Category Archives: Music


I have reached the milestone of writing my 300th post for this project called #RedheartBlueSign. I began this October 2011 following Ontario General election that year and it has allowed me to comment on politics, music, books and what was happening around me.  The name comes from a profile on my campaign written that election,

Image from Three Angry Nerds Podcast

There have been posts that have resonated with you the readers of RHBS and others not so much.  Some posts that I have been very proud of did not get many reads, and others have led to other opportunities.  

The post “Y2KXX a new normal’ was written about a recent vacation that took place just as COVID-19 shutdown Canada.  It described a wedding we attended in BC and how the pandemic was going make all of us adjust to a different reality.  COVID continues to do that 5 months later.  That post led to being asked to expand the post to be included in a book being compiled of stories of kindness and hope in a pandemic.  Honestly, it was a huge moment for me, I will forever be thankful to Heather Dawn and Wintertickle Press for the opportunity.  It has opened the door to doing more long-form writing of longer than a 700 words blog post.  The book “Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of Covid-19” not only includes my expanded reflection, and 48 other stories that show the kindness from across Canada. 

I took the blog on the road last fall to Barrie Ontario and wrote a series on the election that was not political (well maybe a little) and gave a glimpse into campaign life.  The nine posts during written between August and October and through those posts shared my campaign experience.  If I do it again, and I know there will be more campaigns, I’ll bring more of campaign life to #RHBS. 

There have been many books read and reviewed here. I have purposely read books I would never pick up for recreational reading; these books were all about learning from others.  Books by Naomi Klein and David Moscrop confirmed what I thought about some left leaning writers, especially Moscrop whose ‘Too Dumb for Democracy” is one on the worst and most left partisan books I have ever read.  Happily, that same post in March of 2020 was mostly about the best book I’ve read in a while; Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts and a completely partisan book in the favour of our nature and the beautiful and unforgiving terrain of Northern Canada. 

One book review that continues to get views is from Ottawa’s Brian McGarry, posted May 2012. The book was his life and the life with the McGarry Funeral Home, which has, as the book title suggests “From Paupers to Prime Ministers: A Life in Death.” It is a fascinating look at his life and service to his community.

Some of the older posts are also good reads; there is December 2011’s “Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness”, sadly we still haven’t solved that.  My post on Canadian music “CANCON: The Making of MAPL Music” from May 2017 still gets attention.

Politics remains a topic of interest to write about, and thankfully still being read.  Focusing on Ottawa I’ve written on a few municipal cycles that receive a good response.  Another municipal election is here in a short two years, next month.  With a Ottawa ward boundary review now upon us the 2022 election presents some unique situations and decisions by our local elected officials.

I have enjoyed sharing my music with you.  I’ve reviewed new music by many and looked back at music and the part it plays in our lives as I did in the September 2017 post “No Music No Life” written after seeing a movie on Tower Records.  I’ve also written about music in my family with the post “Ode to my Father” September 2016 and the influence of having music in my home from a very early age.  The last two weeks I’ve shared a playlist with 60 years of music, I now have the playlist of  those songs on my Spotify profile,  take a listen and let me know what you think.

As I wrap up post 300, number 301 is already swirling around in my mind; thanks to all the readers, especially those that follow #RedHeartBlueSign, your ‘likes’ and comments are all appreciated.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day reading this, please leave a comment and if you like what you’ve read please click the follow button.



Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

60 Years On, Music of My Life 2

Some milestones just scare the crap out of you!  30, 40, and even 50 didn’t worry me but 60, oh my!  While I wonder if this birthday will be the birthday where in my head I feel the age me birth certificate says I am, I know I can look back at the last 60 years and know that there has been so much music that I have loved!

In Part One, I shared the music of my first 30 years, today I reveal the music that has been part of my second 30 years.  My music influences have changed in these three decades, they were shaped by the music I was playing while DJing, something I started with great regularity after my move to Ottawa in 1990.  In the early years I worked for Bytown Boogie, by 2000 I moved on to be a part of the Professional Entertainment Group where I have formed a great friendship with Helen and Steve.  It’s with the ProDJ Team I’ve learned more about music and got a much better understanding of the technology of the mix and and sound we can create.

Another factor that shaped the music I’ve listened to in the last 30 years is technology and how we access our music.  I did grab music from Naptser but evolved eMusic.  Here eMusic provided access to music that was up and coming or was released on smaller labels. From there it was iTunes and then now onto Spotify.  Working in Radio, I have always appreciated that artists rely on royalties from the sales from their music and have advocated, and sometimes berated friends who ripped music for free.    This applies to how I stream in 2020.  

Before I list the music from 1990 to 2020, here are the Top 10 songs and 10 most listened to Artists:

1Cut to the Feeling – Carly Rae Jepson207
2Slow Burn – Kacey Musgraves110
3I Got You – Olivia Lunny (from The Launch Season 2)95
4Butterflies – Kacey Musgraves73
5Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves71
6We are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift68
7Criminal – Lindsay Ell67
8Roy Rogers – Kacey Musgraves65
9Delirious Love – Neil Diamond with Brian Wilson57
10The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey57
1John Mayer555
2Carly Rae Jepson422
3The Beatles408
4Ryan Adams326
5Kacey Musgraves319
6Elton John318
7Lindsay Ell285
8Michelle Branch269
9Ruth B209

Here you are…my second half of my 60 years of music, 1990 to 2020:

1990Freedom 90George Michael
1991Lovers in a Dangerous TimeBarenaked Ladies
1992CourageTragically Hip
1994All I wanna DoSheryl Crow
1995Made in EnglandElton John
1996Dark HorseAmanda Marshall
1997Calico SkiesPaul McCartney
1998You Get What You WantNew Radicals
1999When you say Nothing at AllRonan Keating
2000I won’t back downJohnny Cash
2001Set Me FreeMichelle Branch
2002Somebody Like YouKeith Urban
2003Find Your way backMichelle Branch
2004Pieces of MeAshlee Simpson
2005Delirious LoveNeil Diamond w/ Brian Wilson
2006Me and Mr. JonesAmy Winehouse
2007BelieveSuzie McNeil
2008Lovers in Japan/Reign of LoveColdplay
2009Slow Dancing in a Burning Room (Live)John Mayer
2010I BelieveNikki Yanofsky
2011The AfterlifePaul Simon
2012Call Me MaybeCarly Rae Jepsen
2013Give You What You LikeAvril Lavigne
2014Gimme Something GoodRyan Adams
2015Runaway with MeCarly Rae Jepsen
2016CloserThe Chainsmokers
2017Cut to the FeelingCarly Rae Jepsen
2018SlowburnKasey Musgraves
2019I Got YouOlivia Lunny

You may have noticed that there is no song for 2020. I have plenty of new music to listen to, including Bob Dylan, Dua Lipa, Lindsay Ell, Tennille Townes and I’mm excited to hear the new Alanis Morrisette and Kathleen Edwards, so the 2020 song is yet to be determined. It could be a song that took me completely off guard as Olivia Lunny did last year.

All my songs from 1960 to 2019 will be put into a playlist on Spotify, follow me there if you would like to follow and listen to that playlist. 

I appreciate the likes and comments from last week’s post, I hope you enjoy this post as much.  Thank you for letting me share these musical moments in my life. 


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

60 Years On, Music of My Life 1

Some milestones just scare the crap out of you!  30, 40, and even 50 didn’t worry me but 60, oh my!  While I wonder if this birthday will be the birthday where in my head I feel the age my birth certificate says I am, I know I can look back at the last 60 years and know that there has been so much music that I have loved!

I remember riding my bike in ’75 at the age of 15 and singing “Someone Saved my Life Tonight” out loud.  People hearing me as I rode past might have thought they should call for help or ignore crazy kid.  It never occurred to me what others may have thought when I did that because it was such joy to be able to it!  Even today I’ll close my eyes, listen to John Mayer’s live version of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and imagine trading guitar licks with my nephew Brad (who is a very good guitar player) in my brother’s backyard.

Elton John’s Greatest Hits

Music has always been a constant in my life, from my first vinyl; Elton John’s Greatest Hits in 1974  (thanks for the BEST Christmas present that year Mom and Dad) to the latest purchase; Lindsay Ell’s new album “Heart Theory” (which will be arriving in the mail next week). 

Another piece of evidence that music has been part of me is that I have years of the weekly 1050 Chum Charts cut out and filed away.  I also have CFTR 600 music charts and years of the annual music charts published by radio stations in newspapers at year end.  I would go on a hunt on December 30th, 31st and January 1st looking for these charts. It still saddens me that these charts are no longer published, to be kept as mementos of the past year. Sometimes going digital just sucks!

Kasey Musgraves – Golden Hour

I’ve decided to create my “life playlist’ with my favourite song for each year from 1960 to 2020.  My methodology was simple, using the number of plays on my iTunes library the song with the highest number of listens determined the song for that year.  As an example, my song for 2018 is Kasey Musgrave’s “Slowburn” from the Album “Golden Hour”.  I’ve listened to that song 110 times since it I bought it.  In fact that album is my favourite of that year with other songs from it “Butterflies” (73 listens) and “Space Cowboy” (71) getting the 2nd and third listens for that year.  Kasey also took the #4 song of that year with her version of Elton John’s “Roy Rogers” from the Elton John ‘Restoration’ compilation having 65 listens.

Putting this together, there were some years where I didn’t have any song in my digital library, there were 8 years like that.  I researched the top songs of those years and just picked my favourite. It is not very scienttific, but it works. My starting point is September 5, my birthday and by default I put the #1 song on the Billboard chart on that day in 1960.  The song is “Walk don’t Run” by The Ventures. 

Today I’m giving you the first 30 years in music; next, I’ll post the following 29 years and my song for 2020.

1960Walk, Don’t RunThe Ventures (#1 September 5, 1960)
1961Shop AroundThe Miracles
1962Hey! BabyBruce Channel
1963P.S. I Love YouThe Beatles
1964Oh, Pretty WomanRoy Orbison
1965Like a Rolling StoneBob Dylan
1966Ain’t Too Proud to BegThe Temptations
1967A Whiter Shade of PaleProcol Harem
1968Hey Jude The Beatles
1969Suite: Judy Blue EyesCrosby, Stills & Nash
1970What is LifeGeorge Harrison
1971One Fine MorningLighthouse
1972(Make me) Do Anything You WantA Foot in Cold Water
1973Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies BleedingElton John
1974You ain’t seen Nothing YetBachman-Turner Overdrive
1975Lucy in the Sky with DiamondsElton John
1976BreakdownTom Petty and the Heartbreakers
1977Loadout/StayJackson Browne
1978Girl’s SchoolPaul McCartney and Wings
1979Fool in the RainLed Zeppelin
1980TragedyBee Gees
1981Hold on TightELO
1983Let’s Stay TogetherTina Turner
1984I can Dream about YouDan Hartman
1985Feel it AgainHoneymoon Suite
1986DreamsVan Halen
1987Somewhere Down the Crazy RiverRobbie Robertson
1988Roll with ItSteve Winwood
1989Something Happen on the way to HeavenPhil Collins

Thank you for letting me share these musical moments in my life. As I mentioned earlier, the follow up #RedHeartBlueSign will have the next 30!


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

My best laid plans for a vacation…

I am going in a different direction with this week’s post, mainly because I went in a different direction personally this week – I took a few days off work.  I had a few thing things that I had aimed to accomplish in my few days away from the ‘home office’, but even the ‘best laid plans’…you know how the saying goes.

For this short staycation, we planned to spend a day or two with the grandkids, J & J, as Mom was working, and Dad was away on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario. I wanted to get the podcast in good shape for a September launch and I has books I wanted to read.  It all seemed very doable.  All this would take place after one day of working to clear up some issues, this because the idea of taking some time off was late coming to me.  This would be the first vacation since our time in BC for a wedding which appeared in the post Y2KXX in April (and which I have chronicled for the book Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of COVID-19 from Wintertickle Press).

Our two day stay lasted four. We cooked, cleaned, continued the build of a LEGO research boat at a pace and attention span that a 7-year-old can give you.  We play ‘Lava’, this involves putting cushions on the floor and on the count from three you have to get off the floor (of lava) and get on a cushion before the lava gets you.  This game can go one for quite a while. Days were filled with games, an excursion to a water pad and many walks where we were chasing scooters and bikes.  We even squeezed in a shopping trip to Costco.  We just couldn’t leave but had to as I have a hair appointment late Friday afternoon.

The last 20 weeks has had me do so much, I’ve taken up a few things outside of working hours.  Here is a break down.

Since the end of March, I’ve read 6 book, 20 weeks for 6 books.  The bulk of that time, about 7 weeks was dedicated to reading Margaret Mitchell’s two volumes on WW1 and the Treaty that followed the war.  I read the books in the reverse order they were written, starting with “The war the ended peace” and then on to “1919’.  My reasoning was that “Peace” really outlined the issues that brought war on that would play a role in the treaty negotiations. This order of reading the books gave more ink to the Leaders of the UK, France, Germany and other nations.  It was insightful to read about these leaders and how things would play out in 1919.

I’ve started reading the Stephanie Patrick series of books written by Mark Burnell; I’ve read ‘The Rhythm Section’ and ‘Chameleon’ with “Genesis’ and ‘The Third Woman’ waiting to be opened. Liz has also been reading a lot, we don’t normally share books, but she insisted that I read ‘Where the Crawdad Sings’ by Delia Owen. I loved it!  Maybe I loved it too much as there were a few passages that just might have had a few teardrops dampen the pages.  I have also started reading the ‘Bones’ books written by Kathy Reich – this started due to the fact that Liz and I have been watching episodes of the TV show recorded from the CTV Drama channel. The shows are aired chronologically.  While we started late, we watched the end of the 12-year series and then immediately moved to episode one season one.  As of today, we’ve watched the first 5 seasons and the last 2.  We’re working through the series, but that’s how I turned to reading the books that the TV show has been based on. I’ve finished the first book “Deja Dead” and have another ready to go.  I’ve selected Adam Shoalts’ “A History of Canada in Ten Maps” is next on my reading list.

Hopefully you’ve read my post on my upcoming podcast, the good news is the test episode is complete I’m comfortable with the editing and now I’m writing new episodes.  I’ve been calling the podcast ‘Red Heart Blue Sign – The Podcast’, well now I have finally come up with the moniker for it, it is based on my years in Stratford.  I would spend hours talking with a friend about music and more in his record shop ‘Laughing Gnome Records’.  I am looking forward to sharing with you this new and exciting project. 

Musically, I’ve complied a new playlist called “60 years on” (a nod to Elton John) as a celebration of my 60thbirthday in September.  I have selected 59 songs representing the years 1960 to 2019.  There will be a 2020 song, I haven’t discovered or ‘felt’ which song from this year that should make the list.  I’ll be writing about this in the next few posts.

My song for 2019, “I Got You” by Olivia Lunney

Finally, this is post is number 297 of #RedHeartBlueSign, I’ll be posting the milestone 300th post written since I started the blog in October 2011 in a few weeks.  I don’t know what that will look like as a finished product, but I have a few ideas swirling around, I am just waiting for them to land.

Thank you for taking time to read #RedHeartBlueSign, stay safe, wash your hands and protect your social circles. If you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19 get tested.


My COVID projects – Part 2 – The Podcast

Rode Mini-USB Microphone and Marley Headphones

More than 100 days of COVID19 and I have listened to almost just as many podcast episodes.  I wrote in May on RHBS Post #286 about the podcasts that I have been listening to. If you missed it, “Watcha Listening to” can be found here:  In that post I provided a review of some podcasts that have grabbed my attention. Here I am today telling you about a podcast I am going to launch in the coming weeks.  I have decided to put out there for you Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast. 

Even before that post in May I have been putting together the pieces of what a podcast would sound like.  I have taken a few steps along the way.

The Equipment.  I purchased the equipment in May, I ordered it in April.  COVID must have had caused many people to want to start a Podcast as what I originally ordered was on backorder.  The supplier in Montreal called and made a few other suggestions that they could ship right away. What you see in the cover photo for this post is what I ordered, the Rode USB-Mini Microphone.  I decided on this model after watching a review on You Tube.  This choice may present limitations down the road, but for now I think It will be good.  I have a set of Sony headphones I’ve used for DJing that will work and Marley Headphones, the set in the photo, that I’ve been using during the testing. 

The Software. The choice of the Rode Mini USB microphone allowed me to plug and play very easily onto Garage Band on my MacBook Air.  Here as well I have watched some You Tube Tutorials on the basic use of Garage Band for podcasting.  Recording, editing, mix and saving the final product.  This week I’ve recorded a test episode, making sure I understood the processes of Garage Band.  Getting comfortable with the technical processes will take time.  I’m getting there and I am sure the final production value of the podcast will improve with each episode posted.

The Time.  Putting together the idea, concept and the test podcast have shown the time commitment needed for each episode of the podcast.  Unlike this blog where I may not know what I am going write about until I sit down and start clinking on the keyboard, the podcast will need to be planned out.  I am sure that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that a production schedule is needed and kept.  I’m confident that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that comes a production schedule is needed and kept.  An episode script or outline will have to be developed weeks ahead.  The production schedule has to be adhered to as will the schedule for posting the podcast.  I realize that in the beginning there can’t be any vacations form working on the podcast.  What this means to me is that wherever I go, so does the MacBook Air and the microphone.  I know that getting into the groove of having a weekly podcast is going to require adjustment and commitment.  I am looking forward to putting the podcasts out there for you.  

The Episodes.  Waiting for the equipment to arrive allowed me the time to start planning the episodes, coming up with an episode guide.  This is helping with the process of what RHBS: The Podcast will really be about.  I have developed 7 topics into podcast ideas.  As I was coming up with these episodes, it became clear to me that the podcast should become an extension of what this blog is about.  I know that some of the posts have not resonated with readers, but I also know what posts readers have really liked.  The podcast will give me the time I need to go deeper into the discussion of what have been successful blog posts. I’m pleased with how the first seven shows are going to sound.

Finally, I look you to, I’m interested in your thoughts, what do you want to listen to and when do you listen to podcasts?  Please email me at or DM me on Twitter at @RedHrtBlueSign.

As always, I appreciate the time you take for reading, look for episode 1 of Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast (or whatever it ends up being called) soon!  Stay safe.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Keeping COVID-occupied

staying busy

This first image appeared in  

A question for you, readers of #RedHeartBlueSign.  How are your spending your time inside? I know many of you are working from home and likely putting in longer hours that you normally might at the office.  This list does not include the usual things we do: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping (once a week) etc.

For 30+ days now we’ve been asked to self-isolate; work from home; try to teach our children; and minimize our time shopping and non-essential trips.  When we’re outside we have to practicing physical distancing, keeping a hockey stick apart.

Today is a sunny Saturday and when I go for a walk with Liz, I’m sure we’ll see the trees bursting with buds ready to go full foliage.   We’ve been walking every day; an hour out does wonders for the mind, even 30 minutes is a benefit.

I’m impressed with what I’ve been able to get done since we’ve self-isolated.  I have completed 4 books and started my 5th book since the start of March.  I’ve kept up on a 30-day song challenge; today I posted day 28.  I’ve altered the challenge to be 30 days of Elton John songs.  I’ll have to consider what challenge I’ll take up next to post on Instagram and Facebook.

I was asked to contribute to a collection of stories for people getting through this COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of a speech, this was my first long form (2000 word) composition in a long time.  I think it will be published; I’ll keep you updated on this – it is very exciting to think this might happen.

I recently thought that I should start to reduce the number of CD’s I have; this has led to a new project of reviewing my collection of 1500+.  I’m listening by artist by artist daily to CDs and rethinking if I think it was a wise purchase or not.  I’ve been posting on this each day.  After 5 days and 12 CDs I’d keep 9 and could do without 3.  Based on this ratio there could be a number of CDs heading to a used CD shop.  Doing this will be  much more difficult than saying it.

Because of my work, I am attuned to the news a lot, even recreational TV watching is centred around the news.  I realize that I have watched too much news when I recognize the cycle of live/taped newscasts on CTV and CBC.  Radio gives me a huge reprise because almost all of it is live.  I recently re-started receiving the Globe and Mail at my door daily, this has given me so much to read, more about international affairs as our TV is really focused (as they should be) on Canada.  The capacity of TV and radio to present stories from around the globe (pun intended) is very limited.  Getting the newspaper also prevents me to searching and scrolling websites to find these stories – the stories are handed to me.  I recognize the newspaper is a small joy I am glad to have back.

We’re always on the search for different opinions; podcasts and live streaming have given us access to this.  Once a week we’ve dedicated an evening to listening to 2 or 3 podcasts.  The world of podcasting seems endless, so many options and so many streaming services offering everything you could possibly want to listen to. Trying to find interesting podcasts still is an overall challenge.

Some of what we’ve been listening to includes the Munk Conversations, a new live stream that airs weekly, it’s an extension of the quarterly Munk Debates.  The first in the series featured Malcolm Gladwell as a guest a couple of weeks ago and discusses what a post-COVID world looks like.  TEDtalks have a YouTube series of interviews that have had interesting people and topics.  We listened to Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Love Pray talk about how “it’s OK to feel overwhelmed” and have subsequently recommended it to others.

In the traditional podcast format, Peter Mansbridge’s “The Bridge” is a good listen. It’s like having Peter in your living room talking to you for 30 or so minutes without letting you stop and ask a question.  I have become a regular listener of the “And Another Thing” podcast with former MP Tony Clement and Broadcaster Jodi Jenkins.  Guest have included Tony’s barber Johnny Awesome in a very entertaining episode and MP’s, Senators, journalists and comedians.

Another I really enjoy is the “Herle Burly”, with former Ontario Liberal campaign manager David Herle.  The podcasts tend to be longer and run an hour or longer so this is a good one to listen to while while sipping on something.  For fun political jousting David has former Conservative Campaign Manager Jenni Byrne and Liberal strategist Scott Reid regularly join in.  It’s like being a fly on the wall in a political backroom session.

Right now, my list of podcasts seems limited and I’m looking for something new to listen to.  Send me your recommendations, please. It will be another way I will stay COVID occupied.

I know that there’s so much more to stay busy beyond books, music, the news and TV.  I haven’t decided how much I want to diversify the free time I have but I am always on the lookout for it.  Tell me what you’re doing in your #quarantime.  As always thanks for reading.  Stay safe.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

“Don’t touch that dial, I’ll be right back!”

radio 1I am a radio man through and through.  When I was young my brother and I had a small transistor radio and we would have “weeks” for listening to our radio station in our bedroom.  On my weeks the dial was set to 680 CFTR to listen to Tom Rivers in the morning and the Spaceman at night, my brother had his pre-set at 1010 CFRB – this was during the Wally Crouter years.

Later in high school it was Raider Radio at Erindale Secondary School broadcasting out of a closet by the cafeteria, to CHBR at Humber College, radio has been my life.  For about 10 years of my life I have the best job EVER; from being and intern and the overnight operator at CHFI 98.1 to spending 5 years in Stratford at CJCS as an on-air announcer.  I even made a short ‘comeback’ working at 1310 News in Ottawa as a writer/producer/editor on weekends in 2014, I could be heard occasionally giving the weather forecast.  And then there were the charts, every week cutting out the CHUM chart every Friday. The year-end charts, oh how I miss those year-end charts published in the papers on either December 31st or January 2nd.

So, it is with sadness that I consider that the radio age Is nowhere where it was as little as 10 years ago. But what hasn’t diminished the passion listeners have for their radio station.  Here is the perception many listeners have; owners are the enemy and are blamed for radio hosts being replaced and a perceived editorial change take place.  Let’s consider the story of CFRA in 3

CFRA was a family owned radio station from 1947 until 1968 when it was sold to CHUM radio.  It was a music station until a switch to an all talk format in 2002, at the time it was known as “left on the dial and right on the issues”.  Conservative radio CFRA was an ‘island of sanity’ for its listeners, today it is still the #1 AM radio station in Ottawa.  CFRA became the station with legends like Lowell Green and Steve Madely hosting the morning show.  In 2007 ownership of the station changed hands from CHUM to Bell GlobeMedia. There will be those that see that sale as the beginning of the end.

Over the past 10+ years there has been a succession of announcers leaving or being released.  This coincided with similar cuts to the news operations with reporters and news announcers being cut.

I’ll add this about CFRA listeners and CJOH-TV news, they are passionate about who they listen to and watch.  Changes like Carol-Anne Meehan being let go from the high rated 6pm Newscast, Steve Madely retiring from CFRA, Lowell Green being moved from the morning to the mid-morning slot to a 15 minute segment with Rob Snow until being given the final  heave ho the end of 2019 caused backlash to Bell Media with fans more than mad with “messing around with CFRA”.

Bell Media has moved many CFRA hosts off their schedule and the names include Mark Sutcliffe (Mornings), Rob Snow was moved from afternoons to mid mornings and was them let go in 2019, Rick Gibbons and Brian Lilley are also former hosts.

Some former CFRA hosts have found a home elsewhere on the radio dial; Sutcliffe and Snow are currently on the air on 1310 News (former W1310 Oldies), Gibbons and Meehan have also held the mid-morning slot on 1310 after being let go from CFRA, 1310 is a Rogers all-news station that made a shift to all news and a talk station.  Brian Lilley is often heard on Newstalk 1010 in Toronto after moving to Toronto to be a Queens Park correspondent.

radio 2I mentioned how passionate listeners can be, and the passion exploded on the CFRA and CTV Ottawa Facebook page with blistering comments on how Bell Media was continually ripping the conservative heart out of CFRA. More than taking the voices that these listeners loved, Bell Media has rewritten that old slogan to now be “left of the dial and left of where we used to be”.

Ottawa is a city where public radio rules the airwaves, public money allows content to be produced, no commercials to irritate listeners; but the public radio also comes with slant to the left (according to us on the right). Hosts can be so blatantly against the right that a disclaimer on their opinions is needed.  To think some Canadians, want funding for the public broadcaster cut…go figure.

While we have the state broadcaster, we need private broadcasters to even out the ideology and opinion.  For the longest time CFRA was the home “on the left of the dial and right on the issues”, following years of changes a more centralist voice is emerging in the Nations Capital.  With the addition of Rob Snow in January and a new Ottawa Today with Mark Sutcliffe, 1310 News (owned by Bell Media rival Rogers) might have the answer to breaking the hold Bell has on talk radio and bring balance back from the left to the centre through some right minded voices.

All we can do is tune in and listen.

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Did the Grammys get it right?


The prize for the biggest night in music, the Grammy.

Did you have a chance to watch the Grammy Awards last month? For the second year former Best New Artist winner from 2002, Alicia Keys hosted the show.  The Best New Artist Grammy always generates a great deal of debate.  Looking back to 2002 and considering the career that Alicia Keys has had it seems the members of the academy got it right.  What about other years, did they get it right this year when the award went to Billie Eilish?

I wanted to look back 20 years and see how past Best New Artist winners are doing now, and check if there wasn’t another nominee that deserved the Grammy based on their success.  I chose to take a closer look at the Best New Artist winners & nominees for 2003, 2005, 2011 and 2020.

The winner in 2003 was Norah Jones, however the class of nominees was very strong; Nominated in that year were Ashanti, Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne and John Mayer.

Jones has won 9 Grammys and had a further 7 nominations. Ashanti has 1  and 7 Grammy noms; Michelle also has a Grammy and 3 nominations; while she hasn’t won a Grammy, Avril has an impressive 8 nominations and John Mayer has 7 Grammy statues and 9 nominations.  In the last 20 years this list of Best Artist nominees is the cream of the crop.

My alternative outcome: Jones was a deserving winner in fine group of nominees.  John Mayer would have been a deserving winner in 2003. That year he did not go home without a Grammy, he won for his song “Your Body is a Wonderland”.

Fifteen years ago, Maroon 5 took home the 2005 award; but should other nominees Los Lonely Boys, Joss Stone, Kanye West and Gretchen Wilson have been the winner?  There is no doubting the success that Maroon 5 has had.  They are masters at reinventing their sound.

Let’s stack up the other nominees; Los Lonely Boys have 1 Grammy and 3 nominations. Joss Stone the Scot R&B singer has won 1 Grammy and has been nominated for 4 Grammy; Kanye West seems to be the runaway success story of the class of 2005 with 21 Grammy wins and 48 nominations! Ms. Wilson has seen success on the Grammy stage with 1 win and 10 nominations.

My alternative outcome: Kanye seems like the obvious alternative winner here, however his behaviour at award shows controversies prevent me from passing over Maroon 5 who have a very respectable 3 Grammy wins and 10 additional nominations since 2005.

In 2011, two Canadian artists were nominated for the Best New Artist award, neither won – Esperanza Spalding took it home ahead of Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & the Machine and Mumford & Sons.

Well the surprise here for me is the success that Spalding has had since her New Artist award, winning 4 awards and earning two other nominations.  Her latest win came this year with a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album.  When Spaulding won, I said to myself, “What? A jazz singer beat Bieber?”  For the record of the other nominees Beiber has 1 Grammy and 9 nominations (and a whole bunch of Juno Awards), Drake’s 4 wins and 40 nominations put him in Kayne territory, Florence and the Machine, though never a winner has been nominated for 6 Grammys and Mumford & Sons have 3 wins (including one for Album of the Year on ’13 for Babel) and 11 Nominations.

My alternative outcome: Any of these other nominee’s would be a worthy winner, it’s hard to argue against Spaulding, but if I had to, I’d give the Grammy to Mumford and Sons.

Will the 2020 Best New Artist Billie Eilish, and the class ’20 nominees have the same


Best New Artist winner Billie Eillish with her 2020 Grammy Awards

success as the artists I have written about here?  Lizzo certainly gives a good argument for taking the award away from Eillish as she won 3 awards and 5 additional nominations. Rosalia can also claim to be a contender as she also took home a Grammy. (and many Latin Grammys). Let’s not forget about Lil Nas X, who took home 2 awards from the 2020 Grammys.  Yola was rewarded for a good year with 4 Grammy nominations.

It might be too soon to see if Eillish, Lizzo, Lil Naz X, Yola Black Pumas, Maggie Rogers, Tank and the Bangas will have the success others (winners and nominees) in this category have enjoyed.  It’s clear that Eillish was the critics favourite, she was different from what anyone else was doing.  Lizzo’s happy positive message could not overcome the moody act Eillish was giving us.

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It’s not me crying, it’s you.

Foster OTRI cry at the joy and jubilation of others, I cry on the feel-good Canadian Tire ads (remember the one about the bike in the back of the pick up?) and I cry when great music makes me feel exuberant and joyful.

Recently I watched David Foster: Off the Record and man did that open my emotional pores.

There’s a lot of music that stirs me, watching the David Foster special was an extreme version of a musical stirring.  But really doesn’t everyone want to feel that exhilaration?  Shouldn’t everyone feel it?  I mean it’s a BIG feel good feeling.

With David Foster the cause to show emotion came at different moments, different causes – but there is one common thread, it was an exceptional moment, a musical or personal moment.

The magic is watching Foster know what he wants, work towards it and then we get to hear the results, it’s breathtaking.  It’s not just about having talent, but about knowing people and having the instinct to know what can be great.  Foster is a musical Rainmaker.

Foster is responsible for getting some of the most memorable performances, not just of new voices but some of the greatest there are.  The special had many moments and I cold have talked about them all, but here are four.

StreisandMoment number 1: One of my favourite Lps is “Broadway” by Barbra Streisand and on that collection is a David Foster produced track ‘Someday’.  Foster falls into producing the track because of a studio mic that is turned on during a break in recording.  Streisand hears Foster purposely tinkling on the piano, loves what she hears, and it seems that David Foster has his big break.

Moment number 2: Foster takes a young famous singer from Quebec and turned her into a Dion Unisonworld icon.  Driving in the rain, 100 miles to Montreal Foster hears the voice of the future – Celine Dion.  It’s a partnership that started in 1990 and lives on today.  Listening to Foster and Dion talk about their history and their work together it’s clear they made of the same fabric of drive talent and humility.  It’s no surprise the success they have together.


Moment number 3: When great talents collide, you can only expect greatness.  For the movie the HoustonBodyguard which starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner the search for a song to be the staple of the film.  Deciding on came from Costner who suggested the song to Foster, after hearing Linda Ronstadt sing it.  The surprise of the song was that the version Costner heard missed the last verse – Foster only heard about this when he called Dolly Parton who wrote the song about another great Porter Wagoner. In this moment, of “I will always love you”, these 6 degrees of separation come together for an unforgettable moment in music.

Moment number 4: When you have perfect pitch, you can spot a ‘voice’ even from aDion Groban cassette tape.  But let’s be honest, sometimes it takes a bit of luck to push the talent a head a few steps. Hired off a cassette tape by David Foster, Groban filled in for Andrea Bocelli to rehearse with Celine Dion for the 1999 Grammy Awards.  But this moment was not just about Foster, it was also about Dion who is shown taking the then 17-year-old Groban under her wing during the rehearsals.  The video shot by Groban’s parents have Dion tenderly working with the young singer as the world icon pays forward her success to Fosters next big thing.

Add these moments, along with so many more from the career of David Foster together and there you have it a rush of emotional exhilaration.  These are amazing moments to remember and they can come at any time.  When you have one, take hold of it and ride as long as you can.  Those moments that I’ve had and the songs I’ve heard become special and stay with me forever.

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REPOST: Vinyl Spin: Elton John “Live from Moscow”


NOTE: This post was originally written in April 2019 in honour of Record Store Day. The 2 LP/CD set has been released globally January 24, 2020.  In honour of that event I’m resharing this Red Heart Blue Sign piece.

In 1978 Elton John released a solo Lp, A Single Man, it marked a few departures for him musically.  It was the first where Bernie Taupin did not have a writing credit on the Lp.  He also didn’t record with the band that had accompanied him on his two previous studio albums Rock of the Westies and Blue Moves. Elton toured to support the album, but unlike previous tours, the tour in ’79 was a man and his piano.  Elton was accompanied only by percussionist Ray Cooper. The tour that year had only one stop in Canada, the old O’Keefe centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto.  These shows were not unlike shows recorded Elton 20 years later in Madison Square Gardens.  These shows were made available solely to Fan Club members (of which I was) on two CDs in 2000 and 2001.

The tour included a historic eight shows in the old USSR, four in Leningrad and four in Moscow.  The concerts were one of the first by a western musicians allowed into the country and would open the flood gates for everyone else.

For Record Store Day this year, the BBC recordings of his last concert in Russia in 1979 were released on vinyl as a double Lp.  This 2 disc set was my first purchase after buying a new Turntable and it fills me with joy to hear the needle softly set itself down on side one track one with every album I play now.

Disc one Side one opens with Elton solo on the piano with open refrain of “Daniel” and cautiously welcoming applause, as the song plays I find I have tears in my eyes to hear the warmth of vinyl again; it’s a welcoming feeling to my youth.  Sticking with older materal Elton seques to his self professed favourite composition, “Skyline Pigeon”.  Take me to the pilot leads into Rocket Man a song that turns epic in this live performance.

Flipping to Side two it begins with “Don’t Let the Sun go down on me”, “Goodbye yellow brick road” and “Candle in the wind” all songs the audience well recognizes.  It seems as listening to the Lp that the the soviets in attendence are settling in and are not so wary of this pop superstar.  Elton’s love of Motown is widely known, the side ends with Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the grapevine” but sadly, IMHO, he over extends this taking away from the performance.  As I listened to it, I wonder how many in the audince felt as I did – is this almost over?

Over to Disc 2 Side 1 and Elton is joined by percussionist Ray Cooper.  Cooper has been playing with Elton since the 1971 Lp Madman across the water.  Besides Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson no one has played more with Elton.  The second disc opens with a combined “Funeral for a friend/Tonight”, songs that appear on Eltons only two disc studio albums.  Touching on 9 of his 11 previous studio Lps in this concert he brings a bit of Captain Fantastic with “Better off dead” before breaking into a full arena sized concert version of Bennie and the Jets with a room full of Russians yelling “BENNIE” on queue.

One last flip to Side 4, with “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” and “Crazy water” from Blue Moves, the audience is clearly in his hands, Elton sets up the end of the show with a a series of song combinations guaranteed to get Russian boots moving.  Elton works his magic with “Saturday night’s alright for fight” and “Crocodile Rock” with his “Pinball Wizard” and he was the first to end a western pop concert in the USSR with the Beatles “Get Back” and “Back in the USSR”. Judging the by the reaction to the song you might think he played official state anthem, but while the USSR was still in tact as it was in 1979, it was  most certainly the unofficial  emotional anthem.

Elton John Live from Moscow is a gift to his fans from a performer who is in the middle of his “farewell yellow brick road” tour.  For me it took me back to being 19, Elton John’s Greatest Hits was my first vinyl Lp I purchased and “Sleeping with the Past” in 1989 was his my last before going into full CD mode.  Live from Moscow brings me back to being a fan of Elton John and to vinyl. From the warmth and depth of the sound of the recording to the packaging of vinyl.  It is a return to good days and good music.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at