Arts Around Town: WGPA's 'Rob Carson & Friends' radio show filling niche with oldies
Three guy friends just want to keep the music alive in the Lehigh Valley – oldies music, that is. It's something people keep asking for, according to Rob Carson, who keeps spinning those oldies of the 50s, 60s and early 70s every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., live from the WGPA Sunny 1100 AM studio at 429 E. Broad St., Bethlehem. It’s “Rob Carson & Friends,” a unique blend of classic oldies, trivia, and nostalgic talk radio that debuted in August. Carson’s on-air friends happen to be Hal Fittipaldi, known as the valley’s “Quiz Master of Trivia,” and Jim Kelly, or Oldies DJ Jimmy K.
“We want to bring fun back to Lehigh Valley radio with that family feeling,” described Carson, of Fountain Hill, whose broadcasting roots stretch back to 1967, while in high school and spinning the top 40 hits at WAEB on weekends. He said he got his start from the late James J. “Jay Sands” Sidoti, WAEB’s top DJ who introduced such stars as Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Darin, The Duprees, The Four Seasons, and Lesley Gore to the valley’s sock-hop audience. Carson also is a national sales manager for a Fortune 500 company.
Most recently, the radio show provided an open mic opportunity for nostalgic talk on old-time Allentown, inspired by a Hess’s employee reunion that took place at Emmaus Community Park. Another show featured a live, on-air interview with Ron Coleman, a member of the 50s doo-wop musical group, The Del Vikings.
It was during his early days at WAEB that Carson met Fittipaldi, of South Whitehall Township, who was involved in trivia games in the valley and eventually teamed with John “Doc Zog” Hartzog, then a teacher in the East Penn School District and organizer of Allentown’s first Super Bowl of Trivia. Fittipaldi also hosted WAEB’s “Weekend World Series of Trivia.” A retired investment broker, he authored the book, “15,003 Answers: The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia” with Stanley Newman, editor of the nationally syndicated “Newsday Crossword.”
During “Rob Carson & Friends,” listeners might hear some old-time radio jingles and television commercials, Fittipaldi explained. Comedy routines could feature Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, or Red Skelton, to name some. They might also pick up some interesting facts on musical groups and songwriters. Fittipaldi organizes annual trivia tournaments in Allentown at the Sheraton Jetport Hotel and also hosts trivia nights on alternate Wednesdays at Louie’s Restaurant and at Christopher’s Restaurant from 7 to 9 p.m.
“We play off of each other very well,” said Kelly, who’s worked at WGPA and with Philadelphia oldies DJ Jerry Blavat (“The Geator with The Heator”) of WVLT (FM) 92.1, which covers the South Jersey area. According to Kelly, of Easton’s south side, it was “by chance” that he was introduced to Carson by Fittipaldi, finding that each had his own expertise in offering the best of the oldies with personal collections of music, interviews, and trivia.
“We want to play memories,” Kelly said. “We play yesterday’s music today. We’re trying to fill a niche in the Lehigh Valley, and we think we have a good run.”
Kelly currently spins music of the 50s and 60s on Fridays from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., at the Jetport Lounge in Allentown. He’s also involved with a benefit concert for the Pottstown Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Nov. 2, at 6 p.m., at the Davenport Performing Arts Center at Pottstown High School. Performers include Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Quiet Storm, Frankie and the Fashions, The First Ladies of Rock and Soul, and Kid Kyle.
For further info: 610-866-8074 (requests/trivia)
Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope kicks of its Lambertville Music Hall Concert Series beginning Thursday at 8 p.m., with country’s Travis Tritt. The series runs through Oct 13, with a unique blend of national recording artists showcasing jazz and blues, pop, country, acoustic guitar, and classic rock. Performers include Joan Osborne, Ginger Baker, Jefferson Starship, and Eddie Money, to name some.
For further info: bcptheater.org
The second annual arts festival READING will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading. The event coincides with the fourth annual American Craft Week (Oct. 4-13).
“With hundreds of diverse events at galleries, artist studios, museums and schools, as well as fairs and festivals, it’s the premier public celebration of handmade craft in America and this year Reading, Pa., is part of it,” said Penny Golden, arts festival READING chair.
The festival will feature handcrafted work by more than 90 high-caliber artists and crafts people from across the country, with fine art and fine craft demonstrations including hot glass, calligraphy, hand-marbled silk scarf making, Windsor Chair-making, and woodturning. Local restaurants also will be participating with a wide range of food options.
This year’s jurors are Nick Mohler, program director of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, and Kristen T. Woodward, professor of art at Albright College in Reading.
For further info: goggleworks.org
“Norman Rockwell: Boy Scouts,” an exhibition featuring select work by America’s quintessential illustrator, opens Saturday at the Reading Public Museum. The show runs through Jan. 12, 2014. More than 75 pieces include paintings, drawings, gelatin silver prints, book covers, personal artist’s supplies, and early scouting artifacts, in celebration of the century-plus history of Boy Scouts (2010 was the 100th anniversary).
The exhibit draws upon the archival collections of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., as well as additional oil-on-canvas paintings from the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas, for a glimpse of Rockwell’s body of work for the Boy Scouts of America. Rockwell’s first assignment for the Boy Scouts in its infancy was pen-and-ink drawings for its “Hike Book” in the fall of 1912. He later was appointed art editor of “Boy’s Life” magazine, where he created more than 200 illustrations. His connection to the group spanned 64 years.
For further info: readingpublicmuseum.org
Players of the Stage will present Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” based on the play, “My Fair Lady,” beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. and running through Saturday at Living Hope OPC, 330 Schantz Rd., Allentown. Adapted by and directed by Sharon Gerdes, the play is a benefit for Truth for Women Ministries. Tickets are free; reservations required. An offering will be taken for Truth for Women. Theater staff recommends the play for ages 12 and up, regarding social issues that may be confusing for children.
Players of the Stage, whose theme is “Bringing Light to the World of Theater for God’s Glory,” has raised more than $70,000 for charity in its last seven seasons.
For further info: 610-310-7604 firstname.lastname@example.org
“A Very Merrie Halloween” juried craft show and fall festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, at the 1803 House, 55 S. Keystone Ave., Emmaus. A Kids Tent will feature storytelling by artist/author Andi Metz, plus pumpkin decorating and live alpacas. The Wildlands Conservancy will present “Scary Wild Creatures.” Children are encouraged to come in costume for a Halloween parade. There also will be a Haunted Gingerbread House Display.
Historic 1803 House tours will be available; all proceeds from the festival benefit its preservation and maintenance.
For further info: 1803house.org
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