Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans , where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
Gini Mascorro's humble musical beginnings came as a shy East Fort Worth junior high misfit battling and beating Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
In addition to what her doctors prescribed for her fight, she self-medicated with '70s female-fronted punk acts such as Blondie and The Pretenders. Plus whatever else legendary area disc jockey George Gimarc was playing on his radio shows.
This combo platter of musical taste and perseverance against life challenges proved a perfect prefix, really, for the person who would go on to become the first morning drive-time host at KXT-91.7 FM, DFW's notorious independent music station.
Mascorro started her broadcast career in 2000, at KXT's parent station, KERA-90.1 FM, as a midday host and a member of the engineering staff. She acted as a producer for some prominent KERA radio names -- people like the late Glenn Mitchell and Krys Boyd before she became queen of the afternoon airwaves via "Think." Gini's peripheral KERA assignments included their crucial daily arts calendar and filling in on the station's Sunday evening music shows.
It was during those weekend music shows that her love for local music started to really sprout, and she gladly took the opportunity to slide in the odd Deathray Davies track between songs from The New York Dolls and X.
This contribution, much like other area stations' weekly one-hour local music blocks, was a little one that went a long way, as far as laying the groundwork for swelling future local music support on the airwaves.
So, when KERA's administrators started to construct the foundation for what would become 'KXT, Mascorro seemed an obvious choice for the staff-up. She found herself signing the station on in November of '09, where it was really only a matter of minutes before you heard her drop a Telegraph Canyon track, the first of many shows-of-support-through-airplay she's provided for our local music scene on KXT.
Albeit interspersed between tried-and-true classic hits -- and, OK, adult contemporary all-too-familiars -- KXT still overall seems to lead the charge for local music airplay and support in the market. From a listener standpoint, if nothing else, they seem to have laid a nice average-Joe-friendly groundwork for a more mainstream audience to come in during, say, Dr.John, and stick around for Sarah Jaffe.
Whether you dig KXT's sometimes-hip programming strategy, or find yourself anguishing that they don't "play cool stuff more and tested hits less," you can't deny their overall big picture of local music support, and Mascorro is one who surely contributed plenty of community-level input. No, KXT may not have enough of a local presence for some hipsters, but it's a shuddering thought to think how much less local content there would be on the area airwaves without Mascorro there, doing her thing.
In other words: Mascorro's contributions definitely merit a thanks, and a more in-depth look. So, we'll do just that after the jump.
When did Gini the music enthusiast first start to surface? Certainly pre-KERA, but just how young were you when the moment was born?
My earliest memory of really being touched by a piece of music was back when my mother bought me the soundtrack for Disney's Peter & The Wolf, of all things! I think I might've been around three or four, and was simultaneously terrified and dazzled. It stopped me in my tracks, and my mother had to pull me away from the speakers. That's the power of music for ya.
So, you had an ear for music from birth. No surprise there. Do you remember the first record you heard that started to define your mature music tastes?
"Eight Miles High" from The Byrds was the first song that went to my fabled happy place and stayed there. Later, it was Blondie's Parallel Lines LP and the first Pretenders album that made me think, "OK, I think I've found the soundtrack for my life!" I laugh now when I think about it because the opening track on the Pretenders' album, "Precious," isn't exactly a kid-friendly track and I'm sure my mother wasn't thrilled. But it was empowering. Blondie had this sophisticated, sexy tongue-in-cheek humor, while the Pretenders had this certain swagger that convinced me anything was possible. To this day, Chrissie Hynde is still one of my musical heroes. I first saw the Pretenders at the Bronco Bowl on their first tour after James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon died. And then last year at Non-Comm in Philly, I saw JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. And I boo-hoo'ed like a baby because it had all come full-circle for me. The compilation Slash: The Early Sessions was another life-changer, and introduced me to two of my all-time favorites, X and the Gun Club. I wish they'd re-release it on CD!
Who were some of the earliest local influences you remember in your young years? And, was it during school? KERA days?
George Gimarc's Rock and Roll Alternative figured large in my early musical education, and pretty much put the bee in my bonnet about wanting to do something with music later in life. The artists and songs he introduced us to had an energizing effect on me and gave me hope at a time when I really needed it. This was back in junior high, when I was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin's Lymphoma and the Prednisone I was taking as part of my chemotherapy would keep me up all night. So, after recording his shows on cassette, I'd listen to them over and over again, into the wee hours of Monday morning. Along with my parents' steadfast love and care, I credit the combination of the Prednisone and the buzz from listening to Gimarc's shows with putting me on the road to recovery.
Tell us about the beginnings of KXT behind the scenes! That must have been a very exciting time. There must have been a process you went through to express your enthusiasm to be a part of it all. And then a really fun time getting the local records picked...
It was a crazy, exhilarating time, and to be honest, I wasn't sleeping a whole lot then during the months leading up to and following our launch. Before we went live, I kept wondering, "Is this how expectant mothers feel?" And, our first morning on the air, as I was wheeling that cart of CDs into the studio, it did indeed feel like I entering the delivery room. Regarding the process of getting involved, you could say my enthusiasm was put to the test when I'd fill in for David Cullen or Paul Slavens and created playlists that had the Triple A vibe to them, without even really trying or knowing it was a format.
Take us through some of the "so-far" musical highlights of working behind the scenes at KXT. Live in-studio performances, cool records you've gotten in, etc. Let's start with locals.
The first in-studio interview I ever did was with The O's, and I couldn't have asked for better subjects. John and Taylor totally put me at ease, because they're two of the nicest, most laid-back cats on the planet. As far as cool records go, both the Fate Lions album, Good Enough For You, and The Orbans' When We Were Wild were classic examples of love at first listen. Their songs were a truly natural fit for our format. And after watching and hearing RTB2 at KXT's first-ever official member event at the Loft, I was electrified. Talk about a joyful noise. I had a hard time sleeping that night. Seeing how some of our other local artists are making waves nationally is another huge thrill for me. When Sarah Jaffe, Seryn and The Orbans get glowing mentions in the national press, I get a tingle and think, "Here's proof that what we're doing at KXT is working."
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Same question, but applying to indie music coming from the other parts of the country?
The best example I can think of is having witnessed the packed house at Miike Snow's Granada show last summer. I'm not one of those end-zone dancer-types or annoying self-congratulatory people, but, at the time, my gut told me, "Guess who helped sell out this show?!"
Are there artist reps/label reps coming in and servicing KXT with new stuff they're excited about from the area? If so, any local up-and-comers that you might have, say, heard a brand new advance single from lately that you're excited about?
It's great seeing Team Clermont's support of Tiger Darrow and Salim Nourallah's new project, The Disappearing Act. Calhoun's been around, but their new album, Heavy Sugar, is killer, with several made-for-radio moments. The new Jessie Frye EP is a dazzler, too. And Air Review's one-two punch of "America's Son" and "H" is positively magical.
Do you feel that KXTs listeners are "doing their part" to support the station and the local music scene? Naturally, donations is one aspect of that, but what about just general support and enthusiasm from the audience side? High points? Low ones?
KXT listeners are a loyal and dedicated lot, and when someone writes in to thank us for turning them on to a local artist and tells us they bought, say, for instance, The Orbans' or The O's' newest release, then I'm just tickled pink. That's definitely one of the high points, along with seeing our numbers continue to go up. The low point is the inability to please everybody. Tacked to the wall in my office is the Bill Cosby quote: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." Amen, Bill!
Where would you like to see KXT evolve to musically, in a perfect world, in relation to our local music community? Is there a daydream? A pipedream? Scenarios you guys talk about?
In my dream scenario, we'll have a bigger staff and, with that, more locally-produced hours where we're able to feature even more of the talent from right here in our own backyard. And our numbers will continue to shoot through the roof!