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Long-time music host, Dave Barber, reflects on his early days with the station and his return to Monday nights on WYSO.

 Dave Barber hosts NiteTrane, Monday nights from 8 to 10pm on WYSO.
Dave Barber hosts NiteTrane, Monday nights from 8 to 10pm on WYSO.

In this excerpt from WYSO Weekend, long-time music host on WYSO, Dave Barber, talks about his early days at the station. He also talks about his current show, NiteTrane, and offers up one of the tracks he first heard on WYSO.

Dave Barber: Well, I started volunteering before I had a radio show back in, I believe it was 1977, and then I had a morning show that was called Smack Dab in the Middle. That was on one of the weekday mornings. And that was sort of [my] entry point, but I had been going to school in Athens, Ohio, at [Ohio University] and I had been listening to WYSO for years, really. But I ended up back in Dayton getting a job and was volunteering. And then WYSO was just an incredible hub of people. I mean, you had all kinds of folks that were sort of circulating through the station filmmakers, radio producers, engineers.

WYSO was doing so much live on location recording, it was just it was just [a] beehive [of] all kinds of action. But for me, the real lure was it was in a pre-internet age. It was just it's where the music geeks were. And, you know, I was in my early 20s, so I was ripe for the picking and you could learn about bluegrass and blues and jazz and world music. And the people that knew most about it were doing shows on WYSO. And it was a very welcoming environment. The door was sort of open for you to go through and get involved.

Jerry Kenney: That's what I found as well. So, let's talk about NiteTrane, because for years you hosted Jazz Night. Is this a continuance of what you were trying to do with that program?

Barber: Well, yeah, I have done jazz shows for the most part at Wayne, so but jazz is such a huge tent as as folks like to use that that term a lot. There’re so many types of jazz. Jazz means different things to different people. I think the challenge of doing this show, which I'm trying to stay aware of, is that to mix in as many styles as I can and not to have the show necessarily get stereotyped as because I think people have preconceived notions of what jazz is. And jazz is such a spectacular range of musics and there's so much beauty and joy and mystery in that music. And the possibilities when you're doing a jazz show, I think are unlimited. You can do singers. You have 100 years plus history of recorded music to fall back on, but you don't necessarily want the show to be a museum. So, you want to keep new music in the mix as well. So, it's fun to do.

Kenney: Well, we're glad you're back. Another thing I'm interested in. You know, as we've been talking about your early history with WYSO, I'm curious about what music you associate with the station in your earliest of memories.

Barber: It's really a great question because when I arrived at WYSO programmers who eventually became friends of mine, people like Larry Blood and John Fox, and just all these Phyllis Brzozowska, who I would later work with at City Folk, she was doing a Celtic show. I met Phyllis at WYSO. But you tipped me off that you were going to be asking to drill down on one tune and I started thinking about one tune that would apply to a couple of people that I know at WYSO. John Hartley, Fox, who I met John here became a good friend of mine, did a bluegrass show, but he produced a radio series at WYSO called King of the Queen City, and a lot of people that I said, myself included, took a lot of pride in that show that got beamed off of one of the public radio satellites. I'm not sure which one it was, but it received national distribution and it became the source material for the book that he wrote called King of the Queen City, which is the only history - published history - of King Records that's been written. But Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk, which is a classic Oregon saxophone guitar record, was the intro music for King of the Queen City. But a lot of folks at WYSO took a lot of pride in John's show, and when anybody there, it's always been that way when anybody does good work, you know? So, everybody kind of gets the light.

But I also associate that tune so much with my friend Dave Hussong, who we lost earlier this year. Dave, like me, he came through the door after he was invited by Art Snyder, who was a legendary blues programmer. He did two shows at one point. But Dave had this shared experience of having Art say, 'Yeah, well, get involved.' And Honky Tonk is a tune that has Billy Butler. Everything I knew about Honky Tonk, I sort of learned either through John or I learned it through Dave playing it on the show or playing it may have heard him play it live. Because as most people know, Dave was not only a decades-long, authoritative blues host, but he was a fine guitar player and one of the most knowledgeable instrument dealers in the world. So, if I had to pick one tune, it might be Bill Doggett’s Honky Tonk.

Kenney: All right. Let's give our listeners a little taste of it.

Barber: Sounds good.

Kenney: There's a little bit of Bill Doggett and Honky Tonk Part I. Dave Barber, we're so glad you're back with the station. Thanks so much for your time today.

Barber: Jerry, it was a pleasure. Thanks.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.