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UT Tyler Radio KVUT brings public radio programming to East Texas

Station managers hope to add more local programming in years to come
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:30 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Public radio now has a home in East Texas. It’s UT Tyler Radio KVUT 99.7 FM. While they’ve been on the air testing things out since May, UT Tyler Radio officially launched on Tuesday, Sept. 14, meaning you no longer have to listen to a radio station out of Dallas or Shreveport for NPR programming.

“I use the analogy we took two sticks and rubbed them together to try to make radio,” said Mike Landess, KVUT News Director. “It’s been hard.”

Landess, a veteran newsman, is one of the people who helped fill a public radio void in East Texas by building the station from the ground up. While public radio stations in Dallas and Shreveport transmit signals in the area, they aren’t local stations. KVUT is local, broadcasting from their new studios on the campus of the University of Texas at Tyler.

Along with locally-produced news and public affairs programming, the station carries programming from National Public Radio and American Public Radio. Nights and weekends are filled with jazz music. (FIND THEIR FULL PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE HERE)

“We’ve got a traditional jazz format with some standards mixed in,” said Jeff Johnson, KVUT Operations Manager. “You will hear Miles Davis, you’ll hear Frank Sinatra, you’ll hear music that may be recognized from your parent’s house or your grandparent’s house.”

Jeff Johnson, KVUT Director of Operations
Jeff Johnson, KVUT Director of Operations(Blake Holland/KLTV)

Johnson said the hope is to add more local programs over time that are both entertaining and informative.

“And do it in that same (NPR) style where we come in and have a conversation,” he said. “It’s not a debate, it’s not an argument, it’s not a presentation. And honestly, it’s not a show. It’s a conversation that you get to be a party to.”

Veteran journalist Lorri Allen, the station’s general manager, has been in on the radio station’s creation from the beginning when she first started teaching at UT Tyler six years ago.

“On my first day of classes, I get a call from Marty Slann, who was our dean at the time. And he said, ‘Lorri, the provost wants to start a radio station. Can you give me some numbers quickly?”

Years later, that phone call has resulted in these numbers: 99.7 FM. A station that will not only serve East Texans by offering informative and entertaining radio programming, but also training for the next generation of broadcast journalists.

“Teaching students, ‘Hey, this is, this is it, we’re going out and we’re reaching people all over in several counties,” Allen said. “So you’ve got to have accuracy, you have to get all sides of the story, and you’ve got to talk to people. And those are lessons that you might think are obvious, but they’re not.”

General Manager Lorri Allen comes to KVUT after a 30-year career in broadcasting.
General Manager Lorri Allen comes to KVUT after a 30-year career in broadcasting.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

KVUT is a non-commercial educational radio station supported by UT Tyler and listeners.

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