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To Our Audience: We Are Committing To Do Better By You

Julia Reihs
Views from the Rosewood neighborhood in East Austin.

Dear KUT & KUTX Audience,

We are in a time of reckoning for our country about the systemic racism that people and organizations have long perpetuated and endured. Today, across the country, members and organizations within the public media system are reflecting on the failures of our institutions to overcome this challenge, and committing anew to efforts to change through the Public Media for All campaign.

We believe it is essential to acknowledge the race problem we have in most, if not all, institutions, including and especially our own, here at KUT and KUTX. We sit at a crossroads of two industries – media and music – which both have a poor track record on race and we are part of an institution of higher education, the University of Texas, with its own history of racism.

Here at our stations, as has occurred at other public radio stations, we have heard from former and current staff that our organization has too often been an uncomfortable place to work for many of our colleagues of color. We acknowledge the negative experiences of our colleagues who left the station, over the years, feeling unwelcome, and we apologize for the pain and harm they experienced.

This history, which goes back many years, is something we have wrestled with for more than 18 months as we have undergone management changes, training, created an internal workplace culture committee and hired additional talented staff, who are helping us to better reflect our community. We have made progress, but there is much more work to be done.

This summer, we convened conversations at all levels of our organization, from the newsroom to the music meetings to the membership team. We updated our diversity statement, to emphasize an ongoing commitment to inclusion, especially for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in our community. We put together an action plan, and because we want to be held accountable by our listeners and our community, we are sharing it with you here. [Editor's note: The 2020 action plan is no longer on our website in compliance with Senate Bill 17.] And we are reinforcing our commitment to continue improving the diversity of our staff to better reflect the community we serve. These documents, by themselves, are by no means our final words on these critical issue, and they should be considered a starting point. That’s why we also want to hear what you, our community, expect from us going forward. Please share your ideas and thoughts on ways to improve our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion using the form below.

Our goal through this process is to increase our outreach to all communities in Central Texas, provide content that better reflects the breadth of culture and experience in the region, and deepen our coverage of the inequities that affect too many residents, particularly those who are Black and/or Latino. We want to make KUT and KUTX a better and more inclusive place to work for all of our colleagues, regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, gender identity or abilities.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. It’s an important one, and we are committed to it. We appreciate your help.

Debbie Hiott, General Manager & Executive Director

Sylvia Ponce-Carson, Deputy General Manager

Teresa Frontado, Executive Editor, KUT

Matt Reilly, Program Director, KUTX

And the entire KUT & KUTX senior leadership team

Teresa Elena Frontado is a former executive editor of KUT and the Texas Standard.