Fifty years ago, University of Bridgeport student Mike Zito wandered into the WPKN studio. Soon, he had his own radio show.
In the half century since, Zito has done plenty. He managed a coffee house, hosting Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, Bela Fleck and many others.
He created a science show for kids: “Zeeto the Bubbleman.” He opened for Shari Lewis, and performed at the Baltimore Museum of Arts Dr. Seuss exhibit.
Performing the show at schools sparked a 27-year teaching career. The bulk of that was spent creating and growing the Media Department at Staples High School, with his longtime friend Jim Honeycutt.
As advisor to student radio station WWPT-FM, Zito won national awards like Best High School Radio Station in the Country). He was twice named the nation’s outstanding faculty advisor (the second time sharing it with Honeycutt).
Zito and Honeycutt retired together, in 2016. Zito moved to Austin, then to Lewes, Delaware.
During those 5 decades, radio — that most basic of all mass media — evolved significantly. Zito is still on the WPKN air, two Thursdays each month (though, as an example of where radio is today, he does his show remotely, from his new home).
But now he’s got a new project.
Earlier this month, he launched “Zeeto on the Radio.” It’s an internet station, and he hopes it will take community radio to a new level.
Zito does all the programming himself. Genres include blues, British Isles, Canada, Texas, folk, classic rock and women artists.
The music is eclectic — and sometimes rare. A jam with Clarence Clemmons and Jerry Garcia drew raves from music aficionados who never knew they played together.
Starting with just a Facebook post, and word of mouth, listeners have found Zeeto on the Radio. They come from all over the US, and 37 countries (including, for reasons he can’t yet fathom, Norway and Lithuania).
Someone in Ireland emailed: “Brilliant! I listen every day.”
The website (click here) is no-frills. There’s a schedule, a list of the song being played plus the previous 4, a bit about Zito, “listen with Alexa” instructions, and a “Donate” button.
Zito pays for music rights, equipment, and acquisition. Still, he says, he’ll do this even if he doesn’t make a dime.
His internet radio show has provided tremendous enjoyment. He’s meeting people from all over the world.
And it’s given him a sense of purpose, since the death of his wife Joni from cancer 7 months ago.
“This is far from viral,” Zito says. “But I’m having a blast.”
Zito would love to hear from new listeners — and former students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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