Rush’s Geddy Lee, Jim Kerr Star in Toronto Rock Radio Station Doc

Rush frontman-bassist Geddy Lee, Simple Minds lead singer Jim Kerr and Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley appear in a new documentary about the origins and high points of pioneering Toronto radio station CFNY.

Veteran film producer Matt Schichter makes his directorial debut with CFNY: The Spirit of Radio, which has just wrapped post production. Other artists appearing in the doc include Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies), Peter Hook (New Order/Joy Division), Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), Emily Haines (Metric), Ben Kowalewicz (Billy Talent) and Andy McCluskey (OMD).

During the 1970s and 1980s, major record companies and large independent labels relied on records being played on local radio in major markets to promote commercial releases. Toronto’s CFNY, which launched in a small city suburb in 1960, eventually became hugely influential in breaking punk and new wave acts after evolving into an alternative radio station on the FM dial.

In 1979, Rush drummer Neil Peart wrote a song, “The Spirit of Radio,” that was inspired by CFNY and covertly appeared on the rock band’s Permanent Waves album under the catalog number ANR1-1021 — after the station’s 102.1 frequency.

Geddy in the documentary recalls growing up in Toronto and the contribution of CFNY program director David Marsden in the 1980s. Earlier, in 1965, Marsden, using the pseudonym Dave Mickie, succeeded the late Alex Trebek of Jeopardy! fame as host of CBC TV’s Music Hop, a Canadian teen music show modeled after American Bandstand stateside.  

“Going into production, I thought we were telling a story about a radio station, but we quickly found out this was a really personal story about David Marsden’s vision and the alternative culture he created,” director Schichter explained. Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning and Ohad Benchetrit wrote an original score for CFNY: The Spirit of Radio, which filmed across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. at major recording studios like Abbey Road, EastWest, Grant Ave and Toronto’s legendary music venue the El Mocambo.

The documentary is produced by Matthew Campagna for HighballTV, while Alan Cross, Barbara Hall, Chantal Jackson, Ivar Hamilton and Scot Turner share executive producer credits.





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