After Leaving KXT, Mark Abuzzahab Helps Public Radio Get Better at the Internet
Artists like Sarah Jaffe may soon get extra exposure thanks to KXT's former programming director, Mark Abuzzahab
If you’re a regular KXT listener, you’ve probably noticed that former program manager Mark Abuzzahab is no longer around. After helping grow the non-commercial, locally focused public station for the past five years, Abuzzahab took a position with VuHaus after stepping down from KXT just about a month ago. But he hasn't exactly cut his ties with KXT: In VuHaus, Abuzzahab is helping build a new digital platform that will help public, non-commercial radio improve the way that it shares video and streaming music content.
VuHaus, which just launched last Wednesday, is, as Abuzzahab describes it, a “collaborative platform meant to further the mission of non-commercial radio stations." The platform, "which is largely music discovery," allows its member stations to upload video content like in-studio sessions and festival performances that they’ve recorded for sharing with a broader audience. “This is about radio stations being able to expose their audiences to great music,” says Abuzzahab. “ There are a lot of stations like KXT across the country and the one thing they share in common is that they’re run by music nerds.”
Like the stations it serves, VuHaus is a non-profit venture, funded by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, which is partially why Abuzzahab was attracted to the gig. “When I worked at KXT, I got a lot of emails and phone calls from people who were discovering music from other stations like us across the country,” he says. “I really enjoyed doing the collaboration at SXSW when I was at KXT. We shared the Radio Day Stage with four other stations, and broadcast together all day. I kept wondering, 'Why can’t non-commercial stations band together the rest of the time?' The audience is savvy, already checking out these stations across the country, and now we can all work together.”
All of the video content on VuHaus is provided by its partner stations, of which there are currently six, including Austin’s KUTX, New York City’s WFUV, and KEXP in Seattle. These “Music Discovery” stations don’t yet include Dallas’ KXT, but Abuzzahab hopes that they’ll soon start to take advantage of what VuHaus can offer a market like Dallas. Though the city has a robust local music scene full of talented artists, it doesn’t seem to get much attention on the national stage.
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“KXT plays a lot of local artists. Their sessions can be featured nationally and exposed to a bigger audience,” he says. “We’re picking artists from each market that aren’t getting play on other stations and highlighting them on the homepage." Promoting local artists would, after all, be in the station's interest as well: "KXT would benefit from better exposure for local bands, local shows and for the station’s brand as a whole,” Abuzzuhab insists. Through the site’s “Suggested Artists” feature, listeners who are checking out an alt-country band could easily discover KXT videos of the Orbans, Sarah Jaffe or other great local acts who get featured by the station.
At present, there has been no announcement from KXT on whether or not they’ll join VuHaus soon, but Abuzzahab says that it shouldn’t take more than a couple of months for the station to get on board. “All signs point to 'yes' in the next one to four months," he says. "We hope that KXT will be part of the next wave of stations to join. They’ve got a very good chance, it just hasn’t been confirmed yet.” If that does happen, Dallas artists could soon have a much larger, more national audience than they’ve ever had before.
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