The Austin Chronicle


By Christopher Gray, July 23, 2004, Music

Hot to Trot

Looking for a way to expand their sizable local following, Austin's Voxtrot were all set to go with Milwaukee's resurrected Bus Stop records, one of the first U.S. labels to give the Anglo twee-pop they're so fond of a home. Then they hit a snag. "[The owner] said, 'We don't have any money,'" relays singer/guitarist Ramesh Srivastava. So Voxtrot decided to do it themselves, and thus was born Cult Hero records. The brand-new label has wasted precious little time, already pressing a 4-song Sound Team EP for the high-energy dance-rockers to take on tour with the Walkmen next month. Srivastava estimates the EP will hit stores in about a month, plus he'd like to get a Voxtrot single in the can before heading back to the University of Glasgow in September. He's also inherited the Northloop Sound System's Sunday-night Caucus Club residency from early Voxtrot champion James Minor as a means to raise money for Cult Hero; the next one is set for Aug. 1, with band TBD. The July 11 installment was a big success, Srivastava says, but the powerful set delivered by local post-punk militants the Arm led to some unforseen consequences. "After they played, everything I played [as DJ] sounded like background music," he chuckles.

Access Granted

As reported Friday on city-politics Web site In Fact Daily, the Austin Music Network has reached an agreement with Austin Community Television to shift at least some of its programming to ACTV once the network's current contract with the city expires Sept. 30. AMN General Manager Louis J. Meyers said Monday the plan still needs to go before the City Council's Telecommunications Infrastructure subcommittee and council itself for final approval. Pending that approval, on Oct. 1 ACTV would take over management of AMN and begin distributing AMN programming across its three channels, which are undergoing overhauls themselves. Dubbed Free TV, Channel 10 would be reserved for general public-access use, with Channel 11 featuring inspirational programming and Channel 16 becoming the education, arts, and music-oriented eaTV. He was unsure how many AMN producers would take their programs to ACTV, but Meyers said it was likely much of AMN's family-oriented programming would wind up on eaTV, with the edgier stuff going to Free TV. "It's a little too early to be much more specific," he cautioned. Though the agreement appears to leave the way clear for the Austin Music Partners to assume control of Channel 15, first council must approve AMP's own proposal. Tuesday, spokeswoman Connie Wodlinger said AMP has agreed to help fund the new eaTV, including paying Meyers' salary as a consultant, as per the Telecom subcommittee's directive for all parties to work out a solution. "Hopefully, it'll be a win-win situation for everyone," she added.

The Beat Goes Off

Beat 104.3 listeners were in for a surprise when they tuned in Monday morning expecting to hear Lil' Flip, Usher, and Mario Winans, but were instead greeted by shock-jock supreme Howard Stern. Seems the station's parent company, New York-based Infinity Broadcasting Inc., decided to switch over to an all-syndicated "hot talk" format, something the Beat air staff discovered at a late-afternoon meeting Friday when they were also issued pink slips. Rumors of an impending format change had been circulating for a while, but DJ 2DQ, who manned turntables for the weekday "Five o'Clock Beatdown" and Friday-morning old-school mix shows, says management repeatedly reassured the staff everything was fine. Then, last Thursday, reported that Infinity had registered the domain, and someone from rival Hot 93.3 called wanting to know what was up. The news was especially surprising, says 2DQ, because the Beat had recently gained ground on 93.3, tying the Emmis-owned station for fifth place overall in the most recent ratings survey. However, he adds, billing was down, which apparently prompted the switch. "That's what it's all about – money," he sighs. "They don't care how good you're doing." The Beat, which signed on in 1999 as Austin's first commercial hip-hop/R&B station, went jockless all weekend, leaving 2DQ and his colleagues unable to inform listeners of the impending change. "The saddest part of this whole thing is that we never really got a chance to say goodbye," he says. "That hurt."

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