Rape Charge Against TX DJ Justin Frazell Leaves Scene in Shock

Maybe you heard the news, or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you recognize the name, or if you’re not dialed into the country radio scene in Dallas/Fort Worth, likely you don’t. But most anyone who considers themselves a fan of Texas and Red Dirt music, or country music in general, will likely recognize the famous names that if it wasn’t for radio personality Justin Frazell, you may have never heard of at all.

As writer Kelly Dearmore of The Dallas Observer said in February of 2020, “Many fans of Texas country and red dirt music will recognize some key figures who give life to the music they love so dearly. The unmistakable voices of Jack Ingram, Robert Earl Keen and Randy Rogers are universally revered, and they’ve soundtracked our lives for over two decades now. But there’s another key voice out there who’s been ever-present in the musical lives of discerning Texas country fans, through the same two decades: Justin Frazell.”

And if it wasn’t for Justin Frazell, the Texas regional radio market would likely not be the only regional radio market that enjoys its own charts published weekly in Billboard, or the only regional country scene that enjoys it’s own touring and festival circuit, which allows artists and bands in the region to launch sustainable careers without having to press their luck with the Music Row system in Nashville.

“Justin Frazell was one of the first, if not the first, to play my stuff,” Ryan Bingham once said. “When all I had were demo recordings, he would play my stuff on his Sunday night show, and then he would invite me to come play on the show. He was supportive from the very start.”

Cody Jinks and others will confirm that 95.9 The Ranch where Justin Frazell hosted the morning show for the last nearly dozen years was seminal to his meteoric rise. Most any artist in the Texas/Red Dirt scene will testify just how much the radio support from Frazell meant to their career, and they’ll all do it irrespective of the fact that he’s now out on bail after being charged with 2nd degree sexual assault stemming from the allegations of a teenage girl who stayed over at his how last New Year’s Eve, and says she was raped by the 47-year-old.

You’re not seeing much of any chatter over this matter in the Texoma scene. Artists aren’t taking to social media to share their shock or disgust at the news, or to publicly distance from Frazell, who so many have interacted with and been interviewed by over the years. Fellow DJ’s and media personalities are mum on the subject. In fact, nobody’s talking about the matter at all.

Part of the reason for the radio silence is due likely to the abominable shock everyone is experiencing at the news. Justin Frazell was not some boisterous, handsy, boozy personality that you just knew it was a matter of time that their name was tweeted out beside a #metoo hashtag. By all accounts, he was a kind and generous family man, mild mannered, community-oriented, and the very last person you would suspect to have rape allegations levied against him.

The other reason for silence is because everyone is worried where Texas regional radio and the greater music scene goes from here after it’s lost one of its founding fathers, and most ardent supporters.

Justin Frazell is originally from Lancaster, TX, and went to Lamar College in Beaumont, known for its baseball program. A pitching prospect with big league ability and aspirations, a torn rotator cuff put those dreams on ice, and he poured himself into his second passion, which was sharing his love of Texas music, and specifically on the radio.

After graduating from Lamar with a Communications degree, Frazell moved to Dallas to work at AM station KLIF as a producer, where he remained for two years. But during this time, in November of 1996, he launched a Sunday evening radio show on the country station KPLX focusing deep on the Texas and Red Dirt scene that was starting to explode in the region. Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Stoney LaRue, and later The Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen, these were the big names coming up at the time, and Justin Frazell’s “Live from the Front Porch” is where you could hear about them on the radio, and on a major 100,000-watt station. Before the permeation of social media, this is where you discovered your favorite Texas and Red Dirt artists.

In 1998, KPLX (“Flex Your Plex!”) rebranded to 99.5 “The Wolf” owned by Susquehanna Broadcasting. Unlike the other corporate-owned country stations in the market, The Wolf actually worked in many of these regional bands into their playlist, along with the major national acts. But “Live from the Front Porch” is where you could hear them exclusively, and the newer artists coming up that nobody else would give airtime to. As many of the Texas and Red Dirt artists of the time will tell you, their careers were launched by Justin Frazell and “Live from the Front Porch.” Frazell also became part of the station’s morning radio show. From behind the KPLX microphone, Justin Frazell was named the Texas Music Personality of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

But as usually happens in the radio world, when Cumulus Media acquired the station in 2005, the culture began to shift away from the regional focus. While mainstream country fans likely noticed little difference in the programming, the local and regional fans were left in a lurch. After nearly 12 years at the station, Frazell was let go in November of 2008.

The line formed to the left of radio stations willing to pick up Justin Frazell. But like so many of the artists he championed on the radio, Frazell was only willing to work on his own terms. So he took a job at Home Depot for about six months until something ideal opened up. Over in Fort Worth, and after years of flirting with different country radio formats, radio station KWFR finally switched to 100% Texas country music in May of 2008. 95.9 The Ranch seemed like the perfect fit, and that’s where Frazell eventually landed. Already a fixture of the scene, Frazell was ready to take Texas music to the next level on a station exclusively dedicated to regional artists, and that’s exactly what he would do, and where he would remain for nearly another dozen years.

It wasn’t just the over two decades Justin Frazell dedicated to Texas regional radio that made him such a gargantuan contributor to the music. Throughout his entire career, Frazell was pulling double shifts, and weekend duty. Though the corporate grinches at Cumulus would not allow Frazell to take his “Live from the Front Porch” brand with him when he left 99.5 The Wolf, he started Texas Red Dirt Roads, which was a 3-hour live program featuring acoustic performances and interviews from artists throughout Texas and Red Dirt, along with occasional Top 40 guests as well.

Texas Red Dirt Roads was so well-received, Lone Star Roads TV was a lunched from 2013 to 2015, which brought the music to an entirely new medium and audience in 43 total episodes. And one of the premier charitable events annually in the Texas/Red Dirt scene was Justin Frazell’s Pickin’ For Preemies concerts at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth benefiting Cook’s Children Hospital. This was not an event Justin would have to beg for artists to participate in. It was one of the most sought-after events for artists and fans alike, and raised some $2 million total at last count over the many years of the event.

Justin Frazell’s emcee’d all sorts of events, worked as an awards presenter, and a behind-the-scenes booster and organizer for the music. But the morning drive radio show on 95.9 The Ranch remained the flagship. Hosting it with performer Charla Corn for many years, and most recently with Heather Anderson beginning in 2019, it was the stalwart of regional radio programming. The show now soldiers on with Heather Anderson, while a worthy replacement for Frazell is sought.

But you just can’t turn over a rock, and find a contributor like Justin Frazell with all that knowledge and history. Justin Frazell was the rock of Texas music on the radio. This is why so many—from fellow radio and media personalities, to many of the artists who spent hours with him on stage, or were interviewed by him, or had their big break through him, or accepted awards from him—are in such dismay they’re not even sure what to say.

It is worth pointing out that even in the face of what the arrest warrant says is witness testimony and DNA evidence singling Justin Frazell out as the perpetrator, he is still innocent until proven guilty. Frazell will either reach a plea deal with prosecutors, or go on trial in front of a jury of his own peers to have his fate and guilt decided.

But in an era when radio is already struggling, when local radio specifically is under siege like never before, it leaves many wondering where the Texas/Red Dirt scene and its superior and singular radio system to support the music goes from here. Justin Frazell was the guy that bucked the system to not just survive the downsizing and corporatizing, but to thrive and prosper, and offer a different alternative to the mainstream. Locally, he was part of many people’s lives through the medium of radio every morning, and most Sunday evenings.

Now, many sit in shock and fear of who and what Justin Frazell really may be.

READ: Texas Music DJ Justin Frazell Accused of Rape by Teen

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