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NAB Marconi Award Finalist Profiles: KROX(FM)

Austin alt station carves out successful niche

The National Association of Broadcasters has announced the finalists for the 2015 Marconi Awards, which will be handed out Oct. 1 during the NAB Marconi Awards Dinner & Show taking place during the 2015 Radio Show in Atlanta.

As the start of the 2015 Radio Show approaches, we look to offer a profile for some of the stations that were named finalists for the Marconi Awards. Here we talk with Lynn Barstow, program director from Large Market Station of the Year finalist KROX(FM), based in Austin, Texas.

Radio World: Briefly describe your stations history, current ownership and format.
Lynn Barstow: KROX signed on 20 years ago this summer, as a move-in signal to the Austin market. It launched as an alternative rock station, originally owned along with AAA sister KGSR by Bob Sinclair, who retains a minority chunk of the Emmis Austin cluster. It’s been in the alt format since day one, through segues in ownership to LBJ-S Broadcasting and the current Emmis partnership.

“The Jason & Deb Morning Show” crew with the KROX sales team.
RW: What’s the station’s slogan?
Barstow: KROX is 101X, Alternative Austin.

RW: Why do you think KROX was among the finalists in the Large Market Station category? What makes KROX stand out from the other finalists?
Barstow: 101X had a banner year in both ratings and revenue leading up to the nomination, remarkable in what we feel is sort of a “down” time for the format’s music. The station is highly visible in the Austin community, championing local artists and causes with on-air exposure and fun events.

RW: What is the “radio culture” like at the station? What words would radio people who work there use about it?
Barstow: Busy. Everywhere. Vibrant.

RW: What’s the most unusual thing the station has done lately that typifies its personality or mission?
Barstow: Morning show producer Nick Hajda recently went “Over The Edge” — and rappelled down the side of the 500-foot high W Hotel in downtown Austin, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.

RW: Who makes up the leadership roles at the station — GM, PD, SM, chief engineer, digital platform manager and others?
Barstow: Scott Gillmore is the only GM (we call him a VP/Market Manager, while the GM title goes to Bruce Walden, who oversees our sales departments) the station has known in its 20 years; Chase Rupe is an Emmis VP/Programming and directly watches over Austin programming efforts. I, Lynn Barstow, have helmed the station as PD since January 2005; James White has led the sales team directly since the early-oughts, rising from the staff he was part of almost from the station’s beginning; Jim Henkel keeps us up and running technically, along with IT whiz Brian Reed and Facilities Manager and Studio Engineer Chuck Loesch (who also hosts our alt-metal specialty show). Our Web and social efforts are by committee. Gary Weaver heads up a marketing team that includes our Promotions Manager Frankie Ruiz. Toby Ryan assists me as music director/PM drive.

RW: Anything else people need to know about the station?
Barstow: I can’t stress enough how much the “Jason and Deb Morning Show” has meant to the success of KROX. Ten years ago, Jason was the very young third wheel on a defunct morning show, charged with mentioning sponsors and keeping the music going until a morning show solution was found. Deb joined the program in 2006, and in the two of them, we found that solution. Jason and Deb have been at the top of their targets (A18–34 and A18–49) more often than not, and just posted their first #1 A25–54 monthly (July, 2015).

Read more station profiles for 2015 Marconi Award finalists here.