Michael Hibblen with Flap Jones during a pledge drive at KUAR on Sept. 15, 2017.

Occasionally I get to fill in for Flap Jones hosting KUAR’s Not Necessarily Nashville. It’s a great treat because it’s a return to what I started out doing in radio: playing and talking about my favorite music. But sitting in on Oct. 21, 2017 was extra special because it was the 30th anniversary of Not Necessarily Nashville going on the air.

The show began on Little Rock community radio station KABF-FM 88.3, where then-Program Director Doug Clifford wanted to find someone who could host a show playing country music that wasn’t getting played on commercial radio stations. Carol Dee Bland, a friend of Flap’s at KABF, told her about the search, so she submitted a tape with the kind of music she was interested in playing and Doug put her on the air. Doug also came up with the name Not Necessarily Nashville.

Doug Clifford in 2010 in Gainesville, Florida, where he lives today.

Flap told me recently that after that first show, she didn’t think she would be brought back the following week, much less still be hosting it 30 years later. In 2009, shortly after I moved back to Arkansas and began working at KUAR, she contacted me and asked if my station might be interested in running the show. KUAR, which is the typical NPR station mainly focused on news and jazz programming, had never featured a country music program. Station Manager Ben Fry and Program Director Ron Breeding decided to give it a try and it proved to be a hit to our audience.

I’ve known Flap since we were both at KABF in the 1980s and even filled in hosting Not Necessarily Nashville once in 1990. Since moving her program over to KUAR, I’ve been her regular fill in whenever she needs to be off. We have pretty similar tastes in country music and often go to live concerts together.

Hear the first hour of KUAR’s Not Necessarily Nashville, Oct. 21, 2017, hosted by Michael Hibblen.
Hear hour 2 of KUAR’s Not Necessarily Nashville, Oct. 21, 2017, hosted by Michael Hibblen.

As I was hosting the 30th anniversary episode of Not Necessarily Nashville on the radio, she was at a celebration of the program at the White Water Tavern in Little Rock featuring live performances by the Creek Rocks and Brad Williams. She was also giving away CDs, as well as buttons that said, “Country radio doesn’t have to suck.” During the radio program I called Flap at the venue to find out how the show was going and to talk a little about the history of the program. You can hear the interview above during hour one about 46:30 into the program.