KUT Photo Session

The Belo New Media Center on the U.T. campus: new home to KUT radio.

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012 we loaded up the family and headed back to the KUT radio studios on the campus of the University of Texas in downtown Austin.  KUT radio had contacted me about shooting a family photo to post on their website along with the transcript of our audio recording session that we’d recorded with them back in March (related story here).  We arrived shortly after 8 AM at their brand new facility, the Belo New Media Center, which is located right across the street from the old communications building where their former studios had still been housed only 3 weeks prior.  Kelly, the KUT intern who had contacted me to set-up the photo shoot, greeted us out front.  We met the photographer and went out in front of the building for some quick shots.

Afterward we went back inside to meet with Emily Donahue, the News Director for KUT radio.  She has been hard at work editing interviews with 100 individuals for this special KUT radio program about the wildfires.  Emily said that 59 of those 100 interviews will be featured in the final program (there’s only so many interviews you can fit in an hour-long program).  Apparently our story is featured in the second segment of the program.All of the interviews, including ours, will be transcribed and available online through the KUT website, accompanied by a family photo and any related photos.

Emily wanted to do a quick addendum to our interview, to provide more of an update or closing to our story, so she asked if we’d be willing to answer a couple of more questions on tape for the program.  We were happy to do so and got the opportunity to use one of the new interview recording booths.

Tracy and the boys waiting in the new News Rooms at KUT.

Emily then took us on a quick tour of the new facilities.  When we had come to KUT for the main audio recording session we had been in the original building across the street.  But today we were fortunate to be able to explore the new home of KUT in the Belo New Media building.  Emily said they had moved in only about 3 weeks ago.

One of my favorite rooms to visit was the music archive for the producers.  This room had a wall full of CDs of great music.  Despite having it all digitized Emily said the producers couldn’t part with many of the original recordings.  I can’t blame them.  It looked like a treasure trove of great music.

Producer’s Room and Music Archive.

Ben and Matthew really enjoyed being able to see the recording studio where bands and musicians are featured on KUT.  The studio is very nice with a great “dead” sound to it.  It even features remote-controlled cameras for video feeds direct from the studio.

KUT Music Recording Studio

Matthew lit up when he could see Ben in the studio on one of the monitors in the control room.  He thought that was so cool!  It reminded me of my old Concordia days when I was a staff producer in the video studio and we would have kids from St. Paul Lutheran School come over for occasional tours.  They always loved to see themselves on camera.  It was like magic!  They would just light up!  It brought back some old memories to see Ben and Matt respond just as wondrously as though kids did.  And it was encouraging to know that – despite the years and the advances in technology – my kids are not immune to seeing the “magic” in just being on-camera.

Matthew sees Ben on-screen.

The hour-long program is scheduled to air on the one year anniversary of the Bastrop wildfire, on September 4, 2012 on KUT and will also be available online.  Apparently our story is featured in the second segment of the program. I’ll update with links once they are made available.

Peeking through the window into the KUT recording studio. Note the touches of nostaglia with the old school mic and guitar picks. Great stuff.


Wildfire Website

Just wanted to pass along this link to a routinely updated website on wildfires from around the world.  Site author Bill Gabbert was a wildland firefighter for 20 years.  He posted about the Bastrop fire in September last year on his site.  Interesting site with lots of photos, maps and graphics.


Map of Bastrop fire in Texas 9-6-2011

Weekly Family Update

This is a great photo that Tracy took yesterday as we dropped the boys off at their weekly SAINTS class in Bastrop.  The boys can’t wait to go every week.  SAINTS is part of the Christian Homeschool Athletics Association where homeschool children get a Christian-based P.E. course.  It helps keep the boys connected to some of their Bastrop friends and us connected with the Bastrop community.

Weekly Property Update


Today I cleared more bricks from around the slab. Now the patio and former garden can see the light of day again.

Another view of the slab as it (slowly) gets cleared of brick.

Another growing brick pile.

Finally, let’s end this weeks update on a beautiful note.  This was actually from last week but I caught this eerily beautiful radiance of sun streaming through the clouds over Bastrop.  There’s something kind of angelic about the image.

Radiant sky over Bastrop.

KUT Radio to Feature Fire Stories

In an effort to document memories of the most destructive fire in Texas history, KUT radio in Austin is recording oral histories of people who were involved with or impacted by the fires of Labor Day weekend 2011.  The end result will be an hour-long radio documentary that will commemorate the event and is expected to air on KUT radio on the anniversary of the event later this year.  Interested individuals can contact the radio station for more information on how to be involved (contact info included in the article at the link below).


We will be sharing our story with the KUT reporters in the coming weeks for the documentary.  I encourage other families and individuals to contact the station and have their stories heard as well.

1,000+ Strong

Since the beginning of the new year we’ve had well over 1,000 visitors to our family blog.  We average about 30 visitors a day but often reach over 50 per day.  Some of the best days in January saw our numbers reaching nearly 200 visitors a day.  Wow.  That’s pretty amazing for a small-time family blog that was unknown just over a month ago.  Just another example of how God continues to bless us in unexpected ways.

We encourage you all to keep coming back.  There’s a lot of new entries and updates coming throughout February.  I’ll be updating our family’s post-fire story to get it caught up to the present day, spreading it out across four or five additional blog entries throughout the month of February.  Then we’ll keep regular updates coming as our story progresses from there.  I’ll also continue to post photos and brief updates on our progress in our Weekly Update.  In fact, our Weekly Update will soon become two updates, one focused on the changing nature of our physical property in Bastrop (and perhaps Bastrop in general) and one focused on the changing emotional and spiritual nature of our family.  I’ll have to come up with some appropriate titles to distinguish between the two updates, perhaps Weekly Property Update and Weekly Family Update or something like that.  I’ll also share occasional photos from time to time ranging from objects we had found amid the ashes of the house, to family snapshots of how were doing today.

We’ve had a lot of additional writing and publishing opportunities lately as well, including our articles for TEXAS LIVE magazine.  We’ll keep you updated on all of that too.

The entire Ristow family says “thank you” to all of our regular blog readers, curious visitors and casual lurkers out there.  Thanks for taking the time to visit this blog and for your interest in our family’s journey.  We’re truly humbled by the response to our story and the support you all continue to show us.  God Bless you all!

Fire in Giddings *UPDATED*

Just heard about an apartment fire in Giddings, Texas.  Word is that 8 families have lost everything.  Please keep these families in your prayers.

UPDATE:  The fire happened about 3:30 am.  Families awoke to police and fire men pounding on doors and informing residents to evacuate the building.  No loss of life.  The cause is still unknown.

No official news links or articles available as yet but will post when I have one to share. Continued prayers for the families.


Routine visitors to our blog have already noticed that I’m in the process of some updates. Besides the latest entry in our story I’ve also changed the look of the blog with a different template and have also begun adding some photos to previous entries as well.  I’d intended to do this from the start but time and other limitations prevented me from doing so.  So even if you’ve already read past entries check them again to see any related photos.  I’ve added a few picts already but will be adding many more over the next few days.  I should have them all updated by next week.

I’m also planning on adding new entries faster.  I’ve got about three in the works right now.  My goal is to get our story caught up to where our lives are currently.

Happy New Year!  Thanks for reading!