Amy van Keeken has been a CKUA host since 2015, and her two programs, Far Out and Twilight, are beloved by CKUA’s listeners. We asked Amy about her early days as an announcer, and what she might do if she were not a radio host.
How did you get your start in radio, and what/who brought you to CKUA?
I got my radio start at CJSR, Edmonton’s campus-based volunteer powered radio station. I started occasionally fill-in co-hosting a show called Twang n Thangs. Soon, I became the regular co-host along with Thea Bowering (who is an incredible writer, by the way Thea Bowering — NeWest Press). I learned how to make good radio at CJSR, and I am eternally grateful for the excellent and patient mentoring I got there, especially from program director/volunteer coordinator Chad Brunet. One day [former content director] Kevin Wilson asked me to submit a demo to CKUA, and from that I started as a fill-in announcer/producer at CKUA.
Your two shows are different from each other, but both are thoughtfully curated. How do you plan your programs?
Music is my life. It always has been, so to have a job that is specifically tailored to things I already do is pretty amazing. I listen all the time and make notes and lists. Hours fly by as I sit with my headphones on, discovering music in our CKUA database. My own record collection inspires me. I am committed to exploring and sharing new releases and specifically music created in Canada. I am committed to exploring, learning about and sharing music from decades past. I look for shows and events I can promote and music history I can share. The vibes are different for each show, but they are similar in that both shows aim to play music and sounds you might not hear anywhere else.
Far Out is a place for rock n roll, psych, freak folk, sounds from around the globe, spiritual jazz, outlaw country, and all points in between. Twilight is a gentle space on the airwaves, sounds from around the world in many genres and styles, including classical, jazz, folk, ambient, experimental, and instrumental. I lost my husband in September 2022, and programming Twilight has been a comfort and a part of my healing journey.
You’ve spoken on the air about the connection and comfort that music offers. What continues to surprise and move you about the unique relationships that can develop between listeners and hosts?
CKUA really is a special and unique place where we make radio together, listener and programmer/host. I am constantly being introduced to music through listeners, and I am continually inspired by the music listeners suggest and the heartfelt messages they send. I am grateful to do this work with all of you!
If you didn’t work in broadcasting, what would you like to do?
I’d open my own record store/café.
What song would you like to send out to the CKUA listeners today?
“Do Anything You Want To” by Thin Lizzy from the album Black Rose. A reminder to be true to yourself. Also, guitarmonies!