I spend an inordinate amount of time alone here in Terlingua, Texas. If not for bumping into my landlord when she walks her dog in the mornings I could go for days without any human contact or conversation. And apart from the chirping birds and the occasional clap of thunder, it’s also incredibly quiet here. (I’m not complaining, as I am hardly longing for the sounds of honking horns and sirens!) But there is a need for some kind of “noise” to provide stimulus. When Kurt Vonnegut died, National Public Radio’s obituary said “Vonnegut believed music is the meaning of life.” I took note and have allowed more music in my life ever since.
It is for these reasons I love listening to the radio. But a radio station in Terlingua, Texas is not your ordinary radio station!
KYOTE-FM – whose irreverent slogans include “Perhaps the best radio in Far Out West Texas” and “Community supported radio, strangely enough for THIS community” -- plays a diverse range of music. Unlike other radio stations that would have an hour (let alone an entire station) devoted to one genre, here on 100.1 FM, you can hear Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Foreigner, Dave Matthews Band, Dire Straits, Jackson Browne, Grateful Dead and some cowboy honky tonk – all within the same hour. The exciting thing is you never know what you’re going to hear next. Some days they play the same song three times in a row. Other days the power goes out and you hear nothing.
There is one artist – a female folk singer -- they play over and over. Her voice is distinct, somewhat haunting and sorrowful, but pretty, a voice that sticks with you. I didn’t know who it was for two months as they never announce the songs. (The upshot to this, of course, is that there are no interruptions – and no ads.) I finally emailed the radio station, which is run by a blind man who calls himself “Uh Clem.” Yes, it did occur to me that a blind man isn’t going to be able to read my email, but I sent it anyway, describing a few lyrics I had remembered, and asked if he could tell me who it was, and in return, as an avid listener, I would be happy to help support the radio in any way I could.
To my surprise I got a prompt reply (KYOTE radio is apparently not running on Terlingua Time!). “Patty Griffin is the artist you are hearing. To support us, you can buy t-shirts and bumper stickers at the Leapin’ Lizard art gallery. And in the fall we want to have a fundraiser for the station.” Fundraiser? My first thought is…..bake sale! Or maybe a pie auction! (Stay tuned.)
Meanwhile, I run into my neighbor, Ralph, who hosts his own radio show on KYOTE-FM on Thursday nights. “I am hearing you play a lot of Patty Griffin songs on your show,” I tell him.
“Yeah, she’s great. You know she has a song called ‘Making Pies,’ don’t you?”
“What?! I have to hear it!” I practically run home to get online and look up the song. I find it on You Tube, I go to save it in my “Pie” favorites folder, and wouldn’t you know it – it is already saved in there. This is one of the reasons my husband wants a divorce – my memory is terrible and it usually takes hearing information two or three times before it sticks in my little peabrain. Apparently, this annoys him.
Well, I won’t forget it now. I not only have two copies of “Making Pies” (which, sadly, is not the most uplifting song -- see the lyrics) on my computer, I now have an entire Patty Griffin album on my iPod. That way, the next time the power goes out and KYOTE-FM offers nothing but dead air space, I’ll have someone to keep me company and remind me there is indeed a meaning to life.
NOTE: KYOTE radio is doing a 30-day trial on shoutcast.com. To tune in online, go to www.shoutcast.com and search for KYOTE or Terlingua.