KVET 98.1.png
Broadcast areaGreater Austin
Frequency98.1 MHz (HD Radio)
Branding98.1 K-VET
SubchannelsHD2: 1980s hits "103.1, Austin's 80s Station"
First air date
March 25, 1956; 66 years ago (1956-03-25) (as KHFI-FM at 98.3)
Former call signs
KHFI-FM (1956–1990)
Former frequencies
98.3 MHz (1956–1990)
Call sign meaning
Taken from KVET
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID62048
ERP49,800 watts
HAAT397 meters (1,302 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
30°19′23″N 97°48′00″W / 30.323°N 97.800°W / 30.323; -97.800
Translator(s)HD2: 103.1 K276EL (Austin)
Public license information
WebcastListen live (via iHeartRadio)
HD2: Listen live (via iHeartRadio)
HD2: 1031austin.iheart.com

KVET-FM (98.1 MHz, "98.1 K-VET") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Austin, Texas. It is owned by iHeartMedia and airs a country music radio format. KVET-FM shares studios and offices with other iHeart sister stations in the Penn Field complex in Austin's South Congress district (or "SoCo") near St. Edward's University. The transmitter is off Buckman Mountain Road in Austin, amid the towers of other local FM and TV stations.[1]

In Austin, iHeart owns two country stations. 100.7 KASE-FM plays mostly current and recent country hits, while KVET-FM mixes some 1980s, 90s and early 2000s titles among current and recent country songs.


Early years

James E. Moore, Jr., applied for a construction permit to build an FM radio station on 98.3 MHz in Austin on November 4, 1955. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted it 26 days later.[2] KHFI, the first FM station in Austin, went on the air on March 25, 1956, airing a classical music format.[3] The station originally broadcast with an effective radiated power (ERP) of just 700 watts.[2]

A year after building KHFI, Moore sold it to Roderick E. Kennedy,[2] who had been serving as the manager.[4] After changing the corporate name to Kennedy-Heard Features Inc. in 1960, Kennedy sold KHFI to the Southwest Republic Corporation in 1964. Southwest Republic, which Kennedy joined as vice president, then bought separately owned KASE (970 AM) and renamed that station as KHFI AM that November. Furthermore, the company was in the middle of constructing Austin's second television station, KHFI-TV channel 42.[5]

With the AM relaunched and the television station on the air, Southwest Republic relaunched KHFI-FM in November 1965. The station shed its classical format, shifted to more of an adult contemporary sound, and began FM stereo broadcasts.[6] A year later, KHFI-FM donated its classical music library to help start Austin's new noncommercial KMFA-FM 89.5.[7] Southwest Republic, owned by John Kingsbery, merged alongside concrete producer Featherlite Corporation into Kingstip, Inc., in 1971.[8]


In the mid-1970s, KHFI-FM switched to an album oriented rock format, the latest in a string of musical formats attempted at the station. It didn't work and fell far behind rock rival KLBJ-FM in the ratings. In early 1979, the format was jettisoned, and KHFI-FM became "Disco 98", capitalizing on the success of Saturday Night Fever and WKTU in New York City.[9] It was KHFI-FM's third format flip in a year.[10]

At the same time, KHFI-FM and its co-owned television station, which had now become KTVV on channel 36, were sold to LIN Broadcasting. LIN, however, had been required to divest one of the two properties within twelve months. It chose to retain the TV station.[11] Central Texas Broadcasting, a group headed by Dick Oppenheimer, acquired KHFI-FM in 1980. Oppenheimer's acquisition reunited KHFI-FM, now having shifted to Top 40 as "K-98", with the former KHFI AM, now religious KIXL, generating concerns that a format change was in the air.[12] The format never changed, and KHFI-FM established itself as a ratings leader in Austin during the first half of the 1980s, dueling with KASE-FM for the number one position.[13]

Signal upgrade

In 1986, Oppenheimer reached a deal to sell KHFI and KIXL, along with the remaining properties he owned, to Florida broadcaster George Duncan's Encore Communications in a $38 million transaction; $20 million of that was derived from the Austin duo, which set a market sale price record.[14] The timing could not have been worse for Duncan. That same year, a far more powerful station, KBTS, moved into the Austin market from Killeen. With 100,000 watts of signal power to K-98's 1,300, the station could not adequately compete.[15]

This prompted KHFI-FM to pursue a frequency change to 98.1 MHz and upgrade to 100,000 watts, which took place in April 1990.[15] The move-in of KBTS and other FM stations to the Austin market from surrounding areas, a decline in radio revenue and general declines in the value of radio properties meant that the next sale of KHFI-FM would set its own record. It was purchased for $5 million by Spur Capital, an Austin investment firm managed by Don Kuykendall, in 1990.[16] Industry publications heralded the transaction as representing the largest loss in the history of commercial radio in the United States; KHFI-FM had sold for one-fourth what it was worth in 1986.[16]


Before the Spur Capital purchase was announced, two rumors were flying at KHFI-FM: that the station had been sold for a shockingly low $5 million and that it would flip to a country music format. For eight hours on April Fools' Day, the station stunted as a new country outlet. It was branded as "The Rooster", which station morning host Kevin Connor called "a salute to the people forecasting our demise".[17]

At the same time as Spur purchased KHFI-FM, two other events were occurring in Austin radio. Butler Broadcasting, the owner of country KVET (1300 AM), was seeking a place to move that station's format to the FM band. But Butler already owned KASE-FM 100.7, the city's dominant country station. The company could not own another FM frequency. Meanwhile, at 96.7 MHz, oldies station KQFX was being sold. Both were instrumental in what happened next. In the second ever local marketing agreement (LMA) in radio—the first having been drawn up by Kuykendall in Jackson, Mississippi—Spur leased the FM's air time to KVET.[18] With that move, KVET began simulcasting on FM. Meanwhile, Joyner Communications, the new owner of KQFX, fired its airstaff and took on the entire KHFI-FM intellectual unit and Top 40 format.[19]

Running two country stations

KVET believed that Austin could support two country music stations, citing the example of other Texas markets. The music mix was differentiated: KASE was more contemporary while KVET-FM was more traditional than its stablemate.[20]

Coinciding with the beginning of the FM simulcast, that station's existing morning show was blown up and a new team of Sammy Allred and Bob Cole instituted.[21] It turned out to be a profitable bet. By 1994, KVET-FM was the fifth-rated station in town.[13] The AM station, in turn, was shifting to a talk radio format. By late 1994, the morning show was the only offering simulcast on both frequencies.[22][23] In 1995, after the FCC legalized broadcast duopolies, Butler purchased KVET-FM outright for $5 million.[24]

Capstar acquisition

At the end of 1997, Capstar Broadcasting purchased KVET, KVET-FM and KASE for $90 million.[25] Capstar would later merge into San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications, the forerunner to current owner iHeartMedia, Inc.

In May 2007, morning show host Sammy Allred was suspended after calling presidential candidate Barack Obama a "clean darky", in response to Sen. Joseph Biden's comments about Obama.[26] He was fired on October 30, 2007, for apparently swearing on-air, calling a listener an "a-hole."[27] Allred's firing came just three days after afternoon host Janice Williams was terminated for budgetary reasons.

HD Radio

Initially, the 103.1 K276EL translator station broadcast the "Air 1" Contemporary Christian music network from the Educational Media Foundation, which owned the translator and needed an originating HD Radio subchannel to feed the format. When Clear Channel began leasing the translator, Air 1 was dropped in favor of a simulcast of co-owned sports station KVET. The simulcast lasted until 3 p.m. on May 8, 2012, when a rhythmic adult contemporary format was launched as "Jammin' 103.1."[28]

On March 7, 2013, at 3 p.m., after playing "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order, KVET-HD2 and K276EL flipped to "iHeart Austin", which was intended as a temporary "pop-up format" dedicated to the South by Southwest festivals.[29] The translator station aired coverage of the festival and featured music by artists playing there. The playlist consisted of a diverse mix of newer and past favorites of alternative rock, indie rock, punk rock and new wave, as well as some hip-hop and EDM tracks. It was originally intended to run through the end of the festival on March 17, with the "Jammin'" format returning to the frequency, but Clear Channel management decided to continue the format after the end of SXSW.[30][31]

After the festival, the subchannel began airing Premium Choice's "Alt Project" feed (except during subsequent festivals, when local programming returned). On May 23, 2017, at 10 a.m., after playing "Fell on Black Days" by Soundgarden, KVET-HD2/K276EL switched to a Spanish CHR format, branded as "Tú 103.1"; The first song on "Tú" was "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.[32] This format was dropped on August 26, 2019, and the KVET (AM) simulcast restored.

On August 27, 2021, at 4 p.m., almost exactly two years to the day after restoring the KVET simulcast, the station and the HD2 signal dropped the simulcast once again, this time flipping to a 1980s hits format as "103.1, Austin's 80s Station". With the flip, the station would also bring longtime Austin morning personality Sandy McIlree’s syndicated “The Sandy Show”, hosted by McIlree and his wife Tricia, to the market. McIlree is best known for his long run co-hosting mornings at KAMX with JB Hager from 1995 to 2013.[33]

Broadcast translators of KVET-HD2
Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility
(m (ft))
Class Transmitter coordinates FCC info
K276EL 103.1 Austin, Texas 140611 250 364.8 m (1,197 ft) D 30°19′24″N 97°48′00″W / 30.32333°N 97.80000°W / 30.32333; -97.80000 FCC LMS


  1. ^ Radio-Locator.com/KVET-FM
  2. ^ a b c FCC History Cards for KVET-FM
  3. ^ "High Fidelity Broadcast Begins Today on 98.3". Austin American-Statesman. March 25, 1956. p. D2. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  4. ^ "Promoted". The Austin American. April 3, 1957. p. A10. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  5. ^ "Station Changes Tomorrow". Austin American-Statesman. November 7, 1964. p. 12. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Bustin, John (October 21, 1965). "KHFI-FM Drops Classical Program For 'New Image'". The Austin American. p. A49. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  7. ^ Bustin, John (November 30, 1966). "New FM Program Director Named". The Austin Statesman. p. A44. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "Two Austin Firms Complete Merger". The Austin American. September 22, 1971. p. 26. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  9. ^ Frolik, Joe (February 9, 1979). "How DJ's became 'losers of the day'". Austin American-Statesman. pp. D1, D7. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  10. ^ Frolik, Joe (February 5, 1979). "2 disc jockeys resign after KHFI goes disco". Austin American-Statesman. p. B1. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  11. ^ "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 7, 1980. p. 94. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  12. ^ BeSaw, Larry (July 25, 1980). "Station changes ownership: Hard feelings rock old DJs". Austin American-Statesman. p. B2. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Duncan, James (2004). "Austin" (PDF). An American Radio Trilogy, 1971–2004. Retrieved May 5, 2021 – via World Radio History.
  14. ^ Herndon, John (October 15, 1986). "Owner sells K-98, other radio stations". Austin American-Statesman. p. D1. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Herndon, John (April 26, 1990). "Local talk shows not idle chitchat". Austin American-Statesman. p. Onward 17. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Herndon, John (May 16, 1990). "K-98 station sale called largest loss in radio history". Austin American-Statesman. pp. B5, B6. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  17. ^ Herndon, John (April 8, 1990). "The joke's on the stations in April Fools' flops". Austin American-Statesman. p. Show World 3. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  18. ^ "Austin radio stations mixing signals in rare deal". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Associated Press. September 7, 1990. p. 14.
  19. ^ "Austin's Flip-Flop Formats" (PDF). Radio & Records. September 14, 1990. p. 58. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  20. ^ Herndon, John (September 13, 1990). "Some bad news for listeners: Simulcasting only benefits broadcasters". Austin American-Statesman. p. Onward 17. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  21. ^ Herndon, John (September 20, 1990). "Merry-go-round on the FM dial". Austin American-Statesman. p. Onward 17. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  22. ^ Herndon, John (November 18, 1993). "New call-in show sports Jeff Ward". Austin American-Statesman. p. Onward 17. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  23. ^ Herndon, John (February 2, 1995). "Country still king of Austin airwaves in fall ratings". Austin American-Statesman. p. XL ent. 30. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  24. ^ Golz, Earl; Herndon, John (February 10, 1995). "KVET Broadcasting purchases KVET-FM". Austin American-Statesman. p. D7. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  25. ^ Patterson, Rob (January 1, 1998). "A year of sailing the airwaves". Austin American-Statesman. p. XL ent. 20. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  26. ^ Williams, Jackson (March 3, 2007). "Racism On The Radio Toward Barack Obama". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  27. ^ "KVET's Allred Appears Fired This Time". AllAccess.com. October 31, 2007. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  28. ^ Venta, Lance (May 8, 2012). "Austin Gets Jammin'". RadioInsight. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  29. ^ "Live from Austin, it's SXSW Radio". Inside Radio. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  30. ^ Venta, Lance (March 7, 2013). "Clear Channel Launches SXSW Micro Format In Austin". RadioInsight. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  31. ^ "103.1 iHeartAustin Pop-Up Outlet Becomes Permanent". Radio Online. March 29, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  32. ^ "iHeartMedia Launches Tú 103.1 Austin". RadioInsight. May 23, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  33. ^ Venta, Lance (August 27, 2021). "iHeartMedia Launches Austin's 80s Station". RadioInsight. Retrieved October 17, 2021.