This post started out as a comment on Doug Peterson‘s “Whatever Happened to … CMT Television?” from Sunday, May 27th, 2018. As has happened a few times before, in the end I decided it would be easier to post it here with all of the embedded media. As is often the case with Doug’s Sunday morning features, my mind was sent on a journey down memory lane by his question de jour.
Doug frequently ends his post with a series of prompts, and when I have the time, I like to try to check them off while drafting my reply. I also need to remind myself every time NOT to draft my reply in the comment box on the web form — invariably I will lose much of my draft if I spend too long working in the web browser. When my iPad shut down today (it had reached 0%) I switched to a Google doc, and so it became a lot easier to add in all of the necessary links.
- Have you ever listened to CKNX?
- How about CKLW?
- How about CMT?
- Do you have a favourite media start to your day? Music, television, or something else to get the blood pumping?
- In a world of specialty television stations, has a favourite of yours changed format?
- Do you remember push buttons on the radio to access presets?
- Did Bruce Springsteen have it right?
Have you ever listened to CKNX? My Early TV
As a kid, growing up in the country outside of Owen Sound, our farmhouse roof-mounted antenna received one television station, CKNX Wingham. It was a CBC affiliate, and was found at channel 8 on the dial. (As the only station, however, there was no need to “find” it. We just left the dial at channel 8.)
If you watched CKNX Wingham channel 8, then you likely remember “Circle 8 Ranch,” and the set decorated with split rail fence, bales of hay, and barnboards. The show featured local country regulars and guest artists. Believe it or not, after decades of not having thought of that program, I was just able to conjure the fiddled theme song from memory and hum it to myself. Turns out it is called “Down Yonder.” I never knew the name until I found it referenced just now Al Heiser’s lyric in “When Circle 8 Came On.”
Twice I travelled to the TV studio in Wingham to get recorded for TV. The first time was to participate as part of the local contribution to the MD telethon, and the second time was as a member of our high school Reach for the Top team.
I remember with great excitement when CKCO Waterloo installed a re-broadcast tower at Lions Head and we suddenly got a second station. It was a CTV affiliate, so it had something different from CBC.
The game changer came after the local TV repair man had to visit and repair our set (he had to replace tubes), and suddenly we got a third channel. As another CBC affiliate, he said it was the same as CKNX Wingham — but it was way better. CKVR Channel 3 Barrie was owned by CHUM/CITY out of Toronto, and it had a decidedly metropolitan flavor. It catered to the transplanted summer cottage crowd in the Muskoka’s and Halliburton. Suddenly, I could watch Star Trek! I had only seen two episodes prior to that — “Spock’s Brain” and “Is There No Truth in Beauty?” while visiting cousins in Cambridge who had cable. By the time Star Trek arrived in my neck of the woods, it was in syndication, and it formed part of my end of the day routine the summer I had started working a full day during the summer to earn enough money for a ten-speed bike. We would start early in the morning, work for hours in the fields, and stop at 4:30, which just gave me enough time to settle in front of the TV for Star Trek at 5:00.
How about CKLW? My Early Radio
As for the radio, and CKLW out of Windsor, that also has a special memory. When I started driving on the farm (in my case, the tractor didn’t have cab, let alone a radio, but our panel van did), CKLW was the station that I tuned the radio to. Again, our local radio station CFOS had the news, and was a CBC affiliate. But CKLW came from far away (“The Motor City”) and it’s music was from a different place. Getting the radio station tuned in was part of the routine (adjusting the seat, adjusting the mirrors) before carefully starting the vehicle and putting it into gear. That would have been 1976. I was 14.
I also had an old radio in my bedroom (like the TV, it still had tubes in it — as well as push-button presets) and it played dialed way down at night beaming the music through the dark from Motown into my ears as I fell asleep, stirred during the night, and woke each morning. I bet that was pretty much the same for a lot of teenagers when radios were still a thing.
How about CMT?
Now, as for CMT, that has never really been part of my viewing/listening pleasure. I checked this morning to see if Longmire had been produced by CMT, but it turns out it was A&E. I have a vague recollection of watching some drama that might have originated on CMT, but I can’t find out what it was. As for tuning into CMT for the music, that’s something I’ve never done. I like ALMOST all kinds of music.
Kingston-based Arrogant Worms have little tune called “Trapped in a Country Song.”
My Radio Today
For years now, I have turned my radio/iPhone/car to CBC Radio One for the news, for Ontario Morning (on the way to work), the afternoon drive from Ottawa (on the way home), and manage to pick up q with Tom Power, Gardening with Rita and Ed Lawrence, The Debaters, The Sunday Edition, The House and Day Six, Spark, Tapestry, Unreserved, The Next Chapter, This is That, Randy’s Vinyl Tap, As It Happens, The Current, and Ideas. Heck — Check out the CBC shows, they’re all great!
The other place I have turned my radio for years is to SOMA FM, an Internet-based radio station out of San Francisco. I’m partial to Groove Salad, Space Station Soma, DEF CON Radio, Thistle Radio, and my real fav, Secret Agent. I usually have SOMA FM on when I’m at home working on stuff.
57 Channels, and Nothing On?
I cut cable TV 10 years ago and live on the Internet. So my TV now comes on demand through the Apple TV, the Internet, or an app. I’ve recently discovered the Acorn TV app and the BritBox app, and am enjoying a lot of Brit mystery shows.
Whaddabout the Newspaper?
I did buy a newspaper a couple of days ago (first time in many years), and I couldn’t get over how small it was. I asked the cashier how much it cost. He didn’t know. It was $2.50.
• Main section 3 pieces of paper folded = 12 pages.
• GTA section 1 piece folded + 1/2 page insert = 6 pages.
• Sports 2 pieces folded = 8 pages.
• entertainment section 2 pieces folded = 8 pages
• Smart money and business section 1 piece folded + 1/2 page insert = 6 pages.
Total: 10 pieces of Newsprint = 40 pages
25¢ per piece of paper.
Then and Now
There’s no doubt that media has changed since I was a kid. It used to be in black-and-white, only available when the antenna was permitting, and only arrived when it was scheduled to and based on what was available. Now it’s in full color, available 24/7, on-demand, and based on what you want.