Collin Hudson is first and foremost a Red Dirt music fan. He and his partner, Kellie Poolaw, began a Red Dirt radio show in 2008 on 98.5 FM in Anadarko, Okla., and last year they founded RDROK.COM, their very own Red Dirt and Texas Country radio station. I got the chance to ask Collin a few questions about Red Dirt radio and Red Dirt music, and here’s what he had to say:
NMG: How did you first get into Red Dirt music?
CH: I’ve been listening to this kind of whatever you want to call it — people call it a lot of things: alternative country, Texas country, Red Dirt — but I was listening to Jerry Jeff Walker by the time I was in junior high. The stuff my dad listend to. My dad was a businessman, but when I was a kid, he played a character on the most radio show in Dallas/Fort Worth. That kind of got me interested in radio, but I grew up being an audiophile and just glued to the radio, rock, country, and that kind of stuff. When I got older, when I got out of high school, I lived in Austin for a long time, so I got exposed to a lot of these bands. Whether they were from Texas or Oklahoma or wherever, they pretty much all came through Austin to play.
NMG: Was your first gig in radio with Red Dirt? If not, how’d you get started in Red Dirt Radio?
CH: The first job I had in radio was a jazz station. And then after that I went to an alternative rock station in the same company. Then and now, I still listen to rock music and I listen to country and other things, but for the last nine or ten years, this alternative country thing, Texas country and Red Dirt, has been my passion.
I worked for KFWR The Ranch in Ft. Worth when it very first was sold to the current owners that turned it into a full-time Texas country station. Of course, some of the biggest bands in the whole Texas country thing are from Oklahoma. Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney LaRue. A lot of them. I worked for The Ranch for a while, then I came to Oklahoma, and me and my partner, Kellie Poolaw, we started a Red Dirt show in 2008. She hosted the show, and I was a sales person there. She and I are real close friends and we did everything together. We programmed the show, we named the show together, it was all our partnership that started that show. She hosted it for two years. That show is still on the air. When we left there, we decided that was our last stop in country radio. We had both worked in radio in Texas and Oklahoma. That’s when we started working on the idea to build our own internet radio station, and of course, we wanted it to be Red Dirt radio which was what we started on FM. That show we started is going to be four years old this year.
NMG: How has the genre changed over the years?
CH: Red Dirt music has gotten much more popular. It seems like, in a way, a lot of people are clamoring to have a piece of it commercially. But the one thing that I noticed — the reason that we started the Red Dirt show on the FM station — we just felt like it wasn’t being taken very seriously in the state of Oklahoma as far as radio goes. You could count on one hand the number of stations that are playing Red Dirt music, even in the state of Oklahoma. We started it because there was a huge void and a gap there, where nobody in Oklahoma was playing Red Dirt music on the radio. And if they’re not going to take it seriously in Oklahoma on the radio, where are they going to take it seriously on radio?
As far as what’s changed, there are more stations in both Texas and Oklahoma, and even in surrounding states and others that don’t surround the region, that are taking Red Dirt music more seriously, either on terrestrial airwaves or on the internet. That’s the one thing I do see that has changed, that radio is taking Red Dirt more seriously in this region and around the country. Even in places like New York City and San Francisco, the Southeast coast and the West coast. Another thing that’s changed — I hope that’s changed — is that some of these bands seem to be making more money. I hope they are!
NMG: How do you find new music and artists for your station?
CH: I really hate going out to crowded dance clubs, but I love going to honky-tonks and seeing bands play. I go see a lot of live music. I’m on the internet a lot, listening to all the bands I can. And we get sent music. We’ve only had this website up for about 10 months or so, but artists send their stuff to us. And we have recently started reporting to the Texas Music Chart, and by reporting to them, that brings more attention to us.
NMG: Who are some new, up-and-coming acts that you think fans should be on the lookout for?
CH: Some of these may or may not be secrets to people anymore, but our 2011 album of the year was from John David Kent. Another band in that same area that’s really good is the Dustin Perkins Band. Two Steps Back is a band out of Stillwater, a young band that I’d like to hear more of. Some bands that are hot here are the Turnpike Troubadours and The Dan Quayles. They are definitely both up-and-coming, but the secret is already out about them in Oklahoma and Texas. There are others. The Bobby Darrell Band, Ken Morrow Band, Brad Good. There are some other young artists that are up-and-coming that are still lesser known people, and we’re looking for those. We play more Oklahoma artists than anybody out there, and we probably, I believe, play more new music than anybody we know of on the airwaves or on the internet.