Host Post: Magazine on the Radio

by Jim Dees – What could be more old school than a print magazine and a radio-variety hour? And yet, The Oxford American magazine and The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour have celebrated 25 years and 100 issues, and 20 years on the air, respectively. Not bad for formats that seem doddering in an on-demand world.

This Thursday, March 29 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655) our radio show will salute our print friends (and former neighbors) on their 100th issue. Our guests will include authors (and OA contributors) John T. Edge and Molly McCully Brown plus acclaimed memoirist Brian Castner along with Mississippi singer/songwriter Destiny Stone. The show is anchored by our killer house band, the Yalobushwhackers. Admission is FREE.

The live broadcast can be heard locally on WUMS 92.1 FM and online: It can be heard again on Saturday, April 7 at 7 pm on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, the Oxford American started in Oxford in 1992 on a shoe-string budget (Thacker feels you). Despite money woes, that first issue boasted a mind-blowing line-up of contributors: Barry Hannah, John Grisham, Lewis Nordan, Larry Brown, William F. Buckley. Jr., Richard Ford, Roy Blount, Jr., Florence King, Charles Bukowski, film critic Pauline Kael and novelist John Updike. It should also be noted that first issue, curiously enough, contained three poems centered around bowel movements including Updike’s, “The Beautiful Bowel Movement” and Jack Butler’s “Ode to the Commode.” (We may read one of these on the show if we can mike our restroom).

The magazine moved to Conway, Arkansas in 2002 but retained its name and ties to Oxford: Locals John. T. Edge and Chris Offutt are columnists, Beth Ann Fennelly is a contributing editor and Cristen Hemmins is an account executive. Kiese Lamon is a frequent contributor. Honorary Oxonian Mary Miller appears in the anniversary issue.

The Oxford American is now a non-profit quarterly print magazine with 13,500 subscribers, including its highly popular annual music issue that focuses on the musical heritage of a single state with stories and essays plus an accompanying CD. The OA staff also produces Web-only photo essays, an Instagram feed and distributes a weekly e-newsletter.
This year the magazine was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in General Excellence in the Literature, Science and Politics category for the second time in three years.

Along with our stellar literary guests on Thursday’s show, we’re excited to introduce a newcomer, our musical guest, Destiny Stone. Destiny is from Holly Springs, MS and fuses soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, and folk into her original songs. Her latest CD is Journey. She also performs a one-woman tribute show to the late Nina Simone, Nina Now.

Here’s her latest single, America (Are We United?):

Hey, what’s old is new. Congrats to The Oxford American and here’s to 100 more. See you on the radio!