Marc Fort Does KOOP, Music, Community, and Service

Posted on: April 1, 2023
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Marc hosts a show, serves on KOOP’s Board of Directors, plays in numerous bands, speaks at major music events, advises ACC’s School of Music Business, and is employed by the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. We spoke on March 19.

Michael A. Brown: Please tell us about your music activities at KOOP.
Marc Fort: I started volunteering at KOOP about 4-5 years ago as an apprentice with Scott Gardner on his Stronger Than Dirt show. I was a long-time KOOP listener and really wanted to learn from Scott about garage rock and underground 60’s, 70’s and ‘80s music. After programmer’s training, I started my own show, Ear Candy 2.0. It’s an homage to a previous show called Ear Candy that featured music that I love, like indie pop. But I also wanted to include other genres and music from around the world, which I do. Part of the new direction was inspired by former KOOP DJ “Magic,” and included ‘70s soul music like he played, along with rare ‘60s soul music. That provided both musical continuity (since I’m in Magic’s old drive-time slot on Mondays) and a fresh spin too.

MAB: Which show episodes and guests have been among your favorites?
MF: Before the pandemic, I had a lot of guests in the studio for “guest selector” sessions, where the guest picks the music. I interviewed them and asked why the particular music was important to them. Austinite Kathy Valentine, the bassist from the Go-Go’s, was a guest and she was amazing. Another Austinite, Gerard Cosloy of Matador Records, came in and played great music. We had the influential punk rock drummer Rey Washam from the band Scratch Acid. He was fun and humble as he talked about his musical accomplishments, which I really enjoyed.

MAB: You’ve performed with more than 10 bands over 30 years. Talk about some memorable experiences.
MF: I was an English major at UT focusing on creative writing when I also began playing bass guitar. I have been fortunate to perform with very talented musicians who always wanted to play music as their career. Joining with these ambitious musicians has been a great ride. In the early ‘90’s, I enjoyed playing with a punk rock band called the (Expletive)Emos. I got to tour nationally with indie rock band Shotzi. Got to play with some of my other musical heroes in venues from 10,000-seat arenas to tiny punk rock pizza parlors.

MAB: As a member of KOOP’s Board of Directors, what have you found most frustrating and most gratifying?
MF: Being on the Board has been a great learning experience. One of the toughest parts is that we are a cooperative, which means that every member has to be invested in the Board’s vision. It requires lots of patience. It reminds me of jobs I’ve had in local and state governments, where everything is designed to move very slowly. Sometimes you want to get things done very fast, but slow and deliberate is the way a cooperative works. The aspects I’ve enjoyed most are setting a vision for the future of growth, increasing development and fundraising, and making sure KOOP’s membership and programs reflect the diversity of our Austin community.

MAB: As KOOP continues diversity and inclusion efforts, how do you personally perceive the station is doing in attracting diverse volunteers and members and offering diverse programming? And what else might you like to see?
MF: Austin’s history has been problematic in representation of its diverse communities in both our commercial and non-commercial media. There’s still a lot of work to be done to get the word out into the various communities that KOOP offers a great opportunity to participate in our broadcasting and our diversity and inclusion efforts. That may have to include door-knocking as in a political campaign to contact, inform, and influence both old and new Austinites about KOOP as a place for everyone. All that said, KOOP is doing an amazing job in terms of diverse programs … Latin and Andean music, Black music both African-American and African, Reggae, plus all sorts of news and information shows.

MAB: Besides KOOP, you are active with ACC’s School of Music Business and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Please bring us up-to-date on both of those.
MF: ACC’s program and course offerings are better than ever. They have expanded at their Highland Mall campus and now have perhaps the best recording studio in Austin. HAAM is on track to serve more Austin musicians this year than ever before. We have moved into a new building on South 1st Street, with staff space of course and also meeting space where musicians can congregate, communicate, and learn about health services.

MAB: What’s coming up on the next couple Ear Candy 2.0 shows?
MF: We’ll continue to celebrate Women’s History Month throughout March. And now that we’re in a “new normal” place with Covid, I look forward to bringing guests back into the studio. I have a lot of interesting, talented musicians and music industry people lined up. So stay tuned!

You can enjoy Marc Fort’s Ear Candy 2.0 show every Monday from 4:30 – 6:00pm.

Interview by Michael A. Brown