“It’s time to swing open the doors … come on in!” With those words, Ms. Pearl welcomes listeners and gets underway with good music and conversation.
Michael A. Brown: How did Pearl’s General Store get its start and its name?
Ms. Pearl: Before I moved to Austin, I hosted a weekly show in Dallas called Texas Renegade Radio. Their country music format was kind of rigid and when I applied for a program at KOOP, I still wanted to play country but with more flexibility. I also decided to create a new radio name for myself, and singer Grayson Capps had the name “Pearline” in one of his songs. My husband and I shortened that to Pearl and we called the new show “The General Store” because generally, I can play whatever I want!
MAB: Which kinds of country music and musicians attract the most listener interest and comments?
Pearl: Pearl’s General Store definitely is not like mainstream country music radio. We play artists like Loretta Lynn and Grayson Capps and Eilen Jewell. We do play some old-time country, but also what we call “underground country”. Sometimes listeners tell us, “You play music I never heard before”.
MAB: Tell me about a favorite episode or two, and some of your favorite guests.
Pearl: A few years ago during SXSW, I got to interview Robbie Fulks the singer-songwriter and he was great … he sang, we talked, he was funny … it was awesome! Another time we had a band called The Bellfuries performing at the KOOP studio and they were really good and lots of fun.
MAB: What was it like doing your show during KOOP’s pre-recorded era? How did you maintain the spontaneity?
Pearl: It was very hard for me and I didn’t like trying to act like I was “live”. Pre-recording and editing four 28-minute segments a week was a challenge because I don’t program by time; I program by what sounds good with this song. And if spontaneity came across, that was a miracle. What kept me going was the kind calls and letters I received from listeners and KOOP donors thanking me for all the good music.
MAB: Talk about your show sidekick, Boots.
Pearl: He’s my Ed McMahon … my left-hand-man because he stands to my left in the studio. He provides knowledgeable comments and insights into the music and musicians. He himself was in a band that opened for Ernest Tubbs and also for Waylon Jennings. Boots really adds a lot to our show.
MAB: What experiences have you had taking your show to remote venues and events in the community?
Pearl: We had a band called The Modern Don Juans perform live in my backyard and it was broadcast live on KOOP. Listeners showed up and it was so much fun interacting with them! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do live remotes in almost two years.
MAB: Besides your show, what other things are you involved in at KOOP?
Pearl: I do peer reviews of other shows and I help keep members’ contact and credit card info up-to-date. And I pitch during membership drives like the one this month. Speaking of which, you can donate right now.
You can enjoy Pearl’s General Store every Friday from 9-11am at KOOP 91.7FM in Austin & worldwide at www.KOOP.org.
Interview by Michael A. Brown