise $1,000 from 9-10pm on Oct. 25, then any amount raised above 2X $1,000, or $2,000, will be deducted from the $105,000. This incentivizes the Marriage to become more profitable than any show from 9-10pm CST, while still allowing for Agape to experience 2X upside prior to any deduction(s) from the $105,000. There will have to be guaranteed funds to start and a donate as we go arrangement moving forward. Agape is aware of the controversial nature of the Marriage. If for any reason Agape pulls the Marriage off air prior to all ten hours of broadcast, Agape forfeits right to all $105,000. This is simply to ensure the Marriage receives all ten hours of air time. Agape will need to know much more about what is the controversial nature of The Marriage and exactly what the content will be before entering into any agreement.Any programming content will have to conform to the laws of the United States and the State of Texas as well as regulations of the FCC regarding broadcasting and public radio broadcasting The Marriage will be allotted three live, in-studio sets from any artists of its choosing. One of these artists will be the rock band, Acid Tongue. The hosts may refer to themselves as The Prophet (“Prophet”) and The Lion (“Lion”), respectively. A portion of each segment may dial-out via telephone call to certain individuals. Agape will consult as to the best method and/or device to do so, in order to ensure quality audio for each phone call. A few of these calls may be international, and their costs may be added to the Marriage $105,000 payment. An in-studio wedding (“Wedding”) may take place at the conclusion of the final hour of the Marriage, as outlined below. All expenses associated with the Wedding will be paid by the Marriage. After the conclusion of the Marriage, Agape will email an itemized invoice within 48 hours to: [email protected]. $105,000, less any funds raised by the Marriage in excess of 2X projections (plus any telephone expenses) will be paid to Agape within 48 hours of invoice receipt. We will not bill on this arrangement. A non-refundable deposit will be required and the remaining funding recieved as air time is rendered. This is a highly unusual arrangement for us to be considering but we are willing to continue to review this proposal and will be able to make a decision once we have all of the details and our questions have been answered. No decision has yet been made by KNON to broadcast this. Thank You
On Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 3:10 PM The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: Dave and Christian,
We like the 9-10pm slot, but definitely understand if we can’t begin this Sunday, due to limited time to agree and fund the following: $105,000 will be deposited in escrow for the benefit of Agape Broadcasting Foundation Inc. (“Agape”) in exchange for a live, ten hour broadcast titled, The Marriage at KNON (“Marriage”). The Marriage will air nightly from 9-10pm CST, during ten nights spanning from October 25, 2020 to November 3, 2020. Agape will provide current fundraising and/or profitability estimates for the existing 9-10pm time slots prior to the Marriage broadcast. Any funds raised in excess of two times (“2X”) the existing estimates for current programming during the 9-10pm time slots will be deducted from the amount payable to Agape. For example, if the current programming is estimated to raise $1,000 from 9-10pm on Oct. 25, then any amount raised above 2X $1,000, or $2,000, will be deducted from the $105,000. This incentivizes the Marriage to become more profitable than any show from 9-10pm CST, while still allowing for Agape to experience 2X upside prior to any deduction(s) from the $105,000. Agape is aware of the controversial nature of the Marriage. If for any reason Agape pulls the Marriage off air prior to all ten hours of broadcast, Agape forfeits right to all $105,000. This is simply to ensure the Marriage receives all ten hours of air time. The Marriage will be allotted three live, in-studio sets from any artists of its choosing. One of these artists will be the rock band, Acid Tongue. The hosts may refer to themselves as The Prophet (“Prophet”) and The Lion (“Lion”), respectively. A portion of each segment may dial-out via telephone call to certain individuals. Agape will consult as to the best method and/or device to do so, in order to ensure quality audio for each phone call. A few of these calls may be international, and their costs may be added to the Marriage $105,000 payment. An in-studio wedding (“Wedding”) may take place at the conclusion of the final hour of the Marriage, as outlined below. All expenses associated with the Wedding will be paid by the Marriage. After the conclusion of the Marriage, Agape will email an itemized invoice within 48 hours to: [email protected]. $105,000, less any funds raised by the Marriage in excess of 2X projections (plus any telephone expenses) will be paid to Agape within 48 hours of invoice receipt. Standing by.
On Thursday, October 22, 2020, The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: Copy that. We’ll send our term sheet tomorrow.
On Thursday, October 22, 2020, Dave Chaos <[email protected]> wrote: If you have a check for 105,000 that would certainly have an impact on an air slot wouldn't even need to guarantee anything on donald losing
On Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 1:32 PM The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: Thanks. If you change your mind about the podcast, let us know.
If something opens up on air, we’ll cut you a check for $105,000 for 10 hours of airtime and offer a personal guarantee that Donald Trump will lose the 2020 election.
Thanks again for your consideration.
Mohomad & Isa (214) -* [email protected]
On Thursday, October 22, 2020, Dave Chaos <[email protected]> wrote: Arash and James Thank You for submitting your programming idea to us at KNON We have no programming space at this time and will not be able to host this program on KNON
On Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 2:11 PM The Marriage at KNON <[email protected]> wrote: The Marriage at KNON
Show Dates: Oct. 26-Nov. 3, 2020 Underwriting Target: $105,000 Hosts: Arash and James Episodes: 10
Premise: Why do bad things happen?
On October 20, 2019, an EF3 tornado tore through KNON studios, bringing the station offline. As staff scrambled to broadcast a new signal, questions stirred inside the minds of some folks:
Why? How could the station deserve this? Was it a random event? Was it an act of God? If so, how could God exist and this happen to listener supported KNON?
Enter native Texans Arash and James. Friends since age twelve and former high school debate partners, these men are no strangers to tough discourse. They offer listeners a fresh lens to examine seemingly awful events through an ultra-modern love story:
Episode List (60 minutes each)
Episode 1: “1983” Four days after KNON’s first broadcast, a baby named Natasha was born. An atheist, she inspires the story that James begins to tell, one that he claims proves the existence of God. Arash, of course, doesn’t believe him, but as a non-practicing, Muslim-born man, he agrees to listen to his Jewish friend anyway. Since Arash spent a few of his younger years in examining all religions, he confidently takes notes to debate James, who is clearly in love with Natasha. They agree James may submit any evidence to support his case, including music and concert footage he’s gathered for their friendly debate. As the episode progresses, James sketches a cast of characters and events surrounding KNON’s first broadcast, his first piece of evidence being his own drowning and subsequent resuscitation in 1983. The episode ends with a listener challenge inspired by a Wynton Marsalis concert James attended in France.
Episode 2: “One Set for World Peace” Episode 3: “September 11, 2001” Episode 4: “Inauguration Day” Episode 5: “Acid Tongue” Episode 6: “Miracles” Episode 7: “The Tornado” Episode 8: “Covid-2020” Episode 9: “The Port of Beirut” Episode 10: “The Wedding”
Additional episode descriptions provided by request.
Dave (and Christian),
Thank you for taking the time to meet with James yesterday (and last Friday). We intend to self-promote this series and believe we can raise the donation amount listed above once we get rolling. We are also happy to meet with you to discuss the show in person.
We appreciate your consideration this Oct. 20.
Happy Anniversary, Arash and James (214) -* [email protected]
Dave Chaos Station Manager KNON Dallas Tx