Blue Monday: Larry Monroe Retires from KUT
KUT News: Why are you retiring from KUT?
Larry Monroe: Well, I’m 68 years old, and I’ve been on the radio since I was 13. You know, there are various reasons other than that. But I’d rather not discuss them.
KUT News: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you whether your hours being reduced at KUT played a role in your decision to retire.
Monroe: I have no comment.
KUT News: Let me ask you this then. How does it feel to be moving on?
Monroe: It feels good. I’ve had a great career at KUT. I’ve accomplished of my early goals, which was to put Texas music on the radio and also provide a home for the blues, and I’ve been able to do that, so I’m satisfied with my career.
KUT News: What have people been saying to you since you’ve announced you are retiring?
Monroe: The response has been overwhelming, and most of them say, “Don’t go,” or “We want you back. We want you somewhere else,” so I know I’ve made an impact on the listening audience.
KUT News: What’s next for you?
Monroe: What’s next is to rest. I’ve been on the radio for a long time and I need to re-energize a bit. I’m going to take a trip up to the Midwest. My high school reunion, the 50th, is in mid-September, so I’m going to go to my old hometown and do some research on my autobiography by visiting the old stomping grounds. Then I’ll go up to Ann Arbor and spend a few weeks up there and do more research on my autobiography. I had a tumultuous career in Ann Arbor and Detroit. I want to look up some old friends and just remind myself of those eight years I spent in Michigan before coming to Texas in 1977, and just do the background that I need to do so I can continue to write my autobiography. I’ve been working on it for many years, and it’s time to wrap that up.
KUT News: What’s your hometown again?
Monroe: It’s Hartford City, Indiana, about 20 miles north of Muncie, which is where I went to college. I’m a 1967 graduate of Ball State University, and I have a degree in English, Radio & Television. I studied in broadcasting classes with David Letterman.
KUT News: Really? So you and David Letterman knew each other?
Monroe: Yeah. In fact I found a radio job, I guess I was about a junior. I got a job at a station in Greensburg, Indiana, down in the southern part of the state. I would work there in the summer, and during the school year I would drive down there and do some weekend shifts. The year after I graduated, Dave Letterman got that job. After Dave, that job was passed down to Ball State students who used it as a training ground.
KUT News: Interesting. I’m sure all this will be included in your autobiography. Any idea on when it will be available to the public?
Monroe: Let’s say this, I’ll try to have it out by my birthday, August 29, 2011.
KUT News: What’s your fondest memory of your career here at KUT.
Monroe: I couldn’t narrow it down to one fondest memory. There are just so many. I had Willie Nelson on live set on Easter sometime in the early 90s, ‘91 or something like that, and he and his band sang gospel songs live on the radio on Easter night for an hour and a half. That’s a fond memory. Sad memories include the day that Doug Sahm died. It was a Thursday and I had a Phil Music program that night. We found out at the staff meeting that afternoon that Doug had passed. I went home and gathered all my stuff together and went back to the station and did a tribute to Doug Sahm. Throughout the evening, people came in. Margaret Moser was the first to show up. She just heard it on the radio and had to come down and be part of it. I think my programs like that are very fond memories, like a tribute to Townes Van Zandt the day after he died. People knew that if I was doing a tribute to somebody, and they should be in the studio to be part of it, that they were welcome. I had an open door policy on things like that.
KUT News: What kind of show can people expect to hear tonight?
Monroe: I think they’ll hear what they hear every week on Blue Monday, and that’s a great blues program. Although tonight, I do expect to have a special guest: James Cotton, the legendary blues harmonica player. He was on Blue Monday on his birthday several years ago, and when he heard that tonight is my last program, he called and asked if he could come down and be with me on that last program. What more could I ask?
KUT News: Thanks for your time, Larry. Any parting comments?
Monroe: I just want to say something that an old friend of mine, Townes Van Zandt, said. When he talked about his song writing and his songs, he said, “All those songs are up there in the sky, and what I do is I pull them down and I write them.” I figured out that my job is to take those songs that people have written and made records of, and I put them on the radio, and I put them back out there in the sky so everybody can hear them.
The last episode of Blue Monday begins tonight at 8 on KUT 90.5