What a long interesting trip it's been for WYEP-FM general manager Abby Goldstein, who arrived in Pittsburgh last fall via New Jersey, Texas and New Hampshire.
Ms. Goldstein, 51, of Churchill, counts herself among "the very first generation of NPR backseat listeners," with a mom who drove around with NPR on the car radio. With a degree in speech/theater from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, she hung around the local theater, which shared the same building as the public radio station.
It was only natural that Ms. Goldstein would begin hanging out there as well: "When a weekend part-time job became available, I took it. I'll never forget the first time I spoke into a microphone. It is burned into my memory."
After working in public and commercial radio in rock music, sports and talk, as well as stints as an independent record promoter and even an event planner for street festivals, she moved north to become a producer of local and national programming for New Hampshire Public Radio.
A dedicated foodie who writes a blog with her twin brother, Alan (www.killerdelicious.wordpress.com), Ms. Goldstein also aspires to follow one day in the game show footsteps of her mother, Bonnie, who once won a set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica on "Jeopardy."
If you could experience again any three-day period in your life, what would it be? I'd choose July Fourth weekend of 2003. It was the weekend that my husband, Jason Kumpel, and I fell in love. We'd been dating very casually for a couple of months, and I decided that I was ready to take it to the next level. I laid my heart on the line, and we spent the entire weekend together and pretty much every other weekend since then. I wouldn't change one minute of that special weekend.
After moving to Pittsburgh, I was stunned to discover the region is ... so full of fascinating history. So many interesting people have accomplished so much where these three rivers come together. The wheels of the Industrial Revolution turned here and fueled the entire country. The first broadcasts originated here. From higher education to exploration to scientific discovery to business to sports, Pittsburgh holds an important place in American history. I had no idea until we moved here and started exploring the place, and now when I learn something new about Pittsburgh, I feel proud to live here.
As a foodie who has lived all over the country, I would suggest Pittsburgh's restaurant scene needs ... a more vibrant food truck scene. There are a few good food trucks, but they're not easy to find. Also, I have been unable to find dim sum, a wonderful Chinese tradition for weekend dining. There are a couple of places that serve from a dim sum menu, but with such a thriving Asian population, I am surprised that Pittsburgh doesn't have a dim sum restaurant.
The best thing about noncommercial radio is ... that we care about our listeners. Listeners always come first. I had a program director when I worked in commercial radio who told me that the music didn't matter at all, that the music was just filler in between commercials and that the commercials were the most important thing we aired. But in noncommercial radio, we know that great programming is what brings in a great audience, and we focus our efforts on serving that audience to the very best of our ability. This is about people, pure and simple. Our bottom line is excellent public service.
The role of WYEP in this community is best described as ... the convener for musical and artistic education, exploration and discovery. Just as Pittsburgh has a long history with education, exploration and discovery, WYEP has the potential to embrace those values and take what we've been doing to new heights. This is a wonderfully creative city with a great local music scene that we champion. Our Third Thursday monthly free concerts with local bands at our Community Broadcast Center [Bedford Square on the South Side] are well attended. We play a lot of local music in our regular mix and especially during The Block Party at night. We have inspiring education programs for kids of all ages. And there are partnerships yet to be forged and a huge artistic community yet to be tapped.
What has online listening meant to your station?
For WYEP, online listening means broader reach. We have listeners from all over the world who discover Pittsburgh through our online stream. WYEP can be Pittsburgh's broadcast ambassador to the whole world.
Having a twin brother means ... that when we introduce each other to new friends, we can say, "This is my womb-mate." We're just like any siblings. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't, but we have a common thread that connects us, and I think that is quite special.
iOS or Android? iOS, all the way.
Name three favorite things that go with coffee: a chewy bagel with cream cheese, a game of cards and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."
My co-workers might say this is my best attribute. My sense of fun. While we have serious business to conduct, work should be fun. We should be enjoying ourselves. If people are not having fun in their jobs, they might not be in the right profession.
Reality television: at times, fascinating programming, or the devil's work? Some shows are mildly interesting and afford us the opportunity to learn new things -- I really got into "Deadliest Catch" for a few seasons, and king crab never tasted the same after watching that show. But reality television has gone way overboard in recent years. I mean, come on, naked people [Discovery's "Naked and Afraid"] wandering around Africa followed closely by a camera crew -- who are fully clothed, by the way. That's just insulting. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but it's not reality -- most of it is highly staged, rehearsed and retaken over and over. So, yeah, for the most part, it's the devil's work.
It's summer, so my vacation ideas turn to ... a beach house or lake house where I can spend my days digging my toes in the sand while reading a book and my nights cooking amazing food and sipping margaritas.
Maria Sciullo: email@example.com, 412-263-1478 or on Twitter @MariaSciulloPG.