How Dallas radio station KXT has continued spinning for seven years

The buzz surrounding KXT 91.7, the new NPR all-music radio station in Dallas, had been building for months leading up to its November 2009 sign on.

Annie Clark of St. Vincent is one of many nationally-known performers who has played a KXT concert.

Music lovers in North Texas eagerly waited to see what their very own version of Philadelphia's beloved indie-rock powerhouse WXPN, or Seattle's long respected trend-setting KEXP, would sound like. Every locally-focused music blogger and critic in town was ready to pounce on or praise the new station.

And at 7 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2009, morning host and station music coordinator Gini Mascorro dropped the proverbial needle onto Santana's "She's Not There," quickly igniting a small but passionately vocal debate on what the new station should or should not play.

Some critics felt the "Adult Album Oriented" (or Triple A) playlist wasn't edgy or diverse enough in the early stages, while newly-won fans praised the addition of local and independent artists not heard on commercial stations such as 91.7 KEGL-FM or 102.1 KDGE-FM. (R.I.P. to The Edge.) Sure, Santana wasn't the most exciting choice to begin with, but as that first morning rolled on, the Pixies and Fort Worth's Telegraph Canyon added some thrills and hinted at things to come.

Either way, people were tuning in, which is half the battle for an upstart station. According to KXT VP of Radio Jeff Ramirez, the support was immediate and validating.

"Shortly after launching the station," he says, "we were grateful to see just how many people were looking for something like KXT. Our core audience has made all the difference by supporting the station and spreading the word from the very beginning."

Now, seven years later, KXT's firmly held and prominent place in the Dallas music landscape is undeniable.

The station regularly hosts and promotes concerts from massive national acts as well as respected local artists, many of which owe a large debt to the airplay they receive on KXT.

The Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne performed along with St. Vincent at KXT Summer Cut Festival in Dallas in 2012. It was one of KXT's many epic concerts.

"I've had bands come up to me," says KXT's Program Director Amy Miller, "and say their music career and the opportunities they were presented with really changed once they started receiving airplay on KXT. I think we're lucky to be in a position to where we can make an impact on these musicians' careers."

And with the increasing homogenization of the radio dial, an outlet that offers any sort of variety with a strong local flavor is welcome now more than ever.

Songs from artists as varied as Al Green, the Avett Brothers, Sharon Jones, David Bowie and Beach House, plus veteran local band Calhoun, were recently featured on a morning playlist -- all in the same hour.

It's a formula that's clearly working and one that's developed here locally, not by conglomerate-controlled spreadsheets and soulless number crunchers.

"Everyone on the KXT staff lives here," Mascorro says. "And we go to many of the shows our listeners are checking out. It's those local experiences that inform the music we play, and local support that makes it possible."

KXT's next show is Dec. 31, a New Year's Eve bash with Charley Crockett, Dana Harper and Medicine Man. 6 p.m. at the Rustic, 3656 Howell St., Dallas. Free.

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Gini Mascorro, photographed here on Nov. 4, 2009, has been essential in the evolution of Dallas radio station KXT.

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