We Studied A Random Week Of KXT Song Selections. The Results Were As White As You’d Expect.
On the morning of Monday, November 9, 2009, Dallas’ oft-lauded public Adult Album Alternative radio station 91.7-FM KXT officially launched. The first song it played that day? Santana’s “She’s Not There,” a move that’s sort of set the tone for the station’s next five years.
Six songs into its first morning, the station spun its first local track, Telegraph Canyon’s “Shake Your Fist,” exciting everyone at the prospects of a local station keen on keeping an open-minded playlist in terms of giving locals some love and bucking mainstream, Clear Channel-dominated trends. Even more promising? The fact that fellow locals Bosque Brown and Rhett Miller earned spins that first morning, too.
Less than six months into its existence, though, #KXTFail was a frequently trending hashtag on Twitter, with listeners constantly bemoaning spins given to such standard AAA schlubs as Dave Matthews Band, Train and Matchbox 20. Or, as the Dallas Observer once put it, “groan-inducing crap.”
From there, locals have had a love-hate relationship with the much-discussed station. Local media types have given the station props for constantly tweaking its playlist and praised it for getting into the festival game with 2012’s Summer Cut. Then again, those same entities also slammed that fest a couple years later for a lack of diversity within its playlist and booking selections.
What none of these sources has done to date is accumulate any empirical evidence to back their claims. So, the week of KXT’s sixth anniversary, that’s just what we did, collecting information for every song played by the station (not including syndicated programming) for the week of September 14 to 18 — a week we chose because the playlist wouldn’t be artificially skewed in favor of promoting one of the station’s upcoming events — like how Summer Cut bands will receive more airplay in the weeks leading up to the fest.
It was 1,194 songs in all.
What did we find? For one thing, the station’s program director changeover in July seems to have done little to diminish KXT’s love of Santana, as the classic rocker earned four spins that week. That’s in line with what you might expect from any AAA station around the country, though. So too is the fact that, while an overwhelming chunk of songs played on the station were released in 2015, the average release year for songs played on the station that week was 1996.
Then there’s the amount of local music that gets played, one of the biggest areas of ire and praise alike for the station. By our count, locals made up 8 percent of KXT’s playlist for the week in question — tons more than most other stations, sure, although if we’re being nitpicky, 46 percent of those local plays were from acts that have already received a ton of national coverage. Local though they may be, Rhett Miller, St. Vincent, Midlake, Sarah Jaffe, Leon Bridges, Norah Jones and Telegraph Canyon are getting the bulk amount of the local spins, and several of those don’t even technically live here anymore.
As for those complaints that the station lacks diversity? That does seem to hold true. The majority of the acts earning plays (70.5 percent) on KXT were white males. Conversely, only 3.35 percent of the songs on the playlist came from acts that were neither male nor white. To be fair, that’s probably a more widespread issue than just a KXT problem, and it probably says a lot more about the current state of popular music than the station’s supposed racism or sexism.
Still, the numbers don’t lie.