Tom Waits: The “Lost” WYEP Interview


Originally recorded and broadcast in 1976, the interview was a project undertaken by WYEP co-founder Jeff Smith, together with then-DJs Mal Reding and Bill Askin. The original interview, recorded on a cassette, was sent to WYEP by Smith, noting that the interview had taken place in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant in York, PA, during a promo tour for Waits' third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, on the heels of a concert at the University of Pittsburgh.  

The Pitt concerts took place March 12 & 13, 1976 with poet Charles Bukowski as the opening act.  Waits begins the WYEP interview talking about these concerts and the influence Bukowski has had on his career.  

The interview continues on to topics like Waits' writing process, touring with Frank Zappa, performing live and Waits' own inspirations and influences.

Tom Waits' love of wordplay and sense of humor are prominent in this interview. As are the sounds of a 24-hour restaurant; coffee is poured and sipped, cigarettes are lit and smoked and other late-night revelry can be heard in the background.

This rebroadcast of this interview was part of WYEP's 40th anniversary audio archival project, and was restored, edited and hosted by Brian Siewiorek.

Tom Waits poster image courtesy of Craig Match.