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Five Questions with KUTX's Jody Denberg

Theresa DiMenno

KUTX 98.9 music host Jody Denberg was among 10 music industry stalwarts inducted into the Texas Music Legends Hall of Fame last month in recognition of his longtime support of the Texas music industry and his role in making the state “the fertile music landscape that it is.”

What better way to kick off our Five Questions series than by sitting down with Jody.

Five Questions with KUTX Host Jody Denberg

What musical experience most set you on the path to a career in radio?
My seminal musical experience was seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964; the next day I went down to our neighborhood record store in The Bronx to buy the 45 rpm single for “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The Beatles set me on my musical course; radio was something I accidentally fell into because of my love of music!

What's your favorite Austin music experience so far?
I can’t pick just ONE favorite Austin music experience. Here are a few: Helping to raise $2 million for the SIMS Foundation; going to the Cactus Cafe and Austin City Limits tapings for more than 35 years; singing onstage with some of my musical heroes, including Pete Townshend, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Billy Bragg, Loudon Wainwright, Shelby Lynne, Doug Sahm, Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Forbert and others; interviewing Yoko Ono at SXSW in 2011 (and co-authoring a book about her); and live on-air interviews and/or performances with the likes of Brian Wilson, Patti Smith, R.E.M., Willie Nelson, The Band and and and …

Why public rather than commercial radio?
I spent 29 years in commercial radio in Austin; my path has now led me to public radio and KUTX 98.9. It almost seemed pre-ordained as I graduated UT in 1981 and 30 years later, voila! – I’m on public radio. Following the deregulation of ownership at commercial radio, budgets shrank and the need for revenue and ratings eclipsed any mission for sharing a wide variety of music with a listening community. Public radio seems the last bastion for broadcasting to a higher target than the lowest common denominator. I am so blessed I found a place where I can serve our community.

How do you spend your time when you're not spinning records on the air?
When I am not spinning on air I love to hang out with my wife Barbara, our cats, family and friends, read books and watch movies, walk on the treadmill and in the park, go out on the lake, eat good food – and still listen to plenty of great music, live or on shuffle.

Finish the sentence: “Austin Music Is ….”
…the lifeblood of our city!


Jody hosts music on KUTX 98.9, The Austin Music Experience, 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays.

Say hi to Jody on Twitter @JodyDenberg