My home entertainment system is a little silver plastic box. It runs on two double-A’s and works best on its back with the antenna pointed south-west. I used to get 3 channels before the recent round of CBC budget cuts, but Radio 2 no longer broadcasts through the old-skool airwaves so now I get two channels: CBC Radio 1 Victoria, and Cortes Community Radio. I don’t have wi-fi so my home entertainment is always fresh, weird, and live.
Romina has officially resigned from the CBC, she says it drives her nuts. She has unplugged her radio and put it on the high shelf. She’s all podcast now. And I know CBC is often no better than the rest. The faux-news, the cute animal stories, the general dumbness makes my eyes roll up into my head. But I can’t give it up. I need the Canadianness of it, the measured pace, the grounded vowels. I need Ideas, Jian Gomeshi, Between the Covers, DNTO. I live for the beginning of the long dash. When I’m in the U.S. the tone of CBC radio comforts my ears like a healing balm, and protects me from the assault of American panic and paranoia. CBC is the umbilical cord that wires me to the bigger world that is still very much my own.
And then, there is Cortes Community Radio. Hard to believe it, but tiny Cortes Island, with a year-round population of 1,000 and falling, manages to support a 24-hour radio station. We have this. It is patchy, of courseâ€”lots of fumbles, plenty of dead air. But the dj’s can be surprisingly smooth, and the music rich and eccentric. I can learn how to say purple sea urchin in Klahoose, or get the lowdown on island politics from Noba, the island’s sorta-mayor. Sponsored by Quadra Building Supply, or the Cortes Recycling Centre, or the Whaletown Floating Dentist (“so if your teeth are swimming and there’s water under the bridgeâ€¦”) â€”Cortes Radio is the bomb. Not many places you will hear Soweto jive and ’90’s techno and Loretta Lynn mixed back-to-back, but this is one, and it all sounds good on my tinny little box.
Outside it is damp and quiet and dark. I am alone. But here in my tiny green candle-lit home on the cliff I’ve got good company, and there’s a dance party going on.