New Works Magazine: Music In Halifax 1985

4: "I'm really surprised
  none of the local stations have
          taken the time to
      promote local talent."

The standards set by Top 40 radio have done a lot to limit the opportunities of local musicians. Of the total volume of music produced in North America, commercial radio plays only a small fraction, repeatedly playing the latest releases of the latest superstars.

Commercial stations are required by the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission to play a minimum quantity of music by Canadian artists, but even on local radio stations, it's Toronto bands that benefit.

Former Q104 station manager Jake Edwards says that many local bands are out of the competition for commercial radio airplay because they don't have high quality recordings of their material. "In all fairness to the band, you wouldn't want to run stuff that wasn't done properly," he says.

Last year Q104 released an album with music by six young Maritime bands, the winners of the station's Homegrown contest. Prince Edward Island band Haywire, the grand prize winner as determined by audience response, recorded an EP through the station.

Q104 is planning a second contest to be held this fall. This year, ten bands will be recorded on the Homegrown album and one will record an LP. There have been more than sixty entries so far.

The idea and the name of the promotion are borrowed from Q104's parent station, Q107 in Toronto. "I think it means more here," Jake Edwards says. "I'm really surprised none of the local stations have taken the time to promote local talent."

CKDU, Dalhousie University's low power FM station, broadcasting since February, plays tapes and live recordings of local musicians, giving airplay to artists who haven't gotten a big record contract yet or who may never get one.  Licensed by the CRTC to provide an alternative to existing broadcasting, CKDU is more receptive to challenging or unpopular musical forms than most commercial stations. Only partly dependent on commercial advertising, CKDU is free to define it's own audience.

Because CKDU doesn't take systematic listener surveys, the number of persons exposed to local musicians through the station can't be estimated. The CBC has recorded and broadcast the work of local musicians, mostly Jazz, blues and classical players, regionally and nationally on radio and television. In the mid-Seventies, Canadian Express regularly taped Bucky Adams and his Basin Street Band at the Middle Deck. A 1981 radio broadcast of Identities, "Black Music in Nova Scotia," featuring Bucky Adams, son Corey and the Generation Band won the United Nations Gabriel Award for Broadcasting.

This year, Corey Adams and other Halifax musicians, including Don Palmer, Carl "Sleepy" Thomas and Susan Clarke, put together a tape for CBC. It hasn't been aired yet. "Mulroney took all the money," Adams says.

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