Don “Dondo” Darue
The Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot, a local radio show focused on old timey Americana music, recently went off the air at its longtime home, KTHX. The show’s host, Don “Dondo” Darue, is still producing the show as an online podcast for his website, web.mac.com/feralradio, and hosting a music night at Great Basin Brewing Co., 846 Victorian Ave., Sparks, 355-7711, every Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Tell me about the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot.
It started in 1990 when the X first went on the air. … One Saturday morning—when we first went on the air we didn’t have any part-time people, so we worked during the week, and also on the weekends, and I switched places with Bruce [Van Dyke, KTHX on-air personality and RN&R columnist], because he had to go do something. And on my way out the door, I grabbed some Ozark Mountain Daredevils and some Pure Prairie League and some John Prine and stuff like that, and put it on the air that day, and Bruce actually heard it, and he said, ‘Hey man, you own Saturday with that stuff.” And I said, “Well, then, I’ll make it a show, and we’ll come up with a name,” and Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot kind of stuck. It was on the air for 19 years and one month. The format was basically Americana stuff, like bluegrass and folk, and a lot of twang in there. Some spoken word, some humor. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
What prompted the decision to cancel the show?
Well, I was called into the general manager’s office at the X in August actually, the first time around. And they said, “We’re not going to carry the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot anymore.” And I said, “You’re crazy! Why? It makes money. It’s real popular.” And they said it’s not a local decision, it was a national decision at that time. But the general manager at that time put up a fight for it, and they said, ‘OK, we’ll keep it on for now,” and then last month, they came in and said, “Well we’re not going to carry it anymore.” It doesn’t really fit in with the profit structure for the company.
What’s the name of the company?
How big of a company is that?
They have radio stations in a few markets: Reno, Fresno, Denver, Kansas City, and there’s a couple other ones in there. But they’re based in Georgia.
Now that the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot is off the air, are you staying with the X?
That’s up in the air for me right now. What I want to do right now—I own the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot. It’s my own thing and my company. So my plan is to put that back on the air, and I’ve had a couple people talk to me about doing that. … It’s just hard because I need this job right now to support my family, but I don’t want to stay there. I really don’t have faith—I just don’t think these guys really care, this ownership. They just look at everything from a business standpoint, from a profit standpoint. This show makes money, even in this economy, but it just wasn’t enough.
It seems like it’s a decision to lose some local character …
Yeah, and for me, personally, I just think it’s really reflective of this consolidation of ownership of media, whether it’s magazines or radio or TV or anything. If you’re owned by somebody out of town, they don’t have a connection to this show that people have. I mean, I’ve literally gotten hundreds of emails. … It’s been pretty overwhelming. I know the show’s popular—it’s been on for so long—but the nice thing is I get emails from people who tell me their kids grew up listening to the show. I’ve got a lot of people who listen online—or used to listen online—from all over the place, from all over the world. It’s their little piece of Nevada, their little piece of Reno, and they like it.