Danielle Butt has dedicated the past 26 years of her life to radio. Her charming, distinctive voice can be heard every Saturday and Sunday morning hosting the ever-popular Jigs and Reels Show on OZFM
It’s not hard to spot Danielle Butt’s office at OZ FM. Her cozy corner is adorned with several bright ‘Made Right Here’ signs, pictures of big events she’s hosted and, on her busy desk, a large stack of CDs. There are too many albums to mention – some national offerings – but traditional favourite Mark Hiscock’s latest solo effort, The Old Fishing Schooner, is front and center.
A MUSICAL MELODY
It’s not surprising. Butt has always put this province first. She, like her popular weekly feature, was proudly made right here. The affable announcer is as authentic as the music she shares with her growing Jigs and Reels audience each Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. With a healthy mix of traditional local tunes — fused with popular Irish standards — it’s a musical melody. Butt, of course, is the perfect host – uniquely informative, professional and engaging.
It’s no surprise she’s a popular Sunday morning guest in homes and cabins all over this province; from the tiny bays and inlets that motivate the lyrics to the homesick Newfoundlanders living abroad and starving for a taste of home.
“I’m always amazed at just how many people are listening,” says Butt, a die-hard traditional music lover herself. “I get stopped almost everywhere I go with someone telling me they love the show or asking me to play a certain song. It’s very cool.”
Yes, the audience is loyal and, as expected, growing. Online streaming is expanding and, according to OZ FM boss Jay Lawrence, Jigs and Reels is a weekend hit. “The show is so popular we actually had to add extra streams to accommodate all the (online) listeners,” says Lawrence, OZ’s program director.
The five-hour Sunday show showcases the province’s most celebrated musicians, past and present, sharing the spotlight with Irish traditional giants from across the pond. Butt, of course, blends the recipe like a well-prepared Irish stew, brewed just in time for Sunday dinner (you better get it before it’s all gone at 1).
There’s a lively tune from local legends The Navigators, followed by a classic from The Dubliners. You can sip a mug of coffee to trailblazers like Ryan’s Fancy or kick up the dust, as they say, to The Clancy Brothers.
“It’s so much fun putting this show together,” Butt confirms. “I love it.”
Butt’s passion for the music resonates like a sweet ballad. You can almost imagine her toe-tapping after she throws to each tune. “Don’t kid yourself,” she says with a big laugh, “I’m singing along to every song.”
It’s a musical genre the lovable Carbonear native knows well. She was raised on the sounds of legends like Dermot, Fergus and Ralph, Irish innovators who took their music from there to here, paving the way for a generation to follow.
Perhaps it was her dad, Don, who fortuitously started the fire. He grew up on Bell Island in the 1950s and ‘60s, right next door to the island’s most famous and celebrated son, the legendary Harry Hibbs. “I was raised on this music and it’s stuck with me ever since.”
RELATED: OZFM Congratulations OZFM! NL’s #1 Radio Station Staycation Summer with OZFM Shannell Lewis: Keepin’ It Country
‘A DEADLY SINGER’
Butt has cleverly managed to merge music with broadcasting. Heck, those within earshot of her desk can confirm Butt won’t be mistaken for, say, Maureen Ennis or Delores Keane. “I’m a deadly singer,” she jokes. “Don’t mind them.”
It’s been almost three decades since she broke into the business. At 16, Butt landed her first radio job at CHVO in her hometown Carbonear – as the locals remember: ‘First on the dial, best in the bay.’ Working weekends and holidays, it was a welcomed reprieve from her Grade 10 studies at St. Clare’s Central High, an all-girls school run by nuns where Whiskey You’re the Devil wasn’t exactly blaring in the cafeteria.
That part-time gig, though, planted the seed for a budding garden. She learned the craft and continued to work in radio during her university years at MUN. It was also that time, in the ‘90s, where the traditional music scene was enjoying a rebirth in these parts with a host of bands emerging on the scene. Yes, Great Big Sea was taking traditional tunes to the masses, but Butt was also locked into the local scene with the emergence of groups like Connemara, Fine Crowd and Colcannon (now the Masterless Men). A quick trip to the Blarney Stone was also a spot where she’d see her best pals, a talented young group by the name of The Celtic Connection.
“It was such a thriving music scene and what a blast that was,” says Butt, who still maintains a close relationship with the band.
OZ CRUISER TEAM
It’s been two decades since Butt arrived at OZ. In ’98, she joined forces with local musician Christa Borden to form the station’s Cruiser Team, a stepping stone for those aspiring to get their foot into the business. Her talent didn’t go unnoticed. She was hired full-time and, well, has been a fixture at OZ FM and NTV ever since.
“I’m like a part of the furniture now,” she jokes.
In a company known for multi-dimensional broadcasters, Butt is a chieftain. She’s bridges the world of radio and television with relative ease and, when not on the air, is also a power player for her creative talent.
“Like others at our company, you’re given the opportunity to wear several hats,” says Butt, whose official title is OZ FM’s creative director.
Professionally, Butt is a master juggler. She is creative director at NTV, her fingertips on almost all commercial television material. She fronts Jigs and Reels on Saturdays and Sundays, hosts two popular features on the award-winning NTV News (Made Right Here and Dining with Danielle), and moonlights on a host of other company-related segments. “It’s hard to find someone more diverse than Danielle,” says NTV GM and long-time friend Lindsey Andrews. “She brings so much talent to our company.”
Butt, by her own admission, has a dream job where she can be creative and spontaneous. It also allows her to do what she does best, connect with people. She’s interviewed the biggest and best in the industry, from local legends to Irish music heavyweights like Finbar Furey and Liam Clancy.
“Sure, what’s not to love?” Butt asks, answering her own question. “This is exactly what I wanted to do with my career.”
And Butt says regular listeners will be in for a special treat on St. Patrick’s Day which, ironically, falls on a Sunday this year – perfect timing for a mug up with your favourite Sunday morning tradition, Jigs and Reels.
Jigs & Reels airs Saturdays from 6-8 a.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.