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Five Questions with KUTX Music Host Jay Trachtenberg

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Jay Trachtenberg hosts music on KUTX 98.9.

Longtime music host Jay Trachtenberg has been with the station for 32 years (for KUT 90.5 before music moved to KUTX 98.9 in 2013), spinning everything from jazz, to reggae, to rock and everything in between.

When he’s not on the air, he’s managing KUTX air staff, producing the weekly on-air schedule and helping manage the many ticket giveaways each week. Jay also writes about music for the “Austin Chronicle” from time to time.

Five Questions with KUTX Music Host Jay Trachtenberg

What musical experience most set you on the path to a career in radio?
I’ve always had a fascination with radio. As a young kid, I would stay up late falling asleep with one those little Japanese transistor radios plugged into my ear. Later I would try to tune into any number of top-of-the-dial, high-powered stations after midnight from my home in Los Angeles. When the weather conditions were just right I could pick up stations in Shreveport, Nashville or Oklahoma City. I would often listen to Wolfman Jack late at night on XERF and XERB blasting out of Rosarita, Mexico, just south of the border.

During the 1960s I was enthralled by Top 40 jocks like The Real Don Steele and then “underground” DJs like Humble Harve Miller, B. Mitchell Reed and Jimmy Rabbit (from the David Allan Coe classic, “Long Haired Redneck”). As soon as I got the opportunity, I signed up at my college station, KCSB, at the University of California at Santa Barbara – and the rest is history, as they say.

What's your favorite Austin music experience so far?
After being in Austin for almost 40 years, it’s hard to pick a single event. But one that makes for a good story was the time I interviewed Jesse Colin Young back in 2004 in our old Studio 1A.  

Way back in the day he had been in the Youngbloods, a band that had a big hit with “Get Together” – “Come on all you people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” It was a real anthem of the 1960s.

So Mr. Young ends his live Studio 1A session with this song and while he’s singing it, I flash back to a huge anti-Vietnam War demonstration in San Francisco in 1969 where I’m one of a half million people in Golden Gate Park and the Youngbloods are singing this popular song of peace and love. Here I am – 35 years later – in Studio 1A with Jesse Colin Young sitting 10 feet away and he’s singing this same song to me. Chills ran down my spine. Who’d of ever thunk??  

Why public rather than commercial radio?
In a nutshell, public radio treats its listeners as thoughtful, intelligent citizens while commercial radio tends to treat its listeners as mindless, voracious consumers.

How do you spend your time when you're not spinning records on the air?
Reading, swimming and running, working in my garden, strolling in the park with my girlfriend and her dog, and going out to hear live music.

Finish the sentence: “Austin Music Is ….”
… a direct reflection of what makes this such an exceptionally creative and special place to live.

Jay hosts music from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. He hosts a jazz show Sunday mornings from 7 to 10.

Say hi to Jay on Twitter @jjtrachtenberg

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