Jimmy Maas | KUT

Host and Reporter

I grew up in Austin and studied journalism at the University of Texas.  I began my radio career making fun of headlines on Austin sports and news-talk shows. I moved to New York City to be a comic. Found some pretty good "day jobs” managing a daily news radio show for the Wall Street Journal and later, producing business news for Bloomberg Television.  Now I bring you sports, business and oddball stories from around town, host afternoons and help with special projects. 

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The UT baseball stadium is empty on a summer evening.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Pandemic or not, for better or worse, organized sports in the U.S. are bounding their way back to a field, court and television near you. For months, sports fans have substituted live sports for Michael Jordan documentaries, celebrity video gaming and competitive cornhole to fill the void. But soon things will be different.

People swim laps in a pool
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin will begin reopening libraries, pools and other services that have been shuttered during stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. Starting next week, the city said, it will try to strike a balance between offering services as the state reopens and lingering health concerns due to the coronavirus. 

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Read this story in English.

Miles de máscaras están en camino para los trabajadores de la construcción en Austin.

Las 100,000 máscaras fueron donadas este lunes por la Fundación de Suministros de Emergencia de Austin, una nueva organización sin fines de lucro formada por líderes empresariales con experiencia específica en suministros médicos y de logística.

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Thousands of masks are on their way to construction workers in the Austin area.

The 100,000 masks were donated Monday by the Austin Emergency Supply Foundation, a new nonprofit made up of business leaders with specific medical supply and logistics expertise.

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English. 

Dos clientes se arreglaban el cabello  el viernes en el Path Salon en el sur de Austin. Las citas previas son la manera en que su dueño, Ryan Driggers, prueba los nuevos protocolos de seguridad en el salón de belleza.

Driggers dijo que la reapertura llega con muchas emociones.
 

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Two clients are getting their hair done at Path Salon in South Austin today. The appointments are owner Ryan Driggers' way of testing new protocols at the salon.

Driggers said the reopening comes with a lot of emotions.

Shoppers line up to enter Barton Creek Square mall in Austin as shopping centers reopen across the state.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Barton Creek Mall opened for the first time in weeks Friday, as phase one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy went into effect.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The federal government is adding another $310 billion to help small businesses hold onto workers through the coronavirus pandemic. The first round of $349 billion ran out in less than two weeks. And, perhaps, as with the first round, where businesses bank could be a big factor in whether they get a loan.

 

Dr. Zhao Chen, a graduate student at UT Austin, has been stuck in Dubai since February.
Courtesy of Zhao Chen

Zhao Chen arrived in Austin four years ago to do cancer research at UT. He gave up a lot for the experience, leaving his wife and newborn son in China. He also suspended his ophthalmology practice in hope of advancing a different area of medicine. 

SPIbelt Founder Kim Overton wears one of the fabric face masks her company has started making since the coronavirus outbreak.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak hit Kim Overton’s company like it did many others.

“We had to let go four people and a lot of our retail partners have had to shut their doors,” she said.

A hearse is parked outside Mission Funeral Home. Funeral homes in Austin must comply with local and statewide orders that limit how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Terry Shockley recuerda a su madre, Patsy Hopper, como una persona fuerte. 

"Ella tenía que serlo," dijo Shockley. "Eventualmente tuvo cuatro hijos. Éramos una familia militar, así que nos mudamos bastante. Ella tuvo que empacar muchas veces, tener mucha organización, mucha disciplina. Mi papá estaba ocupado con su carrera. Ella era fuerte."

A hearse is parked outside Mission Funeral Home. Funeral homes in Austin must comply with local and statewide orders that limit how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Terry Shockley remembers her mother, Patsy Hopper, as a strong person.

"She had to be.” she said. “She eventually had four children. We were a military family, so we were moving a lot. She had to do a lot of packing, a lot of organizing, a lot of discipline. My dad was busy with his career. She was strong.”    

UT announced Thursday that it is suspending all events at the Erwin Center for the immediate future.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Rodeo Austin and Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion will not be held this spring.   

Organizers received word from Travis County officials Thursday that the public health risk was too great.

There will also be no fans at Austin sporting events for the near term amid concerns over the coronavirus. As of Thursday evening, there were no confirmed cases in Travis County, but officials are playing it safe and planning as if there were.

Cindy Lo, owner of Red Velvet Events
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Cindy Lo spent the weekend after South by Southwest was canceled reassessing things. The owner of Red Velvet Events and her 27 employees have a reputation for transforming spaces into experiences for clients like Mercedes Benz and Tito’s Vodka. The loss of the festival could have been worse for her.

 A crowd of people walks down Rainey Street during South by Southwest last year.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

One of Austin’s biggest months for visitors has begun, just as concerns grow around the new coronavirus COVID-19. While most events are proceeding as planned, the scenario in which a large event would be shut down over the virus is a little murky.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County and the City of Austin say they’re monitoring the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and collaborating daily with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

If you're from Austin, voting in a grocery store probably feels like a normal thing. But to those who are newer to town, it's unusual.

The Zilker Zephyr is a miniature train that ran through Zilker Park.
Jimmy Maas / KUT

The Austin City Council voted to move ahead with a plan to get the Zilker mini-train up and running sooner rather than later. Instead of going through its typical procurement process — which would mean a new train operator would be more than a year away — the Parks and Recreation Department is turning to Austin Parks Foundation.

The set of a debate at KVUE for candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Senate.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Eleven of the 12 Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Texas debated Tuesday night – the first day of early voting in the March 3 primary.  

A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows MJ Hegar is outpacing the crowded field, but the real polling begins today with voters.

Flyers about new housing for sale in the Holly neighborhood of East Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Travis County Appraisal District's decision to not issue new property value appraisals this year could have long-term consequences for schools and other tax-funded services.   

UT Austin campus
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is donating $100 million to UT Austin to support students from lower-income families.

The money, which will be granted over 10 years, is the largest donation the university has ever received that will go directly to students.

Atari/GSD Group

Atari plans to open a video game-themed hotel in Austin.  

The company announced Monday it had partnered with Napoleon Smith III, the producer of the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, and GSD Group, a branding and strategy firm, to open theme hotels in eight cities.

Jeremiah the Innocent and Friends in Zilker Park at the Austin Central Library.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Today is Hi, How Are You Day in Austin. The day was inspired by the late artist and musician Daniel Johnston to raise awareness of mental health issues. Johnston painted the iconic "Hi, How Are You" mural on 21st Street and Guadalupe. Today would have been his 59th birthday.

Construction in downtown Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

The Texas economy kept humming along in 2019, though at a slightly slower tempo than in the last few years. And while Austin will continue to grow in 2020, that growth will slow to what one economist calls a "more normal" rate of growth. 

The H-E-B at 2400 South Congress
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Big changes are ahead for H-E-B stores in South Austin next year. The company says it's investing $200 million to open three new stores. Meanwhile, three other locations are closing – two of them permanently.

Ascension

Pediatric neurosurgeon Tim George was one of those people driven to succeed in whatever their pursuit – even taking their hobbies to another level. He was competing in an auto endurance race at Sebring International Raceway in Florida when he died last month at 59.

Artist rendering of the Moody Arena to be built on the UT campus.
Oak View Group/UT Austin

The new basketball and events arena at the University of Texas will be named the Moody Center, after a $130 million gift to the school from the Moody Foundation. It will replace the 42-year-old Frank Erwin Center.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austinites went to the polls Tuesday to vote on 10 amendments to the state constitution, as well as a Travis County proposition and two city measures.

Voters struck down Austin’s Proposition A, a petition-led ordinance that would have forced public votes on most future uses of city-owned land and made the organizations that lease those lands – frequently nonprofits – pay property taxes.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Expansion of the Austin Convention Center and the Travis County Expo Center could be on the line with two local ballot propositions this November. At the center of those two propositions is tax revenue from hotel stays – and how it's spent locally.

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