Skip Navigation

The Grécourt Gate welcomes your submissions. To discuss a story idea of interest to the Smith community, contact Barbara Solow at 413-585-2171 or send email to

Smith eDigest
The Smith eDigest is sent to all campus email accounts on Tuesday and Thursday each week during the academic year and on Tuesdays during the summer. Items for eDigest are limited to official Smith business and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the day prior to the next edition’s distribution.


News & Events for the Smith College Community
Campus Life March 22, 2023

Not Your Mother’s Music

Phoebe Kallaher ’25 spins the most-loved tunes from decades past

Photographs by Jeff Baker

After attending an Indigo Girls concert with her mother last summer, Phoebe Kallaher ’25 got curious. Her mom had loved the Indigo Girls during her own college years, in the early 1990s, and clearly so had hundreds of other similarly aged women at the show. That got Kallaher, a history major, wondering about the musical touchstones of past generations.

So, last fall, Kallaher surveyed alums and students about their favorite music and the memories that go with it. From some 200 responses, she mined enough to create a weekly radio show, So Last Year, on Smith’s station, WOZQ, 91.9 FM.

Over the course of 10 weeks, Kallaher, as DJ Bygone Bee, took her listeners on a hit-parade tour of Smithie favorites, from songs by Elvis in the 1950s to the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the 1960s, from Joni Mitchell to Van Halen, Blondie, the Talking Heads, Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, and, yes, the Indigo Girls.

Smtih's radio station call letters

Kallaher created a weekly radio show, So Last Year, on Smith’s station, WOZQ. Hearing anecdotes about the role that music played in past decades brought those days to life for her.

What she discovered is that popular music is like a time machine, with the power to cast you back to when you first heard a particular bass line or poignant lyric. An alumna from the class of 1977 describes being catapulted back to the halls of Tyler House whenever she hears Stevie Wonder. Another alum, class of 1988, recalls, “There was a month in the fall of ’84 where you could walk from Wilson House to Green Street and hear a–ha’s ‘Take on Me’ playing continuously.” Similarly, an alum from 2001 remembers walking from the Quad to her 9 a.m. class to the beat of Lauryn Hill or Bob Marley blasted from Park House. “Cannot listen to either without thinking back to those walks,” she writes. Different decades, different sounds, same effect.

Parties were a big part of the memories, so Kallaher devoted a show to those memorable rocking tunes. “It was kind of crazy to hear about all the stories from the ’80s and ’90s,” she says. “There’s a lot less party culture at Smith now.”

From the class of 1982 came this memory: “I remember waking up to the sound of dripping through my ceiling and the bass line from [the B-52’s] ‘Rock Lobster’ playing. It was a keg that was leaking through the ceiling to my bedroom.” A 2012 alum remembers her first big campus party; it was themed “I Kissed a Girl,” based on the Katy Perry hit. “There were bowls of cherry Chapstick everywhere,” she writes. “I didn’t kiss a girl that night, but it’s still a fun memory.”

For the history-minded Kallaher, hearing anecdotes about the role that music played in past decades brought those days to life. “Thinking about people listening to these songs made them seem so real,” she says. “It also made me think about myself as one of those alums thinking back on my time at Smith and what music my friends and I listened to 30 years ago when we were in college.”

What will be Kallaher’s own musical touchstones decades from now? She favors woman-led bands and vocalists, like Japanese Breakfast. A standout memory so far is going with her Gardiner housemates to a Sammy Rae & the Friends concert at Pearl Street Nightclub. But she also figures the class of 2025 will always have a soft spot for the perennial names of her time: “Oh, you know, Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers.”

Topping the Smith Charts

For her final radio show, DJ Bygone Bee (Phoebe Kallaher ’25) played the most-mentioned songs or artists from her nonscientific survey of alum favorites. Here are the top 10.

Both Hands
Closer to Fine
Big Yellow Taxi
This Must Be the Place
Raspberry Beret
Fire and Rain
Let it Be
Gimme Shelter
Motion Sickness
Material Girl

Ani DiFranco
The Indigo Girls
Joni Mitchell
The Talking Heads
James Taylor
The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
Phoebe Bridgers

This story appears in the Spring 2023 issue of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly.