Back in the mid-80’s I lived here in London, Ontario and even then the city felt like home.
It really ought not to have felt so comfortable. I was working all sorts of weird shifts and making a really crappy salary. My schedule was “six and five” which meant one week I worked five days and had two off. The next week, I worked six days and had exactly 24 hours off before starting all over again. I was 23 or 24 and hungry to advance my career. It never even occured to me to say “No”. I eventually moved on for a liveable amount of money and daylight hours.
In London I endured a fire in my home which destroyed nearly everything I owned and took the life of my dog. My first marriage dissolved. I briefly worked in retail and suffered the horrors that go along with that type of job. So I shouldn’t have liked it here so much. But I really did.
Part of the reason was the great friends I made here. Some I’ve fallen out of touch with. Others, I’ve kept in contact with all these many years. This was also a very exciting radio market back in those days, with tooth and nail ratings battles between the hit stations – one of which was my radio home, CKSL. My PD was nothing short of an A-hole who had the audacity to tell me he didn’t want a woman on the air but he was stuck with me at the GM’s insistence. (These days I’d be living off the millions from suing him. Those days were different.) The GM was no prince either but he had a good heart and he’s still quite a mover and shaker in this city. It was an exciting time. All of the bands of the day came by regularly and we partied with them and got to know them: Gowan, Platinum Blonde, Corey Hart and countless others. Can-con pop and rock were booming. The air was electric.
Radio stations have changed hands and clustered and popped up over the years to the point where I have to stop and think hard to remember who now owns what. Some familiar names are still on the air – but not many. A lot of voice-tracking is done on the music stations. Even a news/talk AM carries a ton of out-of-market and canned programming. Fiscal times have changed.
And there’s really no way to explain it but even though I continue to get lost and turned around and confused when I drive here it still feels like my home. More so than Hamilton, with which I’m much more familiar, and even Toronto, where I’ve worked and lived even longer. It’s an intangible quality this city has. It’s sophisticated but still a small town in many ways. It’s got lots going on but it’s not so intimidating that one would feel they couldn’t merge into the business stream and make their own way. It just…is…like anything in life that you know is right. You may not be able to explain it but it’s a certainty just the same.