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Legendary Austin radio DJ discovers a new role in life producing for the stage

From the 1970s through the 1990s, Dave Jarrott was a top-rated morning radio DJ on rock radio stations in Austin. Now, he's found a new calling.

AUSTIN, Texas — For nearly three decades, Dave Jarrott was the king of morning radio in Austin. Tens of thousands of listeners stuck in their cars on their way to work or school looked forward to hearing his off-the-wall humor and sharp observations wedged between the sounds of current rock hits and oldies.

During the '70s, '80s and '90s, Jarrott and his morning team of regulars held court on popular local radio stations including KNOW 1490, K-98, KEY-103 and Magic-95.

Jarrott launched his broadcasting career after earning a theater degree from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now known as Texas State University. One of his first jobs out of school was as a television news anchor and reporter for KTBC-TV Channel 7, a serious role for a natural comedian. 

But Jarrott left TV and theater behind as his radio career blossomed, culminating with his induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2011.

A year later, during a visit to New York City, his life would take a new, unexpected turn.

“I saw the show in New York in 2012 called 'Freud's Last Session,' and it was about a meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis,” Jarrott said. “They never met but, in the play, there was a sort of debate between the two of them about the existence of God, about politics, sex, you name it. And I so wanted to do that play, and I so wanted to play the part of Freud.”

Three years later, Jarrott got his wish. He produced, directed and played the starring role of Freud live on stage at an Austin theater to rave reviews from critics.

“It was the only thing I was going to ever produced myself, but I was having so much fun doing it, I thought, 'You know, there's only 80 companies in town, only 80 theater companies. Why not have another one?'” Jarrott said.

It would be the first of many award-winning acting roles – and behind the scenes work, producing and directing plays – that would be his focus as head of the newly formed Jarrott Productions.

Currently, his production of the play "The Sound Inside" is on stage at Austin’s Ground Floor Theater.

While theater is the center of his life’s work these days, memories of his fame on the radio persist. Jarrott said people who recognize him still stop him on the street and in stores to talk about the impact he had on their lives when he was a morning radio guy.

“I had one person say to me recently that he wouldn't have made it through high school without me. He told me, ‘I wouldn't have made it.’ He said his home life had been bad,” Jarrott said. “I've always, always wanted to make a difference and to know that I made a difference in one person's life at one moment in time when maybe they needed that, then I'm a happy camper.”

Jarrott recently sat down with KVUE’s Bob Buckalew for an extended video interview about his life in radio and on stage and to talk about his latest theater production. You can watch the entire interview in the January edition of KVUE’s Arts Around Austin below:

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