TYLER – After starting from scratch, the newest national public radio station broadcasts from the University of Texas at Tyler with a satellite stationed atop the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center and a radio tower based in Bullard.
UT Tyler Radio KVUT 99.7 FM, an educational, non-commercial station, celebrated its official launch on Tuesday afternoon after it was quietly aired on the air in May.
The station broadcasts NPR shows as well as local stories. Eclectic jazz is also played from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The three-member team includes reporters and broadcasters, Managing Director Lorri Allen, News Director Mike Landess and COO Jeff Johnson.
Allen said the 99.7 signal became available when a former East Texas resident wanted to make a radio signal affordable for a college.
The idea was pitched to Dennis Robertson, who was the chairman of UT Tyler’s communications department and the current executive director of KVUT. Robertson then shared the plan with Neil Gray, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Allen said the two believed a radio station would be an incredible opportunity for UT Tyler.
After arguing the case and raising funds for the station, UT Tyler Radio serves the Tyler area as well as areas north of Lindale to Frankston and Henderson, near Kilgore and near the first exit to Canton on Interstate 20 .
Johnson has been involved in the airing of several radio stations, but he said being a part of KVUT was a chance to build an NPR station for East Texas.
“We do a lot of things that other NPR stations do. We do a lot of the national programs that they do, ”Johnson said. “We’re not just copying and pasting another NPR station. We build what we do locally.
He said there are plans to involve students and faculty in the programming.
“This is what will make it a unique East Texas resort because it will have the flavor, personality and priorities of East Texas,” he said.
The nearest NPR branches were previously Red River Radio in Shreveport and KERA in Dallas.
“Because there was no clear signal, there was a chance of getting an NPR affiliate. It had been years (since there hadn’t been a regional affiliate), ”Allen said. “Our slogan is ‘community service’ because we really want to be of service to the community.”
Landess, who started his Tyler radio career as a high school student, said local news will come from several resources, such as ads in the local press and NPR. At UT Tyler Radio, he wants to make sure the stories shared are memorable.
“They are focused on current events. We do the who, what, when, where and how, ”Landess said. “We try to find ways to reuse in some cases, and in other cases we go out on our own and do our original reporting.”
Each member of the team has experience and works well together to exchange ideas, said Landess.
“It’s always a collaborative experience that pays off. I retired twice. I just couldn’t take it, ”he said. “I wanted to be part of it and I missed the collaboration. I missed the energy and synergy that comes from sharing ideas.
To grow and continue programming, UT Tyler Radio needs financial support from donors, Allen said. People can donate at uttr.org/give/ or click or click on the green “donate” button on the website home page.
“The university has been very generous, but they want us to be self-sufficient as soon as possible and grow, add things, have additional programs,” Allen said. “To have the local programming we dream of, we have to raise funds.
To listen to UT Tyler Radio, tune into FM 99.7, stream online at uttr.org or download the free NPR app and choose “KVUT” as your local station.