At the WKBB 100.9 FM radio station, “Shop Starkville” discusses Starkville’s downtown eatery spot, Restaurant Tyler. From left are owner and chef of the restaurant, Ty Thames; his general manager, Hall Roberts; and from Greater Starkville Development Partnership, Allison Matthews, who leads the talk. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
July 16, 2009
WEST POINT -- When she began speaking into the microphone, she did not lean in or make herself look awkward in any way. She looked like a natural.
"Good morning," she said. "I''m Allison Matthews with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership ..."
She glanced at her guests, the Starkville restaurateurs Ty Thames and Hall Roberts, and introduced them.
"Good morning," Thames said into his microphone.
Thus began the 18th weekly "Shop Starkville" radio show, recorded Wednesday morning in the WKBB 100.9 FM studio in West Point.
The partnership began recording the shows in March to promote local shopping and keep people abreast of community events.
As Matthews has been the most frequent show host, she has become the proverbial voice promoting Starkville business -- or at least for people who listen to the SuperTalk Mississippi Station. She has been involved with the radio show since its inception.
When Matthews, who is vice president of membership and community development at the partnership, is working on some facet of the radio show, she regularly calls on the journalism skills she learned at Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi.
"I just like talking to people," she said while driving from the partnership to the radio station Wednesday.
During Wednesday''s recording, conversations on daily schedules, food philosophies, the evolution of the restaurants and other topics would teeter on for nearly an hour, counting breaks and one flub, which would be edited out before the segment would air at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Throughout the interview, the questions Matthews asked came after complimentary comments on the restaurants where Thames is the chef and Roberts is the general manager -- Bin 612, Restaurant Tyler, Rock Bottom and Barrister''s. Her words veered toward the cheerleaderish. She repeatedly raved about dishes she had tried. At one point, Matthews recommended people try the blue-plate specials at Restaurant Tyler the same day the show would air. At another point, she said, "I have not heard anything bad about Restaurant Tyler, or the other businesses."
Matthews'' sweetness may have paid off. At the end of the conversation, as per Matthews'' request, Thames shared two cooking tips with listeners. He revealed his favorite spice was fennel, and he suggested people try grinding fennel seeds to a fine consistency like "pollen." He also offered listeners a vinaigrette recipe.
Earlier, Thames and Roberts had offered insider perspectives on running the restaurants.
Roberts, who has formal training in landscape architecture, spoke about the garden where they grow produce they use in the restaurants. There are no issues of shipping, Roberts said. "And we can do heirloom (tomatoes) and heirloom beets and everything," he added.
In response to a comment Matthews made about the advanced vocabulary on the Restaurant Tyler menu, Thames said the wait staffers talk "pre-meal" to make sure everyone knows what''s what. "We have basically a small little class," he said.
Upon returning to her office, she would say to a colleague, Latasha Hill, "Tomorrow''s gonna be a great show -- one of our best, I think."
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