Montreal Radio Blog

Monday, September 1, 2014

Yesterday's News - Over 4 years later...

I’ve now done well over 200 Yesterday’s News programs. The show’s first edition aired on June 19th, 2010. I was debating about whether to make a big deal about the number 200 back in June. After all, there are people on Radio Centre-Ville’s English team who have far longer streaks going than I do. Still, I’m not one who enjoys talking too much about myself, but I would like to write a little bit about the program I started in 2010.

They say you have to make the most of your opportunities, and one was presented to me in June of 2010 to create my own program. I came up with the idea of a historical news review because I always believed that present-day news is rarely presented in its historical context. It sounded like an easy premise, but researching history is a very time-consuming affair. After a couple of years, I decided that although it would remain an important part of the show, it was time to also present something different. Over the past year and a half, the program has focused primarily on current events with some of my opinions about them thrown in for good measure. It's become my weekly soapbox and the main reason I have been writing much too infrequently here, on what began as a blog.

I think it’s important to hear some centrist voices on community radio, and I know that I am one of the few out there. I believe that above all else, truth and historical truth should always be presented, even if we don’t like it. I find that many times, truth takes a back seat to ideology, not only in the mainstream media, but also in alternative media. Now I have no idea how many of you are listening, but I thank you for tuning in and I sincerely hope you enjoy most of what you hear.

I thought I knew pretty much all I needed to know about radio when I first walked into the Radio Centre-Ville studios in 2009. I had just completed a 6 month course at a now defunct local radio school, but soon found out that simulation is no substitute for the real thing. I expected to stay only a few months, but here I am over 5 1/5 years later.

And that is the great thing about Radio Centre-Ville: if you are really dedicated, you can join our team and learn and progress as a broadcaster. I’ve seen many people come through our doors over the years, but few of them have joined our team with the drive and attitude needed to succeed, and that is too bad. I believe there are still people out there who are passionate about radio and who understand that it involves a lot of work, not only in terms of preparation, but also when it comes to learning and improving your own skills.

Having said that, if you truly do love radio and understand that broadcasting on community radio requires dedication and commitment on a weekly basis, then get in touch with us. The English team is always looking for new recruits. You can find us on Facebook - Look for Radio Centre-Ville English Team programs .

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So I Hosted an Overnight Show...

After months of anticipation and encouragement, I completed the first overnight show of my “career” last Saturday morning. The story of my overnight adventure began thanks to two guys who have been at Radio Centre-Ville for a very long time. Lenny and Dimitri are seasoned veterans at CINQ, having spent over two decades behind the mics of their overnight shows. They do two shows a month. For one of them, Lenny is host and Dimitri is the co-host, for the other show, vice-versa. They play great oldies tunes mostly from the 50s and 60s. The overnight show begins at 2 AM and wraps up at 7:30 AM. These two have incredible stamina considering how long they’ve been at it.

Usually, there are four overnight shows a month, and the the others are hosted by two other fellows. Every so often, there is a fifth Friday. In fact, it usually happens four times a year. I was asked to take charge of that fifth Friday about a year and a half ago and I put together several best of shows featuring some highlights from our daytime programs. It seemed to work well, but at some point technical problems made putting it together excessively difficult. That’s when Lenny and Dimitri approached me about doing the “5th Week” myself. They called it a right of passage - something every true broadcaster has to do at least once.

For weeks I thought about it. It seemed like a daunting task to put together an all-night music program. I wondered about whether I could pull it off solo. In the end I decided to go for it and so this past Friday night the “80s-90s” Show” made its debut on Radio Centre-Ville. I went ahead with it because I, like many others had once dreamed of being a disc jockey at a radio station. This was a chance to fulfill that childhood dream.

I wondered if I could fill five and a half hours, but it went by about as fast as any five and a half hours in my life. I worked on pure adrenalin and watched the sun come up feeling no fatigue. For many years I worked the graveyard shift at a terrible and mind-numbing job. The only thing that kept me sane was that I was allowed to listen to the radio while I worked. I just scanned through the AM and FM bands looking for anything to keep my mind off my reality. I would hear the hosts of these shows and think how lucky they were and how I wished to be there one day. Of course, commercial radio is a harsh business and many of the people I used to hear have long since lost their jobs.

Now there is one huge difference between my little overnight show and the stuff you hear on commercial radio, and that is how I had total creative control of the show. I could play the songs I wanted to. I’d post the show online, if not for the fact that it would be yanked almost immediately. The music I played was far from being obscure, in fact, it featured some of the best-known songs ever written - but it was stuff I wanted to play.

It was a wonderful experience that I intend to repeat in a few months. I now understand why guys like Lenny and Dimitri keep at it, no matter what, year after year. It takes a monumental effort to prepare each show and then get it on the air all for no pay. That is why broadcasters on community radio are special…

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Expo Fans will not soon forget this weekend

It was quite a weekend for Montreal baseball fans - a veritable Expos love-in. It seemed like a big reunion that had been put off for years. Make no mistake about it, this was the kind of event that cannot be repeated, even if there are more exhibition games played here next year. The reason for that is simple: This was the first time that Expo fans were able to outwardly express their feelings about losing the team. When it happened in 2004, the atmosphere had been so poisoned that many saw it as the realization of an inevitable process.

Since the Expos became the Nationals, you could feel the sentiments of loss building over the successive years - a little more and a little more. The amazing thing is that despite the passage of nearly 10 years, some things like the routine of the baseball season remain timeless. It has always been at this time of year, when MLB prepares for Opening Day, that I always feel the loss the most.

How amazing was it for nearly 100,000 Montreal baseball fans to respond to the call for a pair of exhibition games? Pretty amazing considering the 2004 Expos drew a total of 749,550 for an entire home season - minus a bunch of Puerto Rico “home” games. But few showed up to cheer on the Jays or Mets… What they came for was to attempt to re-create the atmosphere of old. And they succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest optimistic predictions.

Emotions were the story of this past weekend, beginning with the tribute to the late Gary Carter and ending with the reunion of many members of the ill-fated 1994 team. The events of the past few days which will go down in local sports history as the turning point in efforts to bring baseball back to town, should they eventually succeed. And you have to hand it to the people at Montreal Baseball Project, led by Warren Cromartie. When they began their efforts, many snickered, especially within the media. These same people are not laughing anymore.

Why not also pay a special tribute to the media on both sides of the border who, for over a decade beginning in 1990, took almost non-stop shots at Montreal as a baseball town. They would continuously prognosticate about how the team would eventually relocate until the day it became fact and they could all claim “sadly” that they knew it was inevitable. Yes, many of these same people have now jumped on the baseball belongs in Montreal bandwagon…

Kudos to Montreal’s new mayor, Denis Coderre. He was at the Big Owe publicly expressing his support for bringing MLB back to town. You may very well remember that while the Expos were dying a slow and painful death, then mayor Gerald Tremblay displayed complete disinterest.

But the one thing that boosters of Montreal baseball have today that they didn’t have back in 2004 is social media. In fact, the one thing you can’t help noticing from the two games at the Owe and the events surrounding them are the pictures and videos shot by people who were there, as well as their first-hand accounts. These did not exist during the Expos’ time in Montreal.

Still, that did not mean that the Expos did not already have a huge Internet following back in the pre-Facebook/Twitter days. Back in the late 90s, a fan forum called Baseballboards, later to be renamed Fanhome made it’s debut. It offered message boards for fans of every MLB franchise to post about their teams. Incredibly, the busiest board by far on Fanhome was the one dedicated to the Montreal Expos. Even then, it was clear that the franchise was loved by people far beyond Montreal‘s city limits. I was fortunate to be one of the moderators of that board back in the day, along with Jonah Keri, who has gone on to bigger and better things, most notably being the author of the recently released book about the Expos called “Up, Up, & Away” that you have most certainly heard about and should definitely read. The Fanhome Expos board ( today

So what happens now? Has MLB really taken note of what happened here over the past few days? Maybe… But above all else, baseball is a business and as long as there is no individual or group that expresses its desire and/or an ability to spend what will amount to around a billion dollars to reincarnate the Expos in Montreal, then all fans can do is hang on to their memories.

It will be a shame if baseball doesn’t eventually return, because considering our current political climate, how many opportunities do you have to unite over 50,000 people of different linguistic, religious, cultural and even ideological affiliations into the same building bound together by anything in this province?