We recently asked them about the music they love, the people who helped them when they started, and what might happen if they switched places for a day.
1) Do you know what the best-selling album was, in the year you started at CKUA?
Grant: I’m afraid I have no idea about any best-selling anythings, ever! But I do recall that Paul Simon‘s album 2006 Surprise was the most played album of the year on CKUA airwaves! That’s the type of thing I never forget.
Tony: Hmm, goodness, 2007 seems like such a long time ago, but it feels like a momentary exhale in the context of my tenure at CKUA. I am so very out of touch with what is happening on the commercial side of music. The only touchstone I have for popular music is my 12-year-old daughter, who is obsessed with Glee. That being said, Adele, I can’t help but think of her. Not only do they do a bang-up job of covering her stuff on Glee, but my jaw dropped when I heard 19. Perhaps the wrong year, but it was around that time.
Editor’s Note: The best-selling album of 2006, the year Grant was hired, was Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black. The best-selling album of 2007, the year Tony was hired, was Good Girl Gone Bad by Rihanna.
2) What has changed in the time that you’ve been here, and what has remained quintessentially the same, or eternally CKUA?
Grant: Almost everything has changed about how we actually make radio since I’ve been here! Our amazingly vast digital library is now a thing, we no longer use card catalogues to look up recordings, no more DOS programs for sharing our playlists on the website. Heck, we’re in a whole new building! And yet, though forever-morphing, the spirit of CKUA remains this everlasting, constant unicorn.
Tony: Recently we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of becoming a more fulsome “digital media” company, and so we are scratching the surface of creating podcasts and providing more visual content to accompany audio on various platforms. That’s exciting! What hasn’t changed is the appetite of all these passionate, if not slightly eccentric people, who love to bury themselves in that digital crate, hoping to discover an artist who knocks their socks off!
3) What music was in your CD player, the year you started at CKUA?
Grant: Neko Case‘s perpetually awesome Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was brand-new when I started! So was Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins‘ Rabbit Fur Coat. So exciting. And I remember being totally blown away by the debut album from local newcomer Cadence Weapon. It sounded like music from here, but from the future. And now that I live in the future, I am now certain that assessment was accurate!
Tony: One of my obsessions when I started at CKUA was Acid Jazz and how artists combined sampled sounds with acoustic instruments. My go-to in 2007 would have been LTJ Bukem‘s Journey Inwards—it was a fave. Another favourite was Mstislav Rostropovich’s recording of J.S. Bach’s “Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G.”
4) Who was a person at CKUA who showed you the ropes or helped you feel more at ease on the air?
Grant: Baba! Baba was, and forever remains, my spirit guide. And oddly, John Worthington, CKUA’s “Old-Disc Jockey”! He was a night owl, and loved to work long into the night, devotedly restoring old records. He blessed me with many a deep, extremely lovely chat about radio during those long graveyard shifts.
Tony: Tony Dillon-Davis was the most crazy, well-read person I’ve ever met. When I was retained as a casual host, my first order of duty was filling in for Night Music, his late-night show. I joined him for two nights of “training” I’ll never forget. I couldn’t believe someone in this business had a shorter attention span than me. Tony was not the best at teaching technical facility, but what a wonderful conversationalist.
5) If the two of you were to switch hosting shifts for a day, what would you do? Tony, what flavour would you bring to Alberta Morning, and Grant, what tunes would you spin on Thoroughfare?
Grant: The only thing I think I could possibly bring to Thoroughfare is that I’d be thrilled to spin a favourite track from 1954, “Parisian Thoroughfare” by the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet! Like, probably every day. On the morning show, it’s sometimes hard to find the right slot for a 7-minute jazz odyssey that imitates the honking horns and tinkling bicycle bells of Paris streets.
Tony: Swapping with Grant. I have this crystalline image in my brain of the sun just peaking its weary eye over the horizon in the Springtime, painting everything it touches in a warm hue of orange while Miles Davis’ horn rings out “So What,” from Kind of Blue. I also love the melancholic ferocity of Julianna Riolino’s voice, and the groove centric sounds of Otros Aires.
Congratulations to these wonderful hosts, whose daytime programs are essential listening for CKUA fans. Your support keeps the music playing, and you can make a donation anytime.