North Texas radio is returning to the medium’s roots. In the most microscopic increments imaginable, but still. Some community involvement is better than none. Or as our publisher likes to say, “A 12-pack is better than no beer at all.” (Gee, I’d like to think so, Mel Gibson.)
To most program directors at terrestrial radio stations, local music is a trinket, a little convenience trotted out as part of promotional concerts or spun occasionally at 4 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Program directors can get away with ghettoizing local music because the average listener doesn’t care where his tunes come from (or his movies or his books or his art). He just listens to whatever the mainstream media spoonfeed him. But then something funny happened in North Texas. Thanks to local club owners and scribes –– and to the musicians themselves for being so awesome –– the formerly vulgar rabble started taking an interest in music from here. The concept that the good folks at the small but local music-loving KNON have always understood was starting to go off like light bulbs above the noggins of other North Texas program directors. Now from the humble precincts of The Edge’s The Local Edge, KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, KTCU’s The Good Show, and the forthcoming low-power station The Pirate (“The Pirate Sets Sail,” Feb. 18), North Texas music has graduated to perhaps the most popular spot on the dial we’ve got.
On Sundays from 8 to 10 p.m. starting on March 22, The Ticket (1310-AM/96.7-FM) will air The Local Ticket, a helping of “up-and-coming acts” from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton, program director Jeff Catlin said in a statement, “along with independent acts from other locales” and in-studio performances and interviews.
Some of the credit for the idea has to go to The Dallas Observer. In January, columnist Amy McCarthy wrote “The Ticket Needs a Local Music Show.” (It was yet another valentine to the station. I can just see Observer editor Joe Tone hanging from a tree with binoculars on, watching Mike Rhyner, Norm Hitzges, and Bob Sturm enumerate all of The Ticket’s delicious Twitter followers [65,000 as of this writing] and Facebook likes [53,297]. “Oh, yeah,” Tone grunts. “Mmm. Yeah. Look at those numbers on you. Gotta get us some of that.”) “Yes,” McCarthy writes, “it’s technically a sports talk radio station, but there’s no one else in town with the cred, the good taste, and the listenership to really make a difference for local music.”
“Good taste”? As a relatively new listener, I think the only Ticket personality who meets that criterion is Danny Balis. Before I knew him as the producer of the popular drivetime show The Hardline, he was the bass player in Calhoun, The Orbans, Sorta, and a couple of other exceptional local groups, I think. All of the other Ticket guys strike me as devotees of the major label-loving mainstream, who wouldn’t know their Quaker City Night Hawks from their Dove Hunter, their War Party from their Party Static.
Enter: Mark Schectman. Last month the DJ left The Edge, where he had hosted The Local Edge for about five years and The Adventure Club for a couple. He pitched a local music-flavored show to The Ticket just as Catlin and company were formulating The Local Ticket. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Schectman is hosting the new show.
“My music pants are going so crazy right now,” Schectman told me. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Fort Worth artists should be thrilled. Though a native Dallasite, Schectman has never been a Dallas homer. He has always spun a solid dose of Fort Worth tunes on his shows, and for years he has been one of the few members of the esteemed Dallas media to make his way to Fort Worth for our annual Music Awards Festival. That all of the bands (up to 48 now from 36 for a couple of years, 24 for bit, and originally five) are from the great 817 never scares him off. Hell, it might even turn him on.
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