Joshua Jones Keeps It Live and Local on KHYI
Aside from being a spitting image of actor Dermot Mulroney, KHYI-95.3 FMGeneral Manager Joshua Jones is quite the rising celeb. On a local level, anyway. He's taken advantage of the fact that he manages a station owned by true supporters of good, old-fashioned local and live radio, and the Jones family also comprises Metro Broadcasters. At KHYI-95.3 The Range, they like to keep it old school: live jocks, talking about things in real time, and plenty of coverage of state and 'plex artists.
Joshua Jones (foreground)
Sure, it's not as cost-effective as Cumulus CEO Lou Dickey's "BBQ" or Clear Channel honcho John Hogan's Heroes keep it, but with brutal doses of layoffs, consolidation and voice-tracking, my guess is smaller paychecks are balanced with the happiness they get from doing local radio the way it was designed to be done: Operated on-site, not from 40,000 feet in the corporate stratosphere.
With enthusiastic owners, supporters and listeners in 2012, what's your trade secret?
That's a great question. Local radio has been on the endangered species list for over 70 years. Originally, the rise of television was supposed to render radio needless. You know what saved it? Whatever dude decided to put a radio in his car's dashboard. Since then, local radio has faced numerous other opponents, all temporarily knocking it down and standing over it like Clubber Lang. The iPod, satellite radio, Pandora - heck, even the compact disc - have all challenged local radio. But it continues to pull itself back up and wage war with its perennial relevance. The secret? Its ability to be "live and local."
The irony is that in the world after the post-telecommunications act of 1996 and the directly-related rise of Clear Channel, Cumulus and the like, there has been a lot of slashing, saving and syndicating in an effort to reduce overhead and many of these companies handicap themselves to do/be the one thing that makes them relevant, remain "live and local." Joe Q. Public may be listening to a deejay on their favorite station and have little clue that the deejay is also simultaneously being heard in 200 markets nationwide and the show could've been recorded two days earlier. That will eventually catch up to corporate radio. At KHYI, we hang our hat on our ability to be both "live" and "local." We're in real time and we're deeply emotionally, financially and culturally invested in our community.
Take us through the highlights of your years there, and some of the moments of greatness that have happened, on air or off. It just sounds like a really fun place to work.
Well, it is a fun place to work. No two days are the same and I really love that about being where I am. I came here out of college and was running the place within a couple years. I've seen a lot in that time. Lots of mountaintops (meeting relevant artists and helping bring in big accounts) and several lows (we once had a 30-something deejay not show up for his morning show only to find out he had passed away overnight). But the true highlights are the relationships I've been able to forge. Many of my closest friends have come into my life because of KHYI. I do appreciate all the extra time I've been able to spend with my parents. They're truly special people, married for 50 years this year and passionate about radio. And I get to sit here and take credit for things that fell into my lap. One time, Ann Richards, when George W. Bush was running against her for Governor, said, "He was born on third base, but thinks he hit a triple." That's always made me laugh and cringe. I like to think I was born on second base but somehow made my way to third. But, I digress...
Elaborate on some DFW artists that inspired you to become such a supportive part of the local music community.
Wow, where to start? I met Ray Wylie Hubbard for the first time at Chili's at 635 and Preston in 1997. He was living here at the time. He has since become one of my closest confidants (and a groomsman in my wedding last year). 19-freaking-97. Wow. The list starts there. I love John David Kent, The O's, Somebody's Darling, Jonathan Tyler, Deryl Dodd, 1100 Springs. These are all pals of mine that are producing great music. At some point, the rest of the nation is going to wake up and say, "Holy crap, there is some great music coming out of Dallas."
How about a moment for the people who have been at your side at The Range.
It's honestly silly that I get as much credit as I do. KHYI would've never been the "blowtorch of twang" had it not been for the vision of former morning guy/PD Bruce Kidder. Furthermore, Brett Dillon, our midday guy, has become a local icon. The rest of the staff, past and present, has made it what it is: Chuck Taylor, Big Gus, Allan Peck Sr., Natalie Lefler, Dallas Wayne, Chance Cody, Lisa Hooks, Dante... I could go on and on and on. These guys are in the foxhole waging war on all of our cheesy-country competitors, day in and day out.
And the people in your life in your younger years who inspired you?
Gosh (yes I just said "gosh"), that list would have to start with my wife, Kimberly. Our marriage is more of a "music/marketing team" than any other couple I've ever seen. She was working at the Granada Theater when we met and is now the Show Marketing Manager at the AT&T PAC downtown. She's the coolest, sweetest and most organized person I've ever met. She has great "ears" for music. Every night, over dinner, we discuss our jobs and try to have insight for each other. She inspires me more than anyone else. We also go to a badass church in East Dallas. The first time we ever walked in, Kate Miner, the music leader, was playing Mumford & Sons. I find a lot of inspiration there. Then, I have a litany of friends who are super talented, but I am more inspired by them being good people, making good choices and trying to contribute positively to the community.
What do we need more of in our DFW music community?
Well, we need to find a way to get some really bright people into a room and figure it out. In my head, it looks like the group of villains from Austin Powers. These would be people that are committed to the local music scene and are currently doing good things. I'd start with Mike Schoder, Trey Bowles, Josh Florence, Mike Orren, Donnie Nelson, Erv Karwelis and Marissa or Jenny from ArtHouse Dallas, along with a handful of others, and figure out a way to create events and a major public relations push that is focused on bringing people outside of DFW into the market, and build it from there. Maybe the city has a tourism/arts fund that could help with something like this. That would kill a couple birds with one stone, putting a spotlight on the DFW music scene and creating some synergy betwixt some of the scene's bigger players. The fact is, this is the fifth freaking largest media market in the nation. It's a major commercial and cultural hub, yet very few outsiders correlate Dallas with great music.