By John Conquest – Music City Texas #87 Nov. 1996
During the next few weeks I’ll be strewing MCT 1996 Austin Music Poll ballots in all directions and one of the categories, as always will be Third Coast Act. Now this is a concept that seems perfectly straightforward to me, but, even with a short, rather generalized explanatory note, which, this year, reads “a Baton Rouge to Brownsville catchall,” it seems to baffle many of the Austinites who fill in the ballots. Before my time, there was an Austin magazine actually called Third Coast but, perhaps running into the same incomprehension, it folded faster than most. However, down in San Antonio, people seem to grasp the significance of the term quite readily, judging by the success of Joe Horn’s radio show Third Coast Music Network, broadcast daily on KSYM, the San Antonio College station. While Horn’s exemplary work as a DJ and music director deserves coverage on its merits, my hope was to use it to illuminate the idea of Third Coast music.
Horn and I are, you might say, kindred spirits. I remember the first time we got together, when Horn was a fanatical amateur and MCT still strictly territorial. Brenda Horn shaking her head, saying, “You guys. How long could you sit here just talking about Texas music?” While living in Austin (1977-82), Horn, originally from Hillsboro, was converted, from earlier enthusiasms for blues and reggae, to the cause by Larry Monroe and in San Antonio threw all the support he could behind KFAN during its all too brief apotheosis as a 24 hour, all-Texas music station. When, in 1991, its owners sold the powerful frequency, which, with luck and a little altitude, could be picked up in South Austin, Horn became an activist, persuading KSYM to give him Sunday evenings for Joe X By God Horn’s World Famous Texas Music Show.
For a few years, Joe and I both chugged along doing the loyalist thing, but in early 1995, in what still strikes me as a rather singular and revealing parallel development, we separately and simultaneously decided to abandon our Texas only formats. On many occasions, we’d both strained the integument, freely, though never casually, bestowing the title of ‘honorary Texan,’ often on the same people, but increasingly found such expedients unsatisfactory. Whether Texas music is on the ebb or we outgrew it as a sole focus, we realised that concentration on it was acting as a wall, when we were both trying to tear walls down. My solution was a pragmatic/idiosyncratic opening up, but Horn tried to define his new direction by creating the Third Coast Music Network.
Easier to say than explain. Taking Sunday nights and Friday afternoons himself, Horn oversees seven other DJs, including Larry Monroe (first Saturday of each month) and Jim Beal Jr. of the San Antonio Light, who play whatever they want within a framework Horn imposes by lashing them to his Wheel. “Basically, it’s a way of creating continuity by making sure that in every block of 15 plays, three will be rock & roll or rockabilly, three blues or jazz, three Cajun, Zydeco or New Orleans, three singer-songwriters and three from compilations. For DJs, there’s a temptation to get on a roll, but just because it feels smooth doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job. You resist trying to work in things that don’t seem to fit, so the wheel keeps them roughly on track.”
Horn’s formula has been spectacularly successful, his show far and away the biggest earner in KSYM’s pledge drives, with a waiting list of would-be underwriters. “Companies drop out from time to time, but I never have to make more than one call to replace them. These are solid people making business decisions, so I feel pretty good about it.” In fact, Horn, whose picture framing business is suffering from his devotion to the Network, wonders if, given its proven appeal to underwriters, for which read potential advertisers, his show may not have commercial potential. “There are people taking $5 an hour for playing hideous shit. You’d think they’d be happy to get that playing good music!”
Horn’s wheel alone, of course, doesn’t define the show, which brings us back to the Third Coast concept. “I guess the main catalyst in going from the Texas show to the Network was realizing that San Antonio’s real sister city is New Orleans, not Austin. But though what we play is primarily from the South, it just can’t be geographically limited. You can be from LA, like Los Lobos, The Blazers and Dave Alvin, and still be Third Coast. The other two coasts are such arrogant bastards about the arts that anyone who doesn’t fit in is likely to be Third Coast.” Though he’s a reporter for The Gavin Report’s Americana chart, much standard Americana fodder never gets added to Horn’s playlist and much of what he does add never makes it to the chart.
Now we get to the really helpful bit. “It’s so difficult to describe because it’s art, which is always elusive. I think, no matter where people are, they recognize soulfulness, and they know what Third Coast means.” Which sounds an awful lot like an update of MCT’s old Texas music motto: If we have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.” JC
From ancient ‘newsgroups’:
Subject: New local radio format at KSYM
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Smorto)
According to Jim Beal in the express-News, KSYM, San Antonio College’s
alternative radio station will be offering Joe Horn’s Third Coast Radio Network every
weekday. Normally on 6-10pm on Sundays. It will now run 3-6pm Monday – Friday. It is
slated as an 11 week experiment first. However, this is the only station in town that can
break our airways strangle hold from commercial programming. Third Coast is sort of a
AAA format, offering extensive selection from local artists and all texas artists, like the
ones I mention. This is a must for folks that like folk, blues, zydeco, and country offered
by Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alan Damron, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, and rock
such as Delbert McClinton, etc., etc.
I urge you to support this effort by listening as often as possible and voice
your approvals or comments by Faxing SAC at 733-2338, or snail mail to:
1300 San Pedro
S.A., TX 78212
Here’s your chance to give the music we love in town it’s shot-in-the-arm it
Subject: S.A. Music News- 7/21/95
From: email@example.com (Jim Smorto)
S.A. Music News – 7/21/95
Another workweek done, Halleluiah!! Now it’s time to head out for a week of
excellant music in the Alamo City. I always get my info from the Express_news Night
Lights column by Jim Beal, and the Current. Unfortunately, I hadn’t got around to
finding the Current, so all is out of the E-N.
As I write this little post, I am listening to Joe Horn’s Third Coast Radio
Network on KSYM, San Antonio College radio at 90.1 FM. This is a new daily format,
Mon.-Fri. from 3-6pm, and Sunday’s 4-10pm. It is the only station in town to play
local and regional music. Many of the bands I list can be heard on this station
including The Dead Crickets, Jimmy Spacek, Smith Brothers, and texas favorites like
Robert Earl King, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball, and many more. So please tune in to this
show and support their efforts to bring this music to the airways.
Subject: S.A. Music News – 8/4/95
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Smorto)
Article Segment 2 of 2
(Get Previous Segment)
(Get All 2 Segments)
Remember to tune your radios to 90.1, KSYM, Mon.-Fri form 3-6p, and
Sunday 6-10p for Joe Horns Third Coast Radio Network. It is the only station
is town that plays local, texas, and regional music you can only find in Austin
or Fredericksburg radio. Try it, you’ll like it!!
As Always SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC.
Subject: Third Coast Radio Network, KSYM, 90.1 FM
From: email@example.com (Jim Smorto)
I wnated to remind you all out there in Alamo country that local and regional
music from texas, and parts thereof, can be found every weekday and Sunday’s on Joe
Horn’s Third Coast Music Network show. Mon.- Fri. from 3-6pm, and Sunday from
6-10pm. If you love texas music of all kinds, with some Louisiana thrown in, take time to
listen to this fine and necessary show. Many of the groups I mention in the Music News
column can be heard, and are given that rare gift of airtime in this city.
Subject: new artists
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Fulcher)
Anybody know these artists? Have any to add thats new and regional!
Know any groups making it in Austin This weekend at SXSW!
Besides Dead reckoning of course at the RITZ
Sisters Morales and Jesse Dayton are overflow from Austin down at The
Cibilo Creek Country Club this week and Arlo Guthrie is at Gruene!
BR5-49 also hit Gruene tonite.Also listed in a column by Jim beal in the
Express News are
Cabalerros/Kelly Williams band/Bottle Rockets/Kenny wayne
Sheoherd/Blazers/and Dana Cooper at Gruene SAT and Cibilo Creek SUN
90.1 KSYM San Antonio College is playing all these guys right now on the
radio…on the Third Coast Music Network..sponsored by viewers like
you..and Billy Blues BBQ Grill…Pig Stands..Whole Foods…
TexasNet and so on and so on..If I am lost that’s where I’ll be found
email@example.com (Mike Fulcher)
ALAMO Internet — +1 (210) 691-2358 — San Antonio, Texas
Subject: Re: Local Music Info
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Fulcher)
-> From: email@example.com (Tom Smith)
-> Subject: Local Music Info
-> I’m looking for information on live music, where to go, etc, for the
-> week beginning 5/26. All I’ve found on the Web are some very much
-> out of date
-> sites. Is there any concise source of information? Hell, I’ll even re
-> good leads.
Most record places have about three FREE throwaways with lots of
info and schedules. WIley Alexander and Jim Beal Jr. can be reached by
e-mail at the Express-news along with Ramiro Burr.The San Antonio
Current is chock full of venues and artists also and FREE!
Putting it on the WEB will come with bars getting into WEB PAGES and
Home Pages which may not be real soon since you can’t drink or dance
with computer screens.
If you like Texas Music dial up the Third Coast Texas Music Network
on KSYM 90.1 FM everyday from 3-6 PM or Sundays from 6-10 PM.
Billy Blues and some other places sponsor their programs through
pledges. It is the San Antonio College Radio Station and features all
types of music all day except after midnight.
One good recommendation for a record store is GOOD VIBRATIONS on
6724 San Pedro 828-3472. They sometimes have free live music on Saturday
afternoon. Their Texas Music selection is superb except they ran out of
Kimmie Rhodes yesterday when I bought her new tape along with Pam Cox’s
“Let It Rain”. Used vinyl and tapes and CDs galore.
Subject: Re: Willie Nelson Performs Live On-Air
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (wolfgang)
FYI–This has been moved to Wed., July 3.
> Willie Nelson will perform his new album “Spirit” (Island label) live
> Monday, July 1, in San Antonio from the studios of Third Coast Music
> Network限KSYM 90.1 FM限from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
> Willie will also discuss his July 4th picnic at Luckenbach and answer
> questions from callers. You can fax questions for Willie in advance at
> (210) 732-1094 to the attention of Third Coast.
> If you’re in San Antonio, don’t miss this historic event. If you know
> someone in San Antonio, have them record it for you. It’s another example
> of the great things Joe Horn and his crew at Third Coast are doing for
> Texas music.