Hoping to increase civic engagement, experts and community members weighed in at a panel Tuesday to discuss city representation and Austin’s 10-1 proposal.

KLRU, KUT and the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life hosted “Why Bother?” a TV series dedicated to engaging Texans in democracy and addressing local political issues. The episode will be broadcast on May 16. 

The panel focused on the city’s 10-1 proposition, which Austin voters passed in November. The proposition splits the city into 10 districts with one representative from each district elected to serve on the Austin City Council. Currently, the council has six members who represent the entire city. 

Kathryn Flowers, public affairs graduate student and research technician at the institute, said 10-1 will have a greater effect on neighborhoods because Austinites will see more changes from the council.

“You have someone that’s just looking at interest in neighborhood rather than city as a whole … but there are problems that come with that too, because districts often fight with each other over what issue they want,” Flowers said.

Ryan Robinson, city demographer and one of the panelists, said the proposition will help to alleviate low voter-turnout rates in Austin. Texas has one of the lowest civic-participation rates in the country, with voter turnout in Austin’s 2012 mayoral election at 10.5 percent, and voter participation in the last city council member election at 7.5 percent, according to Robinson.

The panel also featured Sherri Greenberg, director for the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Carol Lee, president of Austin Neighborhoods Council. Kevin Foster, associate professor of African and African diaspora studies, anthropology and education administration, moderated the event. KLRU also invited 10 neighborhood representatives to voice their opinions about 10-1.

Individuals on the panel discussed balancing representing specific neighborhoods with the overall interest of the city. Carl Webb, a resident from Southeast Austin, said he is skeptical of geographical representation.

“I live along east East Riverside,” Webb said. “As they start to build condos, which they already have, are the thousands of people that live there now that have affordable rent … are we going to have as much voice as the real estate developers? Is the representative going to be beholden to [its citizens] or to the rich and powerful?”  

Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed speaks on gun law reforms and explains his plans for the public education system and poverty reforms at an interview in KLRU’s studio Tuesday morning.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

On Tuesday morning, Kasim Reed, the 59th mayor of Atlanta, made a special appearance on Overheard, a KLRU-hosted television series hosted by Evan Smith, editor in chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

During the interview, Evan Smith asked Reed pressing questions about gun law reforms, the present and future status of Atlanta’s public education system and poverty reforms.

While Reed expressed Atlanta’s great respect for the second amendment, he also voiced several precautions he said must be taken in order to protect the city and the country.

“What I care about more than folks wanting to have access to soft guns are the women and men and the 1,900 police officers that work for the system,” Reed said. “I don’t want them to ever arrive to the scene and feel outgunned.”

Since Reed was elected in 2010, Atlanta has seen the lowest number of felonies since 1969. Reed attributes this success to building the biggest police force in the history of the city.

“Crime reduction is not really rocket science,” Reed said. “You choose where you’re going to put your resources.”

In addition to hiring 700 new police officers, Reed chose to pool his resources into upgrading video technology and modernizing techniques such as crime mapping. 

While most of the interview focused on gun violence, Reed mentioned improving Atlanta’s schools by removing the school board so that the state could implement reforms.

“We’re going to recruit a superintendent like you would recruit a football coach for UT,” Reed said. 

Allie Sandza, public affairs producer at KLRU, said the show is expected to air March 21.

“Evan Smith, who hosts the show is super connected, so we were able to get the mayor while he was originally here for the Texas Legislative Back Caucus Summit,” Sandza said.

Overheard with Evan Smith is in its third season and showcases in-depth interviews with guests from a variety of fields.

Smith ended the interview by asking about the possibility of Reed campaigning for a higher office.

“Fighters don’t become champions when they fight too early,” Reed said. “I made a promise to Atlanta and I want to finish the job I have.”

Published on February 27, 2013 as " Atlanta mayor talks policy to KLRU". 

Dr. Leonard Moore presents his lecture, “Football as Intellectual Enterprise,” during Blackademics Television in the KRLU studio Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Public television studio KLRU hosted Blackademics, a community event showcasing a range of topics pertinent to African-American culture, Wednesday night. Sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Blackademics featured black studies scholars who presented and discussed research centralized around education, performance and youth empowerment.

During a two-hour presentation, a total of 11 speakers lectured UT students and faculty. Host and founder Kevin Foster assembled an array of scholars that explore a variety of race topics.

“I think there is great work within the academy, but sometimes that work doesn’t get outside our campus,” Foster said. “This is how we can share it with the outside world.”

Blackademics is streamed live on KLRU and available to a national audience.

Foster’s lecture focused on the decisions parents have to make when choosing a school for their children and how race complicates this matter.

“I want to find what great schooling and great critical thinking looks like to open doors for children so to ensure that all kids can explore their possibilities,” Foster said.

The lack of critical thinking and excess of what Foster referred to as drone schools — ones that limit thinking and measure intelligence through report cards and multiple choice tests — dominated the discussion throughout the night. Another topic covered closing the gap in academic performance between racial groups through empowerment.

In another segment, Leonard Moore, associate vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, discussed the forms of intelligence required in football and focused on how the perception of African-Americans who play football affects their performance in the classroom.

“Football is a thinking person’s game,” Moore said. “There is no course on this campus that can compare to the language that is found in a football playbook. There are these intense college football environments designed to make you the best you can be, but then [these athletes] walk into the classroom and feel disengaged academically.”

According to Moore, an inferiority complex and a lack of acknowledging the connection between football and intelligence contribute to demoralization among African-American athletes. 

“When you have that son or daughter, remind them just how smart they have to be to play in that sport of football,” Moore said.

Aimee Cox, a cultural anthropologist at Fordham University, incorporated movement and audience participation in her lecture titled “Black Girls and the Choreography of Empowerment.”

“Until we can say, 'I am love, I radiate love, I am beautiful, I am strong,' nothing in this world can be done," said Cox while leading the audience in a life-affirming chant.

Printed on Thursday, February 14, 2013 as: Black culture emphasized 

Dr. Omi Jones gives her poetic and theatrical presentation titled “Art as Scholarship” at KLRU Studio Thursday evening. This event, sponsored by UT Blackademics, featured presentations from four of UT’s professors and was taped by KLRU in order to help raise awareness of African-American community issues.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

UT and KLRU combined efforts to present current African-American issues to the mass media Thursday night in hopes of creating a future series featuring University professors.

Four professors spoke at a KLRU public taping sponsored and organized by UT Blackademics, a group consisting of a wide coalition of professors, students and public supporters working to raise awareness of current African-American community issues. By raising awareness, they hope to solve the issues and teach students how to be successful in their future initiatives through participation in these efforts. Members of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department presented during the taping, including associate professor Kevin Cokley, assistant professor Talia McCray, assistant professor Kevin Foster and associate professor Omi Jones.

UT Blackademics was founded by Foster in 2011 as a project for one of his graduate classes and is unique in the sense that it stresses community engagement as one of the primary means of accomplishing its goals, he said.

The advocacy group hopes to use the taping as a starting point for a future partnership with KLRU that would mean showcasing the work of professors in the department of African and African diaspora studies in a regular series, Foster said.

“[The department of African and African diaspora studies] shares the range of black studies research that is going on at UT,” he said. “This taping hopefully will be the first of many of these events that will go on here.”

Topics discussed included discrepancies in the overall academic performance of African-Americans as opposed to other racial groups, the effects of public transportation planning on African-American communities and the trend of some major universities to emphasize academic work in research and education instead of larger community service efforts that could benefit the African-American community, among other groups.

Hakeem Adewumi, African and African-American ethnic studies junior, said he found the community engagement method used as an effective and engaging way of sharing University research.

“I liked the intellectual challenge they brought forth in terms of forcing us to think about these issues to better the black community,” he said.

Bill Stotesbery, KLRU CEO and general manager, said station management was happy to share the work of UT Blackademics because it is consistent with regular KLRU programming and goals.

“The range of subject matter the professors participating in this project are speaking about fits in perfectly with our continuing efforts to have in-depth community discussions on the issues impacting our city,” he said. “UT Blackademics is just one example of how KLRU works with the University of Texas and the local creative community to put together programming and events to bring people together.”

Printed on Friday, April 27, 2012 as: Professors present African-American issues

Matt Laselva of the state K9 unit exits the CMB last Thursday evening after searching the building for a bomb. Austin Police arrested Marshall David Logan for reporting the false bomb threat against KLRU studios and are charging him with a state felony.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Austin Police have identified Marshall David Logan as the man who reported a false bomb threat against KLRU studios Thursday night. In his 3-1-1 call, Logan alleged that there was a bomb hidden inside a piece of meat inside the studios.

According to the arrest affidavit, Logan was arrested by Friday and is being charged with a state felony since the threat was made against a public television station.

UTPD spokesman Darrell Birdett said Logan called Austin 3-1-1 at 7:26 p.m. Birdett said Thursday that he did not believe Logan was a credible source.

Nevertheless, UT students, faculty and staff participated in a voluntary evacuation of the communication complex, including The Daily Texan offices. The police brought in dogs to search the studio and announced that the area was clear by 10:05 p.m.

Robert Dahlstrom, UTPD chief of police, said he believed representatives of APD visited Logan’s apartment at 5903 Cary Drive on Thursday night.

“Apparently, [APD] had dealt with him before,” he said. “When we heard that his house was [in Austin], we were fine with letting APD officers interview him.”

Dahlstrom said APD worked with UTPD on Thursday night to clear the building and to apprehend Logan.

Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Austin resident charged with state felony after reporting false bomb threat

`Officer Bohanon escorts KLRU general manager Bill Stotesbery and Matt Laselva of the state K9 unit out of the CMB building late Thursday evening. The communications buildings were voluntarily evacuated as canines searched the CMB after a threat was made to the KLRU studios.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Austin 3-1-1 received a false alarm reporting a general, non-descript threat to KLRU studios in the CMB at 7:20 last night.

Austin Police Department officials visited the scene along with UT police and state troopers. Many students and UT staff, including The Daily Texan, evacuated the communications complex before police called an all-cleared at 10:05 p.m.

“There was a voluntary evacuation, and we brought in a canine to search the building,” said Darrell Birdett, spokesman for UTPD.

Birdett said officials called back the source providing the tip, but did not receive any more information after speaking to him.

“We do not think the threat was credible at all,” Birdett said.

Electrical engineering freshman Thomas Schlabrar said he saw crowds gathering around the communications complex.

“I was just walking by where all the cops were, and there was a big group of people,” Schlabra said. “The cop told people to back up.”

Schlabra said despite the threat, he feels safe at UT.

“It’s kind of a scary thing I guess, because we’ve had other problems in the past,” Schlabra said. “When [false alarms] happen so many times, you don’t even believe [them] anymore. I feel pretty safe.”

KLRU general manager Bill Stotesbery arrived at the scene to allow UTPD access to the studio in order to search it but declined to comment to the Texan.

Printed on Friday, January 27 as: APD responds to false alarm in CMB

A crowd cheers for The Sword on Friday, October 8, 2010 at ACL. This year will be the tenth annual festival.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

The sweaty, three-day, five stage, 130-band extravaganza that is the Austin City Limits Music Festival celebrates its 10-year anniversary this weekend.

The festival has taken the ACL name places Ed Bailey, ACL’s vice president of brand development, never envisioned. Twelve years ago, he sat down with the KLRU staff and its board of directors to expand the brand beyond the long-running public television series. Never did he imagine that during the next 10 years, the festival would have hosted performers such as Spoon, Pixies, The Strokes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Bjork and Kanye West.

“Ten short years ago, all you had was the television taping six floors up in the communications building in the University of Texas,” Bailey said. “Amazingly, all this came just from that.”

The non-profit KLRU wanted to create a festival that would add another dimension to the ACL live music experience while staying true to the show’s vision. The vision is, in Bailey’s words, “to create a space where bands just let loose with their fans.”

To create this, KLRU outsourced production of the festival to a group of business partners that would eventually become C3 Presents, the music industry powerhouse that’s also responsible for Lollapalooza.

“There was no long-term deal; it was all, ‘Let’s go do it,’” Bailey said. “‘Let’s try to make it stand for what the TV show has always represented. Let’s take what we could do in a year’s worth of television shows and do it in a weekend.’”

Within a span of three or four months Charlie Jones and Charles Attal, the future co-founders of C3 Presents, developed a two-day festival with five stages and 67 bands. One-day passes were $25. Organizers had expected between 20,000 and 30,000 to attend, but 42,000 people showed up on that first Saturday in 2002. The first festival, which featured an array of artists from Gillian Welch to String Cheese Incident, set a precedent of eclectic line-ups that the festival has kept as its popularity has grown during the last 10 years. Some highlights of the decade include Pixies in 2004, Coldplay in 2005 — the dustiest year in the festival’s history, Dave Matthews Band in 2009 and the Flaming Lips’ infamous bubble entrance last year. This year’s festival features less well-known groups Reptar and AWOLNATION, as well as international superstars such as Stevie Wonder.

After a record 75,000 people attended on the Saturday in 2004, promoters lowered the festival’s maximum capacity at the request of surrounding neighborhood associations. A new contract last year with the City of Austin authorized C3 Presents to sell up to 75,000 tickets, and attendance last year was around 70,000 each day.

Bailey said the reputation of the ACL television show helped contribute to the success of that first festival. Now that the festival is an established destination, it brings major bands to the television show that might not otherwise have made the trip. In past years, Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and The National have all doubled dipped, performing for both the festival and the show, and this year Austin City Limits Live will be taping Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Randy Newman, The Head and the Heart, and Gomez over the festival weekend.
Looking forward, ACL must continue to adapt by making content of the festival and television show directly accessible from computers and phones, Bailey said.

Last year, a number of performances at the festival were made available for live streaming for the first time. This weekend, C3 Presents is making 35 performances available for live streaming through the online magazine “Spacelab.”

“The business models of the record industry and the business models of television have changed so radically that if Austin City Limits is going to be in the conversation 10 years from now, we’re going to have to do a massive amount of change,” Bailey said.

Friends of Robert F. Schenkkan, founder of Austin public radio station, KUT, and TV station, KLRU, remember him as kind and determined. He died on Wednesday at 93 from dementia complications.

Clinical professor of journalism Wanda Cash said Schenkkan, who worked as a radio-television-film professor at UT for more than two decades, was an advocate of independent journalism and set the standards for public broadcasting today.

He advocated for the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which led to congressional funding for broadcasting, said Cash, who was a friend of Schenkkan’s.

“The College of Communication owes so much to Bob Schenkkan,” she said. “He was a wonderful professor; he was a force to be reckoned with back then.”

KUT station director Stewart Vanderwilt said Schenkkan contributed to public broadcasting.
“There was a time shortly after the modern context of public broadcasting had been created that the Nixon administration set out to close it down,” Vanderwilt said. “Bob was able to lead public broadcasting though that period, and [it] came out the other side a much stronger service.”

Vanderwilt said he doesn’t know where KUT or public broadcasting would be without

“He got the license, helped find the first transmitter and he literally led the effort to put it on the air,” he said. “He helped it become as self-sustaining as possible.”

Schenkkan had a dream that KUT would offer a professional service with an educational purpose, Vanderwilt said.

“He wanted KUT to be a place to learn,” he said. “I’d say he put us on the path that KUT is continuing to grow from.”

Vanderwilt said he is disappointed he did not know Schenkkan longer.

“He was exceedingly gracious, and I think what could be overlooked in that is that he had a very strong resolve in anything that he was committed to and believed in,” Vanderwilt said.

The College of Communication is scheduled to hold memorial services for Schenkkan on March 6 at 2 p.m.