As a boy, WNCW Program Director Mark Keefe recalls hearing Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” on the car radio on a Thanksgiving trip to his grandmother’s house. Through the years, he discovered that many stations across the country made a habit of spinning the rambling comic epic on Turkey Day.
“It’s one of those things that’s just been handed down,” Keefe explains. “No one knows why, but there it is.”
While there are tons of Christmas tunes out there, Keefe notes, songs that reference Thanksgiving are another thing altogether, and airing the 18-minutes-20-seconds anti-establishment ditty is a tradition that WNCW (88.7 FM) has long embraced. As far as Keefe is aware, the Spindale public-radio station has played “Alice’s Restaurant” every Thanksgiving since first going on the air in 1989.
“Something would be missing on Thanksgiving if you didn’t hear that song,” he muses.
WNCW has sometimes strayed from Guthrie’s original 1967 release to playing the 1996 re-recording (with its hilarious Nixon reference) done in the original church that inspired the whole wonderful song in the first place. This year, Keefe says, the station will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at around 12:15 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, immediately following the news.