An Ode to Tennessee Radio's 'Swap Shop' For 60 years people living in Northwest Tennessee have been able to hear a radio program called Swap Shop. The format of the show is simple, harkening back to the days when radio was a predominently local medium. Listeners call or write in to buy or sell items, ranging from household items to farmyard implements. Producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister heard the program, and as part of an occasional series, they asked musician Kurt Wagner and his band Lambchop to use the show as inspiration for an original song.
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An Ode to Tennessee Radio's 'Swap Shop'

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An Ode to Tennessee Radio's 'Swap Shop'

An Ode to Tennessee Radio's 'Swap Shop'

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

For the past 60 years, people in Northwest Tennessee have tuned their radios each day at noon to a program called The Swap Shop. For 20 minutes each weekday, listeners write or call in to buy, sell or trade anything from a piece of plywood to a 10-acre farm. Independent producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister were driving through Tennessee when they first heard The Swap Shop. They thought the show would be a good subject for a song, so they sent Nashville-based musician Kurt Wagner and his band Lambchop some excerpts from the show and they asked him to write about the Swap Shop. Together, they all produced this story.

(Soundbite of radio program The Swap Shop)

Unidentified Man#1: WGPR Paris, WGPR FM with Ken and Paris Landsey(ph).

Mr. TERRY HAILEY (Host, The Swap Shop): It is 12 noon, and time now to swap and shop, The Swap Shop is…

Mr. HALEY: I am Terry Hailey. I've been hosting the Swap Shop for 25 years, something like that. And I've been the mayor of town for 18 years.

(Soundbite of radio program Swap Shop)

Mr. HAILEY: Swap Shop is a community service program brought to you every day, Monday through Friday, by your friends at Hill's Hardwares…

Mr. HAILEY: The format of the show is pretty simple. We take items that people mail us, we take items that are emailed, take telephone calls live on the air…

(Soundbite of radio program Swap Shop)

Mr. HAILEY: Swap Shop, hello?

Unidentified Man#2: Hello.

Mr. HAILEY: Hey.

Unidentified Man#2: Yes, I'd like to put on a little Unidentified Man #2: Yes, I'd like to put on a little rat terrier, four month old pup with papers on your swap and shop today.

Unidentified Man#3: I've still got one of them little Boston terrier pups.

Mr. HAILEY: Alright.

Unidentified Man#3: He's a male, and there, his feet's never been on the ground.

Unidentified Woman#1: We have goats for sale.

Mr. HAILEY: Goats for sale. One or a whole herd?

Mr. HAILEY: It's been going since 1946. I guess it's just as popular today as it ever was. A lot of people back when I was growing up, maybe you were picking cotton or maybe you were working in the field or doing something, you'd come to the house at noon to eat and The Swap Shop would be on.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. KURT WAGNER: (singing) I'd like to buy a good used paperback bible. And I've got some things that I'd like to put out there. Like a (unintelligible), a kitchen sink and a rocking chair. You can turn me on almost any day at noon.

Mr. HAILEY: Pretty much all of our listening area is basically rural and farm.

(Soundbite of radio program The Swap Shop)

Mr. HAILEY: Swap Shop, hello?

Unidentified Male#5: Yeah, this is, uh, (unintelligible), I'd like to put on a 1950 (unintelligible) on the Swap Shop.

Mr. HAILEY: …would like to buy a horse watering trough, must be concrete with no cracks in it.

Mr. HAILEY: I think in the rural setting that people still have a lot of those core values that made the country as strong as it is, and one of those core values, of course, is to conserve and to buy only the things they need and try to repair what they have.

(Soundbite of radio program “Swap Shop”)

Mr. HAILEY: Swap Shop, hello?

Unidentified Man#6: Yes, sir, I'd like to buy an RCA 27 inch color TV, nonworking. I need the parts.

Mr. KURT WAGNER (singing) Yeah, I'd like to put on the four month old rat terrier pup. I think he's a male. And he's marked up pretty and everything. This woman's got some goats, but his feet never fell on the ground. You can just buy one, or you can have the whole herd.

Unidentified Man#7: I'd like to buy a good used paperback living bible for a UGM student.

Mr. HAILEY: When things take a turn for the worse in the economy, your Swap Shop heats up.

(Soundbite of radio program The Swap Shop)

Unidentified Man#8: Kind of an old, it's a child's old rocking horse for sale. And a tabletop pinball machine with lights and noise and everything. Both of them for $10.

Mr. HAILEY: People are selling things more in earnest.

Unidentified Man#8: I still have a child's rocking horse for five dollars. Not a thing in the world wrong with it, just don't want it.

Mr. HAILEY: Swap and Shop, hello?

Unidentified Woman#2: Hello? I've got some things I want put on.

Mr. HAILEY: Well let's do it.

Unidentified Woman#2: (unintelligible)

Mr. HAILEY: Hello, you're on the air.

Unidentified Woman#2: Hello. I've got a, a big bike. I got (unintelligible)

Mr. HAILEY: I really don't know anything about her other than she calls a whole lot, and I know that sometimes she's a little bit difficult to understand what she's saying.

(Soundbite of radio program “Swap Shop”)

Unidentified Woman#2: I want to put on an old (unintelligible) and one old rocking chair.

Mr. HAILEY: But I try my best to strain to understand it and repeat it.

(Soundbite of radio program Swap Shop)

Mr. HAILEY: A wash stand and bowl and a rocking chair.

Unidentified Woman#2: And a pony cart.

Mr. HAILEY: A pony cart.

Unidentified Woman#2: Uh huh, and mule more.

Mr. HAILEY: A mule more? That's a more that mule pulls.

Unidentified Woman#2: An old kettle.

Mr. HAILEY: An old kettle.

Unidentified woman: One bird bath.

Mr. HAILEY: That's a birdbath.

Unidentified Woman#2: Old kitchen safe.

Mr. HAILEY: An old kitchen safe? Well down here in the south it could be like a pie safe. That would be sort of like a cabinet in which people used to bake pies and they'd set them over there in the pie safe.

Unidentified Woman#2: And my number is 886-645.

Mr. HAILEY: Well that's not enough numbers. 886-645?

Unidentified Woman#2: Uh huh. 886-56645

Mr. HAILEY: Well now, that's too many numbers. Okay, now let's start again. 866…

Mr. KURT WAGNER: (singing) (unintelligible) with sequins, worn just once.

Unidentified Man#9: And an (unintelligible) prom dress, slit above the knee. You got it.

Mr. KURT WAGNER: (singing) (unintelligible) recliner. It's green and it's cloth, and it's been used very little.

Unidentified Woman#3: Yes, I have a very fine rocker recliner for sale.

Mr. HAILEY: We have this lady in Puryear, Tennessee, which is over near Paris, and she's been trying to sell a Berkline recliner on there since Christmas. She bought it, said she paid too much, won't let her have her money back.

Unidentified Woman#3: It's been used very, very little, it's green, and it's cloth with a little bit of tweed color in it.

Mr. HAILEY: Swap Shop, hello?

Unidentified Man#11: Hello, Mr. Hailey.

Mr. HAILEY: Well hello there.

Mr. HAILEY: We have a guy that calls just about every day, and he's got an old drive shaft from an old Chevrolet.

(Soundbite from The Swap Shop)

Unidentified Man#11: Well, I still got the '72 El Camino drive shaft.

Mr. HAILEY: You know, I try to get people to buy the drive shaft and the Berkline recliner.

Mr. HAILEY: ‘Cause you might take some of the proceeds that you get from that and we'll buy that Berkline recliner over at Puryear.

Unidentified Man#11: Well you have to go in with me, and I don't know how we'd split it.

Mr. HAILEY: Here's a Thomasville maple dining table that sets up to 14, with six chairs. Okay. I guess they just sit on top of each other.

Mr. HAILEY: Hooker, entertainment, $600.00. Yeah. Now that's depending, I guess, pretty cheap, huh? Or maybe it's expensive, I don't know. I haven't done that lately. It's actually a Hooker entertainment center.

Mr. HAILEY: Swap and Shop, hello?

Unidentified Man#12: Well I figured out where the two other people would have to share the table. If there's six, everybody's going to have one in their lap, then. And I guess two are on the table, they're, that's the hooker entertainment?

Mr. HAILEY: Well tell me this, is that a good price? Or a, is that high?

Unidentified Man#12: Boy, I'll tell you, but I've got a 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck flatbed, three quarter ton…

Mr. HAILEY: Public service programs like this that involve folks are really important for the local community. I think it's going to be even more important to us in the broadcasting business, particularly with your Clear Channels and your satellite radios. Certainly it behooves a station like us, or anybody else, to be as local as they possibly can be because that, in the end, is really all you've got.

(Soundbite of radio program Swap Shop)

Mr. HAILEY: And that's going to wrap it up for the swapping and shopping today, because we've run out of time. Join us tomorrow for another edition of The Swap Shop.

Mr. KURT WAGNER: (singing) Yes I'd like to sell a good used paperback living bible.

NORRIS: Our story on The Swap Shop was produced by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister for Long Haul Productions in association with Chicago Public Radio. Music and lyrics were written and performed by Kurt Wagner and his band, Lambchop.

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