Theaters, nightclubs, concerts, choirs, art exhibits, vernisagges all gone, shutdown, locked up and closed. Musicians and comics unemployed. Never have the arts and artists experienced such an unforeseen and immediate interruption in their craft. What is an artist without an audience?
Yet, it is times like war and pandemics that we earthlings need art and expression more than ever. Art is the gift of release. It stimulates the senses and helps us understand ourselves, appreciate our creativity, laugh at ourselves and enjoy the moment.
Our days drift by with constant, standard media fear porn, on every channel. One vows to turn it off and take a break from it all. Yet, at the same time we must tune in to learn the latest in political decisions. To mask or not to mask. When can we cross borders, go to our cottages, have our family over, gather, where, and with how many?
We have a new vocabulary to understand and experts to listen to. We want to understand all things viral, the new twists COVID -19 takes.
Recently in our home, we bought three albums of harp music and for many days straight played the angelic sounds of Pierre Certon and various artists musically fingering away to assorted Sonata’s and Variations of Bach. So very soothing.
Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and fear hangs over us like a humid invisible sheet.
It may seem a stretch to compare an unprecedented pandemic with wartimes, yet there are similarities.
What did the artists do back then ?
Radio featured large in the 30‘s and 40’s, and all ears were tuned in to the programming. Families sat around at evening time to listen to scratchy war time news, propaganda, and of course artistic distractions.
Songwriters, theatrical plays and comedians came out in full force to entertain, distract and delight the worried masses. There were mysteries, drama and detective shows, children’s programming, Hollywood gossip, musical hours and many famous stars offered free services, broadcast to the GI’s and those waiting at home.
The performers included The Andrew Sisters, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Spike Jones, Frank Sinatra, Burns and Allen , Vincent Price, Gary Cooper and many more. Several channels existed and the shows were slickly produced and served to raise the moral of service men and women overseas.
Lux Radio Theatre was among the most popular and it included Hollywoods best with productions of one hour in length with compressed audio versions of popular motion pictures, complete with live orchestras. This show, was hosted by Cecile B DeMile .
The Grand Ole Opry Radio show featuring Minnie Pearl was another such hugely popular country variety show during this time.
Jim and Marion Jordan were Fibber McGee and Molly and their beloved sit com had over 1200 episodes.
Enter Wakefield WKFLD Community Radio.
The brain child of Lara Gunette , Elizabeth Logue, Dale Kerr, and Jack Pelletier, this facebook station brings our community together, in times of feeling isolated and “it feels like the favourite sweater you always reach for, a little rough around the edges, but always the one you go to, as it always makes you feel warmer in your soul.”
This relatively new local phenomenon features a Friday night show: Village Voices, the Sunday Morning Drive, The Theatre Wakefield Look, and the Phil Up. You are guaranteed to hear local favorites, and experience nostalgia, laughter and toe tapping. It is a welcome addition to the many ways in which this community is special. You can find it also at https://wkfld.live.
Indeed, it is comforting to know that as the gentle reopening unfolds, we come carefully, and in a measured way out of our cocoons; along this journey are able to have our community encourage and inspire. WKFLD does just that, and if we all tune in we are reminded of the power of the human spirit, the strength of community and the magic of radio.
The Show Must Go On.
June 14 2020