Peter Werbe is an American radio talk show host who describes himself as an anarchist. He lives in the Detroit area where he has become a fixture spinning discs and hosting Nightcall Sunday nights at 11pm, Eastern, on Detroit's WRIF 101.1 FM (free live webtream and podcasts).
Peter Werbe's tenure, having commenced in 1970 and ending on Halloween 2016 resulted in two popular radio programs: Nightcall and The Peter Werbe Show. Nightcall was the longest running phone-in talk show in radio history, although little credit is given since the program is only aired weekly. Along with Juline Jordan, Thom Hartmann and Mike Malloy, Werbe hosted a nationally syndicated program on the now-defunct i.e. America Radio Network, from October 2000 to June 2003. He is also a staff member of Fifth Estate magazine, an anarchist publication founded in 1965.
Detroit's weekly alternative media live broadcast public affairs phone-in talk show with a working class demographic hosted by Peter Werbe and since 2006, he has been joined by his producer who is singer/songwriter and WCSX DJ, Juline Jordan. Contrary to what some believe, Peter and Juline are not a couple, as Peter has a long term marriage, and Juline is single. Nightcall has continually broadcast over the last four decades on WRIF Sunday nights beginning at 11pm Eastern, followed by The Peter Werbe Show. Rejecting the 'megaphone' style of broadcasting, Peter has always encouraged callers to bring up their concerns to fulfill the public affairs segment required of broadcasters. A quote form Peter Werbe lifted from previous versions of this page: "Werbe's well articulated left of center views and his easy style often infuriate right-wing listeners, who, rather than taking advantage of the phone lines available to them on Werbe's program, prefer instead to deface this page. He takes their frustration at their inability to confront his views directly as a high compliment."
The show attracted international listeners and callers going far beyond Our friends to the South, Canada. This may be a result of WRIF's free webstream and podcasts. Peter points out that Detroit actually lies just north of Windsor, Ontario across the Detroit River.
On Oct 31, 2016, Werbe announced on his Facebook Page his termination from Greater Media, owner of WRIF and WCSX, and the cancellation of Nightcall.
The Peter Werbe Show
Werbe also hosted a show featuring two 25-minute interviews of authors, musicians, and political and cultural activists. The Peter Werbe Show was heard directly following Nightcall at 1:00 AM Monday on WRIF or on WCSX and WMGC-FM Sunday mornings at 6:00 AM. Werbe has in the past featured celebrities and authors such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pete Seeger, Cindy Sheehan, Frank Zappa, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Asner, Walter Mosley, Mike Farrell, Howard Zinn and Al Franken. A list of his interviews are here on his official website. Podcast links.
After attending Michigan State University, Werbe has been a staff member of the Fifth Estate, the fifty-year-old periodical, almost since its inception in 1965. It began publishing as a biweekly and then a weekly in the early 1970s, went back to a bi-weekly schedule, then appeared as a monthly. In 2002, the Fifth Estate moved operations to a rural commune near Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2009, it returned to Detroit with Werbe acting as the de facto publisher although the magazine has a collective decision making process with staff members scattered across North America.
History of Nightcall
WRIF (locally known as "The Riff") originally had a weekly talk show: Spare Change hosted by Harvey Ovshinsky, founder of the Fifth Estate periodical. Werbe took over the talk show in 1970 when Ovshinsky left to become News Director of seminal FM rocker WABX in Detroit, Werbe remained as a weekly host until 1972 when the station owners, ABC Radio, decided that each of their owned and operated FM stations should have a daily overnight public affairs program to cover their license requirements with the Federal Communications Commission. When Peter held an on-air listener contest to rename the show, it was re-christened: Nightcall
Hosted by him from July 1972 until 1976, doing variously a three- and four-hour show in the middle of the night, the show was terminated when ABC decided such programming was no longer necessary for their purposes. After a brief stint at WABX, Werbe remained on unemployment compensation until 1978 when he hired on as a week-end rock DJ at Detroit station WWWW (locally known as W-4). Peter also hosted a one-hour, weekend jazz program. When the station changed its rock format to country in 1980 to sabotage an AFTRA broadcasters' union organizing effort, Werbe quit and worked in construction until 1982 when program director Fred Jacobs re-hired him at WRIF as a weekend DJ. When Nigtcall's then-host Michael Collins left, Werbe re-assumed the reins he has held forth since. Juline Jordan, Peter's co-host since 2006 had previously been Nightcall's producer for several years. Prior to Collins, Sheila Rushlow had been the host.
In 2002, Werbe began hosting a rock program, Motor City Riffs, featuring Motor City rock bands that WRIF aired on Sunday nights in the hour before Nightcall. His hosting lasted a couple of years until it was taken over by then RIF program director, Doug Podell, (2014 Rock Radio Hall of Fame inductee) to give Werbe more time to prepare for the talk show.
Webstream and Podcasts
- Nightcall and The Peter Werbe Show (live webstream direct link) Sundays at 11pm eastern. WRIF plays rock all other times.
- 140+ podcasts including both shows are available (usually by 12pm the following Monday) through WRIF on their Podcast page. Get one free and they toss in the other at no cost.
- Vintage and current Nightcall/Peter Werbe Show combined podcasts are available at White Rose Society (main page) where numerous progressive voices are archived (free/donations) by Ben Burch.
- Peter Werbe's official website
- Follow Peter Werbe on Facebook
- Guests Peter has interviewed listed by date.
- WCSX's page for Deep Trax
- Tribes of the Cass Corridor
- Peter Werbe interviews Frank Zappa - Transcript of a WRIF telephone conversation (October 28, 1985).
- "The underground press in America: A special report" by John Burks. Rolling Stone, Oct. 4, 1969, p. 11-33.
- McGraw, Bill (September 5, 2002). "Underground paper leaves city, not roots". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 17, 2005.
- May, Rachel (February 8, 2002). "Ritz recalls '80s heyday". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 13, 2002.