Remembering WYEP's move to the Community Broadcast Center in 2006
WYEP is celebrating our 50th anniversary, and we’ll be sharing aspects of the station’s history throughout the year.
WYEP rang in the new year of 2006 with the first broadcast from WYEP's current home. It was the beginning of a new era for the station, as WYEP had officially moved into the freshly-built Community Broadcast Center. Lee Ferraro, the general manager at the time, decided that New Year’s was definitely the time to make the switch.
“We should do this at the poetic moment of 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the year. Then for our future, forever, we could say we started the New Year in a new building," Ferraro said.
The station hosted a New Year's Eve Party, inviting board members, volunteers, and others from the station's history to come and celebrate. Rosemary Welch was the first solo voice to broadcast from the new facility.
“I felt honored to be there,” Rosemary recalled later, “but I also felt honored because I was representing thousands and thousands of people who had supported the station. The people in that room were a good representation, so that the very, very first voices you heard were a community. It was a community of people who were rejoicing.”
WYEP’s staff discussed what should be the first song played after launching the Community Broadcast Center as a broadcast facility but couldn’t decide on what would be the best choice. We asked the audience what it should be.
“We asked listeners to give us what song they thought should be the very first song played,” said Mike Sauter, who was then the music director. “We got a lot of great suggestions. In the end, it just had to be something that focused on radio, because that's what we were all about. So we wound up with ‘Radio, Radio’ by Elvis Costello.”
After WYEP moved into its home here at the Community Broadcast Center, a plan was in the works to showcase our new performance spaces with a musical grand-opening party. It was called “Welcome Weekend.”
"As part of this switchover and move there was to be a large Welcome Weekend event,” recalled John Belch, WYEP's technical services director at that time. “This Welcome Weekend was a more official public event for the community to come, see the new space and listen to a lot of good music."
And there was indeed a lot of great music: Fourteen bands and artists came to play to in-person audiences as well as live on the air. Half were from out of town, including Raul Malo, The Holmes Brothers, Dar Williams, Winterpills, The Weepies, Jennifer Kimball, and Ben Arnold. The other half were a cross section of Pittsburgh's own music scene like Joe Gruschecky, Bill Deasy, Ernie Hawkins, Good Brother Earl, Autumn Ayers, Heather Kropf, and 7 Color Sky.
Making the weekend even more special was the fact that the Steelers were competing in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. During his performance at Welcome Weekend, Raul Malo took a moment to cheer on the "Black and Gold."
“And I'll have you know,” he told the crowd to thunderous applause, “not because I love Pittsburgh or because I'm here, I called them to win the Super Bowl!” (Which, of course, they did.)
Be sure to join us at our 50th Anniversary concert at the Byham Theater on April 16 featuring an evening with Shawn Colvin and KT Tunstall (tickets are on sale now). And listen on April 30 as we share listener’s stories of WYEP memories during that day. If you want to share a story about how WYEP has been meaningful in your life, go to wyep.org/memories.