Toronto's homos have been looking forward to the launch of ProudFM 103.9 for some time. Billed as the world's first commercially licensed radio station to specifically target the gay, lesbian and transgendered communities , the station hit the airwaves and cyberspace this week. After a couple of initial listenings, it sounds like the station has a long way to go before it fulfills its queer quotient. But, Proud has tons of personality and, better yet, potential.
Monday's morning drive show - What's For Breakfast with bickering TV food show hosts Ken Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace - didn't make it to air the first day, but by Tuesday, the two radio newbies were nattering inanely about American Idol in between spins of such gay and lesbian anthems as Carl Kung Fu Fighting, Jessica Simpsons' A Public Affair and 'Nsync's Tearing Up My Heart with Nelly Furtado's current chart-topper Say It Right in for Canadian content. No musicologist, Eustace introduced a cover of the Eagles' Witchy Woman by Wicked star Kristen Chenowith as, "a song originally done by Stevie Nicks." The following morning, she confuses current UK popstar Mika for Toronto jazz crooner Micah Barnes.
At first, I thought the station was experiencing technical difficulties when I tuned in Maggie Cassella's drive-home show until realized the distortion I heard was the comic's trademark raspy voice. ProudFM has been licensed by the CRTC as a foreground station and can only play a very limited amount of music during prime listening hours. Instead of non-stop Rufus Wainwright, Divine, and the Gossip, we get lots of talk - one of Cassella's better bits is a home improvement segment called Handy Dyke Corner - mixed with Ray Parker Jr's Middle Aged Crisis, a Tom Jones dance mash-up, and Earth Wind and Fire's Fantasy. Say what, girlfriend?
Interspersed with commercials for local clip joint House Of Lords - who knew a 70s rock star shag haircut can still be had for a mere $14? - and gender bender fender-bender traffic reports, Cassella's inaugural show cleverly sequed into Music by Madonna.
"Music makes the people come together," muses our Madge.
You know, given time and a better playlist, ProudFM just might do that.