Pittsburgh-area attorney having time of his life hosting radio show
Eric Jackson Lurie has a successful “day job” practicing criminal defense and family law in Fox Chapel and surrounding areas, with offices on Old Freeport Road in O’Hara and in downtown Pittsburgh.
When Thursday evenings roll around, he swaps his courtroom suit and tie for more casual wear and heads to the WRCT 88.3 FM studio at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. His growing legion of fans come to order at 8 p.m. with the announcement that it’s time for “Court’s in Session with your Rockin’ Attorney, Eric Jackson Lurie.”
Lurie gets into the groove of his radio show, a hobby that features a weekly hour of rock ‘n’ roll, country and soul music – with a focus on new sounds by his and his listeners’ favorite classic artists.
He’s been hosting “Court’s in Session” for about three months now, based at the well-established free-form radio station that was started to offer quality alternatives to mainstream commercial programming, according to the WRCT website. The station features DJs and programs hosted by the university’s students, staff and faculty, as well as Pittsburgh area community members such as Lurie.
Besides being accessible on FM radio in the Pittsburgh area, the station can be streamed by listeners outside the region at wrct.org.
Record collecting started as a teen
Lurie picked up some of his radio broadcasting skills as a former regular guest on another WRCT program, “Professor Stripy’s Sounds,” for three years before his current gig. He’s been collecting records a lot longer – since he was 13 years old, he says.
One of his favorite pastimes then and now involves flipping through vinyl albums at record shops, selecting music that he often features as part of his weekly playlist for his show.
“Listeners know that one of the reasons the show sounds so great on air is that I’m actually playing vinyl 95 percent of the time,” he says. “Many people are not aware that everything they hear on the radio today is back to being pressed on vinyl records. The natural compression that comes from playing vinyl just makes the music sound so much better over the airwaves.”
He says he feels especially blessed to have his show in Pittsburgh, “where we have the best record stores in the country – like the Attic in Millvale that keeps me stocked with the latest releases out there.”
Hosting radio show is ‘a blast’
The attorney estimates he spends 5 to 10 hours a week in preparation for each show. Weeks that include interviews or special in-studio guests take a significant amount of time to prepare.
“Probably the biggest challenge for me is balancing running a busy law firm with my radio commitment,” he says. “Although there is work involved, hosting the show is an absolute blast!”
One of Lurie’s recent in-studio guests was Kosmo Vinyl, former manager of the Clash and an accomplished artist. Vinyl, originally from London now based in New York City, was in town for the opening of his art exhibition, which runs through May 3 at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination in Garfield.
He also interviewed (Jon Mikl) Thor, “the godfather of muscle rock,” about the release of his heavy metal band’s new album, “Hammer of Justice” and their spring tour. Thor, from Vancouver, B.C., a former professional bodybuilder before embarking on a music career, debuted his new single, “The Beginning of the End,” on Lurie’s show.
A real music fan
“My interview with Thor made some ripples,” Lurie says. “It was picked up by WXNA 101.5 FM Nashville and rebroadcast. For a day I got to feel what it’s like to be in syndication; how much fun!”
He also spoke with Henry Paul, original member of the southern rock band Outlaws, whose current tour includes a stop at Jergel’s Rythmn Grille in Warrendale.
“It’s amazing how much fun it is to get to be friendly with these rock stars that were on posters on my wall growing up,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m a fan of all the musicians I’m playing on the radio.”
He also is committed to helping local groups get recognition for their music.
Another recent on-air guest was Rocky Lamonde from the Braddock-based rock and roll band, The Borstal Boys, talking about their new album and debuting a new single, “Don’t Let Life Pass You By,” in advance of their upcoming appearance June 21 at Thunderbird Café and Music Hall in Lawrenceville.
He’s planning a series of interviews on the show with owners of Pittsburgh record stores, to talk about “the lean years of vinyl” in the ‘90s and early 2000s with the growing popularity of CDs and have them play some of their favorite records on the air.
Which big-name artists would he most like to have in person on his radio show?
“I keep calling Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Richards), but they haven’t been returning my calls,” the attorney says with a smile. “I haven’t ruled them out yet. Anyone who’s had me represent them knows that I am persistent – so I’m going to keep after them.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.