Blog Archive

Play That Funky Music

August 5, 2014

Featured song: “On the Radio” by Regina Spektor

I have a radio show. It still sounds weird to say out loud, to write. And just like most things in life, it just kinda happened. And I’ve been doing it for around six years. That’s what’s even weirder.

Circa 2008, when I was fresh-faced and new to the Peg, shipped directly from farm-to-Osborne-Village, I was surrounded by gifted friends who played music. Hell, I still am. They still do.



At the time, we were all doe-eyed and ambitious and just barely legal, and a few of my very best friends were in a band called the Experiences. I couldn’t (still can’t) play an instrument if my life depended on it but they could ooze the blues and replicate Led Zeppelin songs like no one else our age. So I stood behind them, acting as their ‘band designer’ and shamelessly promoting them every chance I could. I would do their artwork and carry their gear and get into the bars and drink the booze and tag along to all the gigs.

One night, a pilot for a potential reality TV show was being filmed at one of the bars in downtown Winnipeg and the Experiences were asked to be a part of it. (It never actually came to fruition – in fact, I don’t even think that bar still exists ..) Much like Canadian Idol, there was a panel of local celebrity judges prepared to evaluate each band that performed.

I thought the Experiences played wonderfully (obviously) but when the spotlight landed on our judges, they had something different to say. ON TV! THE NERVE! One judge in particular – Howard Mandshein – Winnipeg’s cherished veteran deejay and authority on all things music – had some not so complimentary remarks about the band. After a few Standard lagers, I marched straight up to him and told him exactly what I thought about what he said, to which he responded, “Ha – I like you.”

This is where sass gets you, folks.

I gained a mentor that night, and to this day, a great and wise friend. We worked together for a few years after that, booking mostly unknown acts for a few lounges in the city. It was my first taste of booking, of promoting, of discovering talent. I still call Howard one of my most treasured companions – we chatted on the phone today, in fact..

In addition to his well known gig on 92 citi FM, Howard also had a show on the University of Manitoba radio station – UMFM. He took me under his wing and encouraged me to sit in on his shows as he spun songs and interviewed artists. It was magic. Eventually, we’d be on the air and he’d point at me to ask the questions. He’d point at me to choose the songs. Ultimately, I adopted the show.

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See? Life kinda just takes you places. Did I ever aim to be on the radio? Never. Would I give it up for anything? No way. Over the years, I’ve uncovered countless musical treasures (WINNIPEG – I cannot say enough about your music scene!), interviewed and interacted with some of my favourite musicians (Zeus, Brendan Canning, Sam Roberts, Luke Doucet ..) and made unforgettable friends. UMFM has presented me with media opportunities I thought I could only dream of.

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Do you ever find you end up somewhere really fantastic just by taking a couple weird turns? Sometimes it barely feels like you’re driving and you still end up arriving at that awesome destination.

My beloved ninja co-host is away for a while, so I’ve been running the show solo the last few weeks which is ANOTHER whole new experience ..

You can find me on the airwaves every Tuesday night, 630 – 8 PM CST on 101.5 UMFM, or stream at


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  • Sharon O'Leary August 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Loved this Griff, Love the blog and the logo, you have always had a great talent for writing (and many other things), apparently since you were about 4 (grin), keep it up, you always inspire, entertain, and ellicit follow up thoughts to your points, that is what good writers do.