BEHIND FAME15 :: A Concert in my Car

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by DENA KOKLANARIS

When you have a car, three things become essential: safety, gasoline, and good music.

Living in New York City for over a decade, I rarely drove. I didn’t need to think about car inspections or the constantly fluctuating cost of gasoline. As for music? My soundtrack was the subway and the street. Unless jogging in Prospect Park, I refused to escape into headphones and my iPod. I wanted to hear the exhilarating, entertaining and outrageously noisy mash-up of 8 million people simultaneously sharing the same space. A symphony unto itself.

When I recently made the return to Pittsburgh, one of my first orders of business was to get a car. Meandering our city’s bumpy, windy roads, I skimmed through our local radio stations, figuring I’d land on my childhood and high school standbys: the latest pop tunes on B94 FM (nope, shuttered) and WDVE (classic rock runs through my veins). Driving home from the car dealership, I continued to move the dial until my little Subaru was suddenly flooded with a blend of blues, jazz, and rock I’d never heard: Lake Street Dive’s “Call Off Your Dogs.” Who was this band? Why had I never heard of them? And wait. What station was I even listening to?

I quickly found out. I hadn’t just discovered a radio station. I had found WYEP, and since that day, my dial hasn’t budged. WYEP 91.3FM’s tagline is “Where the Music Matters.” In everything they do, they stay true to the music. And they bring it to us.

WYEP is like Christmas morning every morning. Their ultra-talented team of DJs, music writers, and curators of sound are a gift to Pittsburgh. When you love and need music as much as I do, you simply cannot get enough. WYEP gives and keeps on giving.

Music is a direct window to our souls. It transforms us into a better version of ourselves, one in which we have full access to the creativity, love, and power of the human spirit. WYEP is there to always remind us that with music, we’re never really alone.

As a station and a team, they celebrate music’s visionaries and its power to transcend. WYEP educates us by constantly introducing us to new musicians – my year began with the brilliant sound of Michael Kiwanuka’s “Home Again” – and with us, it mourns the loss of giants. When David Bowie passed away, I was but one of his millions of his fans who took it hard. Flooded with memories of seeing him in concert at Madison Square Garden – still one of the best nights of my life – I reached out to Sahra, one of my NYC girlfriends who shared my passion for Bowie. “Can you believe this?” I texted her. I didn’t need to explain what “this” was. She knew. “I’m speechless,” she texted back.

And then I turned to WYEP, who gave all of us in mourning a way to grieve. They quickly curated a full-on tribute to Bowie’s genius, playing hit after hit. Long after I’d parked my car, I sat and listened through to the end of “Space Oddity,” not quite knowing how to say good-bye. Like millions of other fans, I didn’t need to know. I just needed to listen.

Like music itself, WYEP transports me. Hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” I’m six years old again, riding in the car with my big sister, Maria (also a huge Prince fan), on our way to the town pool where we coated ourselves in suntan oil and baked under the sun. (It was 1982. What did we know?) When WYEP plays “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies, I’m a junior at Penn State, where I canvassed town and campus in high top Doc Martens, forging my closest friendships with fellow lovers of what was then dubbed “alternative music.”

And just like that, I’m in the present moment, dancing in my little kitchen to the new sounds of Oh Wonder’s “Lose It.” Yes, even at home, WYEP is my soundtrack. Sure, I could power up Pandora or Spotify, but why would I want to? WYEP is here to play hit after hit, take me back to my favorites (yesterday, Bruce Springsteen, “Brilliant Disguise”) and introduce me to what’s new (Maggie Rogers, “Alaska”) day after day.

So thank you, WYEP. Thank you for keeping me company wherever I go. Thank you for constantly searching out what’s new and next in music while never failing to bring back the hits we love. What you do matters.

Keep spinning. I’ll keep tuning in. 

#WhereTheMusicMatters | @WYEP| @WYEP91.3fm | @wyeppgh