AUSTIN — If you listen to the radio, you may have noticed some major changes over at KGSR.
Just in time for the Austin City Limits Music Festival, 93.3 KGSR has officially rebranded themselves as Austin City Limits Radio. Along with that change comes a major shift to what you'll hear on KGSR's airwaves.
Radio personalities Andy Langer and Emily Parker sat down with KVUE behind the scenes at the festival to dish on what all this means for one of Austin's most beloved radio stations.
KGSR’s whole rebranding started on Sept. 6. How have things been in your first month as Austin City Limits Radio?
Emily: I think audience reception has been great. The audience has been super into it. I think just having the ability to play such an eclectic range of artists and artists that people know and love that are part of the Austin City Limits brand, it instantly registers with people. If you live in Austin or you don’t live in Austin, you’re familiar if you’re a music fan. It’s been a pretty positive and easy transition.
What was the inspiration for the Austin City Limits rebranding?
Emily: It was born from a conversation Andy and I had about another change to the playlist. He just came to me with this idea and I bought in. It was really one of those ideas where, yeah, this makes complete sense. Finally! Why hasn’t this happened before? We approached Tom [Gimbel] at Austin City Limits Enterprises and he was into it as well and it kind of grew from there.
Andy: Ultimately, you’ve got a very quickly changing city, and even if you have something that’s been around for 28 years, you have to constantly be explaining to people why it’s important because a lot of them haven’t been here across that 28 years. And even if they were, they have a different view of what it was across those 28 years. The Austin City Limits brand, while it has a tradition, also has instant recognition even if you just moved here from Chicago and you’re living in Round Rock and you say, “What’s that? Oh, that’s Austin City Limits Radio.”
Are you now more connected with the ACL brand and other trademarks like ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the Austin City Limits TV show?
Emily: We’re all separate licensing partners. Austin City Limits has signed a licensing deal the same way they have with the festival and TV show. We’re all separate entities, so radio will still be our focus. But I think it makes sense down the line for those partnerships to grow because we’re all sharing the same branding.
Who are some of the big ACL artists you’ve been excited to work with during ACL this year?
Emily: It’s been a whirlwind. On Friday and Saturday last weekend we did our live broadcast at Threadgill's, as we do every year. We had Hozier, Chvrches, Lisa Loeb, lovelytheband, were some of our big artists. It’s fun to see them in an intimate setting like that.
Have y’all seen a big change in listeners since switching things up?
Emily: I think it will take time, as any big change does. Generally and anecdotally it’s been incredibly positive.
Andy: This is how people listen to music. They listen without a format or genre in mind. Radio is traditionally about a format – you are an alternative rock station, you play alternative rock. And we, by design and by the aesthetic of the Austin City Limits brand, play everything from Etta James and Lyle Lovett to Travis Scott and Drake, to Willie and George Strait to Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons. So, there is that range that better reflects how people listen to music in their spare time and what they want.
How do y’all choose those artists? Is it people who have performed on the stages of the ACL festival, the ACL Live venue and on the TV show?
Andy: Right, the foundation is the combination of the festival, the venue and the television show. There are certain artists like Adele who fit the aesthetic but haven’t done any of those things. We’re not not going to play Adele.
Emily: Easily 90 percent will have some connection to Austin City Limits.
Andy: For instance, the first thing we did as a station a week before we announced it, is Leon Bridges played our lounge. He’s played the festival, he’s played the venue, he’s played the television show. And now he’s played the radio. So that is an artist who literally has checked all of those boxes – and he’s from Fort Worth.
You can listen to Austin City Limits Radio on the airwaves at 93.3 and 97.1 FM, and online here.