KUT and KUTX mourn the death of John Aielli
AUSTIN, Texas – July 31, 2022 – Longtime KUT and KUTX radio personality John Aielli died today. He was 76.
“John was an Austin treasure and an indelible part of so many lives here in Austin. His unique perspective on the world made being with John a joy,” said KUTX 98.9 Program Director Matt Reilly. “Our lives are less interesting with him gone. God speed, we love you John, and we’ll remember you always with a smile on our faces.”
Aielli started his career at KUT 90.5 in September 1966 as a part-time announcer between classical pieces. With his encyclopedic knowledge of classic music, he was soon programming the music himself. By 1970, his time slot had been named “Eklektikos” inspired by the Greek word eklektos, meaning chosen from the best. Until 2013, KUT was a dual – news and music – service, spinning out its music programming to KUTX 98.9.
"He was such a joy to work with, and so important to what the stations have become," KUT and KUTX General Manager Debbie Hiott said in a message to staff.
Beloved by Austinites of all stripes, Aielli and “Eklektikos” won 15 “Austin Chronicle” “Best of” awards since 1990. There was even a tribute Twitter handle @ShitJohnAielliSays and a popular hashtag #ShitJohnAielliSays that collected some the one-liners he was famous for.
For more than 30 years, Aielli led the annual Holiday Sing Along – KUT and KUTX’s biggest public event where he led huge crowds in singing songs of the season.
In 2016, the station marked Aielli’s 50th anniversary on the air with a year-long celebration that included a community concert and a special thank-you gift during the membership drives – a John Aielli bobble head.
During his 50th anniversary celebration, Aielli said, “I’m curious by nature. I enjoy talking to people and observing things about life, so radio is a wonderful medium to be in. And to be the guy that gets to talk behind the microphone – it’s a privilege and a challenge.”
A sampling of his interviews over the past 50 years includes: musicians Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Phillip Glass, Chris Isaak, Graham Nash, Pepe Romero, Rufus Wainwright, and diva, soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf; writers Michael Chabon, James Ellroy, Jonathan Saffron Foer, Richard Ford, Alan Furst, Sebastian Junger, Dan Rather and Colm Tóibín; actor Matthew McConaughey; and Yoga master Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga.
Listeners are invited to share their memories of Aielli on KUTX's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.
Background resources for reporters:
Eklektikos host John Aielli, who flew by the seat of his pants, dies at 76
Radio Legend John Aielli Passes Away at 76
Radio host John Aielli celebrates 50 years on Austin airwaves
Contact: Erin Geisler (512) 475-8071