Thursday, December 18, 2008
This radio station is the icing on the cookie
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Dr. Craig Smith apparently knows a lot about gender’s affect on sub-cellular brain activity through his experiments involving brain injuries in rats.
But when the physician at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh isn’t taking life so seriously, he transforms himself into one mean rock-and-roller.
Smith commanded the stage Thursday at the city’s independent radio station during its holiday party with his high-energy rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” He sounded something akin to a perfect marriage of the vocals of Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello at WYEP’s Holiday Hootenanny.
Pittsburgh is lucky to have the listener-supported 91.3fm. I was drawn to its music about 10 years ago at the suggestion of a former co-worker. My need for alternative radio happened when I tuned into Pittsburgh's venerable rock station, WDVE, only to hear it playing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” again for what seemed to be the tenth time in two days.
While I love that band, DVE's format still remains pretty much the same since I was in high school and its then-disc jockey, Midnight Marcy, and her sexy voice kept boys like me in the 1970s awake well beyond our bedtimes.
A simple switch to WYEP introduced me to such great acts as Citizen Cope and Ray LeMontagne. It also has given me the pleasure to hear on the air during my commutes to work the fantastic music of Irene Kelley and Donora.
Meanwhile, the station passed out free beer Thursday, along with over-the-top butter cookies covered with white icing, coconut and red shoestring licorice at the free party for the lucky 100 or so people who signed up for it in advance on the Web.
The show also featured Donora’s lead singer, Casey Hanner, with her soulful rendition of my favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night,” one that can’t be easy for any vocalist to pull off. And there also was a bearded guy named James who belted out a cool and bluesy version of “Baby Please Come Home” and make this an excellent show.
It’s times like these that make it a no-brainer why I tune in to WDVE now only when I’m on the road and it’s broadcasting live the Pittsburgh Steelers games.