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Dear Canadian Rock Radio Stations, What Happened to You? – PART 2

Chad Vice

Hey! Guess what? Yesterday, on our new rock radio station Rebel 101.7, I heard a Killer Dwarfs song played, “Dirty Weapons”, and to top it off, it was even pre-announced as an upcoming song by the host, where he also mentioned that the band played here in Ottawa not long ago. I swear I travelled back to 1990, which is great news for someone like me who lives their life in the past. I’d like to think that my “Part 1” article here got some positive attention, and radio stations are now taking heed that I am a serious music fan with serious concerns.

At least, that’s what I am telling everyone!

Stop ignoring former mainstream and now classic Canadian artists on Canadian radio stations.

That is the message I was trying to get across back in Part 1, but of course I inserted a whole bunch of ramblings in it, and so this Part 2 promises to be more of the same, Much, much more. So let’s get into it:

If you recall, here are the radio stations that I am discussing in this several part blog:

Energy 1200 (AM)
54 Rock/The Bear (54 AM/106.9 FM)
CHEZ 106 (106.1 FM)
X-FM (101.1 FM)
Boom (99.7 FM)
Kool FM (94.9 FM)

We’ve touched on Energy 1200 and CHEZ 106, now let’s move on to 106.9 The Bear, formerly on AM radio as 54 Rock “Ottawa’s Best Rock”. And it was, for many many years,  a constant in the city, playing a nice mix of classic and modern rock, combining the best of both worlds. They had a cool morning crew/show via personalities Doc & Woody, they played all the rock music that I grew up on and loved, and they played all the Canadian artists in this list, pretty much, because during their heyday, these artists were new so they were playing the “hot new artists”. Now fast forward to the late 90s, and early 2000s, 54 Rock on the AM dial was no more, and 106.9 the Bear was playing modern rock alongside the same styled classic gold artists found on CHEZ 106, and seemingly ignoring the 1982-1995 Canadian artists in the process with no explanation. Of course, there were the odd “Hair Metal Weekends” and such like that, but these bands mentioned were never in regular rotation any longer, and you would only hear them if by request on the lunch hour, but I rarely did even then. It’s like people would call in and request the same gosh darn songs that were played in regular rotation anyways. Odd. Strange. Disturbing.

Despite The Bear/54 Rock being a constant presence here, they did play a bunch of musical chairs with the station format and ownership into the 2000s as well, which I suppose doesn’t help matters; at one point it was under the Virgin Radio banner, and that’s when I started hearing Queensryche for the first time on Ottawa radio since who-knows-when-if-ever, and then it eventually went back to The Bear format, basically playing the same as it always did but now maybe some more added modern music. That all changed completely in March of 2014, when The Bear stunted around and changed formats to Hot Adult Contemporary. Which was great news for Ottawa considering that there were already two other stations displaying that same format right here in the city, so that is big news for fans of that music. Now they have 3 for the price of 0.

So despite hearing 1 track by Slik Toxik and 1 by Sven Gali on the “Hair Metal Weekend” or “80s Weekend” (these bands didn’t start until 1991-1992 though, go figure) there was little to no airplay for some great but long forgotten Canadian born and bred music acts on our Capital of the Nation radio airwaves. I guess radio programmers didn’t feel like anyone would know these bands. That may be so, today, but who decided that listeners wouldn’t enjoy these songs if they heard them now? I’m not expecting anyone to fall in love with the band automatically if they heard them, but I’m willing to bet that given the chance, their music would be right up their alley and align within their musical tastes, thereby helping to have and create new fans who would be discovering these bands and the fine folks of Ottawa would have their musical horizons expanded.

But that’s just silly talk!

So The Bear is no more, however for awhile it was just CHEZ as the only rock radio in town, and for a period of time they expanded their tired classic rock playlist to add some stuff from the 90s, moving a bit so it would not be just the regulars from the early 70s to the early 80s ten-year-lineage-of-music-only-ever, and they starting to get some STP and some Pearl Jam happening, as well some Van Hagar for the first time since probably ever as well. I’m guessing when I say this of course; I have no idea as I haven’t listened to the station 24/7 to know if they ever played in any Sammy Hagar Van Halen or not, it just seemed like they didn’t play certain songs very often. So maybe they were going to start expanding their artist repertoire and get some forgotten classics into the mix? Maybe they did, and if they did, they did not do it for long, and more often than not, it was still Pink Floyd, Rush and Neil Young city. So what’s a fan of rock music that isn’t ‘Paradise City’, ‘Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’ to do? Play my own darn CDs, that’s what. Stop thinking about the radio! But then along came Rebel 101.7 as I mentioned at the top of this blog posting, and while they are definitely a mainstream and modern rock station, there is now a hope in heck, thanks to some Killer Dwarfs airplay, that maybe some of my treasured yet forgotten Canadian hard rock/pop rock acts will get some much needed radio waves, and get those new fans coming in pronto.

But, I’ve only heard the one song by Killer Dwarfs so far…oh and some Wide Mouth Mason!

Stay tuned for PART 3 where I ramble on some more about this stuff!

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