Polishing The Local Culture

Polishing The Local Culture

Podcast goes live at Feb. 9 Darby Junior High School


“It’s a little bit of ‘Prairie Home Companion’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ mixed together with those old vintage radio shows from the ’30s and ’40s. We really run the gamut — and we have fun.”

That’s Kevin Jones’ description of “The Local Color Radio Hour,” a show recorded in podcast format designed to celebrate the “local haunts,” museums, music and culture that call the River Valley home.

“We really like to uncover and remind people how cool this area is,” Jones adds. “Every little town has little stories, and we like to highlight that.”

The radio hour was born out of a lack of broadcast media opportunities at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. UAFS has a media communications department, but with an absence of student radio and student television, many students and faculty were already making forays into the world of podcasting. Jones — who is also a professor in the UAFS English department — decided to add his and other local voices to the mix in the hopes of supporting the museums, nonprofits, historical sites and locally owned businesses that comprise the character of the River Valley.

“The theme changes each time, but we do have two recurring segments in every show called ‘Little Known Facts’ and ‘On Display,’” he shares. “And those are two segments in which we have either historians or specifically people from the Fort Smith Museum of History do a little segment about what’s on display, or we’re looking at possibly something everybody knows about, but did they know this little part of the story?”

All the episodes, and a few other special features, are archived on the program’s website, but the exciting thing for Jones is when the show records live. On Feb. 9, the creators will present the fifth volume of “The Local Color Radio Hour” live at the William O. Darby Junior High School historic auditorium, where highlights will include the music of Fort Smith composer and bandleader Alphonso Trent; the history of Gen. William O. Darby; local historic recipes from Sonny and Sue Robinson; Leisa Gramlich, executive director of the Fort Smith Museum of History; and much more.

“Joe Hardin has a CD out, and he’s a professional musician [as well as] our musical director,” Jones says, turning to the featured music for Feb. 9. “He is a national treasure that a lot of people don’t even realize who he’s played with before.

“A special guest that we have also [is] Michael Westbrook with the Southside Jazz Band. And, of course, we want to promote the Southside High School Jazz Band because they’re just amazing students.

“So,” he goes on, “yes, hillbilly music or kind of mountain music is part of what we do. But I don’t want people to think that’s all we do. Is there bluegrass in the show? Yes. But there’s also rock and blues and jazz and gospel and a little bit of everything. But that’s Fort Smith, too.”



‘The Local Color Radio Hour’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Feb. 9

WHERE — William O. Darby Junior High School auditorium in Fort Smith

COST — $10

INFO — facebook.com/SpinninRoundProductions

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