MY ARRIVAL AT DEPARTURES

ImageRadio shows have had a profound effect on me through the years. From the children’s stories which teachers at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind let us hear to the Christian programs I enjoy today, I’ve had an abiding love for good programming. One of these shows satisfied my strong desire to hear electronic music.

Edmonton’s university station, CJSR, began broadcasting on the FM band in February of 1984. In December of that year, I was in the midst of unpacking my belongings from another move when I felt bored. Scanning the dial, I happened upon CJSR. The sound of electronic music captivated my attention as I unpacked boxes. Though I had heard this genre and bought LPs by some of the “big names,” I knew little of the wonderful recordings on the market.

Departures, hosted by Marcel Dion, featured many unknown bands and artists. Listening to that two-hour show taught me much about the breadth of talent which I had no inkling of. Tuning in each Monday night became my weekly habit.

On one broadcast, Marcel asked “home tapers” to send in their compositions to his show. Since I had dabbled in experimental music during the previous ten years, I decided to compile those recordings on a cassette. Having done that, I hand-delivered it to the studio during one of the shows.

To my delight, Marcel played one of my pieces that I titled Celestial Signals. A listener phoned the request line and said I was really good. I felt amazed and flattered. Having almost no electronic equipment and no keyboards at the time, my tunes were extremely primitive.

Marcel’s acceptance of my compositions inspired me to buy a few keyboards and a second hand Realistic MG-1, a synthesizer designed by Moog Music Systems and distributed through Radio Shack stores. Marcel loaned me his four track cassette recorder in 1987 and I made the most of that opportunity. A year later, I bought a four track open reel deck. I made good use of that purchase. By 2003, I had recorded fifteen albums of electronic music. Some compositions received airplay in Moscow, Warsaw, Trondheim, Paris, and numerous college radio stations in North America.

Marcel quit producing Departures in the spring of 1990. Since he lived out of town and the program director changed the time of his show, hosting it each week became a burden he couldn’t endure. I missed my weekly rondezvous with electronic music but I did have many reels filled with past Departures shows. I digitized them a few years ago since my open reel decks are almost worn out. As with other favourite programs, I also made cassette copies so that I could take them anywhere I went.

I mentioned my love of electronic music in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies and How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. The latter book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm. When A Man Loves a Rabbit is available from the Bruce Atchison’s books page. A few of my compositions are on SoundCloud. I hope you’ll take time to check them out.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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