A wild spin on the AM radio dial

Rating: NNNNNCJRT FM just killed four Saturday-afternoon shows that did not conform to its jazz/classical/ads-for-golf-and-country-clubs format. Perhaps those freelance programmers.


Rating: NNNNN


CJRT FM just killed four Saturday-afternoon shows that did not conform to its jazz/classical/ads-for-golf-and-country-clubs format. Perhaps those freelance programmers should look for spots on the AM band. AM for “alternative music.”

I once made the mistake of acknowledging a playwright after ignoring him for years. He told me to “Drop acid and discover AM radio!” I replied that altered consciousness is not required to appreciate AM wonders.

Back then, I revelled each night in the Indian classics on 610 CKTB, fabulous hits from famous Bombay-made movie musicals, most sung by the eternally little-girl voice of the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. Radio India was full of surprises, including yodelling. I tried to share this wondrous sound with other non-Indians and was shocked when they couldn’t stand it.

They should be happy now. Radio India has been replaced by talk about UFOs and sports.

Just by turning the radio around without touching the dial, I can go from Punjabi to a big band and back again. Push-button tuners are useless for pulling in all those tiny hidden stations. When using a plugged-in radio, move it around and adjust the cord, which acts as an AM antenna.

Unfortunately, the big jock-talk signals have knocked out many smaller stations, but here’s a sample of what you can get.

Sunday, noon to 2 pm on 1230 CKSC from St. Catharines, there’s Vintage Country with Gwen Hunt and Murray Hunt. For the last few weeks, they’ve been going on about the stone Murray sent through their home window with the lawn mower. They have mystery singer contests and play a gospel song for the sick and shut-in listener. (I consider this to be me.)

Every afternoon on CHOW (or is it CIAO?), the first station on the dial, at 530, they play Italian music. The hours seem to vary, but Sunday between 3 and 4 pm the host plays Calabrian tarantellas and folk music.

The thing about these stations is, the music policy changes every hour or two. Last Sunday, after the Italians left, I heard awful show tunes like Take Back Your Mink and Marlon Brando singing Luck Be A Lady.

When I was a kid in Toronto, ethnic food was a tea biscuit, and there was a radio show called Calling All Britains! I was delighted to discover it still running Saturday between 5 and 7 pm on 1250 CHWO. Where else can you hear numbers played on handbells, or the Welsh Wizard at the Wurlitzer organ in Blackpool Tower? News included the report that Europe’s car-free day had “no impact whatsoever” in England.

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