Oct 06 2016

Telling on myself

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Murrysville, you may or may not know that there has been an 88.1 FM which has been on the air since 1994. Up until last year, the station was owned by He’s Alive Incorporated as WRWJ and served as repeater for their station in Grantsville, Maryland. Through a transaction or two it became the property of Broadcast Educational Communications – the non-commercial sister company of Broadcast Communications Inc…. my employer of just about 10 years now. The station is now WKGO

In 1994, at the same time WRWJ was attempting to build 88.1, WRCT (88.3) had finished a 5-year battle and received permission to increase its power. As a result, WRCT is 1750 watts to the North, South and West, but 650 watts to the East. However, WKGO’s biggest signal competition is Pittsburgh Public Media’s WZUM-FM which is also on 88.1 coming out of Bethany, West Virginia. WZUM-FM recently increased power to the east. Therefore, in much of Allegheny County where the two 88.1s meet you’ll get a smattering of Jazz and Easy Listening. But both stations are well within their coverage means.

Yes, I said Easy Listening. The boss had a library of B/EZ music sitting around and decided to put it to use on WKGO. Since I am one of the youngest emplo… uh.. make that the most experienced with the format,.. (I grew up listening to it on WSHH and later WEZE – and kind of “studied” it since) I have been programming the music. Cross that off my bucket list! Be patient with us, WKGO is a work in progress. But I have included the obligatory B/EZ recordings that garnered many calls to such stations in their day – Caravelli’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Wigwam, Johnny Pearson’s Sleepy Shores and Zamfir’s The Lonely Shepherd backed by the James Last Orchestra to name a few. Thanks go to Warren Andrews, Jim Masters and the father of the format, Marlin Taylor, who, through email and face-to-face discussions over the years, help to make programming such a format pretty… well… uh… easy!

wmck_logo_smSpeaking of the format and the assistance from the aforementioned gentlemen, I’ve spent the last 19 weeks at my own microphone as creator and host of the two-hour Smooth, Relaxing and Easy which airs on WMCK.fm. Like this website, I can call the show “my own” and I enjoy sharing the music with the listeners… most of it comes out of my personal collection.

“WMCK dot FM” is a project of Tube City Community Media Inc. and has been on the air for a year as of October 6. WMCK was the original callsign for McKeesport’s 1360 – which is now (although currently silent) WGBN. It was second to WEDO (810) which signed on about 6 months earlier way back in November, 1946. The WMCK callsign is no longer available for use on terrestrial radio stations. In fact, it is reserved for maritime use.

WMCK.fm is best described as “free-form”, playing new rock during the hours that there are not shows like mine on the air. The shows range from oldies to country and other genres in between. The station also does live coverage from events in and around McKeesport. It’s a bona fide internet station… an internet station that could! Tune it in via the website or one of a few smartphone apps.


Eric with emcee Jon Burnett at the 2016 Step Forward Pittsburgh event for the Parkinson Foundation of Western PA

One more “telling on myself” moment… and I have struggled with whether or not I’ve wanted to parlay this to my readers. I am not one to talk about my health or my life in general, especially since that is typically nobody’s business. However if I am being honest with you I am being honest with myself.

Two years ago I was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s Disease. As a result I have had to adjust my life to living with the disease and that includes how I do things like the activities listed above, this website and everything else I do. Without going into great detail, I have begun to use Dragon dictation software to write many of my postings. Otherwise I type with one hand. There are also days when my voice may not be as strong. It doesn’t always show on the air as I attempt to keep it strong, but there are times when I know that it’s not all there.

Most of my days end up being pretty good, and for as young as I was when I received the diagnosis, that should remain the case throughout. But there are some days, especially during cold, cold winters, that my motivation lacks, I shake more, and the day becomes a complete wash. Obviously I try not to live my life expecting those days, however I cant deny that they happen. I focus on having good days.

My family, especially my wife, and friends have been very supportive throughout all of this. I have told them from the beginning, and I tell you the same, that I am not seeking pity as it accomplishes nothing. I just seek your support and understanding throughout this time especially as I have decided to live with the disease versus suffer from the disease.

Thank you for your support.


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  1. Nancy Clark

    You are to be admired, respected and, above all appreciated for all you do for your listeners/readers. Keep up your energy, rest when needed, and LIVE as you have promised yourself and others, knowing you are in the warm thoughts and sincere prayers of many you may never meet.

  2. Sam Jordan


    Keep up the fight. Don\’t let it overtake you. If you love what you do… DO IT!
    You have a great boss and friend in Bob and Ashley. I know… I worked for them in Cumberland, MD.
    B/EZ is sometimes a difficult format; but, if you put some complimentary components within the format, the station will be awesome.

    If you would like help with PBRTV.com; don\’t hesitate to ask.


  3. Boomer The Dog

    Congratulations on getting to program B/EZ music, I know you’ve talked about it before, and I’m glad you’re able to do some consolidation-free radio. My mom liked it in it’s heyday and afterward to WEZE, and even back to WLOA, so I heard a good bit of it. Of course, who could forget hearing Muzak at work or in stores..

    I didn’t care about B/EZ as much when it was popular, it was just there, but I picked up memories of it, so later, long after WEZE was gone, I was thinking about the music again, wondering where it had gone, and that I’d like to hear some.

    The Zamfir is from the Kill Bill movie! I can see why all the songs you mentioned got calls, as quality originals. Don’t forget to add Orinoco Flow, if your format allows any vocals.

    Thanks for the honesty, and keep on truckin’!


  4. log cabin Bill

    Eric: Although I have never met you personally, and only know you from hearing you on the radio and reading your pbrtv blog, I would like to offer you my support and best wishes. Perhaps you will find it fulfilling to continue doing what you like to do and enjoy doing. Please know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers.
    —-log cabin Bill (retired CBS-TV)

  5. Carson

    Eric, all of us out here in radioland are praying for you in your battle against this adversity.
    Keep up the good fight!

  6. Pat Cloonan

    Interesting. WZUM-FM over the air, but still reading WYZR on digital radio dials when it powers out WKGO.

    1. Eric

      I’ve noticed that too. I suppose the RDS technology is a relatively minor priority.

  7. BEZ Fan

    Any chance WKGO will stream? I was in the area briefly traveling through. What a great station. Wish I could hear it all the time.

    1. Eric

      It’s been discussed, but we’ll likely be faced with the same cost prohibitive streaming fees.

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