Local Yokels had strange start, but keeps chugging

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, June 30, 2021

By Ricky Swindle

Muffler Shop Musings

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We passed a small milestone with The Local Yokels Show on June 17. That day marked four years of the show being broadcast on internet radio.

The show’s actual beginning date was March 22, 2003. It sure doesn’t seem like 18 years has passed, but it has.

I played off and on in bands for years and by 2002 I had grown weary of the late-night honky tonks. We played weekend after weekend. I have never been a great songwriter, guitarist or singer, but I tried very hard at it, and I guess folks appreciated the effort.

I have never missed being part of a band and performing on stage, but I did miss the people and the music.

It was a big deal to me when I was young to see local folks’ 45 records in my Daddy’s record collection and later on when I got old enough to see those same recordings on jukeboxes in local cafes and taverns.

JW Luttrell, Jessie Yates, Steve Hall and Raymond Belk always stood out in my mind. I played those records countless times at our home, and I dropped many a quarter to hear the exact same songs years later in some old honky tonk bar.

With the help of Steve McGregory, I recorded my own album of songs that I had written back around 1999. All the old 45 record playing jukeboxes were a thing of the past and my new CD of songs was now in the line-up and playing in the same places all my mentors had played.

In early 2003 I had an idea for a radio show to feature all the great local artists around here. I would play every local person that had recorded songs.

I wanted to play blues and country songs on air by local artists that church folks never heard because they were definitely not going to the bar to hear it played.

I wanted to play gospel songs locally recorded for the beerjoint crowd because chances were high that they were not sitting on a church pew on Sunday mornings either.

I talked to my friend at the radio station at the time, John Ingram, and we worked out a price and schedule to attempt to do this 6-week advertising gimmick for my store.

We settled on 7:30-8 a.m. on Saturday morning.

I had a dozen pieces of local musical artistry in my collection. I had a couple CDs, cassette tapes and 45 records were all I was armed with to have more than enough to fill in for six 30 minute shows.

The Panolian Newspaper has always been good to me from the Howells to Jim Beaver to Jeremy Weldon and they helped me publicize my new found radio venture/hobby.

After the second week, I had a lot of visitors at my shop bringing me song after song that I had no clue that this or that local person had recorded. It was amazing.

After another week I started receiving calls from my business friends in town inquiring as to how they could sponsor this little program. It was local, it was definitely yokel, but it was a natural born hit.

Johnny Pace came onboard with me in late 2003 to be my engineer and counterpart on the show. We added sponsors and extended our time to 7:15- 8 am. Then 7:15 – 8:30 a.m. and eventually 9 – 11 a.m.

Over the years I have acquired literally hundreds of CDs from North MS singers, songwriters and musicians. I still have every one of them and we play that music regularly on the show.

Unbeknownst to me at the time and I learned the term years later that Saturday morning radio is known as “garbage time” in the radio business.

That just means that radio stations would basically play or “dump” a lot of ads on Saturday mornings that were not played during the week because it was widely known in the industry that not a lot of listeners tuned in at that time.

They used Saturday mornings to kind of catch up on the amount of ads played.

A man I highly respect in the radio business told me that he always admired the fact of how we carved out such a great audience during “garbage time” and he explained the term to me.

In May of 2017, I was informed by the radio management that was there at the time, that the station was in the process of changing its format and The Local Yokels Show did not fit the brand of the new product they were attempting to deliver.

So, after 14 years and over 750 shows it was over.

But, it was not over yet.

A few days after my show was cancelled, I was in Nashville with my wife celebrating our anniversary. We had tickets to a club called 3rd & Lindsley to see a show by a group of Nashville studio musicians called The Time Jumpers. Vince Gill plays with them occasionally, and he was there that night.

At 3rd & Lindsley, there are only tables, and you may be asked to share your table with a complete stranger because of seating arrangements. But, they are just folks like you and are only there for the music.

A man asked to sit with us and introduced himself in an English accent as Lee Williams, owner of CMR Nashville, the number one country radio station in Europe.

I talked to him at great length about the show. He told me “Ricky, sounds like you have a good program that people like. Have you considered internet radio? Do whatever you have to do to keep your show alive.”

So, four years after taking Mr. Lee Williams advice, we are still hammering away every Saturday morning 9 – 11 a.m. on the internet at www.undefinedradio.com.

We even have our own Undefined Radio app where folks can listen on their smartphones.

Our fans, after being internet educated, have followed along with us.

Our sponsors, every one of them plus some new ones, also followed right along with us and that makes me proud that they stuck with an old show that simply supports all things local.

My hat is off to those great folks. I am truly humbled by the sheer idea of their loyalty to the show and myself.

One day the show may come to an end, you never know. But if it does, it will be on my terms and I am still having as much fun today as I did the day it started. I am only in it for the music, the local music.

Probably someday a college music class egghead will run across my collection and they will know I did a pretty fair job gathering up our local music.

When they listen, they will know why I held on to it. There are a lot of good pickers and singers in our neck of the woods and I have the proof.

Take care of yourself folks and join in with us 9-11 am on Saturdays on www.undefinedradio.com. We’d love to have you.

Keep it mind, too, if you have a fifth on the 4th, don’t drive.    

Write to Ricky Swindle at rickyswindle@bellsouth.net