In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 fire that took Austin’s community radio station KOOP-FM 91.7 off the air, student radio station KVRX-FM is filling the programming gap and remaining on the air 24-hours-a-day.
Normally, KVRX, which shares the 91.7 designation with KOOP, is on the air 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, as the police investigation continues into the cause of the KOOP fire, student workers have rallied to support KVRX’s new, but temporary, status as a 24-hour provider of radio programming.
“I knew we could do it, but it was tough at first,” says Stephanie Bonham, student manager of KVRX-FM. “When the fire happened, a lot of students had not yet returned to campus from the holiday and we were short handed. The students that were back were happy to help out and pull double duty to make sure the station was up and running. We now have over 100 student volunteers to help, so we’ll be OK.”
KVRX, a part of Texas Student Media at The University of Texas at Austin, is programmed and managed by student workers.
Until the investigation into the fire is closed, KOOP employees are unable to enter their offices and studios. KOOP was expected to be off the air for the next few weeks but announced this week that it will be back on the air Jan. 25. Bonham says that KOOP management contacted Texas Student Media to ask them to take on KOOP’s airtime while they are down.
“When something like this happens, it reminds us, as students, the role we play in the community,” says Bonham. “It’s our duty to both help our colleagues at KOOP and to be there for Austin listeners.”
“I’m incredibly impressed with the student workers at KVRX,” says Juan Gonzalez, vice president for Student Affairs at the university. “They’ve shown great dedication to their work, to their station and to Austin audiences by stepping up their efforts. I thank each of them for their service to our Austin community.”
KVRX has tried to mirror some of the programming KOOP listeners expect to find during their regularly scheduled times, Bonham says.
“For example, KOOP has a Jamaican Gold show on Sunday mornings playing reggae and ska,” she says. “We’ve programmed our own Jamaican show in its place. We’re trying hard to not disappoint listeners, to uphold the consistency of the programming and to expose listeners to some programming of our own.”
The slogan for KVRX-FM is “None of the hits, all of the time,” reflecting its eclectic, alternative programming to allow listeners an opportunity to discover new music while giving new artists an opportunity to be heard. KVRX features a wide mix of genres in its playlist, including hip-hop, blues, jazz, folk, country, techno and metal.