Now in its 40th year of broadcasting as a student-run and member-supported educational radio station, Trinity University‘s 91.7 KRTU has continued to grow in image to the music and city it represents, free to improvise and expand into new territory.
In 2002, the station transformed its mix of classical and jazz music to a 17-hour jazz program by day, and a seven-hour indie-rock format by night. While a great majority of its membership and initiatives are focused around the swinging beat of the two and four, KRTU Indie Overnight has made a splash on the local music scene, becoming a beacon of hope for many growing artists and arguably the most viable way for local acts to see airplay.
Paper Tiger will open its doors this coming Tuesday, July 12 for a Float Fest edition of one of Indie Overnight’s newest initiatives, KRTUesdays. There will be a live broadcast emceed by KRTU Live and Local host Jeannette Muniz, who will dig in with Pop Pistol of San Antonio, as well Riders Against the Storm and Holiday Mountain of Austin.
Benjamin “Benji” Gomez, KRTU Indie Overnight events and promotions manager, is entering his senior year at Trinity and pushing the limits of collaboration in a manner reminiscent of the community he represents – boldly, creatively, and steadfastly.
“We’re not content just spinning tracks,” Gomez said, as he kicked back in the KRTU studio on Trinity’s campus. “We want to be out there working with as many venues as we can, so that KRTU can be at the forefront of all the musical happenings in the San Antonio area.”
With Float Fest in San Marcos kicking off on Saturday, July 16, Gomez got the gears turning and reached out to the organizers’ public relations team to throw out a wild card idea.
“I asked if we could do a Float Fest live pre-party broadcast,” Gomez said. “You engage the college crowd, the indie crowd – all the parts came together and it just made sense.”
With DJ Proper Yarn spinning local tracks and keeping the vibrations high for this free event, Gomez also will give away Float Fest passes for lucky fans.
“Vision-wise, I’d love to see this happening with more festivals, with many different venues, community organizations,” he said. “We can broadcast from a rooftop, basement, a boat. It’s self-contained equipment, so the possibilities are limitless right now.”
KRTU Operations Manager Emilio Alvarez will be behind the scenes ensuring that the live instrumentation is channeled perfectly through the airwaves as each band performs, as well as creating a background track from DJ Proper Yarn’s tunes while emcee Muniz is digging in with the bands.
“I try to look at the past, present, and future with each band,” Muniz said. “What their beginnings looked like, what they’re working on, what’s to come.”
If you’ve heard Muniz’s voice on the radio – simultaneously cool yet effervescent – chances are, it’s come from the main KRTU booth on the third floor of Laurie Auditorium. The new environment, however, won’t phase her as she approaches this unique opportunity.
“I don’t like to go in with a different approach, this is just a location change for me,” Muniz said. “I prefer live shows because people are more engaging, they are a lot closer to you.”
Muniz believes in the power of the indie side of the sonic spectrum as a source that listeners can draw local music from.
“I think the conversation has changed a bit, as it used to be ‘the music scene’ and now it’s ‘the community,’” Muniz said. “I’ve noticed that at KRTU, and maybe it’s because of the evolution of local music.”
The gentlemen of Pop Pistol collectively embody this movement and are some of the greatest advocates for community in music.
“Pop Pistol is one of the first bands that I got to check out,” Muniz said. “I know they took a break for a while and I’m excited to see them get back on stage.”
George Garza, Jr., Pop Pistol’s bassist who assumes the same role for The Foreign Arm and even embraces the solo side on his acoustic guitar, is as humble a servant and steady a soldier as you will meet on stage.
“I feel proud about where San Antonio and the music community is at right now,” Garza said. “I see San Antonio lifting us up, and it’s a super honor, like being picked for the all-star team or something.”
Garza feels that the opportunity to play alongside talented Austin bands is a momentous one for the group. “So many milestones are compounding at this moment,” Garza said, recognizing the growth of KRTU, Paper Tiger, and Pop Pistol all coalescing in this initiative. “I feel like we as a band feel very different, as we believed in this big thing and now it is bigger and better than we’ve ever experienced.”
This “big thing” Garza eludes to is the same feeling that Muniz and Gomez evoke when speaking to the transforming sound of San Antonio, the sensation of looking from the outside in on an epoch that will define them and their community’s legacy for years to come.
“The truth about SA is that we’ve got it going on,” Garza said. “It’s a very prime moment to do what we’re doing. The momentum’s been building, yet I also feel like it’s just getting started.”
Garza credits his origins to Local 782 and the San Antonio Local Music Guild, entities that have helped shape the way he views the growth of all that is happening. “Musicians are the foundation for what makes it all special,” Garza said. “We also have a radio station that has come more and more in tune with the real local pulse, who is sustaining the arts community.”
While initiatives like this aim to keep it in the family, Gomez believes it also is important to bring the attention of touring bands and regional acts to the power of local artists, creating a positive impact on the local music economy.
“I think the highlight of the night is Pop Pistol, they are the SA act playing Float Fest,” Gomez said. “By putting them on a pedestal, we are also showing these other bands how we can do something really cool here (in San Antonio).”
Without drawing too many comparisons to Austin, Gomez does believe that San Antonio’s music scene needs to have an exciting event of some sort happening every night of the week, so that people can go out and catch good live music anytime.
“We wanted to show that on an off night you can still making something happen. It doesn’t have to be on the first Saturday of the month to draw,” Gomez said, alluding to the packed house at The Mix for the first go-round of KRTUesdays. “We’re not just trying to put on a show, we’re trying to connect the bands with the community, and we’re really excited for the lineup we have pieced together.”
If you’re a local artist and would like to get involved with initiatives or programming of Indie Overnight, please send your band’s information and any proposals or show dates to email@example.com.
Top Image: (From left to right) Jorge Gonzalez, Alex Scheel, and George Garza, Jr. of Pop Pistol. Image courtesy of Pop Pistol.