Nick DiBiaso shows
Music became the center of Nick’s universe when he was 9 years old, on February 9, 1964, while watching The Beatles’ first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He bought his first album, ‘Meet The Beatles’, the very next day, and has been a serious collector ever since.
Immediately after graduating high school, Nick bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder, began stringing songs together to tell a story or to set a theme, and handed out mixtapes to his friends. In the late 1970’s he took a course in recording techniques at a local recording studio, and began work as a sound engineer for several Rhode Island bands, playing his mixtapes between live music sets.
Nick has attended hundreds of concerts around the globe, from the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein to Frank Zappa & The Mothers, and everything in between.
In February 1994, Nick was invited to be a guest DJ on Providence classic rock station WRX to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Beatles‘ Ed Sullivan performance.
He joined WICN in 1996, hosting the Saturday edition of Against The Grain, as well as an acoustic show, The Contemporary Café, which featured live in-studio performances by local and internationally known artists, such as Eric Andersen, Aztec Two-Step, Jon Pousette-Dart, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, and Peter Tork of The Monkees to name just a few. In 2006 he combined elements of both shows and renamed his show My Back Pages. After taking a brief hiatus in 2007, he returned to host Against The Grain in June 2008.
Nick is also a member of The Zimmermen, a music group that celebrates the music of Bob Dylan every May at Patrick’s Pub in Providence.
5 Questions with Nick BiBiaso
What brought you to hosting a show on WICN? Why do you love being on the air?
I have loved listening to the radio ever since The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, one month before my 10th birthday. After seeing them on television, I would walk around with a transistor radio up to my ear just to hear the latest rock ‘n’ roll songs, and enjoyed hearing the deejay relating facts about the songs and the performers. It was a time when you could hear all genres of music on one station all day long.
In the early 1970s, I volunteered to answer the phone at Brown University’s radio station, WBRU, and got to be in the on-air studio on occasion, which is when I got the bug to be on the air myself. I finally got the opportunity to be on the air at Providence classic rock station WRX in February 1994, when I was invited to guest host for an hour on the 30th anniversary of the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan appearance.
I was driving down the Mass Pike in September 1996 after a record shopping trip to Boston, hit “scan” on the car radio, heard an instrumental that I had never heard before, and did something that I had never done – I called the deejay to find out what song it was. The station was WICN,
and the host I spoke with told me they needed on-air volunteers, so I drove up to Worcester to meet the host, David Ritchie, who hosted Against The Grain on Friday and Saturday evenings. I recorded a demo, was invited to fill in for David the next weekend, and in December of 1996, David offered the Saturday time slot to me, which I gladly accepted. I picked up a second night when WICN changed its format to jazz and folk, and also hosted The Contemporary Café, a mostly acoustic show that featured recorded music and lives guests on Thursday evenings.
Being on the air is exhilarating to me. I love playing songs that listeners have not heard in years or may have never heard before, and relating facts just like those deejays did for me over the years. There is just so much great music that goes unheard and deserves airplay.
What is your favorite WICN memory?
I have so many wonderful memories of my years at WICN, many of them about listeners who have become friends, as well as all the people I’ve worked with at the station over the years, but I do have one favorite memory.
Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz was on our schedule, and Marian was coming to Worcester to record her show at Mechanics Hall with special guest Linda Ronstadt. The show was taking place on a Sunday afternoon, and both Marian and Linda were coming into the station on Saturday afternoon to rehearse in what is now Studio 50. Brian Barlow knew I was a huge fan of Linda Ronstadt, and invited me to attend the rehearsal. After a few hours, I had to go on the air to host Against The Grain, and Linda joined me in the studio, not to come on air with me, but just to chat about music and some of her favorite artists.
FILL IN THE BLANK: The best concert I ever saw was ______________?
I’ve been to hundreds of concerts; classical, country, jazz, blues, folk, and rock, so it’s difficult for me to choose just one as my favorite. I’ve seen 3 Beatles in concert: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; saw Arthur Fiedler conduct the “1812 Overture” in Fort Adams with real cannons; Bob Dylan a number of times; the Grateful Dead several times. There are 2
shows that stand out in my mind – Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant with Alison Krauss. Both shows took place at Harbor Lights Pavilion in Boston. I had seen Mark Knopfler with Dire Straits, Emmylou Harris with her Hot Band, and Robert Plant with Led Zeppelin, but the 2 pairings were something special.
Many listeners don’t know that the majority of our hosts are volunteers that do this out of a personal passion. What do you/did you do professionally off the air?
I’ve had several jobs over the years. When I first began working at WICN in 1996, I was a medical courier until 2002; painted houses for a couple of years, and from 2005 to 2020 I worked at a toxicology lab that had techs all over the country. I managed their supply department, and we shipped supplies to sites from coast to coast.
Who are your favorite artists and/or albums of all time?
Too many favorites artists, including The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Wilco, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, Bill Kirchen, Mary Gauthier, Neko Case, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives…