A coyote barks and howls and the soft crackle of gravel underfoot announces each new episode of “Desert Oracle Radio”. And as creator and host Ken Layne quietly announces, âNight has fallen over the desertâ underlined by a moody soundscape, it’s easy to imagine the crackling campfire barely holding back the overwhelming darkness. There are strange mysteries out there in the wilderness.
For about half an hour each week, Layne unveils dark tales and folklore from the American Southwest, broadcast from the small community radio station KCDZ in Joshua Tree, Calif., And distributing “Desert Oracle Radio” in the form of podcast. The show is an outgrowth of a series of pocket-sized “field guides” that Layne began publishing in 2015, and episodes of “Desert Oracle Radio” have covered topics ranging from death to strange hikes and from strange desert creatures to UFO sightings, conspiracy theories and the truly inexplicable. . Woven everywhere is a respect for the complexity of the desert and its spiritual appeal – there is a clear need to preserve the land.
âDesert Oracle Radioâ focuses on the American Southwest, particularly in Layne’s house in the Mojave Desert, but the stories it tells are universal and can capture anyone interested in the inexplicable.
âA lot of these stories, you can connect with the stuff even if you haven’t been to specific places,â says Layne from her car on the road to Austin, Texas. “There are echoes of these situations and stories just about everywhere, be it the swamp, the mountains or the pine forest – any place outside of the busy 24 hour gas stations.”
Layne’s Little Tour of “Desert Oracle Radio” live broadcasts arrives in New Orleans on Wednesday, December 8, for an episode in Gasa Gasa. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $ 20.
The writer and radio host was born in the Lower 9th Ward and has yet to host a show here. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona while in college and became fascinated with the landscapes of the Southwest. Still, says Layne, growing up in New Orleans “has a lot to blame for my lifelong interests.”
âMy relatives were all scary people. Everyone had ghosts and death candles, âsays Layne. âThey’re Cajun and Irish, it was both sides. They all moved to town I think during the Depression so you got used to it [eerie] thing.”
After a career as a journalist – as a political reporter, Gawker correspondent and former owner of Wonkette – Layne has left the hectic landscape of online media for the wilderness. He filled the quarterly print edition of “Desert Oracle” with stories about desert flora and fauna, legends, paranormal activity and cryptids, and in 2017 he launched “Desert Oracle Radio”.
Stations across the country picked up the show and the podcast developed a cult following, prompting Layne to host live shows in the Southwest. This tour also takes him to Austin, Dallas, Memphis and Norman, Oklahoma.
Layne changes the live show every night, combining new and old stories and telling them on an atmospheric soundscape, similar to her radio show. He places an âold haunted phoneâ connected to the sound system near the stage, and part of the show is set aside for a âcallâ segment, where members of the audience can share their weird stories.
âAlmost every time people have [spoken] in the shows, afterwards, if I talk to them, they’ll say to me: ‘You know, I kinda forgot about that experience, and when you asked me the question, it kind of came back to me’ â, says Layne. âSince we don’t have a perfect place to put it in our world, it often kind of gets put back into the subconscious and we forget about it. “