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24 March 2006

Austin American-Statesman Features Beal & KCLW

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"Good Country Air -- Old-time music, daily yodels, community news -- they're what endears KCLW-AM and its new owner to the town of Hamilton," says the headline in the Sunday Life & Arts section of the Austin American-Statesman. The newspaper's Patrick Beach took a drive up from Austin to hang out with the KCLW family, visit listeners and spend some time in the "good country air" and listen to the vintage programming of the classic country station.

The article covered the station's history, Lasting Value Chairman Meredith Beal's background and how he wound up in broadcasting after working at historic companies like Motown Records and Dell Computer Corporation. Beach was particulary intrigued with the novelty of a country/western station owned by a Black man who also happened to be Buddhist.

Beach was looking to do a story on a radio station in Texas that wasn't owned by a conglomerate and KCLW was referred by the Texas Association of Broadcasters as a good example of a small, independent station doing good community radio. The article paints a picture of a cozy community that loves its radio station and its programming, characterized by the music of legends like Patsy Kline, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard; broadcasts of high school sports and the most popular program, "The Trading Post."

"Pick up the phone and call radio station KCLW-AM. A very energetic guy named Kyle, possibly abuzz from not one but two Dr Peppers, will say, 'Good morning you're on the Trading Post,' and you're on the air, describing your stuff, giving out your phone number — sometimes just the last four digits is all you need — as he jots your items in a spiral notebook. This is how it happens at 11 a.m. every weekday, following Junior Brown's "Sugarfoot Rag" intro, on "The Trading Post,"" the article says.

"Improbably, quaintly and (not to condescend, but it must be noted) almost exotically, in an age of Clear Channel this and corporate consolidation that and overnight format overhauls, KCLW is a total and unreconstructed throwback. Like dozens of other small, independent or quasi-independent, low-budget operations in Texas, it's doing OK despite the competitive winds."

That's Kyle Phillips, 35, sitting in the studio, helping people sell their stuff, whipping out a cowbell for the Deal of the Day. His hair is long; his cap is backwards; his computer monitor has a photo of the drummer from Slipknot, the painfully heavy and hugely popular rock band from, of all places, Iowa. When "The Trading Post" calls slow, he gives utterance to a grave threat: "Don't make me put on my death metal CD. I'll do it." When Phillips hosts 'The Trading Post' weekday mornings, he never knows what treasure a listener will offer.

After Estelle Price offers up a box of sausage, KCLW disc jockey Kyle Phillips stops by her house to pick it up. She calls into his program 'The Trading Post' regularly and yodels.

The KCLW Band performing at FireFest 2006 (L-R) Carroll Parham on dolbro, Kyle Phillips on drums, Sammie Casey on vocals, Lonnie Chumney on guitar and Meredith Beal on bass guitar and harmonica.

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