Michelle Williams and JD Rose have a good time helping listeners start each day at The Ranch Radio. Photo by Phil Houseal
Back At The Ranch
by Phil Houseal
When strangers eavesdrop on your conversation four hours a day, five days a week, you can't fake your personality.
That's why Michelle Williams and JD Rose, morning deejays on the Ranch Radio, don't follow a script.
"We tried to script out our show, but it sounded scripted," Williams said. "We don't work well that way."
The way they work is a balanced presentation of news, comments, interviews and "the stars and legends" of real country music.
The Ranch has had success for 15 years with that format. With a recent tower upgrade their 50,000-watt signal reaches throughout the hill country and into the edge of San Antonio. They play Haggard, Jones, Owens, and Cash, mixed in with newer stars such as Trace Adkins, Bucky Covington, and Carrie Underwood.
"We try to keep it real country," Williams explained. "We play the music that sounds traditionally country."
The pair clicked from the first day they went on the air over five years ago. Williams had moved here from Valentine by way of Odessa, and Rose came with more than 25 years experience at KFAN in Fredericksburg.
"We hit it off from the beginning," Williams said. "I instantly started making fun of JD and he instantly started cracking up."
Rose remembers the challenge.
"That first day, I said Michelle was dodging bullets because I was sweating bullets," he said. "I had worked mostly by myself, but we hit it off right away."
What people hear on the radio are their natural personalities. They don't quite finish each other's sentences, but they do listen to what the other is saying. And they listen to their listeners.
"Yes, we know a lot of our listeners well, because they have been with us for five years," Williams said. "They are friends, and they call in every day to tell us what is going on in their lives."
Sometimes they tell too much. One day, callers were sharing their homespun remedies for helping Michelle with her leg cramps. People suggested massage, bananas, and calcium supplements. When "Rooster" phoned up and said every time his legs cramped he cured it with "a swig of whiskey," the co-hosts collapsed in laughter.
Rose loves it. "The invite is always there for them to call and be a part of the show. It's their radio station as far as we're concerned - we're one big happy family."
It is clear they respect their callers, and don't make fun of them.
Williams jumped on that comment. "I make fun of JD," she said, giggling.
Rose just shrugged. "She's got her hands full there."
When pressed to describe what they try to accomplish during their daily visits, both are unusually speechless. Rose finally tries to explain.
"We want people to have fun," he said. "I think people want to escape from the pressure of the world for four hours. If we can do that we are doing our job."
He gave an example from their show that morning.
"When we try to get a serious discussion going, you don't get much action. But talk about something as silly as should I eat a donut, and the phone goes crazy!"
"If JD and I can just laugh and have fun for four hours, then our listeners can just laugh and have fun for four hours. We can escape from all the stuff we don't want to think about, but we can still keep the community up to date on weather, sports, and current events."
So why tune in to the Ranch? JD ("the dyslexic DJ") puts on his radio voice.
"Because we inform, we entertain, and we play the best darn country music you're going to hear on the radio dial anywhere!"