Tom Waits: The “Lost” WYEP Interview
In celebration of the 70th birthday of Tom Waits, Pittsburgh’s independent music station, WYEP 91.3 will broadcast a historic interview with the legendary musician.
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, surfaced when WYEP’s Director of Content and Programming, Mike Sauter, and Producer and Host Brian Siewiorek reached out to the station’s former employees and management for archival material to highlight during the station’s 40th anniversary. Smith sent the original interview cassette in, noting that the interview had taken place in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant in York, PA, during a promo tour for his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, on the heels of a concert at the University of Pittsburgh.
Siewiorek, who restored and re-edited the interview and hosts the broadcast, noted, “It’s fascinating to hear Waits speaking in 1976, when he was in his mid-20s. His opening act at the Pitt concert had been Charles Bukowski, and he talks about his admiration for him as well as other poets and musicians of the American counterculture.” Waits’ own habit of playfulness with language is fully on display in the interview, says Siewiorek, adding, “It’s candid and revealing, and it’s filled with the kind of color and context that is the hallmark of wonderful audio storytelling—the sound of coffee being poured, cigarettes lit, of people thinking, settling into a conversation.”