“Shakin’” Dave Hussong hasn’t lost the beat, but he will be slowing down a bit.
The blues radio program host helmed his last “Hall of Fame” program at WYSO last Sunday, and at the age of 73, Hussong is retiring. He has hosted a WYSO program for 37 years.
Hussong and the station are celebrating with a party at the Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St., Dayton, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday. There’s no cover, and the public is invited.
Hussong, who is also a dealer of vintage electric and acoustic guitars in Centerville, decided the time is right for the next chapter, whatever that is.
“There are a couple of guys in the idiom, and they will be doing a show,” Hussong said in a phone interview. “I thought, ‘What the heck. I’ve been there 37 years, and if I’m right, I’ve played about 57,000 cuts.’”
“I’ve run out of steam,” he added.
WYSO Music Director Niki Dakota said blues music will continue on WYSO 3 to 5 p.m. Sundays. “Long-time local musician Eric Henry will step into the slot with his show, ‘The Blues Revival,’ keeping the great WYSO/blues tradition alive,” she said.
Hussong has been a soothing but upbeat voice on the radio for thousands of Miami Valley listeners, opening the door to blues, jazz and musical Americana across the decades. Long an active blues guitarist himself, it wasn’t exactly a role he saw for himself early on.
As Hussong explained the genesis of his program, he used to call “Uncle” Art Snyder, a former programmer at WYSO, with questions and comments about the music he played. Hussong said Snyder invited him to the Yellow Springs station on a Wednesday afternoon.
“He said, ‘Come on in,’ and he started to talk to me,” Hussong recalled.
Snyder placed a headset on Hussong’s head. “And he left. He left and he walked out, and I had a baptism by fire,” he said.
One listener called and said, “The music sounds good, but I think you need to turn your microphone up.”
That was the beginning.
“It’s a colorful story, but it’s good one,” Hussong said. “I’ll always be grateful to (Snyder) for that.”
Hussong said he wanted to give listeners a “special overview” of not only classic American music but of Yellow Springs itself. He views WYSO and Antioch College as the heart of the Greene County community. He was also known for giving guitarists information on the guitars and amps used on many of the records he played.
He said he tried never to be condescending. “I never wanted to come across like, “What, you don’t know about T-Bone Walker?’”
“I was trying to contribute something and not just take from it,” he added. “I was properly and improperly talking about the artists. The more obscure, the better.”
He said he’s received plenty of messages from listeners, thanking him for years of music.
“I was in the studio with Dave yesterday,” Dakota said in an email to the Dayton Daily News. “His cellphone and the studio phones pinged and rang constantly — a deluge of texts and calls brimming with profound gratitude and deep emotion. A sublime mix of tears and smiles.”
Hussong also taught a course about the history of blues at the University of Dayton for a couple of semesters.
He’s remaining active, noting that he continues to sell vintage guitars at Centerville Music, a store he joined in 2014 after closing Fretware Guitars in the former Franklin National Bank in downtown Franklin.
“The Internet has created a whole new selling class,” Hussong said. “It’s very competitive.”
For now, Shakin’ Dave is looking forward to Sunday’s party. “I hope that will be full of musicians,” he said.
Dakota said Hussong dug deep into his vinyl record archives for music illustrating highlights of his near-four-decade broadcasting career. “Much of this music will be in evidence next Sunday at the Yellow Cab Tavern. The WYSO staff invites fans, friends, family and colleagues to join Dave, in person, to celebrate his legacy,” she said.
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