Tune Team

Saturday Light Brigade, one of the nation’s longest-running radio shows, kicks off its third summer-concert series this month.


A group of young actresses from Gemini Theatre present a selection from their play, Charlotte’s Web.

 

It’s Saturday morning. Some Pittsburghers are still sleeping, but Larry Berger already spoke to a pair of brothers from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, introduced a budding mezzo-soprano and gathered background on a group of acoustic country musicians ... all before lunch.

Berger hosts The Saturday Light Brigade, one of the nation’s longest-running public radio shows.

The six-hour program quietly begins at 6 a.m. with puzzles, weather reports, stories, music, the Saturday Stumper and call-ins from listeners. Berger is in the air studio chatting with callers on air. His wife, Rikki, the show’s executive producer, is next-door checking audience reactions.

During a recent show, in unrushed and casual mode, Berger interviews Nathaniel, an 11-year-old from Washington, Pa., and Joe Hareza, his Big Brother. Nathaniel loves math and football and has attended Steelers and Penguins games with his Big Brother; they discuss how Nathaniel pals around with Joe—even on some of his busiest days.

Berger then meets songbird Lydia Gibson from St. Vincent College. They discuss her hometown and her dreams of singing at The Met. Afterward, Berger introduces The Turpentiners, a band of acoustic musicians, and shortly after, the group’s twangy sound fills the studio.

SLB works off the air, too: Last year, the nonprofit guided eighth graders from Manchester Academic Charter School through a recording project. Students interviewed elderly North Side residents about their childhood. Moses Carper told two students that, as a kid, he earned $1 a day feeding horses on a farm located off of Perrysville Avenue. The collaboration produced Allegheny Voices, a 24-page publication complete with a CD. It also provided a rich experience for kids and seniors.

Berger draws out people’s stories with ease, like he’s been doing this most of his life. And in a way, he has: He created SLB when he was 16 years old and hosted it on WYEP-FM. After 25 years, he moved the show to WRCT-FM at Carnegie Mellon University. Berger also became affiliated with five other university stations, covering 15 Pennsylvania counties and parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

 

Throughout the years, SLB Radio Productions Inc. has grown into a corporation for kids, families, community organizations and schools. In 2004, SLB built a broadcast studio in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

The Saturday Light Brigade’s name grew out of a brainstorming session, says Berger. He wanted SLB to be a dynamic show that was “light-hearted” and full of ideas. One of the goals of the show was for it to provide “a sense of belonging as in a brigade.”

Berger believes that “belonging and a desire for respectful treatment is central to the human condition.” He also contends that “radio can be carried out in a way that fulfills these needs.” SLB’s world is “gentle, inclusive, trusting and approachable.”

Each Saturday, SLB invites the public into the studio to listen, watch performances and speak on the air from 10 a.m.-noon. Throughout the year, SLB conducts walk-up, in-studio radio workshops to introduce youths to radio broadcasting. The sessions promote verbal expression, listening skills and self-esteem.  

Berger’s love of acoustic music doesn’t just permeate the SLB’s weekend show: During July and August, SLB participates in the Solar Concert Series outside every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. Now in its third season, the performances are part of Pittsburgh’s first green concert series. Instruments are not plugged in. The sun powers the microphones and speakers.  

“A solar panel captures sunlight and stores the energy in 12-volt car batteries,” says Berger.

The concerts take place in front of the Children’s Museum. Kids, teens, parents, students, seniors and businesspeople come to listen and grab lunch at the Children’s Museum Café and dine outdoors. Last year, Brad Yoder, a singer and songwriter, exchanged his guitar for a saxophone and started an impromptu “Name That Tune” game at a concert, prompting kids to shout “This Old Man” and “Pop Goes the Weasel” while identifying the songs. When Midge Crickett played cello, a fascinated 5-year-old got a chance to pluck and bow the strings. Musicians and the crowd had the opportunity to mingle after the concert.

This year’s lineup includes the Ortner-Roberts Duo, Emily Pinkerton, Todd Burge, Midge Crickett, Brewer’s Row, Paula Purnell and Tom Breiding and is sponsored by PPG Industries Foundation in cooperation with SLB, New Hazlett Theater and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  

“While musical genres at the concerts are varied and not mainstream,” says Berger, “you’ll almost always find children and adults dancing.” 

To hear the show, TUNE IN TO:

88.3 WRCT: Carnegie Mellon University
91.7 WNJR: Washington & Jefferson College
91.7 WCUC: Clarion University
91.1 WSAJ: Grove City College
90.1 WIUP: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
90.7 WMCO: Muskingum College
PCTV Comcast 21, Pittsburgh: 6-9 a.m.
Verizon 47 Greater Pittsburgh: 6-9 a.m.


Saturday Light Brigade: 10 Children’s Way, North Side. Info: 412/586-6300, slbradio.org. Solar Concert Series: Allegheny Square, North Side. Wednesdays, 12:15 p.m. Free. Info: 412/586-6300. Solar Concert Series rain location: Children’s Museum Café. Info: 412/322-5058, pittsburghkids.org

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the ATHENA Awards are unique among regional honors for professional women because of the focus on developing the next generation of leaders through mentorship.
Watch: Tributes and More For Golfing Great Arnold Palmer

Watch: Tributes and More For Golfing Great Arnold Palmer

The golf icon from Latrobe, Pa. died Sunday of complications from heart problems.
9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

9 Things to Know About The North Park Water Tower

Thanks to Rick Sebak, we have some rare pictures of the view from the top.
Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

The movie is the first non-documentary to focus solely on the pop artist’s life.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

The things that are best about us? They’re not things. They’re ways.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

2016 Athena Award Winners Announced

Named for the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the ATHENA Awards are unique among regional honors for professional women because of the focus on developing the next generation of leaders through mentorship.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Finn and chef de cuisine Becca Hegarty to bring salads, sandwiches, house-baked bread, wine and more to the refurbished Café Carnegie.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

The historic (and purportedly haunted) Harmony Inn is a fine stop for drinks and food.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

The puck drops for the opening of training camp on Friday, and once that happens the Penguins must transition from “champions” into “defending champions.”

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Work It

Work It

A new handbag from Sandra Cadavid’s is perfect for work — or play.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

Reviews of the "Magnificent Seven" remake and "Storks," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

Also: If you’re looking to redo a room to invite relaxation, PPG Paints promises a wide variety of soothing colors for 2017.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Ken Gormley began his new tenure by delivering good news to University employees.

Comments