Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gamma Krush Spins Great Hip-Hop

I hope you’ve been following along with my new radio show, The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour. I’ve been going strong with this program for the past 75 weeks now.

Gamma Krush is the guest deejay for today’s edition of the show. It’s long overdue as well. He and I go way back. In fact, he is the reason that I got into radio in the first place. But to tell that story, we really need to look at our personal history in hip-hip.

When I met Gamma Krush back in 1997, I was actively pursuing a career in hip-hop. I was in the process of recording an album and was looking for a DJ for my crew. I was planning on releasing an EP with them as well but we ended up going separate ways for college and university so those plans never came to fruition.

The crew was pretty active in helping spread the word about my ambitions in this music. One of the members put me in touch with Gamma Krush after giving me a tape of his deejay skills. He immediately became a member of my crew and quickly became my best friend.

We released two independent albums on CD and a 12″ single on vinyl. You can download those Mission 5 albums for free from our bandcamp page.

We moved away from the group for various reasons but never stopped participating in hip-hop culture. Gamma Krush ended up doing a radio show at my old university. I had written for the newspaper when I was there. I also interviewed bands for a community access television program called “Expose Yourself.” And it was for those reasons that he invited me on his show to conduct an interview five years ago.

The rest as they say is history. I was really happy to be actively involved in hip-hop again. Radio is a perfect fit for me. I started producing documentary shows about hip-hop culture and continued interviewing some of my favourite rappers. And this lead me to this new outlet – The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour.

Press play and enjoy the music!

Unique Assassin ft. Shinobi Stalin and Ill Will – Stereo Type
Raw Corp – Rap Ciencia
Impact ft. Es and Solar Scenery – A Time for Remembrance
Funky DL – You Know Me
Moka Only ft. Ishkan – Magnificent
Kool Krys ft. Ghettosocks – Feel the Culture
D-Strong ft. Wildelux and Chinch 33 – Ratz
Viktor Shade aka Vision ft. 2n the Bodian – Rep for Midnight
D.O. ft. Slakah the Beatchild – No Matter What
royceBirth – brandNew
Double X aka Alex Thomas – My Life
Bush Babees – Gravity
World Renown – Come Take A Ride

Gamma Krush can be heard on the radio every week on The Baddest Incredible Hip-Hop Transmission. So, if you liked what you heard here today, visit to check for his weekly podcast and radio show.

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Know Your History – Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and we’ve got a great show for you tonight. I’m just going to jump into things. It might not sound like a show on the history of rap music and hip-hop culture right at the start, but bear with me and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

Married With Children was a very successful television series that ran for 11 seasons on Fox. The sitcom premiered in 1987 and was unlike anything else on television. It’s notable for a few reasons.

Number one, it was the first prime time series to run on the network that seemed like it was pretty much doomed to fail. At the time, there were three big networks and it was really iffy as to whether a new station could garner enough viewers to be sustainable.

Number two, the show deal with some pretty controversial topics. It was low-brow comedy and really stretched the limits of what cable television was able to do. Nowadays with speciality channels such as HBO, Showtime, FX, Space, and other such channels, it’s hard to remember a time where there were only a handful of options or channels available.

Number three, everyone knows this show. Everyone. Of all the sitcoms that have aired over the years, many of them are easily forgettable and fall of out popular culture references. Married with Children has been referenced in several rap songs.

These three reasons are enough to take another look at this groundbreaking sitcom but there is a hip-hop angle to it as well. Just bear with me a moment longer.

In Season 6 of the show, Al Bundy, the father character of the show has a dream that his son becomes a gangsta rapper. When he tells his son about the dream, Bud Bundy gets inspired and actually adopts the persona of Grandmaster B. He tries to get his family to call him by this new name. But it does invite mochery quite easily. His family constantly tease him about his rap persona on the show. They call him Ghostbuster B, Mixmaster, Grandma B, Bed Wetter B, Burgermeister, and Dustbuster among others.

David Faustino did a great job on the television show. He was perfect in the role. His character was the only one in the family who aspired and worked towards improving their situation in a any real way. He was able to be the butt of the joke and move on. He was a likeable character even though he was constantly teased and told he wouldn’t amount to anything.

It must be tough to be on a successful television series. People see you week in and week out and make all sorts of assumptions based on what they see on the screen. So, maybe it’s not so surprising when Faustino tried stepping out of the sitcom set and on to the rap stage that was teased about it in real life as well.

He adopted the rapper name of D’Lil and put out a song entitled “I Told Ya” in 1992. I remember being blown away by the video when I first saw it. I thought, “Woah, Bud Bundy is a rapper” but I gave it a chance.

In an interview Faustino did with Hip-Hop DX , he said that the writers of the series knew that he was really into hip-hop music and culture so they decided to write that into the show.

He said, “No one else was really feeling Hip Hop, yet. It wasn’t mainstream at all. So they all felt I was [weird]. ‘Cause I would bring Hip Hop cats around – people would come visit, from just different deejays and whoever – and they were like, ‘What’s this kid doing?’ They didn’t really understand it that much but they found a way to kind of poke fun at it and [Grandmaster B] was their attempt.”

David Faustino also explained in that article that he chose the rap posters that adorned the set in his fictional bedroom. Nas even commented that seeing his poster on Married With Children was really inspiring and that it was a sign that he had made it.

I can definitely understand that. Hip-Hop wasn’t in the mainstream as much as it is now. When the show started, hip-hop was seen as a new thing and as a fad. That is probably why it was poked fun at some much by the writers, but it was easy to see that Bud Bundy and the actor who played him were true fans.

D’Lil wasn’t well received by the hip-hop community though. I remember seeing the video on Much Music and, at the time, I thought it was decent. I actually went to the record store to pick it up but they had never heard of the record. I looked for it for a while and then gave up. The video fell out of rotation and I never heard anything else from David Faustino as a rapper. He is still involved in Hollywood and currently voices characters in animation.

D’Lil was the first actor turned rapper that I knew about. Maybe, he was a little before his time because I can think of one actor turned rapper who has been quite successful. Some people been call him the greatest rapper out right now.

That’s right, I am talking about Drake. He started his career as an actor in the popular television series Degrassi. Back then, he was simply Aubrey Graham and no one would have guessed that he would become a superstar rapper.

Just like David Faustino, Drake started his rap career while still in the middle of his stint on television. He began the series in 2001 and played the character of Jimmy Brookes for 139 episodes over the next eight years.

His character started pursuing a music career in the series and that translated to real life. In 2006, Aubrey Graham adopted the name of Drake and released a mixtape independently. He followed that up with several more independent releases and people started to take notice. He even managed to get play on BET, a feat that very few Canadian artists have ever done, and even more impressive is that he did so without any support from a record label.

Lil Wayne took him under his wing and the rest is history. He has won several music awards, struck critical acclaim, and sold a huge amount of records. Pretty impressive for someone who got his start on Canadian television.

Drake is a rarity though. There are very few actors who have managed to be sucessful in the rap world. It seems to work the other way around a lot easier. There are too many rappers turned actors to even mention, and some of them are very, very good. Ice Cube, Ice T, and the late great Tupac Shakur come to mind.

But this show is about actors-turned rappers. So, let’s turn our attention back to the small screen. Canada had been producing teenage drama series for years but the concept was starting to catch on south of the border as well.

One of the most successful teenage drama series on network television premiered on October 4th, 1990 and just like the first program mentioned today, it got its start on Fox. The show was set in a rich neighbourhood and even included its zip code in the title. That’s right, I am talking about Beverly Hills 90210.

When the series first hit the air, rap music was just starting to become a commercial phenomenon. It made sense that one of the characters in the show would start experimenting with the genre. In fact, the writers tailored the scripts to align with some of the actors hobbies and interests.

As such, Brian Austin Green, who played David Silver, started to deejay and eventually even rapped on the show.

He took that passion to the recording booth and dropped his middle name and an album in 1996. It was called One Stop Carnival and was produced by one of the members of the Pharcyde.

The lead single “You Send Me” was released by Brian Green in 1996. Back then, you would have know him better as David Silver from Beverly Hills 90210. I like that track. I’m surprised that it wasn’t more successful.

After all, Beverly Hills 90210 was one of the most popular shows on television at the time. Brian Austin Green had a bankable name and the album was produced by Slim Kid 3 of Pharcyde. Despite having this co-sign, Brian Green wasn’t able to capture the same amount of sucess on the radio as he was on television.

His television series was very successful and stayed on the air for ten years. It has even spawned spin-off series including Melrose Place and a new revamped series simply called 90210. It’s probably one of the reasons we have programs aimed specifically at the teenage market these days. The influence this program had cannot be overstated.

And while Brian Green’s album had an accesible sound, perhaps it was the high-pitched nasally flow that turned a few people off. Or maybe, it was because we were in the midst of hip-hop’s first Golden Age. There was so much great content dropping that year. This record probably got buried by the classics that came out around the same time. Or maybe it was just too commercial. What’s clear is that Brain Austin Green shoud stick to what he does best, acting. I really loved him in the Sarah Connor Chronicles. It’s a shame that that show got cancelled.

Why is it so hard for actors to make a successful transition to the rap game? Why are we, as listeners, movie viewers, and TV show fans, more accepting of rappers acting than we are of actors rapping? Who knows?

All I know is that there are a lot of actors who can sing. There are several who have managed to have a fairly successful singing career too. Selena Gomez. Bridgit Mendler, and Britney Spears all got there start on television and have sold crazy amounts of records and continue to do so. Yet, actors who rap fade into obscurity rather quickly.

I wonder if Drake had been on 90210 instead of Degrassi if he would have achieved as much success in the music industry as he did. He was relatively unknown as an actor when the buzz around him as a rapper started to build. Degrassi had a huge following but it has a pretty specific audience that is limited to mostly young Canadian viewers. 90210 on the other hand was the highest rated show on television for a period of time. Everyone knew of the show and the characters even if they didn’t watch it week in and week out.

Whatver the reason, it hasn’t stopped actors from stepping into the rap game. This next actor / rapper we are focusing on today has been part of the main cast of Community for the past five years now. He plays Troy Barnes on the NBC television series. And in the middle of the run of the series, he started a rap career. He signed to Glassnote records under the stage name of Childish Gambino.

It’s interesting to see what you can dig up when you start researching a topic. I didn’t think I’d be able to fill the entire thirty minutes with actors-turned-rappers but I guess I was wrong. I’m interested to see if Childish Gambino can make a name for himself in this rap game. I guess, only time will tell. He has some big shoes to follow though if he is going to make it work and, as we’ve seen, the track record is very good.

That being said, Donald Glover has been making moves in Hollywood for some time now. He was one of the writers for the hit show 30 Rock, he has done stand-up, sketch comedy, and starred in a few movies as well. He seems to have that kind of star-quality that will probably suit him well.

Looks like I’ve got time to play one more track. I’d like to play my favourite song from Amanda Diva. She got her start in 1993 in the film Cop and a Half alongside Burt Reynolds. She then landed on the small screen in the Nickelodean series My Brother and Me.

Beside acting, she is also a talented singer, rapper, and visual artist. She dropped four albums under the name Amanda Diva before she changed her last name to Seales. It’s a more appropriate name for her to go by. She doesn’t seem like a Diva whatsoever. She seems very down-to-earth.

You’ve been listening to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. This is the 44th episode and today we have been looking at actors-turned-rappers. We focused on D’Lil of Married With Children fame, Brian Green of Beverly Hills 90210 fame, Drake of Degrassi Fame, Childish Gambino of Community fame, and Amanda Diva of My Brother and Me fame.

It seems that rappers can turn to acting with relative ease but the transition doesn’t seem to work the other way. I’m not sure why that is the case, but I can say that if you have achieved fame in some other medium, it might not be in your best interest to initiate a rap career. That is why I jokingly titled this episode “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.”

Download this show for free or stream it with the player below.

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Basil Grover Skatepark – London, Ontario

Let’s go for an early morning skate at Basil Grover Park.

This small skateboard park is located at the corner of Wharncliffe and Commissioners in London, Ontario, Canada.

I wish this launch ramp angled directly to the ground. The gap does make it a little more difficult though.

I appreciate the low level block in the middle of the course. It’s perfect for grinding and you don’t have to worry about falling very far.

There are plenty of obstacles to do tricks on and you have the option of using the launch ramp or the long paved path to build up speed first.

The sitting area off to the side is a nice touch as well.

Overall, this is a nice park. I really enjoyed my early morning skate today.

More Skatepark Tours

Juliet Lives – A Play Written by My Students

Romeo and Juliet (Claire Danes and Leonardo Di

I worked with a group of students in my class to write and produce a short dramatic work.

We were brainstorming ideas and one of my students suggested doing a version of Much Ado About Nothing. I thought that was a great idea but the rest of the students in her group weren’t exactly excited about it. So, I suggested Romeo and Juliet and for a different spin on it I said, “What if Juliet didn’t die?”

I originally was thinking that she would stab herself like she did in the original play but it wouldn’t kill her. So then she goes skydiving without a parachute and still doesn’t die. She then tries killing herself in all sorts of novel ways.

Admittedly, there isn’t much a story there to perform on the stage. Thankfully, my students realized this problem and didn’t entertain my original idea for very long.

They knew that Romeo poisoned himself over his grief in the original play and they decided to riff on that for their version. This time, Romeo gets poisoned and Juliet’s friends try to discover who the murdered him.

I was so impressed with their story. It works so well on the stage. It is full of suspense and humour and gives them nice parts to act out. They even played music between all of the scene changes. It was a beautiful performance and they were so into it because they wrote it.

Here is the opening scene . . . 

Narrator: “Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. This time though, Verona is the name of the small café where Romeo and Juliet are having a nice date. But unbeknownst to the young lovers, someone poisoned Romeo’s drink while he was indisposed and while Juliet was distracted on the phone.”
(Romeo enters, takes a drink, and falls down dead.)
Juliet: “No, Romeo!” (She tries to revive him)
Narrator: “When Juliet can’t revive him, she takes a knife from the table and . . .”
(Juliet stabs herself and falls down beside Romeo.)
Narrator: “And never was there a tale of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo”
(The surgeon enters, checks Romeo’s pulse, and moves on to Juliet and starts attending to her.)
Surgeon: “She’s still alive.”
Narrator: “Is he?”
Surgeon: “Who said that?”
Narrator: “Me. I’m the narrator.”
Surgeon, “Oh, okay”
Narrator: “Is he still alive?”
Surgeon: “No, no. He’s long gone.”
Narrator: “This isn’t the Romeo and Juliet story I remember.”
Surgeon: “This is a modern spin of the famous tale. They didn’t have the best medicine back then.”
Narrator: “That makes sense. So moving along. Juliet wakes up at the surgeon’s office.”

Want to Read More? 

Try Guided Script Writing with Your Students

Try having your students write and produce their own short plays. It’s a great way to tie in Language Arts and Drama, while having your students work cooperatively in small groups.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (over 100 useful tips, tricks, lessons, and resources)

This Book is Bigger on the Inside

The adventures of Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and the Eleventh Doctor continue on in a series of original novels.

This book is bigger on the inside, and that’s not just a clever Doctor Who joke. It’s actually a collection of two novels bound creatively in one volume. Each story is 200 pages long and opens up like a regular novel. When you finish one story, you simply flip the book over and begin reading a brand new adventure.

Doctor Who: Heart of Stone by Trevor Baxendale

I wasn’t completely impressed with this story, but I did like how the author managed to get the interactions between Amy, Rory, and The Doctor spot on. I could hear the characters through the dialogue and I laughed at a few moments in the story where I could picture the actors in my head clear as day.

Doctor Who: Death Riders by Justin Richards

This was the best story in this 2-in-1 collection and I really wasn’t expecting it to be. It’s set at a carnival and it could have become cliche and boring, but it didn’t drag. I whipped through the story in one day.

I like how Amy drives the story and how Rory gets to save the day. I love this couple so much. I want to see them risking everything for each other. I am glad that their adventures live on in print. Although I wish I could still see them on the television every week.

Keep Up With Everything I’ve Read This Year

My 2013 Reading Log (with links to each title)

A Photographic Tour of The Avon Trail

Today, we are exploring The Avon Trail in Stratford, Ontario.

I started my run at Queen’s Park and ran west along the waterfront trail.

It really was a beautiful place to explore nature

and some local history.

There was a lot happening on the water this afternoon. There were tour boats, boat rentals, and even a rowing teaming getting in a practice session. It was interesting to hear the coach bark instructions at the team. Seemed like it might have been more of a workout than my 6 kilometer run.

I didn’t know Stratford had a furniture industry.

I love this portion of the trail. The stone path goes underneath a stone bridge. Fantastic!

Here is the Shakespearean Garden.

The trail continues along a dirt pathway.

I cut across to the other side of Lake Victoria and had to run along a side road for a little while. There are houses along that shore that back right onto the waterfront.

When I got back on the waterfront trail on the North side, I saw that one of those homes is a Historical Landmark. Sir John Cunningham McLennan lived here.

The city really is doing a great job of celebrating history and nature in this park right in the heart of the small town.

More Running Tours

Summer’s Gone Lesson Plan

“Summer” by Buffalo Tom is a great song to use in the classroom at the start of the school year.

It’s a song that always make me sad that summer is coming to an end. I play it every Labour Day weekend as I prepare to go back to school.

This year, I used the song as a listening activity for my instrumental music classes. I even developed a great resource worksheet package to go with it. Even better, this resource can be used for any musical selection you would like your students to respond to.

I adapted the concept of Literature Circles to fit musical selections as opposed to text ones. As such, we have Musical Circles.

I have three rows of five students on either side of the classroom. My seating plan looks like this

x x x x x            x x x x x
x x x x x            x x x x x
x x x x x            x x x x x

Each grouping is assigned one of these jobs.

  1. Discussion Director – develops open-ended questions that will promote discussion within your group.
  2. Connector – explores the connections between what you hear and your personal experiences, connections to other songs or musicians, and/or to global events or issues
  3. Illustrator – creates something visual about this musical selection. You can use a picture, sketch, comic, graphic organizer, chart, or any other visual representation. Consider choosing a part of the musical selection that created strong visual images in your mind as you listened.
  4. Facilitator – helps the group function smoothly and productively. 
  5. Passage Picker – chooses a portion of the musical selection that you felt was particularly interesting or significant.
  6. Recorder – to record the main points of today’s discussion. Try to record at least one point that each group member makes. Your notes may be in point form. Just remember that you will be asked to share this list at the end of today’s music circle.

Download Music Circles worksheet package

Once each row of students is familiar with their job, we listen to the song together. I also provide them with a copy of the lyrics.

Press play and follow along with the lyrics.

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Sight unseen, sadder seas
Summer song sung all along
Dragged across the seven seas
To the beach come follow me

Summer’s gone a summer song
You’ve wasted every day, every day

Cellophane, a grandma’s town
Summer’s letters on the ground
Seven pins, the fall begins
When the leaves burn, summer ends

Summer’s gone a summer song
You’ve wasted every day, every day
Summer’s gone, can’t wipe it off my hands
Write it in the sand, in the sand

Where’ve my heroes gone today?
Mick and Keith and Willie Mays
Broken windows trails outside
I can take you for a ride

Summer’s gone a summer song
You’ve wasted every day, every day
Summer’s gone, can’t wipe it off my hands
Write it in the sand, in the sand
In the sand

Summer’s gone a summer song
You’ve wasted every day, every day
Summer’s gone, can’t wipe it off my hands
Write it in the sand, in the sand
In the sand
In the sand
In the sand
In the sand

Then give the students time to complete their worksheet. They can discuss with the students in their row to get ideas, inspiration, and help in completing their job.

After that number the students according to where they are sitting.

1 2 3 4 5         1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5         1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5         1 2 3 4 5

Have them move to their new groups, play the song as they move, and then have them discuss and share their work. Each group now has one person fulfilling each job. They should have something to say and hopefully the “Recorder” will get a lot of great ideas written down.

Music Circles Worksheet Package

I hope you find this lesson and resource useful.

Thank you for joining me for this Teaching Tip Tuesday series.

New Posting Schedule

I’ve started a new posting schedule here on Silent Cacophony.

I will post entries on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday every week.

That’s not to say that I won’t post additional entries either, but that will be my regular schedule for the time-being.

You can still look forward to these regular features . . .

Teaching Tip Tuesday – I really love this weekly feature. It gives me a chance to share lessons, tips, tricks, and resources that I have found useful in my classroom. It’s also one of my most popular features on this blog.

Chasing Content – On or around the first day of the month, I round-up the best posts from the same month of the previous year. This serves as a “Best-of” post and makes sure that great content doesn’t get buried amongst all of the new material.

Hip-Hop History – Once a month I produce a documentary radio program entitled “Know Your History.” I have fallen a little behind on transcribing these shows for the blog but promise to get caught up soon and to continue posting the new episodes weekly. You can always find them on time over at The Word is Bond.

Photographic Tours – Whenever I come across a new running trail, I bring my camera along and snap a few pictures. I then write a small narrative about my running route. I love sharing theses trails with you. Hopefully, it’s inspired you to try one of these routes as well.

Virtual Skatepark Tours – I love skateboarding and share pictures and stories of great skateparks across Ontario. Whenever I discover a new one, I share it here.

Thank you for being a loyal reader. I really appreciate it!

Know Your History 37 – The History of Radio Broadcasting

We have a need for home entertainment. A true need for it.

Nowadays we don’t even think much about it. There are so many ways for us to keep busy while relaxing at home. We can kick back with a book and spend a quiet afternoon reading. We can play a video game on a console system such as a Wii, Xbox, or Playstation. We can play all sorts of games on our computers or waste the day away surfing around online. We can watch videos on YouTube, movies on DVD, or episodes of our favourite shows on TV. All without ever leaving the confines of our homes.

We can be constantly entertained. And we can bring our entertainment with us. Many of us have portable computers that we carry in our pocket all the time. We have so-called “smart” or “super” phones that allow us to listen to music, to watch videos, and to interact with social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

But where did home entertainment, as we know it, truly start?

I think you’ll be surprised at the answer.

Hi, my name is Chase March and welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m not about to say that hip-hop started the home entertainment phenomenon. But this is a radio show and as such I want to take this episode to examine something that we all take for granted, radio.

It’s hard to imagine a time before radio. It’s something that has been instrumental in my life. I grew up with the radio playing almost all day long. My mother kept the dial locked to a country station. I soon discovered that there were other genres of music.

I listened to AM 680, which is now an all-news station, but when I was a kid, it played music from a wide variety of acts and genres. It soon had competition with a station that billed itself as “contemporary hit radio” on AM 640.

The radio was good when I was a kid. My mom had her station and I had mine. My grandpa even had a favourite station that played oldies. It seemed liked there was something on the radio for all. And that’s the way it should be. Unfortunately, things changed at some point over the years and the radio doesn’t seem to offer as diverse a programming as it used to. Not on the commercial airwaves anyway.

The programming that we offer here on 93.3 CFMU is quite diverse. It truly is a community radio station that reflects the voices of that community. I could go on an on about that but I’m afraid I’d start sounding like it’s pledge week and if you’ve come to this program because you’ve been listening for the last three years, you expect to be entertained with some music and talk about the history behind it.

This is Season 4 of Know Your History, a monthly documentary radio show that focuses on hip-hop music and culture. It’s part of a larger program called DOPEfm that has been on the air for nine years now. We bring you the best in underground hip-hop music and talk each and every week, Saturday Overnights.

We have big things planned for the 2013 season. Big things. We continue our affiliation with The Word is as well. Please go there for daily hip-hop news and a dope weekly podcast, hosted by yours truly.

For the next half hour, we are going to look at the grandfather of all home entertainment mediums. The first broadcasts that sent programming right into our homes, like magic. I’m talking about radio.

The pioneers of radio entertainment are a lot like the pioneers of hip-hop. They started something absolutely incredible and changed the world as we know it. Yet, they were not recognized for their contributions or compensated fairly.

The same thing happened in the world of visual art. Vincent Van Gogh is heralded as one of the all-time greats. Yet in his time, he lived in abject poverty.

Sometimes the art or genius gets buried in time and it really is a shame.

I think it’s important to know names such as Kool Herc and Grandmaster Caz. These are just two of the pioneers of hip-hop and I have mentioned them several times over the past three years I’ve been on the radio.

But truth be told, I never thought much about the pioneers of radio. The technological aspect doesn’t interest me much. I know that it was a culture back in the day. Enthusiasts would build equipment to send and receive signals. It had some great implications for communication, especially to send and receive signals from a boat where wired technology such as telephones simply couldn’t reach.

At this point, using radio as a medium to deliver entertainment was still pretty much unheard of. But not for long.

Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden hosted the first radio broadcast. He was a Canadian inventor and he outfitted ships with his radio technology to send them an entire program. He announced the program, played a recording of Handel’s “Largo,” and then played a Chirstmas carol on his violin.

Fessenden was the first person to transmit human voices over the airwaves and he was the first person to play music on it as well. Perhaps, this makes him the first DJ.

This historic broadcast didn’t even have a name at the time. The term broadcast, in fact, wasn’t even used for a few more years in this context.

And while Fessenden is acknowledged as the inventor of radio by modern scholars, he was never recognized for it in his own time. Instead, other people won the patents for what would become radio as we know it now and they in turn would achieve the wealth that unfairly eluded this pioneer of radio.

We’re used to radio programming being available at all times. You can turn on your radio at any time day or night and receive a signal. This wasn’t always the case.

In fact, radio might not even have took off as a commercial endeavour if it were not for one tragedy at sea.

April 14th, 1912. The unsinkable Titanic is sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. The crew members that operated the radio sent and received all sorts of personal messages from the wealthy clientele on board. They sent over 250 such messages prior to the ship hitting the iceberg.

They were then able to send out a distress call over the radio. They sent over 30 messages before having to abandon ship. Tragically, a lot of lives were lost that day. It’s conceivable that this tragedy could have been even worse if a rescue operation hadn’t been started as quickly as it was. And all of this was thanks to the radio.

The power of radio is something that cannot be taken lightly. Used simply as a communication tool, much like a phone, it allowed us to stay in contact over large distances without the need for wires. It was the original wireless before cellphones and the Internet.

If you’re just tuning in, this is Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. Today we are taking a special look at the medium of radio, focusing on the pioneers of radio broadcasting.

This show can be heard each and every Saturday night on 93.3 CFMU on your radio dial in the Hamilton, Ontario area. You can also stream it worldwide on

I remember my favourite radio programs from back in the day. The Mastermind Street Jam on Energy 108 was required listening. It was on Saturday afternoons and I’d stop whatever I was doing to run home and listen to it. I’d even tape the shows onto audio cassette so I could relive the program over and over again.

Unfortunately, that show and even that station are now defunct. Mastermind can still be heard on the radio but not in a specialized hip-hop mix show format. If you want that kind of programming now, you need to look at campus radio stations such as this one. Stations that operate by a diverse team of volunteers to bring you programming they are dedicated and passionate about.

I think of all of the radio shows I have loved over time. I think of how I ended up in radio myself and how it just seems so natural. Hip-hop shows on terrestrial radio or on podcasts are just a great way to get music. I discovered all sorts of great music by listening to the radio. I learned about things I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Radio shows are just something we take for granted. It’s hard to imagine not having regular programs to listen to. I rely on the morning show to give me traffic and weather updates. On the drive home, I get educated and entertained by talk radio. Thursday nights, I catch In Tha Kut for a dope hip-hop show. And I listen to podcasts of radio shows I don’t tune in live to every week.

In fact, I couldn’t live without my radio

That was LL Cool J “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and the perfect song to play for the 37th episode of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. This kicks off the fourth season of the show. Today’s topic is long overdue as well. It’s time we looked more closely at the history of radio broadcasts.

I consume a lot of radio programs. And it seems like this is just the way it always has been. It’s hard to believe that radio as I know it didn’t get its start until 100 years ago. 1912 to be exact. That was when Charles Herrold started broadcasting a regularly scheduled radio program.

Charles Herrold. That is a name we should all know. He is one of the founding fathers of broadcasting and if not for him, I wouldn’t be here on the airwaves for you right now.

He was the first person to use the term broadcasting to describe what he was doing in radio. Prior to this, the word was only used by farmers and it meant to scatter seeds out in all directions from a single source, to broadcast them.

Charles Herrold not only invented and built devices to send and receive radio signals, he taught other people how to do it as well. In fact, he’d been doing just that for three years prior to starting the world’s first radio show. He’d opened his own school in 1909 in San Jose, The Herrold College of Wireless and Engineering.

He started playing records into microphones as an easy way to test the radio signals his students were experimenting with. He then took this a step further by producing the first scheduled radio program. It was called The Little Hams Program. Ham refered to the hobbyists who built and operated short-wave radios.

Of course all of this was happening in the second decade of the 20th century. And just like the start of hip-hop culture, you had to be there to experience it. There aren’t any recordings of those early broadcasts for me to play for you. You had to be there. And unfortunately, this founding father of radio is no longer with us to tell his story.

But the good news is that there are quite a few radio scholars who are. Otherwise, his name might have been lost in history. One of the best places to find out more about Charles Herrold is the PBS documentary entitled “Broadcasting’s Forgotten Father. It celebrates the life of Charles “Doc” Herrold and shows his influence in the creation of radio as we know it today.

I want to play a clip from that documentary for you in a moment. First, let me just set the scene. Herrold began broadcasting his radio show in 1912. His assistant, Ray Newby said, “It was a religion for ‘Prof’ Herrold to have his equipment ready every Wednesday night at nine o’clock. He would have his records ready, all laid out, and what he wanted to say. And the public or listeners, it became a habit for them to wait for it.”

I wish I had more audio to share with you today, but the earliest radio broadcast couldn’t be recorded for posterity. So here’s a clip from the documentary “Broadcasting’s Forgotten Father” that was produced in 1995.

“Herrold tells his students that the Wednesday night programs are “broadcasting for the people of San Jose.” He also tells them that everyone else transmitting voice at the time is only “Narrowcasting.” He is on every week at the same time, and he knows that he is entertaining a public audience. And, as an early form of advertising, the broadcasts help attract students to his college.”

How cool is that? No one was doing what Charles Herrold was doing. He was at least eight years ahead of his time since the first commercial radio stations didn’t get started until 1920. He was on the air every week at the same time delivering a radio program for close to five years. And he started doing it in 1912.

He even had a regular audience. Of course, they were all radio hobybyists themselves as commerical radio receivers weren’t available at this time. But that didn’t stop his audience from calling in and requesting songs.

His radio program included music, talk, news, and even giveaways. It was everything that we’ve come to expect radio to be and pretty much what we hear every day on our radio waves now, 101 years after he established what radio could be.

Here’s another clip from the documentary television show PBS produced . . .

“One reason that the Wednesday night broadcasts attract so much attention is because of Herrold’s young wife Sybil. She became a disc jockey if you may. They didn’t use that term in those days. And I guess she liked it because I remember I interviewed her years later, and she was very very pleased because she got a lot of responses in the community. People called her up, she got a lot of fan letters, people talked to her on the street that they heard the programs.”

One of the first radio deejays was a woman. How cool is that?

I tell ya, I’m having a lot of fun putting this show together for you today. I’m learning all sorts of things about the medium I’ve been working in for close to five years now. This is Know Your History and I’m your host Chase March and we still have a lot to explore about the birth of radio broadcasting.

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