So. Farewell, then, WVYS-FM

With the final episode of “Parks & Recreation” about to air, I would like to salute our colleagues at WVYS-FM in Pawnee, Ind., and especially Derry Murbles, who has done such a good job filling in for David Parker as he studies squirrel migration patterns.

WRCT doesn’t have a show called “Jazz + Jazz = Jazz,” but we damned well wish we’d thought of it first.

And before that, you heard “Nefertiti’s Fjord.”

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Happy Harry’s Do-it-Yourself Corner: Valentine’s Day edition

Happy Harry Harrison has a big sale at his hardware store for Valentine’s Day, and he’s got a lot of activities planned for couples who want to work on projects together. Originally aired Feb. 14, 2015.

(I learned after this bit aired that there used to be a store called “Herminie Hardware”! Obviously, this bit has nothing to do with the real store and Harry Harrison is a fictitious character … as is his store! I just liked the alliterative sound of “Happy Harry’s Herminie Hardware.”)

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1974 New Year’s Eve show Dec. 31

Despite popular demand, Pittsburgh’s WRCT-FM (88.3) will again ring out the old year by turning back the clock 40 years.

In a radio tradition that’s now more than a decade old, and which is tolerated by tens of dozens of listeners, WRCT’s resident oldies guru, Jay Thurber, will count down the top tunes of 1974 this Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

The broadcast also will be available online at

The countdown by Kindly Uncle Jay, Your Radio Pal™, who hosts an oldies program on WRCT on Saturday afternoons (, will include 1974-current news reports, commercials and other announcements.

The “number one song of 1974” — as calculated by Jay from a completely scientific (ha! ha!) formula — will be unveiled just before 12 noon.

A non-profit radio station owned by the students of Carnegie Mellon University, 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 County and parts of three adjoining counties.

Its programming includes all types of music, Carnegie Mellon sports, and public-service and educational shows such as “The Saturday Light Brigade,” as well as news from the Pacifica Network. The station signed on at 900 AM in 1949 and moved to the FM dial in March 1974.

WRCT can also be heard online at

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The WYEP rant

I have never gotten more response to anything I’ve ever done on the radio than this impromptu rant, which was broadcast June 28, 2014 …

A reminder once again that opinions expressed on the Radio 9 show are not those of WRCT Radio Inc., Carnegie Mellon University, the staff or management of WRCT.

They’re not even my opinions, quite frankly; I subscribe to a service which sends me opinions. (It’s called Fox News. Ha! Ha!)

So, I’m sitting in a local watering hole and I pick up a Pittsburgh City Paper, and on the cover is a story called “WYEP marks 40 years as the station that refused to die.”

Anyway, we’re not supposed to talk about other radio stations here. They don’t talk about us. They never mention us. But this story … how do I say this?

Well, first of all, congratulations to them on their 40th anniversary. Of course, WRCT has been around since 1947. We have been on the FM band for 40 years. Are we on the cover of City Paper? No!

We couldn’t make the cover of “Hobo News.” (But that, as they say at the circus, is rear-elephant.)

As the story points out, WYEP started out on a shoestring, and someone else was wearing the shoes. They were up here in Oakland, not too far from us — we were in Skibo Hall, they were in Cable Place. They talk about how no one had much radio experience, how it was a “sounding board” for “community announcements,” there were keg parties, there were flash floods in the studio, there were interviews with people like Isaac Asimov, Pete Seeger, Graham Chapman.

Two of the original volunteers poured their life savings into getting the station on the air. They secured grants from organizations across the country. A professor from the University of Pittsburgh got involved, it says, because he was the only one in the bunch who owned a suit.

This is all very well so far, and it’s actually very laudable that the community came together and put this little radio station — WYEP — on the air.

But then the story gets to the 1980s, and here’s where things start to go very, very wrong.

Because they call in former WYEP general manager Lee Ferraro — let’s get him for a comment, right? And former WYEP general manager Lee Ferraro says the programming needed to be more about “great music,” and not about being “the granola station” or “the lesbian folk station.”

Now, what Mr. Ferraro means is that they had to be more corporate. They had to play a tighter playlist. They had to, essentially, put on a bad imitation of an album-rock station from the 1980s. That’s what the eminent Mr. Ferraro is saying about WYEP.

That all of these volunteers, busting their buns, scraping together money, they were amateur hour — much like WRCT, come to think of it! — these community announcements and so forth, this was all bogus.

Instead, WYEP decided, let’s crawl as far up the butts of the corporate record companies as we can, and let’s play as many burned out ’70s album-rock artists as we can who are still turning out music — squeezing one out every so often, so to speak.

So, that’s bad enough, but what’s worse is that Mr. Ferraro basically flips the bird to WYEP’s audience — the granola-eating lesbians, as he puts it, because ha ha ha! That’s really funny!

But then we get into the takeover of Duquesne University’s radio station, WDUQ, and Mr. Ferraro brags about the fact that Pittsburgh really “deserved” an all-NPR news station.

Because yes, that really took a lot of courage and creativity, to plug in the NPR satellite, pot it up, and walk away.

That takes great vision, and once again — having crawled as far up the butts of the corporate record labels as they possibly could, the former “lesbian granola folk station” has now crawled up the butts of NPR’s underwriters.

And isn’t it convenient that they took out of the market their one-time competitor for listeners and donations? That’s fascinating, isn’t it?

And to sum up the level of creativity over there on the South Side, when they needed to come up with call letters for their all-news station, they couldn’t even come up with original call letters — they had to steal the call letters (WESA) from a station in Charleroi!

So, let’s review what happened here in the span of the 40 glorious years of “where the music matters.” We went from community volunteers scraping together the money to put on a community radio station, to having a very tightly formatted, corporate music station and an all-NPR news station.

After reading this story, I would have to say that we have a new contender for “the upper-class twit of the year.”

And for those of you who might say, “Well, Jay Thurber’s just jealous, because he’s stuck down there at WRCT,” I’m really not. After all, WRCT isn’t my only low-rated radio outlet.

Others of you might think I’m just frustrated because I’m a “has-been.” That’s not true! In fact, I’m a “never-was.”

But I would have to say that after reading that story, and after listening to that other station, I would rather broadcast on CB radio to meth-addled truckers from the parking lot of a Westmoreland County strip club, than to set one foot inside their “community broadcast center.”

And I’m not blaming the reporter for City Paper who wrote the story. It’s the whole attitude of that station — some of their people hold their listeners in utter contempt. I just think they should take their 40th anniversary bumper stickers and shove them in their ears just about as far as they will go, you hipster doofus wanna-bes.

The preceding rant does not reflect the views of WRCT Radio Inc., its volunteers or (mis?) management, the Pittsburgh Pirates or the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Responsible replies are unlikely.

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Wake up in 1974 on New Year’s Day

AMC-Hornet-in-The-Man-with-the-Golden-GunWake up this New Year’s Day and tie a yellow ribbon around your old oak tree, cue your funky bass line and wear your widest collar. WRCT-FM (88.3) will once again celebrate the new year by returning to the golden age of glorious AM radio when it flashes back to the 1970s.

In a sickening radio tradition that’s now in its 11th stultifying year, WRCT’s resident oldies guru, Jay Thurber, will roll back the clock 40 years on Wednesday, Jan. 1, to count down the top tunes of 1973.

This year’s broadcast will air from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and also will be available online at

On Jan. 1, 2014, Jay will fire up the six-cylinder flux capacitor in WRCT’s time-traveling AMC Hornet, speed down Forbes Avenue at 88.3 MPH, and head for Carnegie Mellon’s old student union, Skibo Hall, in 1974, when the station was still at 900 kHz AM.

Kindly Uncle Jay, Your Radio Pal™, who hosts an oldies program on WRCT on Saturday afternoons (, will count down the top songs of 1973, interspersed with news reports, commercials and other announcements.

The “number one song of 1973” — as calculated by Jay from a completely scientific (ha! ha!) formula — will be unveiled just before 12 noon.

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JFK special planned Nov. 23

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Pittsburgh’s WRCT-FM (88.3) will broadcast: “November 22, 1963: Portrait in Sound” at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.

Produced and narrated by WRCT host Jay Thurber, the hour-long program blends interviews with Carnegie Mellon University alumni (recorded in 2003), the hit songs of November 1963, original news broadcasts and Dallas police radio transmissions.

Thurber, a CMU alumnus, also hosts an oldies program, “Radio 9,” that airs from 12 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and features music from the 1960s.

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Radio 9 Presents “Tom Corbett: Space Cadet”!

Tom Corbett: Space Cadet!

You’re probably asking yourself, “Uncle Jay, how can I get one of these images printed onto a flimsy poster or cheap imported T-shirt?”

Wonder no longer. Just visit our CafePress store.

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Radio 9 sticky fingers!

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Hey there, keen teens and groovy guys and gals! It’s the Jay Thurber sticky fingers decal! Put it on your locker, moped or padded cell and then stay tuned to win absolutely nothing!

Available at our CafePress store.

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Live from Kennywood!

kennywood-arrow-oldJoin Jay Thurber and P’Nickers and Arsenal of the “Re-Rewind” on Saturday, July 13 as we broadcast live from Kennywood in West Mifflin!

It’s the annual Carnegie Mellon University employee picnic, and as CMU’s radio station, we’ll be playing the hits that give you fits in the burgh of Pitts, and hopefully talking to CMU employees and their families.

We’re supposed to be up on the porch of the main restaurant at the One and Only Roller Coaster Capital of the World from 12 to 5 p.m. Stop by and say hello!

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Jay Thurber’s NPR audition tape

In case you missed it, NPR is seeking a new “voice” for their network. I submitted this audition tape.

Jay Thurber’s NPR audition

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