In its 20th -anniversary year of food and wine broadcasting, the Delicious Mischief radio program hosted by John DeMers expands its airtime on NewsRadio 740 KTRH with an additional Sunday hour starting April 24. The show, now to be heard both Saturdays and Sundays 4-5 p.m., is a presentation of Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods.
The new hour, to follow the same format of irreverent, high-energy tastings with chefs and winemakers as its predecessor on Saturdays, comes only months after DeMers created a sibling Delicious Mischief in Austin, where Spec’s now has seven stores. That show, heard Saturdays 10-11 a.m. on Austin’s Talk 1370, features its own Austin chefs – following the popular “local talk” model from Houston.
“This pretty much means I have to eat and drink even more than I was doing before,” DeMers says about the new Houston hour. “In some ways, especially for anyone who has to look at me, that’s not especially happy news.”
The Houston edition of Delicious Mischief was born on Saturdays almost eight years ago, while DeMers was still hosting a Sunday version live in his hometown of New Orleans, having only recently followed Ann Criswell as food editor of the Houston Chronicle. In slightly less than two years, hosting the radio shows replaced the Chronicle as his main journalistic effort. As his commitment to living in Texas grew deeper, DeMers shut down the New Orleans Delicious Mischief and the magazine called EasyFood that he had published there for more than a decade. “I-10 suddenly started missing me every weekend,” he says. “But it felt good to have a better, saner life in Texas.”
The radio show began 20 years ago this year, when the general manager of “The Mighty 690” WTIX in New Orleans – a legendary rock music station during the 1960s – approached DeMers about hosting a food and wine show at the lunch hour Monday through Friday. After initially insisting he was a writer not a disc jockey, and that he was simply “too shy,” DeMers found the lure of making a few extra dollars for his four children a bit too strong. He went on the air one Monday and, once the show evolved into its weekly format, hasn’t been off for very long since.
“Writing for me is serious and scary,” says DeMers, “and I wake up every day, after doing it for 35 years, afraid that this time it won’t work at all. Radio, I guess, is serious work – but not the way I do it. Every single segment of every single show, I feel a little bit wicked for having so much fun doing what some might call my ‘job.’ Which it really happens to be. If there are job police out there, I expect to be arrested at any minute.”
The expansions to Austin and to Sundays in Houston coincide with publication of DeMers’ 40th book: his first mystery novel featuring culinary crimefighter Chef Brett Baldwin, titled Marfa Shadows. He is also at work on two cookbooks spotlighting Texas chefs: one called Lone Star Chefs with photographs by Julie Soefer and the other called Energy Cuisine with photographs by Shannon O’Hara. All three books are being published by Bright Sky Press. DeMers also covers restaurants for Houston magazine, writes a wine column and reviews the arts for Prime Living, and pens his half of the He Said/She Said column for Absolutely In the Loop.