Music Lyric Monday, and the second thing I love about Pittsburgh


Today’s Music Lyric Monday, an original of Emily’s, isn’t about one particular song or one particular artist – instead I am taking this time and space to introduce you to the best public radio station in the country –  Billing itself as an independent, alternative music voice in Pittsburgh, wyep is by far the best public radio station I have ever had access to. Playing music as diverse as James McMurtry, The Swell Season, Pearl Jam, Niko Case and Dar Williams, the station is an oasis in an otherwise  crowded landscape of Miley Syrus and rap-dominated stations around the city. What’s particularly remarkable is its commitment to playing music all day long, with five minute breaks for the news each hour. I do often turn to for some Morning Edition and Saturday morning programming but for the most part, S. and I leave wyep on all day long. We actually have an XM radio subscription – music is very, very important to us – but we’ve recently been toying with getting rid of it simply because we turn it on so rarely, anymore.  WYEP has introduced us to so much new music – from Hockey to Serena Ryder to Ra Ra Riot – and been the cause of more than one spontaneous trip to Paul’s Records or Itunes. We’ve gone to concerts and events sponsored by the radio station and I will openly admit we are members – in other words we donate money – and when we met with our financial planner we made him understand that was one area we intended to keep supporting which he completely understood because, well, we met him at the wyep Christmas music bash.

More importantly, since moving to Pittsburgh wyep has provided a rhythm and routine to our lives.  We awake in the morning to Cindy Howes and the morning mix, often commenting on what kind of mood we believe her to be in based on the music she plays (nobody rocks out a Friday morning better, I don’t think). I listen online sometimes at work, to both Mike Sauter and Rosemary Welch’s programming, although by that point I often turn to my Pandora stations. We always tune in to the Monday evening d.j and I often cook dinner on Tuesdays to This American Life. Most evenings we play c.d.s since we are the kind of people who still have cds stacked in precarious piles all over the house – we have not yet transferred all our stuff to itunes and called it a day. I like the way people’s houses look, who have taken this organizational step – but I don’t anticipate that sort of free time anywhere in my near future.

Lest I forget, one of the best radio programs going right now is the Saturday afternoon soul show – perfect to clean to, or drink to, or both.

Currently, wyep is embarking on the best 913 songs of the last decade. Listeners have until April 5 to create  a list of 20 songs from the last decade and the month of May will countdown the songs. If you think I’m not taking this project very, very seriously you don’t know me at all. At all. And so…songs definitely making my list….Amongst the Waves by Pearl Jam, of course, and Stay Positive by the Hold Steady  – something by Amy Winehouse, certainly.  I don’t often solicit audience participation, but do you have any essential songs from the last decade…songs you recall from specific events in your life? The last decade was a biggie for me – I married S., moved to North Carolina, to West Virginia, to Pittsburgh, to Michigan and then back to Pittsburgh – I supported S. through two degrees, and he supported me through my M.F.A. – we bought our first home – trying to decide the music that best represents all of that challenging, and ridiculously fun. What are your essential songs?

And, by the way, you can listen to wyep online so even if you don’t live in Pittsburgh, this is one great Pittsburgh gem you can enjoy from anywhere!

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6 Responses to Music Lyric Monday, and the second thing I love about Pittsburgh

  1. appellationmountain says:

    Things I miss about the ‘burgh – listening to WYEP! Yes, I know I can listen online, but it isn’t the same. My (now 5 y.o., then 2.5 y.o.) fell in love with the Kooks’ Ooh La on the radio back in the day, and we still have to listen to it on every road trip.

  2. shoreacres says:

    Listening online may not be the same as the real thing, but it’s pretty darned good. I just spent some time listening and browsing the site – it has several things I really like, including the playlist with the possibility of buying something you’ve just discovered and like RIGHT NOW!

    I’m a big Pandora fan, and this will be a great complement. I’m kind of getting in to this Pittsburgh thing! Great post.

  3. Courtney says:

    A. – I don’t think listening online would be quite the same if I didn’t live here – I agree! I finally created my top twenty list – the Kooks had several songs in the last decade.
    Shoreacres – Thanks! Pittsburgh is a great place to live, but I think I am going to have to temper my enthusiasm every ten posts or so with somethign that stinks about the place, because some things do, certainly. I am glad you like the site!

  4. Emily Barton says:

    We’e channeling each other again. I’ve been thinking for some time now about writing a blog post on WXPN, which must be Philly’s equivalent of WYEP. And I’m too late to contribute, but if I weren’t, I’d put REM’s “Leaving New York” on that list of 20.

  5. SA says:

    Other songs, hmm….

    Angels and Fuselage, by Drive-By Truckers
    How a Resurrection Reallly Feels, by The Hold Steady
    Song of the Road, by Jason Molina
    Get Yo Shit, by Black Joe Lewis
    Get Black, by The Ponys

    That’s five for now!


  6. Mike Canton says:

    Thanks for the kind words about The Soul Show!

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