Best of Dayton: Rev Cool celebrates 40 years of eclectic tunes as Dayton’s Best Media Personality

Credit: Don Thrasher

Credit: Don Thrasher

Jim Carter, known to WYSO-FM (91.3) listeners as Rev Cool, hit a major musical milestone this year.

He has been hosting his popular Friday night radio program, “Around the Fringe,” since 1982. That’s four straight decades of eclectic tunes, everything from world music, punk and roots rock to EDM, reggae and rap.

He is also the winner of Best Media Personality and received second place in Best Local Celebrity and Best Community Supporter in this year’s Best of Dayton contest.

“I’ve been on WYSO 40 years, which actually defies all rules of space and time since I just celebrated my 29th birthday,” Carter said. “That means I started my radio show when I was a mere minus 11 years old.”

Through WYSO’s online streaming capabilities, “Around the Fringe” has listeners throughout the world. Each week, Rev Cool delivers a diverse and enjoyable set with some of his favorite tracks, new and old. There aren’t many shows with such a broad sonic palette and it is simply a reflection of the lifelong music fanatic’s tastes.

“On a more serious side, I would not have been able to do a weekly show over four decades without the support and love of my wife and family, who let me share incredible tunes from around the world and our own backyard every Friday night,” Carter said. “I hope to continue my musical experiment in the future with the aid of the staff at WYSO and my sidekick and fellow programmer Andy Valeri, who helps out in a multitude of ways.”



Carter, a graduate of Chaminade High School, was a schoolteacher for 35 years before retiring in 2011. Throughout his career, he was always involved with music.

“I keep changing and growing as the years go on,” he said. “I’m always searching out new sounds and finding new material and that keeps me interested in music. For the most part, I’m the antithesis of commercial radio. They do their thing, and nothing against that, but I’m not that. My shows are one-time experiences. On a more traditional radio station, you may hear the same song over and over again in order to create a hit. I’m pretty much the opposite of that. I don’t play anything to make it more popular, I play a song because I think it should be played. Also, the vast majority of what I play, I’m guessing 80 percent, I won’t be playing it again. I want the show to stay fresh and exciting.”

Carter’s anti-mainstream stance predates his involvement in Dayton’s emerging punk rock scene in the late ‘70s. He promoted shows, published his own ‘zine and developed a DIY ethos that played heavily into the development of his radio show. He started his own independent label, I Wanna Records, in the early 1980s. In the mid-2000s he helped curate a pair of local CDs for WYSO.

“I still enjoy discovering new music but the best part is playing that music for people,” Carter said. “I’m only on for two hours now and for those two hours, for the most part, there’s nobody at the station. I’m in my own little world. I’m in the studio alone but it’s like I’m with a whole bunch of other people at the same time.”

Carter is grateful for the community support and hopes listeners continue to tune in.

“I’m honored if people take a minute out of their evening to tune in and let me share some music with them,” he said. “I’m still totally excited by that and, because I’m there by myself, it’s almost like this spiritual thing. You have all of the other DJs that have been there before you and somehow that presence is there also and that’s a nice experience.”

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