Last night, Josh Venable broke the news in a Facebook status update: He's coming back to radio in a couple of weeks, but not in Dallas. He'll be in Tulsa at Z-104.5, The Edge as the new program director and afternoon DJ. And with its alternative rock format, Venable is right where he wants to be.
After speaking with us earlier in the year, Venable did weekends for Farmers Branch-based Dial Global Networks, which provides voice tracking for stations in small markets all over the country. Then a friend of his called him about a job opening in Tulsa only a few weeks ago. First it was for an afternoon on-air gig. Then it became an afternoon and program director job. "The deal just kept getting sweeter and sweeter all the time," Venable says by phone as he drives by Southfork Ranch. "I drove up there and met them a couple of times, kinda did the dance back and forth of 'Is this something you'd be interested in?' The more I went up there, the more I liked it."
Venable spent many years in major markets like Dallas and Los Angeles, but going to a smaller market like Tulsa is not a bad thing for him. Prior to this opportunity, he had only been to Tulsa twice -- one time to see Placebo and another time to see Morrissey. He already speaks highly of the place, which is a little less than four hours away. "The good thing about Tulsa is, while it's definitely lower in market size, they get a ton of good shows. Even I was surprised in the next month or so that Cold War Kids, Vampire Weekend, Portugal. The Man -- bands I would be really excited to see here in Dallas -- are also going there."
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He admits there will be a lot about Dallas that he will miss, but the opportunity is too good to pass up. "I'll miss Bill's, I'll miss Mad World, and my Star Wars store in McKinney, I'll miss my friends -- a lot of creature comfort stuff that I really like. Friends would be at the very top of the list. Friends I have cultivated here over the years. Of course I love Dallas. I've been here for many, many, many, many years since I was 15 years old." Still, there is a lot of happiness in his voice when he says, "I'm extremely excited to be going."
If you're worried about Panic, Venable's band that performs the songs of The Smiths and Morrissey, don't. "Panic will continue," he says. "Something I never thought in a million years that people are more worried about that than anything else." A couple of shows are in the pipeline in the fall, including one near Halloween, but he won't say whom it's with. "If you like good, sad, depressing, kill-yourself music like us, you will like the other band as well." And if you're curious whether Venable will resurrect the format of The Adventure Club in Tulsa, you don't have to be in range of terrestrial airwaves in Tulsa to find out. "There is going to be a specialty show and you will be able to listen online," he says. "So yes, I will be back in that saddle again, telling people why I like whoever bands and why whatever band is terrible. Those days shall return the minute I can get to Tulsa and unpack my CDs."
With 20,000 CDs and records to pack, this is something that he loves and loathes. "I'm currently in the market for hundreds of cardboard boxes," he says. "If someone would like to drop them off, I'll definitely take them."
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As Venable and his family continue to pack and look for a house in Tulsa, they don't have to worry about the house they've lived in here for a few years: The house sold in one day. "I think they're excited," Venable says. "You gotta go where the work is. They say it in the WKRP [in Cincinnati] theme song, 'Town to town, up and down the dial.' That's the life that I chose many, many, many years ago."
"I'm extremely excited to go work for a smaller company," Venable adds. He doesn't have to worry about annual layoffs or micromanagement with a company like Clear Channel. "That was a huge motivator in wanting this job: because it was a smaller company. So, that I am extremely thankful for."