The music for Route 88 had to be piano music. 88 keys. Get it? Get Tom Roberts!

The coincidental connection between Route 88 and 88 keys on a piano came to me one morning in the editing room. Then I knew I wanted piano music for the whole program. I guess I was ranting about it somewhat loudly because WQED’s popular TV cook Chris Fennimore happened to be walking by the editing room, overheard me, and he said, “Call Tom Roberts. He’s a great piano player, and I think he’d like to do this. I’ll send you his info. He’d be perfect.”

So I called Tom Roberts. He sounded just right on the phone: enthusiastic, slightly nutty and willing to help! He came by for a get-acquainted visit, met Frank Caloiero and me, and we talked about where to record the music. Here? At his house? Then Frank mentioned that Johnny Costa’s piano, the Steinway that was used on so many episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was upstairs in Studio B, and Tom’s eyes lit up. “It is? Can we go and see it?” We pulled off its quilter cover, Tom sat down and placed a bit, and he said, “Let’s record here on this piano.”

We waited till we had most of the show in shape and to time before we brought Tom back to Studio B. We had the piano tuned (for the first time in a long time?) and Frank borrowed some piano-friendly microphones so we’d get a really good recording.

It took about 4 hours total on Tuesday October 3, 2017, starting about 11:00 in the morning. There was a food truck here in the WQED upper parking lot so we went there for a lunch break, and then back to the piano.

Tom gave us a wonderful score.


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