Less than three weeks now until I close the book on my second Regina life and return to Winnipeg. It is a move being made for very personal and positive reasons, and the timing is proving to be very interesting.
The weekend of May 25th and 26th will mark the 100th anniversary of Winnipeg’s Kelvin High School from which I graduated Magna Cum Nothing in 1965. I am very honoured to have been asked to co-EMCEE the gala dinner, along with Fiona Odlum, CJOB’s Eye in the morning sky, who graduated in 1990.
This past Saturday I was asked to help promote the event by appearing on CJNU, Winnipeg’s home of Nostalgia Radio
This intriguing operation has been around for more than a decade in a few different forms, and it has proven to remarkably popular. Programs are hosted by a variety of people, including a number of veteran broadcasters like myself. In May of 2005 I was part of the group that did programming from Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge Centre, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE Day.
I did the morning show for a whole week, reuniting for a couple of days with my old CBC partner Lesley Hughes.
This month, CJNU is broadcasting from the 13th floor of Winnipeg’s tallest skyscraper, the Richardson Building. You gotta love a wealthy clan who thumb their noses at superstition, less than a week before Friday the 13th no less.
This one hour broadcast allowed me the privilege and pleasure of meeting a most remarkable fellow Kelvinite named Scott Best.
Scott graduated from Kelvin in 2007 and he’s now taking Creative Communications, a program which is shared by Red River College and the University of Winnipeg.
Did I mention that Scott is blind, mostly likely from birth it appears? Not surprisingly, he has always felt a very strong connection to the realm of radio, and CJNU in particular. He tells the story himself on the their website.
“Since the age of four, I have loved Nostalgia music. Every day, my grandparents would bring me home from school, and on the way, they would entertain me with the music of Patsy Cline, Dean Martin, or Max Bygraves. While I enjoyed the normal children’s fare from Fred Penner and Raffi, there seemed to be something special about that Frank Sinatra guy my parents always listened to.
Radio was a large part of my life as well. I would wake up to Don Percy, Cliff Gardner or Jack Wells every morning and imagine what it would be like to be a broadcaster. My favourite spot on the dial was a little Nostalgia station called CKVN. I had been a loyal listener since I was seven, so I was somewhat disheartened when they went off the air.
In December 2006, I was thrilled to hear about the launch of CJNU. I noticed that they were looking for members to be a part of their cooperative. Sadly, I couldn’t be one, as I was not 18 yet. I had done some work for Kelvin High’s in-school radio station, but I never thought I had enough experience for them to give me a second look – or should that be listen. Thankfully, they did, and I am proud to be an announcer, board member, and member of the cooperative.
CJNU has given me the opportunity to combine my two passions – the magic of radio and the most magical music I’ve found anywhere. I have learned a lot from some top-notch broadcasters and met a lot of top-notch people too.”
I quickly tossed aside any notion that Scott was somehow handicapped Without missing a beat he rattled off live commercials and weathercasts, reading them in braille.
I talked about my Kelvin years which coincided with the construction of the new building that replaced the original Kelvin, which opened in 1965. I told him how had the good fortune to be in the same room in grade 11 with this guy whom you might recognize.
With one of the most heartwarming smiles I’ve ever seen, and a splendid radio voice, Scott said “I hear that you are in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland” !
I replied “This is a story I’ve been dining out on for years. Neil’s display in Cleveland includes his 1964 Kelvin yearbook, and my picture is on the same page.
Then Scott played ” The Sultan” which Neil recorded with his band the Squires in 1963. I had not listened to that rare recording in more than 45 years. How sweet it was.
Lots more to says about those Kelvin years in the days to come.
How I glad I am to have met Scott Best. How I wish he had been born a few decades earlier, before the world of radio became so totally corporate More on that to come in the days ahead also.
Roger Currie is a Regina writer, broadcaster and blogger.
He currently hosts Talk of the Town every weekday at Noon, 4pm and 10pm on Access channel 7. He will be relocating to Winnipeg at the end of April. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org