It’s National Radio Day and this may come as surprise to you:
I love radio.
I’ve been in love with it since I was old enough to remember.
I remember hot and cold Winnipeg nights, falling asleep with a $3 dollar transistor radio under my pillow, listening to jocks scream the night away. I had my favourite songs and would listen for what seemed like hours, thinking that the next song just HAD to be ‘Lucretia Mac Evil’. I would fall asleep to that tinny noise and would wake, with no lack of wonder, to the sound of my song playing. Magic. No more, no less.
I had my fave announcers, names that would mean nothing to most but everything to me. They were my friends, though I’d never meet them. They were my conduit to all things rock and roll, and they never disappointed. A voice out of a 10 cent speaker, preaching the good word.
And did I testify? Say amen, my brothers and sisters.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…when I found out that it was possible for me (me!!) to do this for a living, I pursued it with everything I had. It wasn’t much. High, squeaky voice, terrible sense of humour and zero timing. Still, it didn’t stop me from recording shows on to my Lloyd’s 8-track console, making my own charts, writing and voicing my own commercials. It was the beginning of something special. I was connecting, however extremely poorly.
I made my friends listen to my recordings. They indulged me for the most part, smiling at my lame attempts at humour and nodding in all the right places, not really understanding why I would put such great effort into what could only be a pipe dream. I mean, really, who gets a job in radio and why would you want to?
As fate would have it, I would. And I wanted it badly.
Thanks to a crappy demo landing on the desk of a Program Director who had just fired an all night jock in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, the Stu Jeffries Show was on it’s way.
That was 1979.
Since that time, I navigated the radio road. Sometimes I walked, sometimes I hitched a ride. I slept in the ditch, and found an Inn. I rode the bumps, circled the potholes and found the fast lane. Whatever the mode of transportation, I never lost sight of the destination.
Your home. Your car. Your ear. It’s all I ever wanted. A place to connect. To spread the good word.
After more than 40 years, I still get to do what I love. I’m with an organization that is radio dedicated, a rarity in this day and age and I have found a home in Toronto.
Now it is I that is that voice in the speaker, preaching the good word in the greatest city in the country. Voice not as squeaky, I get to talk to you every morning and share all manner of life’s gives and takes and ups and downs.
The best part? You continue to let me.
As long as there is you, there is me. Ask any personality worth his or her salt and they’ll tell you that they chose radio to share. To bring the world as they see it to you…personally.
As for the future of a medium whose death knell has been sounded for years (LPs!! Blank tapes!! Ipods!! Satellite!!)? Radio will survive as long as there is a passionate personality…and you.
And the good word.
Stu Jeffries is the morning host on Toronto’s boom 97.3 (CHBM-FM). His four-decade broadcast career spans hosting roles on Regina’s CJME, CKLG and CKST Vancouver, CING-FM Hamilton, and television work as host of CBC TV’s Good Rockin’ Tonite from 1986-93, among other stops.