We'll miss seeing you, you better visit OFTEN! I hope Boston appreciates you and your family as much as Pittsburgh does... wait maybe I don't LOL!
Ditch Rosemary, bring in some new blood.
I understand that WYEP may have been cutting edge in the past, but that station, at present, is really of no more use to anyone in the local music scene(except maybe Rusted Root or bands that Hugh guy takes pictures of) than WDVE or 3WS.
When people come to their defense, it sounds to me like people defending smoking in bars here, as if the way things currently are here is the only way ithey can be.
A noisy rock band I am in was recently in St Louis and were able to visit the local WYEP equivalent, KDHX. THey have a shiny new building similar to WYEP. During the day and evening, they play typical bland crap, but they let weirdos play whatever they want at night. They allowed us, at the bequest of one of the late night djs, to do a live-in-the-studio performance. The tracks and photos from this are hosted on their website, along with dozens or hundreds of other bands.
I doubt we would be able to get as far as WYEP's lobby with a pry bar.
It looks like WYEP does have some kind of "live in house" thing, but I suspect participants are searched at the door and distortion pedals confiscated. Those who resist are handed ukeleles.
Having said all that, I am not a hater, per se. I listen to WESA all the time, especially when driving around for work. I actually prefer the all day news to the previous jazz format, myself.
I was sold at the pic...
Yes, Stovepipe. And another great community station that never changed is WMNF in Tampa. Like WYEP, they broadcast out of an old building in not quite as bad shape as Cable Place was (I was
at WMNF in 1997 and saw it for myself), then bought and paid for a brand new building which they now occupy (just like WYEP did), and yet their programming stayed the same as it was (specialty programming for the community with shows changing every few hours..and featuring various subcultures, subgenres and ethnicities etc). Another great one is WEVL in Memphis. And so on.
It's not just WFMU - there are plenty of examples of public radio stations that didn't sell out to Triple-A (which actually imitates "album rock" of the 70s more than it does than 80s).
Here's a great rant about WYEP from Jay Thurber of Carnegie Mellon's WRCT:
While quietly still broadcasting independent music, the college radio stations in Pittsburgh have gone down the tubes as far as their *cultural influence* in Pittsburgh over the past generation or so, and while much of that can be blamed on the Internet, another part can be blamed on WYEP, which has greatly marginalized the college radio DJ community with its powerful corporate might (instead of using WRCT and WPTS as a farm team for DJs aspiring to offer mature and diverse programming, like it should).
The only thing incorrect about Jay's rant is that (like the terrible City Paper piece) it gives the impression that things changed "in the 80s". In fact, WYEP was still a great freeform force almost
all the way through the 80s (which is why I remember it - I'm not old enough to have listened
in the 70s). Up until about 89-90 when Mikel E. made the first draconian changes. So "the '80s" (including the short period at Chatham) were still part of the old WYEP. It's not a station that "refused to die". In fact, the station *did* die, and then got reborn as something else entirely unrecognizable. And then later on, it *killed* another station as well (WDUQ/jazz) and *stole* the call letters of a third (Charleroi's WESA). Very different than the headline implies!
Whatever YEP's past was, it's present is terrible. I cannot believe how lame this station is. KMUD in Redway, CA is TRUE community radio. YEP should offer alternative LOCAL news programming, DJ programmed music that reflects this region/city and in short stop being a complete yawn. Until that happens (and it won't) I'll continue to stream KMUD and get my information through coffee shop, blogs and the Coop bulletin board.
Brilliant off-the-cuff assessment by Alan Zavacky - if only Pittsburgh had a legion of fiftysomethings
as staunchly creative, WYEP would never have become the bland pablum of yuppie-and-lesbian-approved folk-pop that it is today. The "formula", by the way, is not "NPR", it's a radio rotation called Adult Album Alternative ("Triple-A"), which failed as a commercial format in the '80s, so it wound up being applied to public radio instead in the '90s to attract the donations of upscale white boomers. The worst thing about the format is that it relentlessly excludes any bands on labels who don't buy into the Triple-A radio publicist machine (so, for example, you won't hear a legion of touring independent roots-music acts because they don't pay into that system..thus, it is essentially a tightly-restricted form of payola).
"NPR" isn't quite the problem - NPR actually features a lot of music that never gets played on WYEP (to pick a random examples, such Chicago scene legends as Ken Vandermark or Tortoise). But NPR is a news format, not a music format, so it doesn't play music constantly like WYEP does. Thus, WESA occasionally namechecking interesting music doesn't cross over into the format on WYEP.
PA Ubu makes a good point - the "golden age" is glossed over in that fluff piece as being a bad time, when in fact, the whole concept of the music changing every few hours is what public radio is *supposed* to be about, not bland commercial pop rotation. Diversity (Arabic hour, Irish music, jazz, reggae, etc.) is treated as a drawback in the piece instead of the benefit that it should be to the community. In reality, the real bogeyman in WYEP's history went unmentioned: Mikel Ellcessor, who around 89-90 was hired by the station's ambitious boomers to purge the schedule of anything weird and unusual and to initially institute the Triple-A format which had also recently been put into place at Philly's WXPN (originator of the execrable World Cafe, which never actually
features any "world" music). Originally singer-songwriter-ish folk-pop of the James Taylor/Carly Simon variety, the Triple-A format was expanded in the 2000s to include the slicker (undistorted) side of indie-pop-rock so Gen-X/Gen-Y would start paying attention. But WYEP ignores as much good indie rock as it does good roots music, as well as dozens of genres which don't fit into its
Later on in the piece, WYEP admits that it had the money to buy WDUQ outright (which became WESA). That's a lot of friggin' loot, especially when they had already spent a bunch of other money building an essentially unnecessary fancy new building rather than renovating an old one.
If it had accrued that much money from donations due to its inoffensive format, then it should have used the money to shore up a lot more diversity in its programming instead of buying WDUQ just to get a lock on NPR. WDUQ should have been purchased by that consortium of jazz guys who made an offer so that jazz could have been kept in Pittsburgh, instead of banished to a station currently broadcasting out of Bethany College in West Virginia which barely reaches Pittsburgh's southern suburbs.
If I was Julia Cook, I wouldn't want my name associated with that article either. WYEP is really two entirely different stations that just happen to have the same call letters - one existed for the first two decades, and the second existed for the next two. To claim 40 years of continuity is specious at best, especially if the real history is obscured and denigrated.
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