Today, September 29, 2022 (mark those calendars #neverforget), OG Wolf Mike Rhyner announced his return to the air with a not-so cryptic video announcement, ostensibly part deux of the one posted yesterday, in which his shadowy figure appears walking toward a chair. Today he sat in said chair, looked squarely into the lens and said, “I’m back, bitches.”

Update, Sept. 27: Rhyner posted a cryptic video this morning, which seems to indicate a pending announcement. 

Longtime sports reporter Richie Whitt over the weekend broke a rumor that Mike Rhyner — 1970s classic rock radio DJ, father of The Little Ticket and its “guy-talk format,” Petty Theft frontman, podcast host, The Accommodation audiobook narrator and all-around Dallas icon — is un-retiring and returning to the airwaves. Even more astonishing is news that the Old Grey Wolf’s familiar voice will not be heard on 1310 AM The Ticket, Whitt notes, but on The Freak, a new sports talk channel that could be on air at 97.1 as soon as this Friday.

Yes, it seems The Eagle will become The Freak, if Whitt’s intel is correct.

“Multiple radio industry sources have confirmed the shocking news that will add a third sports-talk station to the local landscape and force long-time listeners to reassess their loyalty,” Whitt writes. “Rhyner is coming out of retirement to be the signature voice on a new 97.1 The Freak, which will replace DFW’s heritage brand, The Eagle.”

And according to Whitt, Rhyner will not be the only familiar name at The Freak. The lineup may include Richardson natives Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade (who we interviewed for a story in 2009) and other Ticket formers Julie Dobbs and Mike Sirois. Danny Balis retired from the Ticket a couple months ago, and some wonder if his name would be in the mix. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, it’s on the table. The station could be on air this week, Whitt reports.

Rhyner has not directly confirmed the news to Whitt, and he has not responded just yet to a message from the Advocate either, but he has dropped some hints on Twitter. Note the use of the word “freak” in this post.

Here’s a little background and why it’s “shocking.” The Ticket 1310 AM and 96.7 FM is a sports radio station that dedicates but a portion of time to actual sports, which makes it fun. Many of the hosts have been around for decades, so if you have listened regularly and often over the years — if you have P1 status, that is — then they start to feel like your weird and hilarious cult family without the weird bad stuff.

Mike Rhyner, who co-founded and hosted at the Ticket for 26 years, retired in 2020..

“I love everything about the radio station … all those things we’ve done have been the most meaningful experience that I have ever had, and I will miss it terribly,” he said at the time.

Also, KEGL The Eagle, a rock station, has been around since the 1980s. Earlier this month, reported changes afoot at KEGL.

As far back as 2008 Richie Whitt was writing about The Ticket and its scandals — see Observer cover story The Hard Lie— so I expect the blogger to be pretty on top of this situation. If you want the latest, follow Whitt or Rhynes or Julie on Twitter.

The Advocate has enjoyed many an interview with the Old Grey Wolf (Rhyner’s official nickname) over the years, including this epic, brevity-be-damned Q&A in 1999. (We have employees at this magazine today who were not even born, so, yeah, we go way back.)

The article ran in the Lake Highlands Advocate and the Lakewood Advocate. Rhyner lived in Casa Linda at the time and had been in Lake Highlands for about six years before that. He grew up in Oak Cliff, so we did an interview with him for that magazine a few years back. He says he has never lived anywhere except Dallas.

The Advocate interviewer went deep in this Q&A with questions such as “Your show has some racy features like ‘Do-able and Not Do-able,’ in which females are asked to name Ticket staffers they find sexually attractive. What does your wife think about things like that?” Click here to read his answers.

And Rhyner is always available to speak with us about industry happenings such as the influence and loss of radio personality John LaBella who was a Lake Highlands legend. I remember interviewing Mike when the book Full Disclosure all about The Ticket was published in 2009, but I don’t think that story made it to our website. We were bad with technology back then.

These days the patriarch of Dallas radio, heard for 26 years on the The Ticket, can be found narrating the eight-hour audiobook version of The Accommodation, the seminal work on race and racism in Dallas, written by East Dallas-based journalist Jim Schutze. He fronts the band Petty Theft, which you can catch around town most weekends, and he hosts the Your Dark Companion podcast.

While the Ticket (versus NPR versus my metal playlist) is my go-to station on the office drive-in and drive-home, I (and I suspect many other Dallas listeners) won’t be able to resist the call of OGW should it reemerge.