“Drop the coin right into the slot . . . You gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot . . .”
So declared Chuck Berry, makin’ merry in 1957’s “School Days.”
For six years now, a devotee of the pioneer rock and roll artist has been doing just that – plunking buffalo nickels into the colorful Wurlitzer and dishing up platters from that ebullient era on a weekly basis.
The first Friday night in February, 2000 host Jim Bishop debuted the “Friday Night Jukebox” on WEMC-FM, the public radio voice of Eastern Mennonite University.
The coins apparently didn’t get stuck or run out, as the show seemed to strike a responsive chord with area listeners who thought they’d never again hear songs that they grew up with from that time period, even on area commercial oldies stations.
The big difference – most of the songs are now played off compact disc, although Bishop does revert on occasion to a trusty, dusty rusty turntable for that rare tune still not available in that format.
On the “Jukebox” sixth anniversary show, 9 p.m. Feb. 3, Bishop will feature exclusively the creme de la creme, the No. 1 chartbuster hits of the 1950’s, including the biggest-selling song of each year from 1955 to 1960.
Ordinarily, the program tends to focus more on “songs that charted and received airplay for awhile, but didn’t crack the Top 10,” Bishop said. The show tries to include instrumentals, novelty tunes and one-hit-wonder artists every week, he noted.
The following week, 9 p.m. Feb. 10, the “Friday Night Jukebox” will feature sentimental, unabashedly romantic selections from the 1950’s on a “Pre-Valentine’s Music Special.”
Listener requests and dedications are welcomed by calling 432-4211 by Wednesday of the week.
WEMC, 91.7 FM, is the oldest non-commercial station in Virginia and now broadcasts 24 hours a day.