Toronto
3 min

Inspirational wavelengths

Hey, did you know we have a radio station? It’s fantastic! There I was today, driving along and changing the stations on the radio, desperately searching for something — anything — to listen to: “Tainted Love” (click), Rod Stewart (click), Gloria Estefan (click), “Tainted Love” again (click).

Then I stopped on a great song, Keane’s “Everybody’s Changing,” and I was like, “Thank God, something to sing along to!” Because before that, thanks to the truly crappy radio stations we have here, it was pretty slim pickin’s. I did manage a nice, heartfelt rendition of “Sleep Country Canada! Why buy a mattress anywhere else?” but frankly it wasn’t long enough to really let loose.

So, there in the middle of my day as I was suffering through the usual Toronto radio station frightful lunchtime programming, I discovered something — a cultural phenomenon that repeats itself every few years, and yet needs to be acknowledged: The gays saved the day.

Thank you, Proud FM. All a girl really wants is good music and trust the GLBTTTHY community to get it right. (Did I add too many letters? I didn’t want to forget anyone. “Y” was an interesting addition, by the way. I don’t know when the Yetis joined the parade, but I’ll support their rights. Who could forget their float last Pride Day? My favourite part was when they ate the North American Man/Boy Love Association banner some guy tried to march with. Feisty! I love it. Anyway, welcome, you ill-tempered arctic Bigfoots who are always dressed for the White Party.)

But I digress. I don’t know who you are Proud FM or who started you or how you’re here, but we need you. And not just the gay boys and the g’ladies and the bis and our trannies and the Yetis with their tambourines and poppers (someone should tell them those things are out, by the way) but everyone.

The world needs good music. Music lifts the soul. Music saves. Radio has the chance to bring such light to so many. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow himself said, “God sent her singers upon the earth with songs of sadness and of mirth that they might touch the hearts of men and bring them back to heaven again.”

Okay, Longfellow didn’t call God a her, but we’ve had a chat.

We need music. It’s an expression of our experiences, but more so of our souls at their deepest most-wordless level. It reminds us of who we are. It inspires us.

It’s not supposed to be a background hum while Patty in human resources changes the toner. Even Patty doesn’t want that. Patty wants to be inspired. Patty wants more from life than thanklessly changing the toner to the soundtrack of a cynically mediocre radio station. Patty wants to throw caution to the wind, to run down the beach with reckless abandon. Patty wants to make out in the elevator with that hot temp, Alana, with the lower-back tattoo and the nose ring. Patty wants more Feist and a lot less Huey Lewis And The News.

Thanks to Proud FM, I can now open the car windows and not be frightened of what might come on next. Lest we forget, there was that time I pulled up at St George and Bloor and was getting the eyes from a really cute college girl on a bike and I was all, “Thank you, God!” just as Juice Newton came spilling forth from the speakers. Well, I don’t need to tell you, my friends, but that rendezvous was over before it started.

Let me say, and I mean this in the most constructive way possible, that Toronto radio stations suck. Oooh! Was that harsh? Sorry, but what’s with everyone programming “The ’80s, ’90s and today?”

What if TV was like that? “Tonight on CTV: The Trouble With Tracy, Definition, the 1997 World Series and CSI.”

Now, you should know the reason I bring this up is not just to complain; I think when small thinkers or product sellers make the world more milquetoast we need to shake the tree.

The retro radio format is just so dispiriting. It’s like we’ve decided that all we can agree on is the past. “Awww, the ’80s. ‘Member? Weren’t they great? Didn’t we have good times in the ’90’s? Weren’t you shinier then?”

Well, here’s what I say. Are you ready? Fuck the past. Let’s take it from today onward, my friends.

Little Orphan Annie was like, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow,” not, “Remember when the sun came out last Thursday?” In the spirit of that optimistic ginger mop, it’s all about looking forward.

Music should inspire and remind us of greatness; not of the dusty neverchanging past but of the endless possibility in all of us to do anything.

Like have our own radio station.