They said it couldn’t be done! (Actually, they said it shouldn’t be done.) But WRCT didn’t listen.
Responding to the listening public’s overwhelming indifference, WRCT’s Jay Thurber will again roll back the clock this New Year’s Eve 40 years, to the night of December 31, 1969. It’s the eighth (he thinks) annual “New Year’s Eve Flashback”!
Beginning at 9 p.m. that evening, WRCT will start up Carnegie Mellon’s “WABAC” machine and head for the long-gone student union, Skibo Hall, in the era when the station was still at 900 kHz AM. Thurber, WRCT’s resident dinosaur and aspiring old fart, will count down the top songs of 1969, interspersed with news reports, commercials and other announcements from the Pittsburgh of December 1969. Even the audio — in glorious low-fi mono — will sound like 1969. No HD, IBOC or 5.1-channel digital sound here, even though WRCT is based at one of the nation’s leading research universities. There is one concession to modernity — the broadcast will also be streamed on the station’s website, www.wrct.org.
The “number one song of 1969” will be unveiled at 12 midnight. (Don’t worry — WRCT will tell you exactly when the New Year 1970 .. er, 2010 .. arrives!)
Owned by the students of Carnegie Mellon, WRCT-FM is staffed entirely by campus and community volunteers. Broadcasting 24-hours per day at 1,750-watts on the FM dial, WRCT’s signal reaches all of Allegheny Count and parts of three adjacent counties. Programming includes all types of music, Carnegie Mellon sports, public-service and educational shows, and news from the Pacifica Network. The station signed on at 900 AM in 1949 and moved to the FM dial in March 1974.
Pittsburghers burned out on Christmas music will get a special gift one day early — from 1,200 miles away.
Legendary Pittsburgh radio personality Chuck Brinkman lends his voice to a countdown remembering the top tunes of 1963 — plus his own memories of being on the air that momentous year — from 12 to 3 p.m. Thursday, December 24, on Carnegie Mellon University’s WRCT-FM (88.3).
The show is being produced by another former Pittsburgh radio talent, John Summers* (known as “Alfred E. Newman” when he worked at B-94 in the 1980s, not to be confused with Jon Summers who worked at KQV and WTAE in the 1970s and ’80s), with the assistance of longtime local programmer and radio consultant Clarke Ingram.
The Christmas Eve special will close out WRCT’s 60th anniversary year, which also represents its 35th anniversary on the FM dial.
Brinkman, a Pittsburgh native, is well remembered as one of the “Fun-Lovin’ Five” from KQV radio, the city’s top outlet for rock music from the late ’50s through the early ’70s. He later was an air talent at Pittsburgh’s former WTAE and Y-97FM before moving to Dallas, Texas, where he spent almost two decades as a program director and personality at that city’s KLUV-FM.
The special countdown was cooked up by Summers — another Pittsburgh native who worked with Brinkman at KLUV — and Ingram, who suggested the program to WRCT’s Jay Thurber. Thurber is nom de guerre for a Carnegie Mellon alumnus who hosts an oldies show called “Radio 9” from 12 – 3 on Saturday afternoons.
“On my show, I try to re-create the sound of ’60s Top 40 stations like KQV,” Thurber says, “but why have an imitation when you can get the real Chuck Brinkman? As soon as Clarke suggested that we hook up with Chuck and John, I knew this special would be the prefect way for WRCT to wrap up its 35th anniversary on FM. It’s a real honor to be able to bring Chuck’s voice to Pittsburghers this Christmas season and I think listeners will appreciate hearing these great sounds of 1963 with one of the great talents who first made them hits.”
Meanwhile, one week later, on New Year’s Eve, Thurber will present his own recreation of the sound of 1960s radio… more after you click “MORE”