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…