Making the KUT
"To be part of establishing from scratch a public radio news department in a city that doesn't have one, the lure was irresistible," Donahue said. She is a complete newcomer to Austin, she admits: "The biggest challenge is going to be learning the lay of the land. ... Learning how to serve listeners locally and to know enough so that I can lead a news team in this endeavor isn't going to happen overnight."
KUT General Manager J. Stewart Vanderwilt said the station was attracted to Donahue -- who responded to a nationwide search -- by "the combination of experience she has working in all journalistic mediums, specifically now as producer of a nationally syndicated public radio news program." (Marketplace is a business news program that was briefly carried by KUT but hasn't been heard here for several years now.) KUT plans to "think beyond traditional radio news," he adds. "We have a rather ambitious plan to make KUT a model of radio journalism."
The KUT news team -- whose reports will be inserted between broadcasts of NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- could certainly do just that if it sticks to the principles outlined in its "Statement of Goals and Values" (www.kut.org/site/PageServer?pagename=newsmission). Especially heartening is a promise that KUT's journalists will avoid "a focus on daily events to the exclusion of longer-term issues about which citizens must make community decisions," and that "KUT reporters will not be assigned to cover daily crime, violence, family disputes, and routine traffic accidents -- sometimes referred to by journalists as 'police blotter' stories -- unless they are of unquestioned impact and significance to the community."
In other KUT news, the station reports its latest fundraising drive was a resounding success. Though the length of the pledge drive was cut by 25% (down to eight days), listeners pledged $640,457, well over the stated $500,000 goal.