Vin Scelsa

Suzanne Vega, center, and Reed, right, with singers Kris Kristofferson, Victoria Williams and DJ Vin Scelsa in 1994

Suzanne Vega, center, and Reed, right, with singers Kris Kristofferson, Victoria Williams and DJ Vin Scelsa in 1994

It really is the end of an era as free-form radio host Vin Scelsa and his show “Idiot’s Delight”  is turning off his microphone after 48 years on the radio.   Vin is a New York institution and like all radio personalities he has bounced around the dial.  Scelsa went on to work in commercial radio first on Long Island in the early 1970s at WLIR and at non-commercial WBAI-FM in New York City. He was music director at WPLJ,  When WPLJ restricted the air personalities’ ability to pick their own music to play, Scelsa moved to WNEW-FM 102.7 where he hosted late nights and evenings from 1973 through 1982. When WNEW instituted fixed playlists for all personalities in 1982, Scelsa departed.  He joined then-new rock station WXRK-FM 92.3 K-Rock in 1985 and hosted a free-form program there through the end of 1995. His Sunday night show at K-Rock became known as “Idiot’s Delight,”.

I became familiar with Vin when I lived in New York during his time at K-Rock and the great thing about his show’s was not just that he played what he wanted, not just the breadth of recorded material that he felt free to play at any moment but the knowledge and stories behind the songs.  He was a fanboy first and foremost of the music he played.

I found this playlist of songs he played in 1999 on a night I’m sure the moon shone bright.

NANCI GRIFFITH   Once In A Very Blue Moon
ELVIS PRESLEY   Blue Moon
TOM WAITS   Drunk On The Moon
BILLIE HOLIDAY   What A Little Moonlight Can Do
ELVIS PRESLEY   Blue Moon
FRANK SINATRA   Fly Me To The Moon
BILL MONROE   Blue Moon Of Kentucky
PAT ALGER  Once In A Very Blue Moon
STAN GETZ   Winter Moon   (Laurindo Almeida)
ELLA FITZGERALD & LOUIS ARMSTRONG   Moonlight In Vermont

In 1981 he was name-checked on The Ramones’ “It’s Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World)”

“Vin Scelsa’s on the radio
Ramones are hangin’ out in Kokomo”

Here’s Vin getting Joey Ramone to do a rare acoustic performance for his show.

Vin’s final show will air 8-10p on Saturday, May 2nd on WFUV while his last SiriusXM show on The Loft is April 30th. Meanwhile, an all-star farewell concert, “Vin Scelsa’s Fare Thee Well Concert” is set for June 8th at New York’s City Winery.

In a statement Vin said, “I am incredibly lucky to have spent my entire radio career doing exactly what I’ve wanted. The kind of programming autonomy I’ve enjoyed, on both commercial and public radio over all these years, is unique. I am grateful to all the stations I’ve worked on for the privilege of being allowed to wander through their airwaves wherever my interests have taken me. I am grateful to my listeners for their support and their indulgence as we shared this journey together. It’s hard to let go, of course, but I always promised myself and my audience that when the time was right I would stop. How lucky am I that I get to decide even this!”

Fare Thee Well, Vince!

Vin Scelsa

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