Radio host Mike Rhyner is a 1968 graduate of Kimball High School, born and raised in Oak Cliff. He’s been on the air with KTCK since its debut in 1993, a fixture on the afternoon drive-time show The Hardline. He’s also a musician who plays in the Tom Petty cover band Petty Theft and a Byrds cover band, the Nyrds.
What neighborhood did you grow up in Oak Cliff?
I lived in Southwest Oak Cliff, not too far from Duncanville. We lived in two places over there. One was near Polk Terrace and one was close to Kimball, between Lancaster and Kiest. It was about an idyllic a place to grow up as you can possibly imagine. It was all families. There wasn’t a whole lot that happened out there. It was like the Cleavers’ neighborhood, almost. It was really a great place to grow up, and that sounds kind of weird to some people nowadays. But back then it was something completely different.
Were you in a band back then, and if so, where did you play?
I started playing in bands in my early ’teens. You played anything you could get. Parties that your friends would have, a lot of churches would have dances on the weekends. There was a place out there called Candy’s Flare at the National Guard armory on Red Bird Lane that people used to play.
Where did you hang out?
Kids rode around back then. There wasn’t any place to hang out, really. I had some friends who went to South Oak Cliff, and they would hang out at the Glendale Shopping Center. Sometimes people would hang out at Polk and Camp Wisdom. Kiest Park was always a big place, but that’s a place people used to go to make out more than anything. And Hampton-Illinois, let’s not forget it.
I know you live Downtown now. Do you ever come over here to hang out now?
I sometimes go over to The Foundry or Bishop Arts. What I like to do more than anything is drive around the old neighborhood and see what’s shaking there.
Were you always a Rangers fan?
I was into baseball long before they got here, and when they got here, they became my team. I’ve been with them from the start.
What team did you follow before the Rangers?
Anybody who was playing the Yankees. I’m a Yankee hater from way back, and I still do.
I appreciate that, but why did you hate the Yankees?
They just had more of everything than anyone. And they won all the time, too. I guess I thought there should have been equanimity in the game. I didn’t really understand how things worked. I understand it now, though, and I understand the greatness that was before me, which I didn’t latch onto then.
Do you think the Rangers will make the series this year (asked the first week of September)?
Do I think the Rangers will make it to the World Series? I’m not looking that far ahead. Getting into the tournament is job one. In any sport, all you want to do, and I learned this from the great Bill Parcels, is get to the tournament and then you take your chances. Anytime you get into the tournament, it’s not a failed season.
Rangers fans will probably perceive it that way since we’ve been to the series twice now.
I fear that it will be perceived that way, with fans being the way they are, especially fans around here. I think they would be really let down if things don’t work out.
Do people always want to talk to you about sports? Are you OK with that?
I try to be as accommodating to people as I can be. If people are nice to me, I am nice to them. I don’t like being asked Cowboys questions when baseball season is on. All that just comes with the job, though, and I know that.
How long have you been on the radio in Dallas?
Since 1979, I’ve been into it and out of it and here and there. These days it’s pretty hard to stay in one place very long, and I’ve been really, really fortunate at the Ticket. We’re now coming up on 19 years. If I can get 20 years with the Ticket, especially the way the business is nowadays, if I can get 20 years in, whatever happens after that, I will be able to walk away from it and say, “You did something there.”
A lot of the women in our office listen to the Ticket, and they were excited that I’m interviewing you. Do you think you have many female fans?
Not as many women as guys. We don’t have as many women as we would like. We love all, and we serve all. Or at least we try to. We’re delighted to have you on board.
Do you talk to your co-hosts before every show or do you just kind of wing it?
We meet an hour before show time, and its not real detailed. It’s more of a taking of everybody’s internal temperature to get what everyone’s thinking about. Then we determine what we’re going to talk about. But we just hit on the topics. The first time we really talk about it is what you hear on air. You’re hearing it for the first time, and so am I.
We find it entertaining when you Hardline guys get testy with each other. Is that real, or is it schtick?
We’re around each other an awful lot. We do this five days a week for all but three weeks out of the year. We’re around each other a lot, and it’s not impossible to make somebody a little bit crazy. Sometimes someone will catch onto something and keep going with it, and it can get under your skin. There’s not too much fake or staged going on in our show. Usually what you think you’re getting is what’s going on.
How long have you been playing music? Tell us about your band.
I got out of music in 1982, and I thought I was done with it. I thought it was over for me and I’d never do it again, and I was OK with that. Then lo and behold, Petty Theft sprang up in 2003. Ten years of Petty Theft and 20 years of the Ticket are my immediate goals. If I can do something with those, I will feel like I did a little something with this stage of life. I also just started the Nyrds, a Byrds cover band. We’re trying to get that up and running, and it’s going well. We like it. It sounds nice, and I hope people will come hear it sometime.