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Thacker Mountain Radio Hour Expands Into Memphis, Chattanooga

The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will start its fall 2020 season with more listeners than ever.

The Oxford-based music and literature show has announced it will now be heard on WUTC (88.1 FM) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and on WYXR (91.7 FM), a new public radio station debuting Oct. 1 in Memphis.

The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will begin its 23rd year on the air this Saturday on Mississippi Public Broadcasting at 7 p.m. and Alabama Public Radio at 9 p.m. The show is also heard in Oxford every Thursday at 6 p.m. on WUMS (92.1 FM).

Bryan Lane, station manager and program director of WUTC in Chattanooga, said it was Thacker’s mix of literature and music that drew his station’s interest.

“We are very pleased to acquire the rights to broadcast The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour,” he said. “This show reflects our quest for more high quality local and regional spoken word and music programming reflective of our community.”

The show will air Saturdays at 4 p.m.

Jared Boyd, program director of WYXR in Memphis said he appreciates the show’s mission.

“Thacker brings people together and exposes them to new ideas,” he said. “Having Thacker as a part of the WYXR family is an opportunity for us to reach out to Mississippi. Memphis and Mississippi are so culturally linked.”

WYXR is expected to announce its air time soon.

Alice Pierotti, executive producer-director of Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, says the Thacker crew is excited about the new affiliates.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding into Tennessee and partnering with Chattanooga’s WUTC and Memphis’ new WYXR station,” she said.

Pierotti also noted the show recently concluded a summer fundraiser among listeners and supporters that successfully raised $25,000.

Thacker Mountain upcoming guests, clockwise from top,
Kyshona Armstrong, Luther Dickinson, Ron Rash and Diane
Williams. Photos provided by Thacker Mountain

“Thacker fans really stepped up over the summer to keep the show going for the fall,” she declared. “We are eager to grow this new audience into longtime listeners.”

The show was also recently awarded a 2021 Mississippi Arts Commission grant worth $12,000 for operational expenses and a 2020 “rapid response grant” for $1,000 to help with virtual programming. These grants are a portion of the nearly $1.4 million in grants the Commission awarded in 2020-2021.

Since last spring when the pandemic hit, the radio show has moved to Taproot Audio Design, the home studio of sound engineer Jeffrey Reed. Thacker host Jim Dees conducts author interviews by phone or teleconference. Musicians, including the show’s house band, the Yalobushwhackers, send in their musical performances electronically.

“We miss the live audience,” Dees admits, referring to show attendees at Off Square Books, the remainder bookstore on the Oxford square that serves as the show’s broadcast home. “But we’re also grateful for the facility and funds to produce the show. Now we have people in three states that want to listen to it. We intend to deliver.”

Guests for the upcoming fall season include B.B. King biographer Diane Williams and gospel rocker Reverend John Wilkins (Sept. 12); Southern short story master Ron Rash, roots guitarist Luther Dickinson and neo-soul songwriter Kyshona Armstrong (Sept. 19); memoirist Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, Dom Flemons (Oct. 3); and Dispatches From Pluto author Richard Grant (with his new book about Natchez) (Oct. 16).

The show will host nominees for the 2020 Willie Morris Southern Literature Award on Oct. 24, and gonzo southern author George Singleton (Nov. 7).

Staff report

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