I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

In praise of the obsolete: a homage to WHVW

by Robert Bellach
June 24, 2013
Truly a David and Goliath situation… WHVW radio (950 AM, Poughkeepsie New York) is independent and locally-owned, a rarity in the era of mass corporate control of media (following ownership deregulation put in motion by the Telecommunications Act of 1996). It is also quite possibly one of the last stations in the US of A that features classic American roots music as it’s primary format. What this author is positing is: the definitive, greatest oldies radio station of all time, one of the greatest radio stations period… happens to be a AM frequency out of the Hudson Valley that is seemingly unknown.

And yet, it is not totally unknown. It has developed something of a regional cult following, and has obtained coverage by many members of the press, including The New York Times and National Public Radio, among others.

Music is featured “from the beginning of useful recorded sound (circa 1900) to 1970. All genres are featured, as a mixture in our main format and in specialty shows, (which generally focus on one or two types). Among the genres you will hear on WHVW are Blues, Hillbilly, Rock ‘n’ Roll (the real ‘50's and ‘60's stuff), Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Folk, Western Swing, Electric Blues (i.e. post WWII blues), Country, Popular, Bluegrass, Doo-Wop, Rockabilly and Big Bands.

WHVW’s musical mission is:
1). To keep this music alive and available;
2). To offer a more sophisticated alternative to today’s rather dull musical offerings; (and)
3). To hopefully engender an appreciation for this music in people who otherwise would never have heard it.” (WHVW description)

And so, let us engender an appreciation in you, the Network Awesome reader/viewer, for WHVW and its music. The videos featured in this program are a quite diverse array of American roots music. These are just some of the kinds of artists you’ll hear on “Pirate Joe’s Country Music Show and Old Blues and R&B Extravaganzo,” which airs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 3 to 6 PM Eastern.

Pirate Joe, nom de microphone of station owner/manager JP Ferraro, is the musical mastermind of the station (a brief stint in the heady world of 1970s pirate radio led to the long-time nickname). Blessed with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of early 20th century music, the history of radio, and vintage recording technology, and given to strong opinions on what simply sounds good and what is trash (most everything since 1970)… Ferarro was able to pool some savings together and purchase WHVW in 1992. The station quickly changed its format into what it is currently.

Listen to an average day on WHVW and you’ll be sent back in time to a simpler era of radio. The concept of a full service station still holds true here. John Flowers hosts a true rarity: a genuinely community-minded morning show, while also mixing in 60s soul and R&B. Joe LaScolea plays the Cousin Brucie role of goofy, energetic DJ in the early afternoons, playing hits of the 50s and 60s top 40 era. Pirate Joe brings in exclusively 78 RPM records for his “Extraganzo” show: no CDs or even LPs for three straight hours. The well persevered shellac discs are often original pressings, meaning the sound quality can meet or exceed newer remasters. Weekdays at 6PM, the station takes a stylistic turn: Pirate Joe becomes JP Ferraro for “Evening Concert,” a classical program.

Thursdays bring in “The Blues Gal” for thematically organized sets of classic blues, and prior to his regular oldies show, Joe LaScolea gives a nod towards the Great American Songbook with his Sinatra program, “Chairman of the Board.”

An automated playlist airs Saturday afternoons and most evenings after 8 PM. This being no ordinary station, this is not simply filler. Indeed, the automation programming has its own name: Murray the Machine, after famous 60s DJ Murray the K. Remarkably eclectic, Murray the Machine runs the gamut from 1930s country, blues and jazz to the occasional Velvet Underground cut… with just about everything in-between. The uniqueness cannot be overemphasized.

"WHVW disproves the bias of a number of non-conformist radio types I’ve known who equate radio automation with a lack of imagination or laziness. It all depends on who’s programming the machine. Now in the age of mp3 players, I suppose you could spend a couple of years loading up on thousands of old shakin’ and stompin’ classics and kinda create your own WHVW in your pocket. But it would still be an imitation of Pirate Joe’s musical vision. Which is on the air right now by the way. Filling the sky of Dutchess Country with radio waves carrying the likes of Coleman Hawkins, T-Bone Walker or Harry "The Hipster" Gibson, proving that automated radio can be a non-conformist’s best friend. And that it’s not impossible for a radio station to be a better music machine than a money machine.” (The Radio Kitchen Blog)


More Details


Two ways to listen to WHVW online...

Flash player in your web browser through TuneIn:

Media player software on your computer (iTunes, Winamp, VLC, etc.):







WHVW relies on community support, as well as paid advertising, to continue broadcasting.

Please consider mailing a check. Any amount of support is helpful. 

WHVW radio
316 Main Street, Suite 5
Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 12601


Robert A. Bellach has mixed feelings about his ability to write a snappy bio in the third person. However, he has been obsessive about vintage pop culture since childhood, and is glad to undertake any pursuit that allows him to share this enthusiasm. Feel free to contact him at robert@networkawesome.com