KNTU 88.1 makes sure the music never stops

KNTU 88.1 makes sure the music never stops

KNTU 88.1 makes sure the music never stops
November 05
03:44 2015

Danielle Garcia | Staff Writer

@UNTDanielleG

For 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, the KNTU 88.1 jazz radio station airs local music, sports updates, news and special programs.

Behind the airwaves, student volunteers and staffers work as many as seven days a week to keep material airing. It’s a service that never closes.

The deejay switchboard is lit up during on air hours and is operating by one deejay in three-hour shifts. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

The deejay switchboard is lit up during on air hours and is operating by one deejay in three-hour shifts. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

“It’s magic, but magic that someone obviously knows how to do,” said Jeffry Eckels, a UNT alumnus and professional jazz musician. “I’m mind-boggled about what goes on here.”

It takes many moving parts to get things going, KNTU general manager Russ Campbell said. “If any of them stop moving we could have a potential meltdown.”

From midnight to 6 a.m., a list of scheduled material airs. But one mistake in scheduling could mean 30 seconds of dead air, leading to Mark Lambert getting a call in the middle of the night.

Lambert is KNTU’s program, operations and news manager, and he is on-call 24/7. As the self-described “grammar Nazi” of the station, he reviews and edits the radio lineup and newscasts.

“There’s a lot more work that goes into putting something on the air,” Lambert said.

Despite the rigorous schedule, Lambert said he’s ready to help any student interested in a broadcasting career.

Hannah Ortega-Johnson a freshman RTVF major works as the 3 o’clock radio deejay. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

RTVF freshman Hannah Ortega-Johnson works as the 3 o’clock radio deejay. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

The full-service radio station is held to industry standards and operated by 75 people – all but two are students. Named the “Best Radio Station” by D Magazine, it is a place for students interested in learning and getting involved, Campbell said.

Media arts major Rhett Stubblefield has been able to pursue his passion for jazz music at KNTU. The 19-year-old picks every jazz song that airs on the station.

“I get to put my own voice on air,” Stubblefield said.

The jazz enthusiast said he receives anywhere from four to five dozen CDs a month from artists and radio promoters. From there, he has the task of listening to them and selecting and scheduling which music will air.

“The most challenging part is trying to make everyone happy without breaking anyone’s heart,” Stubblefield said.

But Stubblefield and program director Katy Hancock appreciate the opportunity to create with other people their age.

Grayson Nolette, left,  a freshman CBCM major and Ryan Roiz, right, a RTVF junior give the latest in sports and news at 4 o’clock. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

CBCM freshman Grayson Nolette gives the latest in sports and news at 4 o’clock. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

“You can create yourself on air. You can create shows. You can write and you can create promos,” Hancock said.

Media arts senior Alex Smith, host of KNTU’s show “Infrequent Exposure,” said she stays on top of all current local music in the Denton and Dallas-Fort Worth area. Like Stubblefield, Smith reviews and selects local music during the week and prepares it to air on Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m.

“The fun thing about working in radio is no one’s a superstar,” Smith says. “Radio is not a thing where egos get in their way a lot.”

With all of the work that goes into operating KNTU, the station has graduated a number of successful alumni, including the Dallas Mavericks play-by-play announcer Mark Followill and sports broadcaster George Dunham.

“I know they work really, really hard here,” Eckels said. “They put in a ton of time to make this station run as efficiently as possible and make sure that the music gets out there.”

Featured Image: Hannah Ortega-Johnson a freshman RTVF major works as the 3 o’clock radio deejay. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

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