A Feisty Texas Radio Road Trip with the Mike Stinson Band
Lonesome Onry and Mean hasn't been out on the road with his son, Mike Stinson Band guitarist Lance Smith, in quite a while. But due to a propitious routing that took us to my father's place in Gatesville for a couple of days, LOM hit the highway with the band last weekend.
Photo by Bob Sullivan Mike Stinson band at Sons of Hermann Hall, Dallas (l-r): Lance Smith, Mike Stinson, Mark Riddell
It is worth noting that LOM's CD player in his battle wagon went kaput about two weeks back, so this trip involved extensive radio scanning. And while there is certainly no dearth of terrible radio out there in the Houston/Austin/Dallas triangle, there are some bright spots on the dial.
Once out of range of our favorite Houston radio signals around Brookshire, the scanner kicked in and brought us tons of Tejano music and, on the AM dial, a mother lode of Rush Limbaugh and all sorts of wack-job right-wing politicos.
LOM eventually settled the dial on 105.3 FM, the "Texas Mix" out of Hempstead. It sounded like just the kind of station that could burn up some miles, but that feeling didn't last long. In spite of the station's claim to be highlighting the best in Texas country classic and new, within five songs we realized we were in some sort of Best In Texas twilight zone where Roger Creager is given equal billing with the Georges -- Jones and Strait. When Whiskey Myers came on, we hit the scan button. No thanks, Texas Mix, we've heard frat boy Nashville golf rock before. "Won't get fooled again."
We stopped the scanner on 92.3 FM, "Texas Renegade Radio" out of La Grange. We essentially ran into the same problem with Renegade Radio that we did with Texas Mix: After a couple of songs, they all started to sound alike.
By the time three songs rolled by -- songs about cold beer and Mexican senoritas mas fina -- it was apparent that in spite of its "Texas renegade badass" swagger, 92.3 was basically another version of 105.3. Engage scan button. (It's not surprising that that the two stations are actually identical, right down to their Web graphics.)
At last Austin came into range and it became apparent immediately the state capitol has a more interesting radio mix than Houston does. Of course, there are old reliables like KGSR, but there were also interesting oldies or classic mixes with a wider format limit than virtually any Houston commercial stations.
And KASE-FM was easily the best straight country station of the trip. But the real one-upper? A comedy channel, Comedy 102.7FM. It was almost so funny one shouldn't be driving while listening to this stuff. (More on this later.)
The first Austin stop was a live radio gig with longtime Austin radio personalities Larry Monroe and David Arnsberger for Texas Radio Live on KRDP-FM. Staged in the oak garden next door to Guero's on South Congress, sweat was the main factor as temperatures were above 100 degrees.
Mike Stinson looked like he'd just left a steam bath, water running down his face as he waited for his 30-minute segment to begin. It was even more fun as he endured a lengthy interview in the heat. The band then roared through a five-song set that featured nothing but new tunes from Stinson's upcoming album.