ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Since 1957 – the same year the radio station first opened – Exchange Shop hit the WRGS waves. Since the first broadcast, people across eastern Tennessee have been crying out for participation.
In a small production room, WRGS radio host Jay Phillips turns on the bright red light that indicates his show is live.
“Join us on the ‘World Famous Swap Shop’ and we hope you enjoy the ride,” he said into his microphone.
According to Debbie Beal, owner and general manager of WRGS Radio in Rogersville, the phrase “world-class exchange store” was coined in the 1970s by a former station host, and she loved it so much that she put it down.
“We get the information out and then people call each other and buy, trade, sell everything from guns and goats to chickens, cars, stereos, whatever,” Beal told the News Channel. 11 Friday.
This information is invaluable to many antique collectors in the region.
So much so that in October 2018, Beal received an email from a production company called Hit and Run Creative asking if she would consider letting them do a reality show based on the Exchange Shop Pin up.
“And they said, ‘we had a producer that came through your area and listened to your show, and we talked about it, we would like to talk to you about it. So I reached out to them and at first I was like, “Well, is that like a Howard Stern prank?” “But no, it wasn’t,” she said, sitting in her sales office at WRGS.
Beal wasn’t the only person to get a call from the production company.
“It was very hit or miss,” said Tori Cooley, owner of West Main Antiques. “They were like, ‘Hey, we’re doing a show in your area. Is this something you would like to consider? And I was like ‘of course’. And we did some Skype interviews, it seemed like a really fun project and happy to be a part of it.
Filming began for several months in 2020.
‘there are cameras, no more cameras‘
At West Main Antiques in downtown Johnson City, store manager Larry Thacker showed News Channel 11 all of the unique finds gleaned from hours of listening to the radio show.
He echoed Cooley with his excited feelings about being on the show.
“Well you don’t know what to expect until all the production equipment and production crews start showing up and there are cameras, more cameras,” Thacker said.
He said the big production teams will put a lot of work into making the show a reality day in and day out.
JP Mathes II and Fiddleling Leona are local antique collectors also featured on the show. Additionally, the couple told News Channel 11 that they are musicians and their music is on the show.
“On the show, we listen to Exchange Shop de Rogersville, ”said Mathes. “Basically it’s a pickup show, and we’re trying to find things that other people maybe don’t want us to turn into money. “
He explained that the entire show was based solely on the Eastern Tennessee area and that he was happy to showcase the hidden gems of the area.
“So the whole show is mostly shot in eastern Tennessee, you know the Knoxville area all the way to the Tri-Cities area. So it all kind of presents all of eastern Tennessee. It has to do with culture a bit. It also hits on products. It touches the vintage items that are around here, and it plays into our local radio culture, ”said Mathes.
Originally from Japan, Leona told News Channel 11 that she enjoys collecting antiques primarily made in the United States, and appearing on the show could allow her to share her new lifestyle with those who share her cultural background.
“So when I heard about this it was just a perfect opportunity for me to present what I do and also the region I live in where I am from, namely Japan,” said Leona. “I’m so excited to be able to introduce (to) all Asians, what kind of region this East Tennessee is and what kind of people we have and what we collect or sell or buy.”
‘beyond what we thought it would be‘
The show meant a lot to everyone interviewed by News Channel 11.
“It was beyond what we thought it would be once he started,” Mathes said.
In Cooley, Exchange Shop is an important element for the proper functioning of his business.
“Sometimes you have to find other resources to find inventory,” Cooley said. “And the funny thing about Exchange Shop often its people don’t know the internet or is it, you have a chance to find something out there that you won’t find on facebook marketplace, or i don’t even know if people use craigslist anymore. But you know, that’s just another way to find stocks. “
“It’s really essential, a show like Exchange ShopThacker nodded. “It’s your connection to the community as a whole. Because you really don’t know what’s out there when it comes to really awesome items.
He explained that America’s antiques “are coming to an end” as the country has physically produced fewer and fewer products in recent decades.
“So a store like this and a show like this preserves that history and preserves these kinds of items because almost everything here is still made in the USA. We preserve it and sell it, find it, it. are selling to people who want to take it home and keep it for a generation or two or three, so keeping these items in perpetuity is extremely important to us, ”Thacker said.
Beal said she hopes the Netflix series will help businesses.
“It could mean a lot to our station, our live site will probably grab the attention of the world. Netflix is international, ”Beal said.
She walked through the poster-covered walls of the WRGS foyer, recalling the memories made with DJs over the decades as Exchange Shop has remained a success.
“One of our DJs coined the phrase ‘often imitated, never duplicated, local business at its best’ and I think it fits Exchange Shop,” she said.
Beal has said his hopes for the show far exceed the show’s success. She hopes the Netflix series will boost regional tourism – and therefore income.
“It’s exciting. I’m excited for Rogersville. I’m thrilled for everyone involved in it. I think it could do a lot for East Tennessee, get attention here. Maybe we get visitors, so I think it’s going to be fun for our radio station to participate in that, ”Beal said.
The series premieres on Netflix on Tuesday, November 9.
A first-rate evening watch will take place at the Wallace Theater in Johnson City, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.