Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Traveling Radio: Shelby Deaton, Harrison Hoskins & "On Being"

Every other weekend I travel the entire length of both the states of Ohio and Kentucky along I-75. Which means that I have a lot of time to while away the 400 or so miles of rubber to pavement. Seeing as I don't accept phone calls, little enjoy listening to music for extended periods of time and loathe corporate news, I tend to listen to quite a bit of talk radio. That or sports. Specifically Cincinnati Reds games. I've sort of adopted them as my traveling team and even listen to their post game shows with Marc Amazon and Doc Rogers. Last year's highlights included Homer Bailey's no-hitter and Marty Brennaman getting his head shaved for charity. I've even been known to listen to some high school football games for the pure joy of hearing bad play-by-play announcers.

As for the talk radio programs I'll listen to anything from NPR to Clark Howard to the Prairie Home Companion but prefer Michael Savage and Coast to Coast AM for my Friday night drives, though the former is a crapshoot to find on a serviceable station. In desperation I'll listen to the ultra-annoying Mark Levin or Andy Dean, even though he sounds like some 16 year old kid, and actually I prefer Dean's fill-in host Simon Conway, the expatriated Brit.

However, my concern for this post is the Sunday driving-back-home fare on the radio. Invariably, and despite the fact that I am a lower case atheist, I listen to an hour or so of religious programming. That is, no-name preachers. Which is hardly a mark against these gentlemen because they are leagues above the professional national shyster mouthpieces for religion. These guys spread the word because they believe it despite being relegated to Sunday afternoon duties on small radio stations.

One preacher that I seem to catch on a regular basis is Shelby Deaton or more specifically the band that accompanies his sermon on 105.7 FM out of Manchester, Kentucky which is about 100 miles southeast of Lexington. It's usually led by a caterwauling woman whose voice breaks or goes awry during the high notes but is always soulful in her expression. The band has a heavy handed drummer who uses the garbage can sounding cymbal (I think it's a china cymbal?) to great effect and gives off a garage band feel despite their straight-laced manner and subject matter. I usually turn them off after a few songs but last weekend I stayed with the program the entire duration and got rewarded for my loyalty in the form of Deaton's sermon.

It's a mixture of folksy quick speak, "you knows," "Amen almighty God" and a down home country delivery of the gospel. Here, have a listen:

I like this guy! He's aural folk art and the hand clapping of his cohorts moves the vocal rhythms along quite mightily. Had I known that a sermon followed the short monologue and concert I would have recorded the Jesus songs because they're quite enjoyable due to the earnest effort. At the end of preacher Denton's talk the hand-clapping increases and then the band explodes into a reprise of song before leaving the air:

The program which preceded his was a winner as well. Brother Harrison Hoskins takes a few minutes to warm up but when he does the prerequisite "ha" and "huh" hiccup suffixes after each phrase come out in torrents. I'm not sure why preachers do that but I'm guessing that it's a mechanism for controlled breathing. Have a listen:

Another show I've ambled into, via the now-defunct "Car Talk", is "On Being" with Krista Tippett. It's basically concerns the intellectual side of spirituality and outside of Tippett's rich voice is rather drab and boring. I mean, the great majority of the guests are university professors and there's nothing worse than the affected platitudes of the higher education reason-benders.

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