Thacker Mountain Radio Builds Community in Oxford, Mississippi

By Betsy Lynch

Thacker Mountain Radio is Oxford, Mississippi’s original music and literature radio show and provides audiences with more than just Thursday night entertainment.

The host of the live radio show, Jim Dees, counts down the start of the 6 p.m. show each week, signaling the house band The Yalobushwhackers to begin the theme song. The Yalobushwhackers, led by guitarist Duff Dorrough, are made of of local musicians including pianist Mark Yacavone, bass player Slade Lewis, and drummer Wallace Lester.

“When I hear that song playing, I automatically want to go run to a seat or run inside before it fills up,” said David Horton, one of Thacker Mountain’s student interns.

Though Off Square Books, the home of Thacker Mountain Radio, is a unique learning environment, authors read for an audience composed of more than just college students.

“I feel like Thacker is a thing of itself, and it doesn’t just have a distinct person that it reaches out to. It just reaches out to everyone equally,” said Horton.

While college students make up a large portion of the live audience, it’s the retired crowd that faithfully arrives an hour before show time each week to claim their seats.

One audience member from Water Valley, Snookie Williams, has been coming to the show every Thursday since it first began at Blind Jim’s in the summer of 1996.

Now, 16 years later, the music and literature show started by Brian Ledford and Caroline Herring continues to thrive at Off Square Books.

“I’m 80 years old, and having fun, and enjoying it, and my wife and I love Thacker,” said Williams, before he claimed his usual seat in a wooden chair on the second row.

Though Williams enjoys the weekly author readings and array of musical talent, he says that he gains a lot more from the weekly entertainment.

“Part of getting old, is if you associate with young people and be around them, you get a new life in you. And then, maybe they learn something from old fools like myself,” said Williams.

“In other words, it’s opening a door to the past and the future, and blending it all together,” said Williams.

Thacker Mountain Radio airs live each week on Rebel Radio 92.1 and on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. on 102.1, Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Visit the show’s website for more information on upcoming shows for the Spring 2012 season.

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~ by betsylynch on March 1, 2012.

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