CKDU host recounts the good and bad

Doug Taylor puts a face to the archives, as the campus station celebrates 26 years on air

Doug Taylor looks at photos and talks about his 24 years at CKDU. (Photo: Scott Riddell)

Doug Taylor looks at photos and talks about his 24 years at CKDU. (Photo: Scott Riddell)

Digging past stacks of his 800 and some albums and 700 plus CDs and uncounted cassettes, Doug Taylor, a 24-year veteran radio host at CKDU, finds the photo book he is looking for.

He flips to a page and shows a picture of a banner strung across his former radio studio wall. It's shouting in bold block letters: "Talk kills, keep it short."

Working for commercial radio, Taylor was faced with restrictions on what he could say between songs. He was told to only tell listeners the time, temperature, or the weather report.

What he found at CKDU in 1987 was something completely different.

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Record Archives at CKDU. (Photo: Scott Riddell)

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This timeline shows events in CKDU's history.

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Longtime CKDU host Doug Taylor, looks back on 24 years at the station. (Photo: Scott Riddell, Audio: Lauren Naish)

CKDU programming is paying tribute to its 26-year history Feb.1-7. Programs remaining in the celebration include:

  • Saturday Morning Musical Box with Walter Kemp, Saturday Feb. 5, 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
  • The Swing Arrangement with Charles Hsuen. Monday Feb. 7, 7 p.m.-8 p.m..
  • Dawn of Tomorrow with Troy Richter, Friday Feb. 4, 10:30 p.m. -12 a.m.
  • The Threat with Ron Bates, Friday Feb. 5, 12 a.m.-2 a.m.
  • Let's Get Baked: Mat and Dave with Laura Peek,Saturday Feb. 6, 6-8 p.m.
  • Live performances by local bands. Saturday Feb. 5, 10 p.m. - 12 a.m.
  • The CKDU Spoken Work Archive Project with Tristan Thorpe, Monday Feb. 7, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Downbeat for Danger with Kristina Parlee ,Monday Feb. 7, 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.

He had the freedom on the Dalhousie University campus community station to do what he loved.

"There was so many restrictions on me in commercial radio, [so] it seemed ideal," said Taylor.

He thought of it as a way to stay in the loop so he could eventually get back into mainstream radio.

That never happened.

CKDU 26, Taylor 24

Taylor remained at CKDU and grew into an important fixture, both on and off the air.

He has seen a lot of changes at the station in the 24 years he has been involved. Musical trends have come and gone and along with them, came new management.

He refers to them as "interesting characters in control" who would have preferred that only grunge music be played at the height of it's popularity. "Why would you be playing jazz?" imitates Taylor.

Taylor broadcasts under the pseudonym "Nick Barrington" and hosts a program called Elegant Voltage weekdays, between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

His program is like his involvement with CKDU. It's extensive and diverse, blending the old with the new.

He says he differs from his contemporaries, programmers like Walter Kemp and Bev Lamb who have been on CKDU for 25 years because he is always looking for new music.

"I like to throw in old stuff but I like to show how it connects to new stuff," says Taylor, who name drops artist from Kanye West to King Crimson.

His record and CD collections burst out of every corner of his apartment.

Community voices

Taylor and Tarek Al-Zand, the program director at CKDU, both value the station as a place for the community to participate.

Al-Zand points out that a lot of people can get their voices, opinions and events out on the station when they otherwise wouldn't be heard.

Multicultural shows in different languages have been around since the beginning of time, says Taylor.

These are the shows that have been "grandfathered" to continue as a staple of the CKDU program lineup, even though hosts come and go, says Taylor.

Many of these programs and their programmers have won station awards for CKDU.

This week, to celebrate it's 26 years on the air, CKDU is doing a retrospective, bringing back popular programmers and archival shows.

As an informal institutional memory of the station, Taylor can remember both the good times and the bad.

He remembers technological changes that polarized the CD friendly from the vinyl die-hards.

He also remembers the internal changes that have changed how the station operates.

CRTC trouble

Only once in its history has CKDU been reprimanded by the CRTC, the federal body that governs Canada's airwaves, for its content.

Taylor calls the incident "a moment of maturity" for the station. It happened in 1993. The day-long radio affair was called "All Day, All Gay."

Without going into much detail, he says simply, "They went too far."

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission gave CKDU a slap on the wrist and laid down some rules to restrict what content they can run between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Taylor says, from that point on ‘contextualization' has been a key word at the station.

The CKDU guidelines state that if you are going to say or play something profane, you must give context to why you are playing it.

The station has a printed page on the wall in front of the host that gives a specific example of how to contextualize a song.

The host must state the name of the song, the content that it contains, whether that be vulgar language or sexually explicit content, and how long the song runs.

Then they must also give their reason for playing it, such as how the song fits into their program, and why it is important to be heard.

Al-Zand sees this as being responsible in an age when there is an increased amount of sexual freedom and liberty from days past.

Even with the freedom of being a campus community station, CKDU still has people to answer to.

This is important to Taylor who says campus radio stations "are set up to be the most controversial, because all the other (stations) are boring."

Comments on this story are now closed

This is a feel good article not truly reflective of the nature of the station. The policies set by the CKDU Board of Directors and it's chair, Doug Taylor, mean that the station is not open to all the HRM community. It is more of a 'special interest' club. One just need to read the CKDU BoD's minutes for examples.

Posted by Tom Finn | Feb 11, 2022