First Flash of Freedom: As Rhyner said in his retirement video, if something comes along, great. If not, he’ll just have more time to relax at old haunts like Louie’s in East Dallas—in between gigs with Petty Theft, his Tom Petty cover band. Elizabeth Lavin

Local News

What’s on Mike Rhyner’s Mind?

The Old Grey Wolf looks back—and forward.

I first interviewed Mike Rhyner a few days after his shocking retirement announcement at the beginning of January. We had a long talk over lunch, and I probably had more than enough to work with for the profile I’d end up writing about him in our April issue. One of the founders of the The Ticket and the longtime host of its flagship show, The Hardline, Mike was open to all lines of inquiry and answered all of my questions thoughtfully.

We met again a few weeks later—another long lunch, another long talk. My initial idea was to catch up with him at various stages of retirement, check to see how it was going, if he had regrets, if he had made plans. I ended up abandoning that idea, mostly, but not before I met with Mike again, this time for a walk in downtown, where he lives and I work. We’re both walkers, and I figured a bit of motion would make for a good ending. By then, I’d exhausted my questions, pretty much, and I’d gotten thousands of words of good answers, about the radio business and sports and music and whatever else.

Over that weekend, with an assist from Mike’s ex-wife Renee, I spoke with his younger sister, Patti, who lives in California. Maybe half an hour or so after we’d hung up, after talking about their growing up in Oak Cliff, I got a text from Mike: “Wanna go for a ride Wed?” I, of course, said yes. He said he was going to take me by the three houses in Oak Cliff where he and Patti lived, the neighborhoods, the schools. “It’s become quite clear that you’re putting a shit ton into this thing … and I’m going to get with the program.” Which made me laugh because what had he been doing all this time? It certainly felt like he had been with the program.

It turns out he had plenty more to offer, and it’s to his credit that the story turned out the way it did. I guess it should not come as a surprise that a man who has spent almost all of his adult life talking for a living is pretty good at it. You just have to be there. It’s online now.

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