KUT » ATXplained

KUT » ATXplained

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Answers to some of Austin’s most puzzling questions


Why Do Lifeguards At Austin’s City Pools Blow Their Whistles At Break Time Like That?
Aug 12 • 7 min
Madeline Fening heard the break whistle at Austin city pools and just had to know why it was so dramatic.
Who Is This Woman Who Helps Older Austinites Stay Socially Connected?
Aug 8 • 7 min
The aging population is growing fast in Austin. So Becky Rhodes said we should meet a couple trying to keep seniors active in the community.
Who Cleans Up The Bat Guano Under The Congress Avenue Bridge?
Aug 6 • 6 min
Catherine Samuel was curious about where the guano goes and who cleans it up, so she asked about it for our ATXplained project.
Why Are There No Billboards On MoPac?
Jul 26 • 6 min
Billboards are all over I-35 — but not MoPac and a few other freeways in Austin. Why not?
Why Does The Top Of Austin’s Tallest Building Look ‘Unfinished’?
Jul 12 • 13 min
Everyone’s an architecture critic. But why does the crown on “The Independent” look the way it does?
Who Is That Guy With The ‘Giant Bird’ In South Austin?
Jul 10 • 9 min
In our latest, “Hi, Who Are You?” story, we hear the story of a man and his bird — and the family that wanted to meet them.
Answering the Unanswerable With KUTX’s John Aielli — Episode 1
Jun 24 • 2 min
We get a lot of questions for ATXplained that don’t really have answers. So KUT’s Andrew Weber put some of those to longtime KUT/X host John Aielli.
Who Is The Man In Southwest Austin Who Fostered Over 100 Babies With His Wife?
Jun 19 • 9 min
For the next episode in our Hi, Who Are You? series, KUT’s Nadia Hamdan introduces us to Burrell W. Lankford.
Why Is Austin’s ‘Official’ Pride Festival In August — And Not June, Like Most Everyone Else’s?
Jun 17 • 7 min
June is when many places celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. So why doesn’t Austin?
Who Is The Motorcycle Rider Who Does Wheelies Around Town In Pool Floaties?
Jun 12 • 8 min
The second in our Hi, Who Are You? series. A low-speed chase. Revving engines. Inflatable flamingoes.
Who’s That Krispy Kreme Employee Who’s So Positive All The Time?
Jun 12 • 7 min
In the first episode of our spin-off series, Hi, Who Are You?, we meet Sylvester Myers. This piece was produced by KUT’s Nathan Bernier.
What’s The Real Story Behind Dan’s Hamburgers And Fran’s Hamburgers?
May 28 • 9 min
Their signs looked oddly similar. The names were pretty darn close, too. Is the origin of Dan’s and Fran’s an urban legend?
People Keep Moving To Austin. But Where Are They Coming From?
May 16 • 6 min
About 145 people moved to Austin each day last year. Where did they move from?
How Did Texas Become The Only State With Its Own Toast?
May 9 • 9 min
It started almost 80 years ago, with a restaurant and some too-thick bread.
How Do Musicians Make The Cut For The Austin City Limits TV Series?
May 1 • 6 min
Go behind the scenes at KLRU’s Austin City Limits TV show to find out how they pick their artists — how little they get paid. MORE HERE.
Who Is The Crossing Guard Who Waves To Everyone Near Mendez Middle School?
Apr 3 • 8 min
Are there people in your life that you see all the time, but have never stopped to meet?
What Ever Happened To Austin’s ‘Spamarama’?
Mar 14 • 13 min
The spiced ham product was the centerpiece of this longtime festival. For a time, the event was insanely popular — so what why did it go away?
So, About The Origin Of ‘The Live Music Capital Of The World’… We Were Wrong. Here’s The Real Story.
Mar 11 • 11 min
OK, now we have the definitive story of Austin’s official nickname (we think).
The Last Man On Rainey Street
Feb 14 • 10 min
The families who once lived on Rainey Street all left. One man is still there.
Who Were The Streets In This North Austin Neighborhood Named After?
Jan 17 • 5 min
Who were Miranda, Esther, Lisa and Rufus?
Why Is MoPac Traffic So Much Worse In The Afternoon Than In The Morning?
Jan 9 • 5 min
Does it really take longer to get home in the afternoon than to get to work in the morning?
When Can You Call Yourself A Real Austinite? Y’all Had Some Ideas.
Dec 18, 2018 • 12 min
Maybe being an Austinite is more than a checklist. SUBSCRIBE on iTunes or RSS
Who Are Those People Who Ride Horses Around Downtown Austin?
Dec 12, 2018 • 8 min
Sometimes you can find people riding horses on the streets of Austin. We went for a ride with one of them. SUBSCRIBE: iTunes RSS
Why Is Austin’s Foliage So Amazing This Fall?
Nov 28, 2018 • 5 min
Mose Buchele takes a walk with our question-asker to learn the science behind this fall’s colorful trees.
TELL US: When Can You Call Yourself A “Real” Austinite?
Nov 27, 2018 • 4 min
What are the experiences that bind Austinites together? Send us your answer at ATXplained.org or call/text to 737-443-9466 or email us at [email protected]
Why Are There So Few Homes With Basements Around Austin?
Oct 18, 2018 • 8 min
Basements are common in other parts of the country. So why not here? Is it the rock? The flooding? Nope.
What Ever Happened To Austin’s Long-Running Aqua Fest?
Oct 4, 2018 • 7 min
For decades, Aqua Fest was an annual celebration in Austin. Then, it stopped. One ATXplained listener wanted to know why.
We’re Doing A Live Show! Come Be A Part Of It!
Aug 24, 2018 • 1 min
Join us on Friday, September 21 at 7 p.m. at the Texas Union Theater on the UT campus. Details and tickets (they’re free) are right here.
How Did These Tropical Fish Wind Up Thriving In Austin’s Waller Creek? 🐠
Jun 27, 2018 • 6 min
An Austin creek is home to a wild population of platyfish, known worldwide as colorful, affordable pet-store species. But they jumped the tank as early as 2004.
Why Are You Not Allowed To Swim In Lady Bird Lake?
Jun 14, 2018 • 9 min
You can canoe, kayak, paddleboard — but don’t get in the water. Why not? MORE HERE
Is It Bee Cave Or Bee Caves? And Where Are The Bees? 🐝
May 30, 2018 • 7 min
It’s a question that’s vexed people for years. But were there ever any bees?
What’s The History Behind That Bell Tower On Cesar Chavez?
May 23, 2018 • 9 min
At the end of Colorado Street on the north bank of Lady Bird Lake stands a six-story brick tower. So what’s it there for?
What’s That Weird-Looking Tower Up On 51st Street?
May 11, 2018 • 7 min
Water tower? Government conspiracy? KUT’s Joseph Leahy investigates.
What’s The Difference Between Ranch-To-Market And Farm-To-Market Roads?
May 4, 2018 • 7 min
RM? FM? Do they even go to farms or ranches? You can read more here.
What’s The Story With This Tiny Cemetery In The Highway Median?
Apr 24, 2018 • 13 min
Out by the Austin airport, there’s a tiny cemetery in a huge construction site. Who’s buried there? What will become of it? See more here.
What’s The Story Behind The Different Tags On Trees Around Austin?
Apr 20, 2018 • 8 min
You can’t not notice the trees that line the paths on Austin’s many hike and bike trails. But have you ever noticed a fair amount of them are numbered?
Why Do So Many Self-Storage Places Keep Popping Up In Austin?
Apr 11, 2018 • 6 min
It seems like they’re everywhere: Self-storage facilities. Why are there so many being built in Austin?
Can You Get A Refund If The MoPac Toll Lanes Aren’t Moving At 45 MPH?
Apr 4, 2018 • 7 min
The operators of the MoPac tolls lanes say the “goal” is 45 mph — so what happens if it doesn’t meet that goal?
Why Is The Map On The Floor Of The Austin Airport Full Of Misspellings?
Mar 8, 2018 • 10 min
It looks like Austin…but the streets are all spelled wrong. Why?
Who’s That Distinctly Texan Voice Behind The Crosswalk Signals Around Austin?
Mar 1, 2018 • 7 min
You might have heard that twang beckoning you across the street. Meet the real-life person behind the walk signal.
Raiders of the Lost Archive: Is This Building Off Shoal Creek A Top-Secret Warehouse?
Feb 22, 2018 • 9 min
What really happens inside this government facility in Central Austin?
Is It Really Legal To Walk Down The Street With A Beer In Austin Neighborhoods?
Feb 14, 2018 • 9 min
Colter Sonneville had a hunch that it might be legal to walk down the street with an open beer in most of Austin’s residential neighborhoods. It started when he noticed some big signs around Chicon and East Cesar Chavez streets.
Dan Is Moving To Austin. He Asked Us For Book Recommendations. You Had Plenty.
Feb 6, 2018 • 8 min
We got almost 200 recommendations when we asked for your favorite books about Austin and/or Texas. Here are but a few of the ones you sent in.
What Are Capitol View Corridors?
Feb 1, 2018 • 7 min
State and city efforts to preserve views of the Texas Capitol have led to some oddly-shaped buildings in downtown Austin.
How Do Emergency Alert Systems Work In Austin?
Jan 24, 2018 • 7 min
The story behind that annoying weekly test of the Emergency Alert System.
Why Was I-35 Designed As A Double-Decker Through Central Austin?
Jan 18, 2018 • 8 min
Interstate Highway 35 is many things to many people. It is a vital thoroughfare for commerce and shipping. It is also an economic and social barrier through much of Austin. And nearly from its construction, it has been a source of frustration for drivers…
Who Started Decorating The Loop 360 Christmas Trees? 🎄
Jan 9, 2018 • 8 min
People have strong opinions about the custom. Some say it’s a heartwarming expression of holiday spirit; others consider it a flagrant violation of Texas’ anti-littering laws. But one thing no one really knows is how the tradition got started. See more…
What’s Up With The ‘Doors To Nowhere’ At Austin’s New Central Library?
Jan 3, 2018 • 7 min
There’s a new building in Austin that’s drawing a lot of attention. And there are a couple of doors — yes, doors — in that building that are getting some funny looks. Several people asked about them for our ATXplained project. KUT’s Audrey McGlinchy…
Why Does This Big Metal Flower In Patterson Park Open And Close?
Nov 29, 2017 • 8 min
This is a story about feelings. And how you translate those feelings into something real. Read more.
What’s The Deal With The Abandoned Home Depot On St. John’s?
Oct 26, 2017 • 6 min
The city bought this property 8 years ago, but since then, it’s just been vacant.
Is It Legal To Post Homemade ‘No Parking’ Signs In Front Of Your House?
Oct 18, 2017 • 6 min
They’re all over town: printed or painted signs in someone’s yard, telling drivers not to park in front of a house. But do they mean anything?
Why Aren’t West Lake Hills, Sunset Valley And Rollingwood Part Of Austin?
Sep 20, 2017 • 9 min
There’s a bunch of island cities in South Austin. How did it get that way?
What Happened to First Street?
Aug 24, 2017 • 6 min
There’s no First Street where you’d think it would be. But there is one where you wouldn’t think.
Why Are There So Many Mattress Stores In Austin? 🛏
Aug 8, 2017 • 7 min
You’re standing in a mattress store. Right across the street are two more mattress stores.
Why Is Hippie Hollow Clothing-Optional?
Jul 31, 2017 • 11 min
Everyone knows you go to Hippie Hollow to skinny dip. But how did it get that way?
What The Heck Are Those Blue Panels Along The Lamar Underpass?
Jun 29, 2017 • 8 min
When you’re driving down Lamar Boulevard between Lady Bird Lake and Fifth Street, do you ever look at the walls of the underpass beneath the train bridge? Do you look at those blank blue signs on the walls of the underpass and wonder: What the heck are…
What’s Up With Those Handmade ‘We Buy Houses’ Signs Around Austin?
Jun 1, 2017 • 7 min
You’ve probably seen them while driving around town –- those handwritten signs next to the road with messages like: “We buy houses for cash! Call now!” What are they about, and why?
Were There Convicts On Convict Hill?
May 11, 2017 • 9 min
In 1881, the first Texas Capitol building burned to the ground, and leaders set about building a new one. They wanted to use local materials, including limestone from a quarry in Oatmanville – the area now known as Oak Hill – so they built a 6-mile…
The History, Mystery and Misery of MoPac
Jan 13, 2017 • 16 min
The glorified parking lot known, at least officially, as Loop 1 has given many a driver plenty of time to ponder its quirks while stuck in traffic.
Why Are There So Many Crickets Around Austin This Time of Year?
Oct 13, 2016 • 8 min
Every year they invade Austin in loud swarms – eating, drinking, mating. No, it’s not the throngs of ACL or South by Southwest. We’re talking about the crickets.
Why Does It Take So Long to Get Anything Built in Austin?
Sep 28, 2016 • 6 min
Austin residents are no strangers to orange cones dotting the highways or construction cranes in the sky. But one KUT listener wondered: Why does it take so long to get anything built around here?
🎼How Did Austin Become the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’? 🎶
Sep 21, 2016 • 8 min
Regardless of what you think of Austin calling itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” you’ve got to admit it is pretty effective branding. Even people who don’t like music, and who’ve never been here, equate the city with a vibrant scene.
Why Are Grocery Stores So Hot for Hatch Chile Peppers? 🌶
Aug 24, 2016 • 9 min
Austin’s love affair with Hatch chile peppers comes and goes every August. Did you ever wonder why grocery stores get so excited about Hatch?
Is Austin Still Keeping It Weird?
Jul 28, 2016 • 10 min
“Keep Austin Weird.” The phrase is printed on T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters; it’s part of Austin’s national reputation. But, it seems that for every pocket of weird, there’s a new corporate chain from California moving in.
What Happens To Austin’s Recycling? ♻️
May 26, 2016 • 10 min
Many people think of recycling as somehow both mundane and mysterious. So, we followed a 12-ounce can of Coke.
Everything You Wanted To Know About Grackles
Mar 31, 2016 • 14 min
They’re annoying. They’re mean. They’re filthy. But we love to hate them.
What’s the Story Behind the ‘Fair Sailing Tall Boy’ Memorial?
Mar 11, 2016 • 13 min
You’ve probably seen this memorial if you’ve ever driven on Lamar Blvd in Austin. It’s right there, on the pillar holding up the train bridge where Third Street crosses Lamar. It says: “Fair Sailing Tall Boy. Ivan Garth Johnson. Not forgotten. 1971 –…
Why Aren’t Austin’s Stoplights Synchronized? Actually, They Are. 😕
Feb 17, 2016 • 8 min
Imagine you’re cruising in a sea of green.
Why Is Austin’s African-American Population Declining?
Jan 27, 2016 • 11 min
In the first episode of our ATXplained podcast, we explore the factors behind Austin’s declining African-American population.