Niki Dakota

Music Director and Host, Excursions

Born a Hoosier, but only living there in spurts, Niki Dakota spent much of her young life moving around the United States with her archeologist mother. Throughout these years, there was always a ukulele somewhere close at hand. By the time the family settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ms. Dakota found herself in pursuit of professional music-making as she headed-up the Alterna-Folk band, Plow On Boy. In the course of her first live radio interview to promote the band, Niki’s keen excitedness manifest itself in extreme chattiness. At the conclusion of the segment, the DJ closed the mic and said, “You need to be in radio."  That was in 1990.

In 2002, Niki’s radio career brought her to WYSO where she continues to enjoy a love of music and shares that love with the Miami Valley weekdays on Excursions.

Ways to Connect

Bella Ruse arrived at the WYSO studios with a guitar and an organ in a suitcase. In an interview with Niki Dakota, Kay Gillette (vocals, keys) and Joseph Barker (guitar) explain their affection for the suitcase organ and other unusual instruments like a kazoo shaped like a trumpet.

The Minneapolis duo formed in Febraury of 2009 and spent the rest of that year releasing three EPs and touring the Midwest and West coast. Bella Ruse just set out on their latest Midwestern tour and plans to release their first full length album this fall.

Andy Snow

Niki Dakota interviews Sharon Leahy and Rick Good of Rhythm in Shoes on Excursions. Rhythm in Shoes will be performing their final show at this weekend's CityFolk Festival in downtown Dayton.

Photo by Elizabeth Fladung

LaVette is renowned for her eclectic musical style, combining elements of rock, funk, R&B, country, gospel, soul, and blues.

In her interview, LaVette reminisces over her early beginnings in 1965 and her experiences with famous artists such as Otis Redding and James Brown humorously admitting, "Well, he wasn't that big then."

After listening to the original recording of her chart single "Let Me Down Easy" on Excursions, she states, "I almost cried."

Langhorne Slim, named for his hometown in Pennsylvania, has been steadily gaining public notice, being featured on the film The Waitress' soundtrack, playing at various folk festivals across North America, and just having returned from Bonnaroo Music Festival.


The Los Angeles based a capella group known as Sonos stops by WYSO to chat with Niki Dakota and perform live on Excursions.

Sonos consists of 6 well trained vocalists who met while attending school in Southern California (each of them studying Music). Sonos combines a classical background with contemporary vocal stylings including beat-boxing and electronic modification to create an exciting modern sound that has its roots in the fundamentals of vocal choir.


Jay Ungar and Molly Mason stop by Excursions to chat with Niki Dakota and to demonstrate their wonderful brand of American Folk music.

Jay and Molly first met during the 1970s and were eventually wed in 1991 and have been playing together since. The duo (utilizing folk standard of fiddle, guitar and piano) play a wide variety of folk music ranging from Appalachian, Cajun, and Celtic. The duo even branches into golden age swing and country occasionally. The duo plays with an expertise and cohesiveness that is almost unparalleled in the folk music world.

Greg Howard, John Bayer, and Sean Fenton of the Dayton Sacred Harp Singers come to WYSO to demonstrate the classic branch of folk music known as Sacred Harp. Based in a rich Gospel and Hymn context, Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of singing religious music arranged for the rural Americans of 18th and 19th centuries.

The Dayton Sacred Harp Singers work to recapture this classic folk sound by creating a welcoming community that will accept any who wish to learn more about this incredible musical culture. Songs performed include “What Wondrous Love” and “Strepfield”.

Conrad Balliet visits Excursions to share poetry and music with Niki Dakota.  They discuss the high quality and quantity of the poetry by writers in the Miami Valley and invite listeners to an upcoming poetry reading in Conrad's honor at Wittenberg University.  

Dayton-area blues prodigy Reece Lincoln stops by Excursions for a special Veterans Day acoustic performance.

Lincoln, who began playing guitar at 8 years old, has developed into a must-see local live attraction. His band, the Reece Lincoln Band, is well known for its fiery gospel- and blues-soaked stage performances, and has been featured everywhere from Dayton stages to the CBS Early Show.

Trevor Hall's self-titled album is his first release on Vanguard Records.  Hall and his band visited the WYSO studios on the road from Iowa to Columbus and performed several live songs.  Hall chats with Niki Dakota about community in songwriting and getting to meet and tour with Matisyahu.  Trevor Hall be opening for Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus tonight.