KLRU Receives $1 Million Capital Grant from The Moody Foundation

Grant Supports Infrastructure for Local Production and Programming

KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, has received a capital grant of $1 million from The Moody Foundation. The funding will allow KLRU to modernize the technology and equipment used to produce and broadcast original content.

“This grant is an investment in the basic building blocks of KLRU’s identity as a local community resource and a national ambassador for Austin,” said Bill Stotesbery, KLRU CEO and General Manager.

KLRU has long been a leader in locally-produced content: while best known for growing Austin City Limits into the longest-running music series in television history, KLRU is also home to award-winning programs like Arts In Context, Central Texas Gardener, Overheard with Evan Smith, and BBQ with Franklin.  These series are all produced by KLRU and distributed nationally to PBS stations across the country.

But as KLRU leadership worked to develop a new strategic plan last year, it became clear that existing infrastructure was limiting the station’s ability to produce such content and program a localized broadcast schedule—in other words, the core activities at the very heart of KLRU’s mission and service.

Now, with this significant gift from The Moody Foundation, KLRU will begin replacing outdated editing technology and field production equipment, and will also implement modern systems for archiving and broadcast automation.

In addition to boosting efficiency at the station, the gift ensures that thousands of hours of content will be properly preserved, and presents exciting possibilities for additional field-based projects out in the community.

About the Moody Foundation
The Moody Foundation was established in 1942 and is a charitable organization that makes grants primarily in Austin, Galveston and Dallas, with an emphasis on education, social services, children’s needs and community development.  The Moody Foundation was created by Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Moody Jr. to benefit, in perpetuity, present and future generations of Texans. and, today, is governed by three trustees: Robert Moody, Ross R. Moody and Frances Moody-Dahlberg.

About KLRU
KLRU-TV, Austin PBS is dedicated to telling stories that entertain, inspire and change our lives. KLRU highlights what makes Austin unique—whether music, arts or public issues —by creating and distributing award-winning original content. KLRU produces several series including Austin City Limits, Arts in Context, Central Texas Gardener, Civic Summit and Overheard with Evan Smith. As a nonprofit educational organization, KLRU also prepares children to succeed in school and creates lifelong learning opportunities for all. Find out more at KLRU.org.

What is the FCC’s Spectrum Incentive Auction and why you should care

When you tune your radio or TV to a channel, communication signals travel over the air via radio frequency, also known as spectrum. The TV broadcast you watch, the radio program you listen to, the GPS device that helps get you where you’re going, and the wireless phone service you use to make phone calls and check Facebook from your smartphone — all use invisible airwaves — spectrum — to transmit bits of data through the air.

Spectrum Auction Overview – What, When and Why it Matters

Anything that requires wireless transmission such as radio, television, wireless, satellite, even microphones have different frequencies upon which they operate, generally licensed to them by the Federal government. The UHF spectrum where most television can be found is ideal for the growing demands of smartphones and tablets, and the demand is increasing dramatically.

In a process that will begin this fall, the FCC will ask broadcasters to relinquish their space in the spectrum in exchange for money. The spectrum obtained in this auction will then be sold to wireless providers, increasing their capacity to provide wireless and broadband services that are increasingly demanded by consumers and businesses.

Because this slice of the spectrum is in such high demand, broadcasters are facing a potential windfall. And while it might sound tempting to “take the money and run” this decision can’t be undone. Once a station relinquishes their broadcast license, that’s it.

There are several scenarios in the auction other than selling. A broadcaster could “channel share” with someone else (split the signal with another station in the same market), they could shift to a new location on the VHF sector of the spectrum, or they could do nothing.  There are arguments for and against each of these options, and KLRU has established a task force of its Board to look at the options.

So where does this leave the viewer? The biggest impact would be felt by those who watch television over-the-air. They could potentially lose reception from stations they once received or stations could disappear entirely. Broadcasters may continue to produce content and serve online and cable/satellite audiences, but they could choose to discontinue “broadcasting” over the air.

Later this Fall stations will start the auction process and indicate to the FCC their interest in participation. The auction is slated to begin in late March 2016 and could take weeks or months to complete.

Regardless of participation, stations may also be “repacked” which would result in channel reassignment and infrastructure costs.

At the heart of KLRU’s deliberations is a simple question: What is the best option to support public media in Central Texas, and especially our viewers, members, and others who have a stake in independent, high quality, educational programs?

KLRU is interested to hear your reaction and/or questions in this process. Please contact us at

KLRU receives grant to implement early learning partnerships

CPB and PBS Receive Ready To Learn Grant From the U.S. Department of Education; Project Includes Community-based Activities in Central Texas Through KLRU-TV, Austin PBS

CPB and PBS to Develop and Distribute Science and Literacy Content to Help Prepare Children for School; KLRU to Implement Early Learning Partnerships Locally to Support Low-income Families

Austin, TX, September 10, 2015 – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS have received a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. The grant will provide $19 million in year one of a five-year grant to fund CPB and PBS’ innovative science and literacy media initiative to support the learning needs of children in low-income communities. The grant will provide resources to 11 PBS stations, including KLRU, to implement local partnerships in underserved communities in Central Texas.

“KLRU is honored to be a part of CPB and PBS’ Ready To Learn-funded project,” said Bill Stotesbery, CEO of KLRU. “This grant will help KLRU continue to serve Central Texas-area families with high-quality early learning content and services to set them on the path for a successful future.”


Austin students included in PBS NewsHour Inaugural Student Reporting Lab Academy

Reporting labs

Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 10.11.00 AMTwo Austin students have been chosen to participate in the inaugural PBS Newshour Student Academy. Ben Root and Alex Trevino from Stephen F. Austin High School are among the 18 fellows selected by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (@reportinglabs) to participate in the first SRL Academy in Washington, D.C., this June and July. Middle and high school fellows will work alongside public media mentors to produce original news content. They also will help program leaders develop strategies to engage young people in news and current affairs and ensure that youth voices are active in the conversations about critical issues facing the nation.

Fellows were chosen by a selection committee composed of the Student Reporting Labs staff and teachers.

“The students are coming from all over the country to celebrate their amazing journalistic accomplishments and help us build an even better program,” said Leah Clapman, Managing Editor, Education. “Our shared mission is to create learning experiences that inspire young people to be active citizens and solution-seekers.”

The 2015 SRL Academy Class (in alphabetical order):

Georgie Abbey, Royal Oak High School
Annie Collick, Royal Oak High School
Isabel Evans, Philip’s Academy Charter School
John Fabella, Maui Waena Intermediate School
Chloe Golan, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High
Evan Gulock, Royal Oak High School
Alexander Lischak, Trumbull Career & Technical
Alex Maxwell, Judge Memorial Catholic High School
Sydney Payne, Carlsbad High School
Keenan Penn II, Fraser High School
Alizah Rizvi, Philip’s Academy Charter School
Ben Root, Stephen F. Austin High School
Jakira Smith, Free Spirit Media
Giel Marie Tolentino, Maui High School
Alex Trevino, Stephen F. Austin High School
Nicholas Weiss, Cedar Crest High School
Zoe Whitney, Maui High School
Erykah Williams, Vista PEAK Preparatory

To learn more about the students, please visit the official SRL Academy Tumblr.


KLRU congratulates Westlake HS Teacher Natalie Cannon!


Central Texas educators continue to garner national attention from PBS LearningMedia!

Natalie Cannon is the latest educator to be named a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. Natalie teaches various levels of Latin at Westlake HS in Eanes ISD, and co-sponsors The WHS Latin Club. Natalie began teaching middle school at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School before moving to Westlake High School, where she has now taught for six years. Her favorite part of her job is finding productive uses for modern technology in order to enliven an ancient language for her students.

Over the next year, Natalie will take part in a professional development program that will prepare her to extend her influence as a digital learning ambassador in her school and community.

Natalie’s favorite PBS LearningMedia resource: A Roman’s Eye View

PBS LearningMedia is PBS’ digital archive of 100,000+ educational assets made available to educators and the US public – for free! In Central Texas, over 7,000 educators have to date created LearningMedia accounts for use in their classrooms and for their own interests. Teachers can build and archive lessons incorporating digital media, and a new student feature allows their students to create and display storyboards to demonstrate their knowledge.

Check out Central Texas’ prior LearningMedia Digital Innovator, Julie Hildebrand, here


Straus Re-Elected House Speaker

Representative Joe Straus will return to his role as House Speaker after a landslide win over Representative Scott Turner.

Turner has worked over the past year to curry favor with conservatives in order to unseat Rep. Straus as Speaker.  It was a campaign that led Straus to make veiled comments about Turner’s efforts to turn fellow Republicans against him in the vote for Speaker.

“Leading up to this day, a small number sought to divide us with misleading and personal attacks,” Straus said after being sworn in as Speaker. “But you can not effectively govern this House by dividing it.”

Straus garnered 127 votes over Turner’s 19.  This is the first time since 1975 that the House has held a contested vote for the Speaker of the House.

American Graduate: New Data Shows Improved 9th Grade Retention Rates in Central Texas

On Sunday during PBS NewsHour, our KLRU News Brief is part of American Graduate. We spoke to our partners at E3 Alliance about new data, which shows improves rates of retention among Central Texas 9th graders.

The surge in retention between 9th and 10th grade is often referred to as a bubble. That means there is a jump in the amount of students held back compared to other school years. If students don’t get enough credits to move up with their class to 10th grade, they’re still considered 9th graders.

“We’ve seen a drop of about half of the retention rate in the last few years, and that’s incredibly important, because we’ve found those students that are retained in the 9th grade are 8 ½ times more likely to drop out as their peers who weren’t retained in 9th grade,” E3 Executive Director Susan Dawson told us.

We visited Eastside Memorial High School for E3′s data unveiling and spoke with two students about their experiences in school. Both said there are many factors holding back some of their peers.

“Some of the challenges would be like, families. Some parents have to work so kids have to stay home and watch the younger brothers and sisters, or they have work after school and get home and go to sleep to get up the next morning,” Eastside Memorial High School Junior Isaac Reyes told us. “I know some kids have dropped out, not because of work or family things, but like, they don’t see why they should have to come to school when it doesn’t relate to what they want to do. They don’t see the point in taking all these extra classes.”

Proponents of the recently enacted House Bill 5 say the students Isaac describes are exactly the ones the new graduation plan is designed to reach.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm. Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 



KLRU NewsBriefs: Austin’s Growing Muslim Community and a New Farm School

Muslim Prayer Meeting

On Saturday during PBS NewsHour we hear about Austin’s growing Muslim population. Muslims around the world marked the end of Ramadan this week with Eid al-Fitr. Thousands of worshipers gathered at the North Austin Event Center on Monday to pray and listen to a sermon. It was a huge turnout for the growing community in Austin, and next  year organizers are planning to move to an even bigger venue.

“Every year is more than we can handle,” Imam Islam Mossaad of the North Austin Community Center said Monday.

Imam Islam said that growth comes from immigrants from all over the world, as well as new converts.

“Muslims [are] spread out throughout the rest of the world, 1.5 billion Muslims, [and] in Austin that diversity is reflected. But also with the added touch of people who are Caucasian-American or African-American or Latino-American who are also coming into Islam,” Imam Islam said. “You have more than 80 different countries represented here today, probably more than that, but we are all also Americans at the same time and so we practice our faith here freely.”

On Sunday, our story is about Austin’s first ever farm school, opening this fall. Farmer Starter grew out of Farmshare Austin, a non-profit focused on educating Central Texans about farming and increasing access to organic, locally-grown food.

“It’s a very challenging business and this is a kind of challenging environment to do it in but we feel that local organic food is a human right and that people should have access to that kind of product and so we want to make sure that it’s widely available in our community,” Farmshare Austin Executive Director Taylor Cook said.

Enrolled students will live and work on the Farmer Starter farm, 10 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for six months. They will learn seed starting, harvesting, marketing, as well as financial and business planning, among other skills.

Farmshare Austin is currently trying to raise $50,000 in an Indiegogo campaign to fund construction and student scholarships. You can learn more about the school on their website.

KLRU NewsBriefs air locally on Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend starting at 6:30pm. 


KLRU NewsBriefs: E3 Alliance Central Texas Education Profile

Profile Explainer

This weekend during PBS NewsHour we talk to the E3 Alliance about their 2014 Central Texas Education Profile, an in-depth report of educational data covering trends and outcomes for the entire Central Texas region.

On Saturday, we talk to Susan Dawson, Executive Director of E3.

“We use [the data] to inform the community and inform better decision making around education, whether it’s for superintendents and school districts, business and community leaders, for nonprofits who work in the education space, policy makers, all of us throughout the region have different pieces of impact on the education space and it’s to inform that impact through objective data,” Dawson said.

Dawson told us Central Texas is unique because of the area’s rapid growth. Texas has the fastest growing student population of all 50 states in the country and Central Texas’ student population is growing at twice the state’s rate, and of that growth, low income students and English Language Learners are growing at twice that rate.

“So the students who we’re working hardest to help succeed are growing at twice the rate of the region which is already twice the rate of the fastest growing state in the entire country,” Dawson emphasized.

On Sunday, we talk to E3′s Director of Policy and Research, Shawn Thomas. Thomas explained some of this year’s findings regarding our region’s dropout rate.

“For the last decade, we’ve seen that our graduation rates for low income students were lower than graduation rates for low income students in the other urban areas across the state including Houston, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. But, this year we saw that change for the first time with our 2012 graduation rates,” Thomas said. “We do know that there’s a very strong relationship between attendance and graduation rates and we know that attendance patterns in our region have changed over the past few years as well.”

You can see the entire E3 Alliance Central Texas Education Profile on the organization’s website.

KLRU News Briefs air locally on Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend starting at 6:30pm.