Been There, Done That: Pt. 1

btdt1In celebrations of our 10th anniversary this week, we set to find the radio-warriors who helped make all this magic happen. First up is Keegan Knittle and Justin Appleby, the founders of Radio UTD.

Keegan Knittle

Founder/Programming Director 2003-2004
Station Manager 2004-2005

What made you first want to join Radio UTD?
Boredom/anti-corporate sentiment. Freshman year, Justin Appleby and I were just plain tired of mainstream radio stations in Dallas. Being from Houston, I was used to having multiple independent radio stations to choose from – the now defunct KTRU (Rice University) being my favorite – and was disappointed that there were no such stations in existence in Dallas. After thinking about it for a while, Justin and I put together a proposal for funding for a student run radio station at UTD, including an outline of the way such a station would operate, the number of personnel needed to keep it going, and the approximate costs of doing so. Our ideas were based largely on the model which was set up at Rice University. As he was well connected to the University through the McDermott Scholars program, Justin was instrumental in securing funding for the station for an initial 3 year period, and we had Jay Miller serve as our staff advisor.

How did Radio change from when you started to when you left?
Well, I guess the biggest change is that Radio UTD finally came out of the closet! In its first 2 years, RadioUTD operated on a shoestring budget. We had a tiny room in the Engineering/Computer Science building, a server, a media computer, a cd player, a secondhand turntable, two cheap Shure microphones, and a Stanton 4 channel mixer. Really wish I had the tech specs for those original computers, as it would probably be pretty hilarious in retrospect! As the station and our music library grew, we started running short on space, and put in applications for a purpose built studio in the student union. Although it wasn’t quite complete when I left, the plans for the new studio laid a foundation on which the station could continue to grow.

What were your favorite albums in the years you were a DJ?
RX Bandits – The resignation
Call Me Lightning – The trouble we’re in
The Futureheads – S/T
Those Peabodys – S/T & Unite tonight
Radiohead – Kid A
Interpol – Turn on the bright lights & Antics
Broken Social Scene – You forgot it in people
Jedi Mind Tricks – Violent by design
Love’s A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Compilation Album)

What were some of your favorite memories being in Radio UTD?

  • Being on the guestlist for just about any concert in town
  • Making a rap album in the studio with Evan Jones (Metroplex Marauders – Dank u).
  • Trying to recruit DJs and turning down people who said they wanted to play top 40!
  • Putting on shows.
  • Recruiting Shil Patel to be a DJ by asking him randomly on campus, “You look like you listen to good music. Do you want to be a DJ?” He went on to become music director and really did more than most to put RadioUTD on the map in the college music world.
  • RadioUTD Frisbees and t-shirts which I still have! Could never throw those away…
  • Checking to see how many people were listening.
  • “RadioUTD – Sorta like sex… but without the clown suit.”

What were your favorite (or most memorable) events during your time in Radio UTD?

  • Broadcasting the first song: Men at Work – Land Down Under, from a vinyl we got from Goodwill or some other second hand shop.
  • Our first concert, featuring Those Peabodys. Terrible weather, but no permission to put it on indoors. We had it under the awning of the Student Union. Lead guitarist jumping off of a picnic table certainly the highlight… Power shortages certainly the lowlight.
  • DJ-ing/broadcasting live from the Geeks Ball.
  • Putting on the first RadioUTD Spring Concert (see picture below!). I was nearly beaten up by the guy we rented the PA from. A noise-rock band from Denton (the name of which escapes me) of which one member was a DJ (Jason Burgess), was doing their noise-rocky thing, and at somepoint slammed one of the microphones to the stage. The sound guy, who was a metalhead and already somewhat annoyed by their performance, flew off the handle. I had to restrain him from going on stage to fight the band by saying, “if you want to fight them you have to go through me first.” The sound guy finally calmed down a bit, called me a hippy, praised me for “practicing what I preach,” and the show went on without further incident.

Where do you see Radio UTD being 10 years from now?
The original plan for RadioUTD was to try to make it on to the FM dial, following in the footsteps ofKTRU. However, we found out very early on how difficult it is to secure one of those slots – financially, in terms of the competition to obtain a spot on the FM band, and in terms of the professionalism needed to comply with FCC regulations. As FM seems to be on its way out anyway, making the jump is probably not necessary/desirable. Nowadays people can listen to internet radio on their mobile phones, so RadioUTD can reach just as many people in its present format and continue to play genres of music you would never hear on the FM dial. Does RadioUTD have an app yet? If not, get cracking! (Editor’s Note: An app is currently in production.)

After RadioUTD Spring Concert: 2005
After RadioUTD Spring Concert 2005
Justin Appleby

Station Manager 2003-2004

What made you first want to join Radio UTD?
Well, I was the founder of the station, so that was a pretty big factor.

How did Radio change from when you started to when you left?
Completely… I was running things up to the point that we were finally in the (old) student lounge, and had secured a actual funding from the strident fees budget. What my successors accomplished was far beyond what I could’ve imagined. Bravo to them!

What were your favorite new discoveries in the years you were a DJ?
Too many to count… And I’ve had far too good of a time since then to accurately remember such things. Such is life.

What were some of your favorite memories being in Radio UTD?
“Radio UTD… It’s like sex, but without the clown suit.” We had far too much fun in the small office in the engineering building, but I’m not certain that there is the proper venue to recount such stories.

What were your favorite (or most memorable) events during your time in Radio UTD?
Pretty much any of the concerts that we held on campus… Those always turned into ridiculous parties. I hope that legacy continues to this day…

Where do you see Radio UTD being 10 years from now?
In northern Richardson, most likely in a building on campus.