Cybertainment: Alternative WXXP lives again on Web

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The former WXXP-FM was a short-lived but highly regarded alternative music format that aired from 1986-88 on what is now WBZZ-FM (100.7).

The station had a loyal following. One can still see the occasional weathered and faded WXXP bumper sticker on cars around town.

And now WXXP lives again on the Web as an alternative channel carried by the music streaming site Live365. The online version preserves the station's original punk/new wave and alternative format.

This year would have marked the station's 25th anniversary.

"We knew we did something special," said former WXXP host Paul Cramer. "This is the best way of getting this back to the people of Pittsburgh. Double X is now Double X worldwide."

During the week, "WXXP 100.7 FM XX Radio" plays music from the original WXXP's playlists -- artists like The Clash, The Smiths, The Ramones, Wire and Simple Minds, along with some newer releases by the same bands.

On weekends, they air actual WXXP broadcasts from the 1980s, where listeners can hear recordings of the original WXXP hosts Darrin Smith, Cris Winter, Bob Studebaker, DJ Bird, Keith Mitchell, Deej, Garrett Hart, deb brady, Dave Reedy, Phil Kirzyc and Paul Cramer. Some of the original DJs are involved in creating new programming for the online station, including Mr. Cramer, DJ Bird, Mr. Hart and Mr. Reedy.

In the past few weeks, WXXP has been upgraded to CD quality sound.

The Live365 radio network offers numerous online channels in a wide variety of genres -- from mainstream to narrowly targeted niche formats.

Another online station is hoping to fill a musical void here. Q Live One features a mix of R&B, jazz and gospel.

The two-year absence of an urban format in Pittsburgh after the sale of WAMO-FM/AM left many listeners with no place to go on the airwaves. A new urban station -- also with the call letters WAMO -- launched in June. It can be heard at 100.1 on the FM dial and 660 on AM.

Pittsburgh has another online urban format -- 101 The Blaze ( -- which launched a few months after WAMO went off the air. It's programmed by former WAMO staffers.

But while the new WAMO and The Blaze are focused on playing hip-hop and contemporary urban, Q Live One's mix of old school R&B, jazz and gospel is aimed at the older range of the former WAMO's listeners.

During the week, the R&B programming ranges from the '70s to the present, featuring artists such as Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle and Teddy Pendergrass.

Saturdays from 10 a.m. to midnight, it's a mix of traditional, Latin and smooth jazz. Sundays are devoted to gospel programming.

Q Live One isn't a local production: It was launched this summer by the Richard Stevenson Presents Live Network in San Antonio, Texas. The company formed after San Antonio lost its urban station. Now, said Q Live One CEO Richard Stevenson, he looks for markets where urban formats have been dumped in favor of others. The programming is tailored to each local market. So far, he has four -- in Pittsburgh, Little Rock, San Antonio and one scheduled to launch in Tampa.

Adrian McCoy: or 412-263-1865.


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