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Celebrating Five Decades of Eclectic Tunes: WVIA’s Mixed Bag with George Graham Turns 50

Mixed Bag anniversary graphic.

Pittston, PA- WVIA’s longest running radio program, Mixed Bag, reaches a monumental milestone today, Monday, May 13th, celebrating 50 years of daily broadcasts. The program, a favorite among listeners in the region for its eclectic mix of music and conversation, has been a constant companion for generations.

Mixed Bag first graced the airwaves in 1973 with WVIA-FM co-founder George Graham at the helm. Graham, a charismatic and knowledgeable host, quickly established himself as a pillar of the local radio scene. He was program director at WDBS, Duke University's college radio station, when the concept of "underground radio" was taking shape with eclectic music that was not on commercial radio, with its emphasis on short singles. When George came to WVIA, he advocated for trying the eclectic album-oriented radio format to Public Radio, as an alternative to commercial radio.

Mixed Bag started as a weekly 90-minute show shortly after WVIA-FM signed on in April 1973. As of 2024, Graham has broadcast roughly 13,045 episodes of Mixed Bag.

In May of 1974, the station's programming was revised from a series of once-a-week shows to daily programs, with classical music during the day, and Mixed Bag from 7:30-10 PM Monday through Friday. At first, the program also included jazz, but All That Jazz, also hosted by George Graham, was launched as a separate program in 1976.

Graham also advocated for presenting regional musical talent on the station, and Homegrown Music with regional artist performances became part of Mixed Bag in 1976. In 1982, the Homegrown Music live concert series with live studio audiences was launched, with several concerts each year.

“WVIA extends its heartfelt gratitude to George Graham and the countless listeners who have made Mixed Bag such a resounding success for the past 50 years,” said WVIA’s Chief Content Officer, Ben Payavis II. “The program’s enduring legacy is a testament to the power of music and conversation to connect communities and foster a sense of belonging.”

The program features a wide range of musical styles not available elsewhere (including on many Public Radio stations), including eclectic rock, folk, blues, world music, new age, reggae, bluegrass and electronic music.

Other features include the segments devoted to new releases, the weekly album review, the Venerable Music set, and genre-specific mixes. For over 40 years, Mixed Bag featured a wide-ranging request segment on Friday nights, but that was discontinued with the cutbacks in local programming hours instituted in 2023.

George Graham was selected as the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Radio Broadcaster of the year for 2023.

Read George Graham’s reflection on the 30-year anniversary of Mixed Bag and the history of the program here. Learn more about Mixed Bag and listen to past episodes here.

About WVIA
WVIA is the PBS and NPR affiliate serving over 22 counties in northeastern and central Pennsylvania. For over 50 years WVIA has been committed to serving the people by offering informational, educational, and entertaining content that enriches and expands viewpoints and serves as a catalyst for positive change. WVIA television channels include WVIA TV, WVIA PBS Kids 24/7, and WVIA Create. WVIA’s radio channels include WVIA Radio, WVIA HD2, and the Chiaroscuro Channel. WVIA’s programs can also be found streaming live and on-demand on wvia.org and the WVIA app.

WVIA Mission
WVIA educates, inspires, entertains and fosters citizenship, diverse cultures, and perspectives to nurture community.