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KRVS’s ‘MacGyver,’ Karl Fontenot, Retires

He’s stepping down after 25 years with the Louisiana public station

Karl Fontenot (Photo courtesy KRVS)

University of Louisiana at Lafyette-based public radio station KRVS(FM) posted a bittersweet announcement to its website today: “With heavy hearts and bright smiles, KRVS is saying goodbye to our MacGyver.”

Karl Fontenot, after 25 years at the station, is retiring. “Many people have helped this station reach nearly 61 years on air, but KRVS wouldn’t be KRVS without Karl Fontenot,” the station posted.

Fontenot was previously honored by the Louisiana Broadcasters Association as broadcast engineer of the year in 2015.

Among other achievements, Fontenot oversaw the design and construction of the Cypress Lake Studios at UL Lafayette at 2009, which have hosted hundreds of local and national performers for the station’s “Medicine Ball Caravan” and other programs. Fontenot consistently ensured top audio quality for these broadcasts, as well as at live festivals, concerts and political debates, according to the station.

In fact, it was Fontenot who inspired KRVS to make live music performances a regular part of the station’s programming. He was one of the many hosts of the “Dirty Rice” program and he decided to put together a system to broadcast the show live from Lafayette’s historic Grant Street Dancehall. Those early shows inspired then general manger David Spizale to make broadcasting live Acadiana music a standard part of station operations.

Like other long-time chief engineers, Fontenot has a few stories of handling transmitter troubles, including about how he added “snake handler” to his résumé. He shared the story with KRVS’s oral history project in 2023.

“One day the transmitter in Duson goes off the air. A big rat snake had gotten into the transmitter and wrapped itself around a bunch of wiring inside, and it electrocuted itself. And I was trying to pull pieces of the snake to get it out when all of the sudden that snake’s head comes up and starts moving. We just freaked out. The snake was not dead. But yeah, that’s when I could add snake handler to my résumé.”

He’s also contributed a few user reports to Radio World’s Buyer’s Guide section over the years.

In wishing him a good retirement, KRVS describe Fontenot as “a pillar of this station’s success and its own oral storyteller, providing everyone with endless knowledge on all things music, radio, and engineering related.”

[Read more people news from Radio World here.]