WDVE revives the Memorial Day 500 music countdown | TribLIVE.com
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WDVE revives the Memorial Day 500 music countdown

Ben Schmitt
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Tribune-Review
WDVE disc jockey Sean McDowell.
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Vinyl records

Are you counting down the tunes with WDVE this holiday weekend?

The radio station resurrected the beloved Memorial Day 500, a countdown of the top 500 rock tunes of all time. It’s been more than two decades since WDVE-FM 102.5 hosted the music bonanza.

Middle age yinzers no doubt remember growing up and spending the unofficial kickoff to summer listening, critiquing and recording their favorite songs on the class rock station.

Paul Petroskey, 48, who grew up in Bethel Park and lives in Brookline, wrote down each song from 1985-1989. That’s right: every single song. He still has the lists. He’s writing them down again this year.

“I think this whole countdown idea is a nostalgia-based thing, and that’s what appeals to people” he told the Tribune-Review Sunday as the countdown reached No. 179. “It brings back a part of you and memories of your life and things you might have forgotten along the way.”

Petroskey, who plays guitar and sings in “The Weird Paul Rock Band,” also maintains a video blog or vlog. For years, he’d tweet at WDVE and ask them to bring back the Memorial Day 500. When the station decided to resuscitate the format this weekend, they invited him to appear on the air Friday with Randy Baumann and the DVE Morning Show.

He talked about how he’d analyze the countdown and record videos of himself discussing it.

“You know this is not an exact science, right,” Baumann said. “You care about this more than anybody that’s involved in putting it together, and I mean that as a compliment.”

Social media has been abuzz this weekend with chatter about the countdown, which comes as WDVE celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Among the biggest upsets, so far, this year: the song “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter Band came in Friday at 492. The song was No. 4 in 1985, according to Petroskey.

Light My Fire,” by the Doors was 179 on Sunday. In 1987, Petroskey said, it was No. 3.

“What an upset,” he said.

Petroskey shared the Top 5 from the list he kept in 1989.

5. Layla, Derek and the Dominos

4. Turn The Page, Bob Seger

3. Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd

2. Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who

1. Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin

“Stairway is No. 1 every year,” Petroskey said.

Will it repeat this year?

“Probably,” he said.

We’ll all be enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs when the No. 1 song plays Monday evening around 7 p.m.

By the way, the DVE morning crew invited Petroskey to join them Tuesday for a Memorial Day 500 recap and analysis.

“It’s going to be interesting to see which band had the most songs,” he said. “This is a classic weekend for listening to the radio.”

Update: Here is the 2019 list.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review assistant news editor. You can contact Ben at 412-320-7991, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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