Pittsburgh's independent music source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A look back at WYEP's specialty shows over the years

Two mannequins with a t-shirt and hat are placed next to a poster board with memorabilia.
Renee Rosensteel
Memorabilia from WYEP's history are displayed during an open house at the station.

While WYEP has evolved over the years to be a music station with a general sound to it — a mix that is eclectic but still distinctive — the early years of the station were radically different. Every couple of hours could go in a sharply new direction, from music to talk and back again.

Among music shows on the early WYEP, there were ones focusing on Irish folk, jazz, classical, and blues genres. Some shows were described in oblique ways. One was said to be an “intracranial breakdown: a mélange of the popular and not popular. Dylan as a spice. Opera when necessary.” The host of another show self-described her approach this way: “mixing casually music, she can the ‘beautiful’ obtain.”

But WYEP also had many programs that were not music-based. In September 1974, a new show debuted called "Betting on Pro Football" (also known as "Best Bet in Pro Football"). The hosts of the 15-minute program described their process as using a "complicated computer" to consider the “injuries, talent, and power ratings” of NFL teams and predict the winner of each game with "81 to 83% accuracy."

Another show premiered in February 1975 entitled “Mystic Impressions.” The show ran on Tuesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. and promised to explore “various aspects of the mysterious unknown — UFOs, demonology, ESP, etc.”

According to WYEP’s June 1975 program guide, Fridays from 8 to 11 p.m., listeners could tune in and hear the station’s engineer host a show described as “Larry Bolef will discuss the problems of being an engineer on WYEP.”

A show called “The Other Side of The Hill” occupied the Sunday 10 to 11 p.m. time slot during mid-1975. It was billed as “science fiction from WPSFA,” or the Western Pennsylvania Science Fiction Association.

One show that had a fairly long run on WYEP was “The Lackzoom Acidophilus Hour,” described in the station program guide as “madcap mirth.” A newspaper profile in 1980 said that a typical show was full of memorable caricatures with a large dose of ethnic humor and “not for the thin-skinned.” (In 1982, WYEP’s program guide labeled the show as “parental discretion advised.”) In between written or ad-libbed comedy bits, the show would riff off listener phone calls or play novelty records. "We were on Saturday nights from 8 to midnight," explained show member Foley Z. "We played music, we did skits. Before there was [Saturday Night Live], there were the five of us. There was Joe Coluccio, Dean Mouganis, Foley Z, and there was also Phil Trafican and Marc Simon."

Unfortunately, WYEP has no recordings of any of the above programs in our archives. (If anyone has any tapes, please reach out—we would love to hear them!)

By the early 1980s, WYEP’s program schedule was primarily music except for about 7 or 8 hours of talk and public affairs weekly. Included among the non-music content were shows devoted to arts news and interviews, another featuring career and job advice, and a Sunday night astrology show called Starshine, described as “what your sign means and how to deal with its complexities.”

Hear a 1984 clip of the astrology show Starshine

News programming has also been a part of WYEP's history as well. As seen in the above 1974 program schedule, WYEP carried the then-new NPR program “All Things Considered,” which ran the following morning via tape delay.

And there have been original news programs produced at WYEP over the years. Eric Leif Davin was the host of a show called “The Weekly Reader” in the early 1980s. “I and Anita Alverio were the producers and main reporters for The Weekly Reader from June of 1980 to December of 1982. We actually went out to a Ku Klux Klan rally and we would interview people at the Klan rally. We would interview famous people coming through.” The show had notable guests like activist attorney William Kunstler and Monty Python member Graham Chapman, interviewed people walking around Oakland the morning after John Lennon’s murder, and won awards for a show about a closed theater in Homestead. “In 1984,” Davin recalled, “we won the Golden Quill Award for the best radio documentary and that one in 1984 was for the ‘Leona Theatre: Portrait of a Picture Palace.’"

Hear a 1981 clip of Graham Chapman interviewed on The Weekly Reader

Although you won’t hear much in-depth conversation on sports betting or ESP on WYEP today, we appreciate all the people who gave their time and talents to the station over the years. We are what we have become today thanks to the long and winding road we traveled to get here.

Mike Sauter started at WYEP in 2004 and held various positions, including Midday Mix host, music director, program director, and station manager.