10 Questions with ... Jody Denberg
May 4, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I did my first radio show while still attending the University of Texas in 1981 on KLBJ, and went on to work there from 1981-1990, leaving as the evening host and MD. In 1990, I joined KGSR as PD and afternoon drive host until 2009 when I stepped down and took a year off. I joined KUT part-time in 2010, and joined KUTX full-time when it went on the air in 2013. Simultaneously I have pursued writing (I majored in journalism). I also produced about 50 promotional interview CDs in conjunction with record labels, working with the Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, R.E.M., Yoko Ono and countless others.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
In New York I grew up listening to Top 40 on 77 WABC, AOR on WNEW-FM (102.7), and my stepdad always played WNEW-A -- Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett etc.
2. How is working at KUTX?
I love my job at KUTX. The station is so focused on the community; the people I work with are fantastic -- many I have known for decades, the facility is state-of-the-art, and the programming is bold and different. Also, being non-commercial is so liberating, and I am starting to get the hang of the pledge drives!
3. You must love the freedom!
I do love the freedom at KUTX -- we craft our own programs every day, incorporating the current music we help choose for the station, library gold that is endless and opportunities every hour to play anything at all. KUTX, for me, is radio heaven.
4. Your goal for each show?
Simply put, my goal for each show is to do my job well. define that by: balancing my music mix (old to new, tempos, genres, etc); communicating clearly and concisely, and hopefully sometimes wittily; and especially connecting whatever I play and say to our community. Our slogan is the "Austin Music Experience" and we all try to live up to that every time we are on air (which for me is Mon-Th 5-8p, and Friday 12n-4p).
5. How did the concept for the book See Hear Yoko come together?
I was having dinner with John and Yoko's photographer and friend, the legendary Bob Gruen, at SXSW 2012. He was here for the premiere of a documentary film about his work and life. I mentioned that 2013 was going to be our mutual friend Yoko Ono's 80th birthday and I had hoped we could do something special: matching quotes from my 25 years of Yoko interviews with his 40 years of photos. He and his staff sent me a selection of photos; I provided quotes to match with the pictures, and he self-published eight books (one for Yoko, Sean, a couple for me and the rest for Bob and his staff).
We brought the book to Yoko shortly after her 80th in 2013, and she sat in the Dakota and told us memories about each photo. She saw Bob shortly thereafter and told him she wanted us to publish the book! Two songwriter friends of mine, the great Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth, work closely with Johnny Depp, and I knew he had just started his own publishing imprint through Harper Collins called Infinitum Nihil. Bob printed one more book -- #9 -- and we got it to Johnny, who loved it. He was a big fan of Bob's photos, texted Bob, and when Johnny was in Austin he took my wife and I to dinner, and we had our publisher! Johnny, like Yoko, didn't ask to change anything from the original book, so it remains a personal, private view into a very public person.
6. It must have been exciting to use excerpts from your many interviews her to bring an added dimension to the photos of Bob Gruen.
The whole project has been exciting and blessed, because it came from the purest intentions. What always amazes me looking at the pictures is that Bob Gruen witnessed (and, of course, snapped) every image. He preserved this amazing history of an amazing woman that otherwise would not have been as well documented.
7. What is like to be friends with Yoko -- beyond the obvious OH WOW aspect of it?
It is such a joy. She is a beautiful, magical, wise woman. Working with her on so many Lennon projects for Capitol over the years was a privilege, and her art and music have helped guide my life since the 1970s. (And her Christmas cards and gifts are amazing!)
8. Tell us about the in-store for the book!
The in-store, this past Tuesday (4/28), was so much fun. Being seated with Bob and Yoko at the Marc Jacobs store on Bleeker Street was surreal. We spent some quality time together beforehand, did some press and photos, and then we spent two hours watching people parade up to our table to show their appreciation for Bob and, of course, Yoko. She was a good sport about it all -- and we got to whisper to each other about this and that while it was going on. A dream we dreamt together became reality.
9. What are you most passionate about?
My family, friends, animals, Austin, and music.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without...