Last week, I did something I’ve never done before. I retired.
“But cenobyte! You’re so young! How could you *possibly* have retired?!”
Good point. I *am* young. And full of awesome. I retired my radio programme. When 91.3FM CJTR first went on the air in November of 2001, I was one of the first spoken word hosts to broadcast a show. That show was a half-hour review format programme about books, and it was called Saskatchewan Books Go Public. It was part of a promotional campaign we undertook at work to spread the news about books published in our province.
It had started with a letter of support written for the fledgling station by my predecessor; this turned in to an interview with the inaugural station manager (who looked a bit like Magnum, P.I., and who REALLY reminded me of Andy Travis from WKRP). I had applied for a fifteen minute space of time on the station, once a week, where we could read our book reviews on air. That station manager laughed at me and said, “no. You’re going to get a half-hour spoken word programme, and you’re going to be the host.”
And I said, “um. Dude? The only radio experience I have is with SNOT, Sparkling Snot radio, which is a station my best friend and I made up in 1982 and recorded on our tape recorders during sleepovers. I’m not qualified. Although my best friend does a wicked accent…”
And he said, “you have a great radio voice, and we need spoken word, and I like your concept. You’ll go on the air on such-and-such a day, and you’ll be great.”
I left that meeting thinking perhaps he’d slipped something in my drink (and I’m not saying he *didn’t*), and not really knowing what to make of this. I was two months in to a year-long contract in a ‘foreign’ city and didn’t have a clue how to do what he said I was going to do. But he showed me which buttons to push, and he sat in the studio with me as I did the first ever book show on the station. A few weeks later, another guy who has the same first initial and last name as Yours Truly christened me “the Bookchick”.
And thus, a star was born.
No, but seriously. The show went from a half hour to a full hour, and stayed at a full hour for the next five years. During my maternity leave, some very capable and talented folks hosted the show for me (thanks, Chops. Thanks, B). After the Nipper was born, though, the radio programme stopped being part of my work’s promotional programming, and so we cut the time back to half an hour once a week for the remaining years until last Thursday.
I have always enjoyed doing the radio show. It was an awful lot of work (yes, I read every book that I talked about on the show, and spoke to many publicists and many authors and many publishers and even some librarians and some readers), and it was good work. Fun work. And, after nine years, it’s time for a change. So, with thanks to the folks at 91.3FM CJTR who let me do awesome things like the stuff listed below, this chapter is over.
Here are some highlights from the run of The Bookchick show:
- Interviewing one of my favourite Canadian authors, Robert Kroetsch, the day his Order of Canada was announced. I had to wake him up (he was sleeping in a chair) to drive him to the station, and it is one of my favourite interviews.
- Chatting with Arthur Black (the first time on International Talk Like a Pirate Day – I gave him an eyepatch and called him Whitebeard for the entire show) twice during two of his book tours through the province.
- Getting to interview the author of my favourite Canadian book in the past five years (Jessica Grant. Her book is Come, Thou Tortoise, and it’s awesome.
- Talking to some of Saskatchewan’s most amazing publishers. The regular features with Coteau Books were always a hoot.
- Interviewing my best friend, who was managing the adult collection at a library in Boston, during the September 11th bombings. She talked about the government demanding her patrons’ records, and the libraries refusing to release them.
- Chatting with Chops during Freedom to Read Week, and trying not to giggle as he said “nutsack” on the air THREE TIMES.
- Dave Carpenter and Dave Margoshes. These guys make their OWN radio.
- Duncan Thornton. I may have had a tiny crush on him (and may or may not have offered to drive him around in my trunk) because of his Kalifax series.
- The. Best. Interview. Evar. Or, In Which the Author Says Four Words And That’s It During The First Two Minutes Of A One Hour Radio Programme.
- Reading the classics. Check that. Reading some of my favourite books on the air.
There are lots of other fond memories, but these ones really stand out.
So, in the words of all the dolphins, so long, and thanks for all the fish.
P.S. If you want to know what it’s like to work in a radio station, watch WKRP in Cincinnati. It’s absolutely totally like that. 100%. In fact, CJTR even has a version of each of the characters. I was Les Nessman.