Country on the radio is Sirius business for Dallas Wayne

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dallas Wayne sits in the upstairs office of his home in the woods of Bastrop County and talks all morning in his deep and booming country voice.

Though it would seem that he’s all alone, he’s talking to the interstate truckers, the housewives, the retro hillbillies, the bankers, the Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers all over the U.S. and Canada. He’s even received e-mail from Europe and Asia and especially Iraq, where his daily four-hour show on the Outlaw Country channel (63) and six-hour weekend slots on the Roadhouse classic country channel (62) can be heard via the Internet.


From his home broadcast studio in Bastrop County, Dallas Wayne cranks out the country.

On the radio:Hear Dallas Wayne on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country (channel 63) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the Roadhouse (channel 62). ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ airs from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday on Outlaw Country.

“This is the Big D on 63, commercial free on the O.C.” he drawls, like a hopped-up hayseed deejay from the ’50s. Earlier this year, Wayne took on a new show, “Deep In the Heart of Texas,” which plays four hours of Lone Star State music every Saturday night, beginning at 8 p.m. The playlist on a recent Saturday night was full of Austinites past and present, from Reckless Kelly and James McMurtry to Junior Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

A former full-time musician who’s down to about four gigs a month, Wayne is the announcer on 36 hours of Sirius programming a week, and he’s loving every minute of it.

“I give all the credit to Little Steven Van Zandt and Jeremy Tepper,” Wayne says of Outlaw Country’s creator and programmer, respectively. “They make it so smooth. It took me a few days to figure out the (computerized) system, but now I’ve got it down to where I can do a four-hour show in about an hour and a half.”

Although Wayne often rips and routes MP3 files to headquarters in New York, getting such favorite Austin acts as Sunny Sweeney and the Gourds onto Outlaw Country playlists, the music portions of Wayne’s shows are already laid out for him before he starts working at 6 a.m. every morning.

He gets paid by the shift, and with eight a week, the money’s a lot better than when he took to the road with a guitar or bass and played honky tonks with such acts as the Twangbangers (featuring Redd Volkaert) and Robbie Fulks’ Special Consensus. “I make a comfortable living,” he says.

It was Volkaert who persuaded Wayne to move to the Austin area in 2003. The idea was that Wayne would get a lot more performing opportunities, but in 2005, the veteran musician’s career took an unexpected turn. “I was at the Americana Music Convention in Nashville and a couple of people told me Jeremy Tepper was looking for me.”

Wayne had met Tepper, who founded the Diesel Only truck driver music label, at a festival in the Netherlands a few years earlier when Wayne was on the bill with Tepper’s wife, Laura Cantrell. At the time Wayne had a weekly country radio show in Scandinavia, where he lived in the late ’90s.

When Tepper started assembling the pieces for Outlaw Country, he remembered the deep-voiced singer he’d met in Europe. At around the same time, Wayne was going through a severe medical problem that would force him to cut down on his touring. He’d lost his right eye to a combination of glaucoma and cataracts and was losing vision in his left eye to the point that he couldn’t really drive himself to gigs anymore, especially the all-nighters on the highways between shows. At about the same time Tepper was asking Wayne whether he wanted to sit in a room all day talking, the musician was realizing that that was what he could do best.

“From day one they’ve been telling me just to be myself,” says Wayne, who has two grown sons, also musicians. “You look at some of the other deejays on Outlaw Country — Cowboy Jack Clements, Mojo Nixon, Steve Earle — these are all people with a strong personality.”

Thanks to the addition of company anchor Howard Stern, the number of Sirius subscribers, who pay $12.95 each month, has risen dramatically, from 1.3 million in 2004 to 7.1 million in June. Sirius once lagged way behind rival XM Satellite Radio, but they’re currently about even.

All those listeners have made a big difference for Austin acts such as Dale Watson and Ray Wylie Hubbard, who rarely receive airplay on commercial stations. “It’s made a huge impact out on the road,” says Watson, whose tour bus carries both XM, which has eight country stations, and Sirius, which has five. “We have a lot more folks coming out to the shows, especially when they announce (on the air) where we’ll be playing.”

Hubbard’s wife and manager, Judy Hubbard, says hits on the songwriter’s MySpace page have risen dramatically since XM’s Jessie Scott put “Conversation With the Devil” and “Snake Farm” in heavy rotation. “We have our phone number listed (for business reasons), and we’ve been getting calls from all over the country from all kinds of people,” she says. “It’s like we’ve found a whole new audience.”

And he’s done it without having to tour, which is something he’s grown weary of through the years.

“Ray hates to travel, but that used to be the only way to get the word out when he had a new record,” Judy Hubbard says. “But when you get played on satellite it goes all over the country.”

On Saturday night, they were drinking beer in Oregon to Charlie Robison’s “Poor Man’s Son,” cleaning up after a party in Florida while the Derailers sang “Hey, Valerie” and haulin’ tires across Ohio while Lyle Lovett and His Large Band played “Up In Indiana.”

Wayne can’t mask his excitement at being on the ground floor of something that’s starting to really take off. “It’s just a dream come true,” he says. He’s got one last announcement on a recent Saturday; his sign-off. It’s something you would never hear on, say, KASE or KVET. “Remember folks, don’t get too (expletive) up to drive, tell the people you love that you love ’em and always wear a condom.”

And with that, another episode of “Deep In the Heart of Texas,” emanating from deep in the piney woods of Bastrop County, is a wrap.

Twangbangers Reunion – France 2007

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