Music From Route 66 and Far Beyond with Tom Funk
Gallup, New Mexico, besides being mentioned on the classic song “Route 66” because it’s on Route 66, has a pretty cool radio station, KGLP. From emailing with music director Tom Funk, I can tell that he’s one of those guys who has an extensive CD and LP collection that is probably better organized than mine.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio, and what other stations have you worked at?
Tom Funk: I’ve always been an eclectic listener of music growing up in South Dakota in the ’50s and ’60s. I had a vacuum tube AM radio and was able to pick up KOMA, OKC, KAAY Little Rock, and WLS Chicago as well as regional stations in Pipestone, MN, and Jamestown, ND. All had segments of great programming. The first LP I ever purchased was of Buddy Holly. We also bought reject 45s at the local department store.
When I got to college, the library exposed me to blues albums like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Big Bill Broonzy. My roommate was the student manager of the college radio station and he gave me a time slot. There I was exposed to An Evening With Wild Man Fisher as well as The Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.
After college, I went into a listening dry spell but was able to listen to shortwave radio, the likes of Armed Services Radio and Radio Cuba. Great stuff! Everything from early Tayna Tucker to Cuban son and boleros.
In the ’80s I began listening again to the Talking Heads and Doc Watson. Work in Gallup required a lot of driving on the Navajo Reservation. One can only listen to so much talk radio. So when KGLP came on the air and Jamie Hoover, our station manager at the time, allowed me a time slot, I was able to do two things: preview interesting music and share that music. Now, I am also the music director at the station.
How do you describe your show?
My show, The Green Chile Revival & Medicine Show, is heard Saturdays noon until 4:00 pm on KGLP. My hope is to highlight interesting, engaging, well-written, listenable music of many genres. My station description says, “A spicy blend of honky-tonk, singer/songwriters, blues, conjunto, and big band music. An eclectic potpourri that is good for what ails ya.”
How many new releases do you play and do you play many independent artists?
I play mostly independent artists. I try to fit in some older artists like Dick Curless and Jim Ringer, and I preview many new artists weekly and try to fit them in also.
What was the first artist or album that got you into roots music?
I would say Jesse Winchester, The Flatlanders, Blaze Foley, and Dave Alvin.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre?
There are so many great artists, present and past, who need to be heard. Too many great artists to name: Jack Teagarden, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Kasey Chambers, Elides Ochoa, Last Train Home, Houston Jones … I would also include artists like Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier, Joel Mabus, Lynne Hansen. Nina Simone and Yank Rachel come to mind as well. I just became acquainted with Aurelio Martinez, a Honduran Garifuna musician who is mesmerizing. Recently, a listener gave me about 100 big band LPs, which will take a couple of years to feature.
I feel fortunate being able to share all kinds of music every week. Mostly, I let the music do the talking.
How do you define what Americana music is?
I consider it a subgenre of roots music.
What recent albums are you excited about?
Live at Hillbilly Haiku by Jefferson Ross and Amber Cross’ Savage On The Downhill.
Do you have any memorable experiences from working in the music industry?
I recently met James Lee Stanley, a fine singer/songwriter. I had no idea that he has released 32 albums. It was an honor to speak with him.
What keeps you inspired?
Being able to listen to these many and varied artists is a privilege. I learn something important every week.