Deep-Sixed at 101

Afternoon drive-time radio listeners might have noticed the absence of one Donna McKenzie from the KLOL/101 FM airwaves starting a week ago Wednesday, but they probably didn't receive the press release KLOL faxed to my desk that very same June 1. Here it is, FYI: "Pat Fant, general manager of KLOL-FM, and Donna McKenzie, KLOL afternoon drive air personality and producer of the New Texas Radio show, jointly announced today that Ms. McKenzie will no longer provide professional services on behalf of KLOL, effective immediately. Both Mr. Fant and Ms. McKenzie state that the termination of their agreement was mutual, amicable and in the best interest of both parties." Seems clear enough, but it doesn't go far in explaining why McKenzie, with a full 20 months remaining on her contract with KLOL, is so suddenly a non-entity on the Houston airwaves she has graced since 1986 -- first as a jock at KZFX/107.5, and since early 1993 at KLOL.

According to McKenzie, who emphasizes, as per the press release, the mutual amicability of her departure, recently hired KLOL program director Andy Beaubien didn't feel that McKenzie's laid-back presentation carried the proper punch for KLOL's target market. Or: "I wasn't his idea of an 18-to-34 rock and roll mama." Beaubien had suggested moving McKenzie to a nighttime slot -- an option declined by McKenzie, whose contract apparently stipulated the coveted afternoon drive-time slot. Fant, listed on the press release as a source of further details, failed to return my calls.

So KLOL bought out McKenzie's contract for an undisclosed sum that McKenzie will describe only as "more generous than the terms of my contract called for, and very gratifying."

"Their decision was based on a matter of direction and a matter of style," she says. "It's clearly established that it's not in relation to my performance" -- which, according to McKenzie, includes recent number-one ratings in the relevant demographics. "The way in which they honored my contract and settled our agreement was a real testament to our mutual professional respect. I'm very happy with the way it was settled. In fact, I'm a little giddy. I'm gonna go to Disneyland."

But while the newly free and presumably solvent McKenzie frolics with Mickey, decidedly un-laid-back rock and roll mama and KLOL personality Outlaw Dave Andrews has taken over the drive-time shift, and McKenzie's Sunday night New Texas Radio program, of which McKenzie retains ownership, is off the air. In case you care about such things, the only program left on the commercial airwaves to feature local music is 107.5's Sunday night Made in Texas -- itself a McKenzie legacy. Oh well...

Independent filmmakers Robert Crow and Stephanie Granader make up Big Productions, and if you've yet to hear of that particular organization, you may want to find a spot in the audience at Fitzgerald's on Friday the 10th, when camera crews will be in the house filming a set by Houston's seven-piece The Last Wish. Bee Stung Lips and Austin's Panic Choir are also on the bill.

Crow's idea is a simple but good one: a weekly program on Channel 8 spotlighting up-and-coming local talent. The Last Wish segment will be the first of three segments that Crow hopes to develop into a regular series in co-production with KUHT under the name And the Beat Goes On. The idea got its start last year when Crown and company shot Global Village in a pilot for the pilot, which gained the interest and support of PBS. Crow is presently looking to nail down funding for the series, which could, with any luck at all, begin airing as early as August. Also tentatively scheduled for filming are the Poppeacocks June 17 and 30footFALL July 8, both at Fitz. Wear your clean clothes, folks.

Evolution: Mike Gunn guitarist and Charalambides co-founder Tom Carter is reportedly shedding one skin by bailing out of the Gunn on the heels of that band's recent Almaron release, leaving the guitar-heavy Gunn six strings short. Word has it that Carter wanted to concentrate on Charalambides, which plays Harvey's with the Dave Dove/Paul Winstanley Duo every Sunday.

Local Stuff: Upcoming Press Music Awards Best Traditional/Ethnic Music nominee (you get all the scoops here) Wyndnwyre plays the Mucky Duck on a locally slow Thursday night, and if you're one of those idiots like me who just don't know much about what these folks do, now's as good a time as any to take yourself to school. For you dropouts, Spunk's at Emo's Thursday night, while Eardrum and David Rice do Goat's Head Soup.

Friday night, things pick up a bit with Joint Chiefs opening the Medeski, Martin and Wood show (see Critic's Choice) at Harvey's, Jessie Dayton's Alamo Jets landing at the Duck, and hippie-rockers Zwee and the Graveberries, who tell me they've added new members since sending me their demo, grooving at Rudyard's. Willis and Sad Pygmy are scheduled for Laveau's, and Vice Grip opens the Crowbar/Varga show at the Abyss. Saturday night, guit-slinging phenom Chris Masterson performs opening honors for Austin blues diva Lou Ann Barton at the Satellite, and Smile 69 starts the show for 30ought6 and Alcohol Funnycar at Harvey's. Shake Russell and Jack Saunders do two sets at the Duck, and the Flaming Hellcats give it another vatobilly go-round at Rudz. The Healers play the Ale House, and 30footFALL, Blueprint and Underwood are slated for Fitz. Meanwhile, Bleachbath sets a heavy tone for the Killdozer/Steel Pole Bathtub gig at Toad's, and Man or God opens for Genitorturers at the Abyss.

Sunday afternoon has the Summertime Freak Festival at the European Tavern, with Retarted Elf, Organ Grinders and Ed Hall supported by locals Taste of Garlic, the Blunt Family and Dixie Waste. Show starts at noon, so don't stay out too late. Sunday night's got Dethkultur BBQ at the Blue Iguana. Till Tuesday -- when you can catch Skillit at Toad's -- that's about the extent of it, locally.


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