WPI Admissions Officer Hits the Country Road

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. --Michael Smith, assistant director of admissions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, spends his days encouraging high school students to consider attending WPI. During his off hours, he moves to a different tune.

Smith recently hit the country music airwaves with Buy Wynonna, a parody he wrote of My Sharona, a 1979 hit single by The Knack. In January, Buy Wynonna took just two days to reach No. 1 on WBCS (96.9 FM) radio station's nightly request show "Top Nine at 9." Since early February the song has been played on numerous country stations in places like Hartford, San Francisco, Dallas, Baltimore, Sacramento, Milwaukee and Portland, Maine.

"I thought of the idea for Buy Wynonna while I was driving home from work," says Smith, a founding member of the Boston Chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International who lives in Framingham, Mass., with his wife, Susan. "A local rock station played My Sharona immediately after WBCS played a Wynonna song. I decided to write an ode to a fan who can't find Wynonna's new cassette. I'd been putting together a demo tape of original country music and I wrote Buy Wynonna as a novelty."

Lakeside Productions in Nashville, Tenn., recorded the song, which combines Smith's new lyrics and country arrangement with the guitar-driven tempo of the original song. The Knack gave Smith permission to record the parody.

Smith, who came to WPI in 1992, has become something of a celebrity at the Institute, where the song has been played on WPIR, the campus radio station. "I've written music for a few years," says Smith, who earned a bachelor's degree in government at Bowdoin College in 1989. In addition to writing country tunes, Smith is a part-time cantor who is the faculty advisor to Hillel at WPI and gives bar mitzvah lessons at Temple Beth Torah in Framingham and at Congregation Beth Israel in Bath, Maine.

"I never expected to receive so much attention," laughs Smith, who was also interviewed by the on-air personality John Garabo on WWYZ in Hartford, Conn. "I'm glad people are requesting the song. The way I look at it, I'm singing the praises of WPI during the day and singing my own music at home."