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Holly Dagger Is Listening

So, as I enter today, my assigned feature for this month is MIA, the editor is knocking for my article and I’m stuck. Hmmm … How to be resourceful under pressure 101?

I jumped on Facebook and pulled up my chat list. “No, no, no, no, maybe, maybe, no, wrong city, no.” … as I scrolled through looking for a candidate from the music scene who is ready to rock right now (?) … “No, nope, hmmm, no. …”


Holly Dagger.

Holly Dagger, radio personality for 105.9 Rebel Radio

I don’t even really know her aside from the fact that she’s paying attention to the music scene – and I know it. And, I’m paying attention to the music scene – and she knows it. We’ve yet to meet, personally.

I can tell you as a musician that I like Holly, very much in that she shows a lot of love toward the music scene – both from the perspective of music fans and listeners, and also from the perspective of musicians. -She’s always listing and announcing shows from Syracuse’s hard-working musicians.

So, I hit her up on chat. I said “Hi Holly. I’m about to attempt making friends with you in a most unusual way.”

“Sounds fun!” She replied.

When I asked her to direct me to her bio, she said:

“Hm well I guess you could just say Local on air personality for classic rock station 105.9 Rebel Radio?” Bio. Bio? Holly don’t need no steenking bio.

I smiled really big at that. This is the response of somebody who loves what they do. They are what they do. This modesty is the compelling charm that makes her your pal as you’re cruising around the city (on the way to a show, of course!) She’s there for ’ya. Heck, she did this interview —chatting with me— while blabbing with you all on the air, spinning Zep, saving my music scene writer ass in the process … and made it look easy. This is the stuff music needs: connectivity.

I like it when the deejays are listening back.

Holly Dagger is on air 6 to 11pm week nights on 105.9 Rebel Radio.

She agreed. I’m throwing her under the bus. Here we go.

Chuck Schiele: Hi Holly. Thanks for taking a bit of time to chat with us at Table

Holly Dagger: Hi Chuck! Thank you.

CS: How long have you been in radio?

HD: A little over ten years now. Hard to believe!

CS: Have you been a personality the entire time? How did you get started?  Did you always know you wanted to do this?

HD: The first two years of my radio career I was a Promotions Technician. After that, I got promoted and relocated to Binghamton where I was the Promotions Director for 5 stations – and that job came with an on air position. I started afternoons on the classic rock station down there and also ended up doing kid days on their top 40 station.

I didn’t honestly know I wanted to do this until I fell into it! I got an internship with a recording studio after college and they didn’t have enough hours for me so I also got an internship at a radio station and that’s how it all started. Me being on air was kind of a complete and happy accident!

CS: Bitchen answer.

HD: That’s the truth, man.

CS: Are you a musician?

HD: Yes. I’ve played piano and violin since I was 7 and continued to play both into college. I dabbled in guitar in college but found that to be a little more challenging. I now play piano in a Grateful Dead cover band although it’s a pretty new project so we haven’t played out yet.

CS: Violin: Pit or Fiddle?

HD: Pit. -I played in orchestra through college: First chair first violin.

CS: See? Now, how many people around here knew that? I’m glad I asked that. Cool. I’d love to see and hear you play.

HD: It’s been a while.

CS: What are your thoughts on the Syracuse music scene?

HD: I love the music scene here! I think we have a great array of different types of artists, particularly as of late. … It’s not just rock or cover bands anymore. There are a lot of great musicians in all different types of genres … blues, funk, country, folk, rap and hip hop. It never ceases to amaze me when I go to a show in this area and just step back and think – WOW. These people are incredible and they live right here in Syracuse. How can that be?! We are truly lucky to have such a great scene here and wonderful people in it.

CS: Yes! There certainly seems to be a new blooming underway in our scene. Who’s your all-time classic rock band?

HD: Of course! I’m a Led Zeppelin girl! I’ve been digging deeper into the Dead, lately. And I’ve always been fond of Bob Seger and anything blues, really.

CS: You listen to a lot of songs and see a bit of the”biz.” What advice can you share with someone getting into the music biz?

HD: I would say in general, work hard, be honest, respectful and reliable. In terms of being a musician, practice, practice, practice! I think it’s also important to be graceful and intelligent enough to know that there will always be someone better than you and that that’s okay! That gives you something to work towards. Stay humble and put the time in.

As far as someone in the industry working with artists, I think the most important thing is to just treat them like they are normal people. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of big name artist at a festival I used to work for in Binghamton and the thing they like the most is being treated like a normal human being. I think at times it is so rare for them, it’s nice to just have a normal conversation with someone who doesn’t want something from them.

CS: Yes, I agree. I’ve observed that the bigger the artist, the more ordinary they strive to be. Is there something you would like to see happening or happening differently in the world of music?

HD:  Hm. Well, at the risk of sounding old, I think one thing that people could easily change and bring some more people to shows is simply changing the time of shows on a local level, particularly during the work week. I have a lot of friends that love to see live music but they just can’t go see a band that starts at 9 or 10pm. I think if they started shows earlier, you might see more people out. If you think about it, people go out to dinner and then most bands don’t start for 2 hours after that. Move it up a bit and I think you would see even more people at shows.

On a larger level, I think it’s great that technology and the internet make music from so many artists accessible but this also means a lot of really talented people get buried. I think this is why it’s so important to really connect with your audience online and in
person at shows these days. There are so many talented musicians across the board in all different genres these days and I love that every one is just playing with everyone now no matter if they are country, rock or pop artists. Eric Church and Lzzy Hale’s “That’s Damn Rock N Roll” is a perfect example of two artist you would never think to put
together and that song is just kick ass.

CS: How do we stay in touch with you and your radio show?

HD: Being able to share my love of music and making people laugh. I purposely try not to talk about politics or anything like that. I’m all about having a good time. A lot of people are listening to me on their way home or they are trying to get through their shift. I want to be an escape for them, a way to make their day just a little bit better, make people laugh, just relax and enjoy the music.

I’m on air 6 to 11pm week nights on 105.9 Rebel Radio. You can always keep in touch with me on and off the air on social media … Holly Dagger on Facebook and
@hollydaggerhd on Instagram and Twitter.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.