AUSTIN (KXAN) — John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday at 76 years old. The announcement was made on his station’s website.

“We’re heartbroken to tell you that our beloved friend and colleague John Aielli passed shortly before 8 a.m. this morning,” KUTX said Sunday. 

According to the station, Aielli celebrated 50 years as the Eklektikos radio host in 2017.

To countless listeners, he was the quirky voice that helped them start their day. To Jeff McCord, John Aielli was a co-worker and friend.

  • John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday morning, the station announced. He was 76 years old. (Photo courtesy of KUTX/Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon)
  • John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday morning, the station announced. He was 76 years old. (Photo courtesy of KUTX/Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon)
  • John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday morning, the station announced. He was 76 years old. (Photo courtesy of KUTX/Montinique Monroe)
  • John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday morning, the station announced. He was 76 years old. (Photo courtesy of KUTX/Montinique Monroe)
  • John Aielli, the voice behind Austin radio station KUT and KUTX, died Sunday morning, the station announced. He was 76 years old. (Photo courtesy of KUTX/Montinique Monroe)

McCord worked with John for 30 years and as a music director was his supervisor for about 10 years.

“Well, it was difficult,” said McCord, but he said he wouldn’t trade anything.

He describes Aielli as someone who went to the beat of his own drum. According to KUT, his popular show ‘Eklektikos’ started in the seventies and included a wild mashup of musical genres and interviews with Aielli’s trademark stream-of-consciousness style of presenting.

If that meant dead air at times, so be it. And yes, he might play a song he liked three or four times in a row.

“But one of the most unusual things he did was in his interviews he would do no prep. He loved flying by the seat of his pants, recalled McCord. “He once confused U2’s Bono for Sonny Bono.”

Still, McCord said none of that fazed him. He went on being himself. “He achieved an enormous popularity and enormous acclaim doing exactly what he wanted to do,” he said.

“Everyone feels like their his friend. Even if they never met him, because he’s just been so open and honest on the air,” McCord said.