Penny Jo Pullus began her KOOP tenure in 2018. She now hosts the Austin Artists Show and TeXchromosome. We spoke on September 21.
Michael A. Brown: Tell us about what you’ve done at the station in your four years and about your two current programs.
Penny Jo Pullus: My first show was TeXchromosome Radio, which features only international independent female artists. The goal is to create a measurable change in radio play for Women … to lift the female voice. Then I began volunteering on Reflections of Community Outreach (ROCO) with the Austin Artists Show, where I’m now the programmer of record. My partners on the Show are Christina Jackson and Erin Cornett. Other things I’ve done? Well, when Covid shut down our in-studio broadcasting, I trained many programmers in home-production techniques so they could help keep KOOP on the air … and we did!
MAB: On Austin Artists, many of your guests perform live in the studio … tell us about some of your favorite performances.
PJP: The Stone Wheels were my first live performance guests and that was super fun! During the pandemic, we couldn’t do live, but we did cool pre-records with musicians like Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, Sue Foley … the Canadian blues guitarist and singer … and the Apaches of Paris.
MAB: Your guests come from many different artistic realms besides music. Where and how do you find them?
PJP: We support a lot of artistic non-profits in all media and genres, and when they have events in and around Austin, we approach the people involved and invite them to be on Austin Artists. We also look for artists who are releasing new works and for shows coming up at local galleries. I also attend conferences where artists gather, and that’s very helpful in finding new and interesting guests.
MAB: When a guest’s art is visual, how do you and they convey the art in spoken-word radio?
PJP: One way is to show their work in social media so when we discuss it on the air, listeners can actually see the work too. We also tell where the artists’ work can be seen in person … which galleries, for example.
MAB: Beyond KOOP, your profile says you’re a “Singer Songwriter, Studio Session Vocalist, and Producer.” Share some stories please.
PJP: I’ve been a songwriter since I was a teenager and started recording when I was 20 years old. I put out two 45s! I’ve been “on the road” as a background singer with The Greezy Wheels and have done lots of studio work including for the John Bush Band. I have sung with Jimmy LaFave, Will Sexton, and Kevin Fowler. Plus, on Thursday nights for KOOP, I host live music at Opal Divine’s in Austin. Come check it out from 8-10pm!
MAB: You’re on KOOP’s Community Council. What sorts of initiatives is the Council pursuing nowadays?
PJP: There’s an ongoing Racial Justice initiative. We also are clarifying the definition of what a “cooperative” is, to assure that KOOP is abiding by all the rules for being a cooperative. We are actively approaching community organizations, inviting them to appear on KOOP and thereby advance their missions and KOOP’s, too. And we have a big important event on October 10 … the annual Community Open House at the station, where we encourage non-profits to join KOOP and to record a public service announcement (PSA) to spread the word via KOOP about their community efforts.
MAB: Finally, how about a sneak preview of upcoming shows?
PJP: On TeXchromosome, I’ll be interviewing the producer of the upcoming Outlaw Pride Music Fest, and one of the artists will perform live. On Austin Artists, Art in Public Spaces is coming up, as is Landmarks.org, whose SkySpace is re-opening soon, plus author Alice Embry.
You can enjoy Austin Artists with Penny Jo, plus Christina Jackson and Erin Cornett, every Monday at 1pm, and TeXchromosome on Thursdays at 11am.
Interview by Michael A. Brown