There is one radio station in DFW that takes the time to play an interesting mix of music every day. This same station also takes the opportunity to discuss and explore music in ways that all the other stations are sorely lacking. The thing is, this station just so happens to be the area's number one rated Sports Talk station: KTCK 1310 The Ticket.
See also: A Photo Dispatch from Ticketstock 2013
Day in and day out, the station takes the opportunity to play an eclectic selection of songs for their returns, running the gamut from contemporary indie hits like LCD Soundsystem to classic rock and hip-hop like Digital Underground and Steely Dan. I've even heard a rather obscure Fiery Furnaces song played during afternoon drive time.
It's not just commercial returns that shows the station's love of music, it's also their willingness to step away from sports and explore the world of music in full segments. There are constant discussion about popular music as well as in-depth looks at music spanning the last 40 decades. Afternoon drive time show the Hardline does so many segments on The Rolling Stones that I've taken to joking on Twitter that it's time for "The obligatory Hardline Rolling Stones drinking game" every time they come up. Not even two days ago they had Salt 'N' Pepa DJ Spinderella on BaD for an extended interview.
A lot of this stems from many of the on-air talent's musical background. Mourning drive time Muser George Dunham leads the country act The Bird Dogs and Hardline host Mike Rhyner leads two of the areas best cover bands: Petty Theft (Tom Petty covers), and The Nyrds (Byrds covers). The music connection goes even deeper, as Hardline producer and co-host of The Orphanage Danny Balis is a local music mainstay who serves as a member of two of Dallas's best acts -- Calhoun and The King Bucks. Hell, even mid-day and afternoon drive time board operator Jake Kemp takes to Twitter to champion the best in local hip-hop from time to time.
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This love and knowledge of music lends a special air to the station's annual fan festival Ticketstock, as each year the station recruits a load of local musicians as ringers for the on-air talent's backing band, the Time Wasters. This lends an almost Blues Brothers-like air to the event, as the stations talent take turns performing covers and parodies of popular songs while the band perfectly plays each backing track, and all the while. the crowd of loyal P1s (an outdated term of endearment for the station's fans that refers to listeners who keep the station in "position 1" on their radios) cheers along to each and every performance.
The night kicked off with mid-day show BaD Radio (Bob, Dan and Donny) performing the station's parody cover of Psy's "Gangam Style." "Ticketstock Style" has been haunting the station's airwaves since the beginning of the new year, using every commercial break to pound the listener over the head with lyrics informing that the fest would be at the Irving Convention Center. Seconds after the group's performance, which included a Psy costumed Dan McDowel and a performance by the Mavs Maniac dancers, attendees were promised that that was they last time they would have to hear it.
After an appearance from MC/Morning Muser Craig "Junior" Miller's alter-ego of "Lady Junes," the audience was treated to a performance of "Fantastic Voyage" by Dunham and Donovan Lewis that caused many an embarrassing dance move to be performed by the rather tipsy crowd. This was followed by loyal Texas A&M fan Tom Gribble performing an ode to Johnny Manziel with a parody of "Johnny B. Good."
After a rousing performance of Buffalo Springfield's "Mr Soul" by Dunham, the audience was treated to the highlight of the night as Rhyner and Balis united to play a Everly Brothers medley as The Neverly Brothers. Listen: I know Dallas is lousy with cover bands, and many of those are just simply terrible, but these two absolutely need to make this a monthly thing. I have never been so caught up in cover set, and which is a testament to the duo's ability to capture a crowd and so capably fit in to the skin of an artist they obviously respect.
Other highlights included local folk hero and Hardline co-host Corby Davidson, who did a solo acoustic number that was an ode to the Carnival Triumph fiasco, while board ops Jake Kemp and TC Fleming performed a rap set to Juvenile's "Back that Ass Up." Mike and Cash Sirois took their stage time to take aim at much (deservedly) maligned Night Time host Scott Farrell with a parody of "You Can Call Me Al" that saw them bring out ex-Ticketer Michael "Grubes" Gruber.
After we were treated to Billy Idol's "Flesh for Fantasy" by Gordon Keith, a.k.a. the only man to Between Two Ferns Zach Galifianakis, the crowd was witness to the annual tradition of BaD radio performing a series of commercials that the station keeps in rotation. These included takes on the Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" theme and a performance of the Jerry Jones Papa Johns Rap that was done by the legendary Fake Jerry Jones (Keith doing his best impression).
The night came to a close with a performance of "Sweet Hardline" that saw most of the performers taking the stage to sing along with the crowd's "oh oh ohs." It was a fitting end to a day that saw crowds in the hundreds leave work early to not only see the station's talent perform musically, but to witness a day of shows. Really, it's hard to imagine another station that would inspire people to come out to not only watch them jokingly perform songs, but sit around and do their jobs. Maybe the young man I met on the DART rail said it best: The Ticket isn't just a thing you listen to, it's a life style.
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From the notebook:
Mike Rhyner was wearing the greatest t-shirt I have ever seen, with an Elston Howard number. For those of you not in the know, Howard was the first African American New York Yankee and the first to win an American League MVP.
Corby Davidson was responsible for the two funniest slights of the night, as mid-way through his acoustic performance he dropped his lyric sheet and during the Hardline Band's performance he forgot the lyrics to "Keep on Rockin With The Hardline."