Longtime KUT-KUTX airline personality John Aielli dies at 76

Longtime KUT-KUTX airline personality John Aielli dies at 76

Jean Aielli

Longtime KUT and KUTX/Austin radio personality John Aielli died on Sunday. He was 76 years old. Aielli began his career at KUT 90.5 in September 1966 as a part-time announcer between classical plays. With his encyclopedic knowledge of classical music, he quickly programs the music himself. In 1970, its time slot was named “Eklektikos” inspired by the Greek word eklektos, meaning chosen from among the best. Until 2013, KUT was a dual news and music service, expanding its music programming to KUTX 98.9.

“John was an Austin treasure and an indelible part of so many lives here in Austin. His unique perspective on the world made being with John a joy,” said KUTX Program Director Matt Reilly. “Our lives are less interesting with him gone. God quick, we love you John, and we’ll always remember you with a smile on our faces.”

“He was such a joy to work with and so important to what the stations have become,” KUT and KUTX General Manager Debbie Hiott said in a message to staff.

Beloved of Austinites, Aielli and “Eklektikos” have won 15 “Austin Chronicle” “Best of” awards since 1990. There was even a tribute Twitter account @ShitJohnAielliSays and a popular hashtag #ShitJohnAielliSays that collected some of the one-liners for which he was famous.

In 2016, the station marked Aielli’s 50th birthday on the air with a year-long celebration that included a community concert and a special thank-you gift during membership drives – a bobble head from John Aielli.

While celebrating his 50th birthday, Aielli said, “I’m curious by nature. I love talking to people and observing things about life, so radio is a wonderful medium. And being the guy who can talk behind the microphone – it’s a privilege and a challenge.”

His interviews over the past 50 years have included musicians Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Phillip Glass, Chris Isaak, Graham Nash, Pepe Romero, Rufus Wainwright and diva, soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf; writers Michael Chabon, James Ellroy, Jonathan Saffron Foer, Richard Ford, Alan Furst, Sebastian Junger, Dan Rather, and Colm Tóibín; actor Matthew McConaughey; and yoga master Swami Satchidananda, founder of integral yoga.

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