Hosting Standing Room Only


By Sam Fidler:

Broadway on the radio runs in my DNA.

Not a weekend went by in our house without WERS special programming playing on our old, reliable Bose radio/CD player, oftentimes right in our dining room over dinner. As a kid, I would grip my mom’s phone waiting for the DJs on The Playground list the request number so I could call in and ask for my favorites. My mother, ever the consummate Jewish matriarch, made us a huge fan of Chagigah.

And my dad, himself a disk jockey back in his undergraduate years at Dartmouth, never missed a week of Standing Room Only, the best of Broadway and Beyond.

I was listening to showtunes for years before I even saw my first musical. To me, these songs weren’t a testament to Broadway classics just yet; they were just the songs I heard on the radio all of the time. I became as familiar with SRO staples like “A Weekend in the Country,” “My New Philosophy”, and “Move On” as my friends did with pretty much every other genre of music.

Being Standing Room Only’s Saturday host, I’ve definitely been thrilled to play the same music I heard on the station growing up. But more fulfilling still are the daily gems I come across as a result of listener requests or digging through the archives. WERS is just as much my home for music discovery as it is for its loyal listeners.

My dad’s old college radio station used to only run until just past sundown. My dad, ever the music nut, struck a deal with his bosses: he would stay in the studio keeping the station on air for a couple more hours at night, and he could play whatever music he wanted. They agreed, and that late-night block became my dad’s haven for his showtunes.

A story he loves to tell is when he opened his personal block by telling his listeners that he had just received an advance-copy record of “a brand-new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about the life of Eva Perón.” and that he was going to play the entire soundtrack from beginning to end over the air. That night, my dad and his listeners heard the music of Evita for the first time.

I hear the music from new shows every day on Standing Room Only right alongside my listeners–not only from the newest Broadway hits, but from age-old classics of which I’ve never heard. Just last week, a listener informed me of Starlight Express, another Webber musical where all of the main characters are trains, portrayed by actors on rollerskates. I would never have discovered all of this new music without Standing Room Only and WERS, and I take pride in knowing that many of my listeners can say the same thing.

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