Local web based radio station The Spark signs on familiar names to on air staff.
“In the midst of the COVID lockdown I wanted to do something creative and positive to occupy my time,” said Frank McGwire former radio veteran who spent the bulk of his 30 year career in Brandon with stints in Red Deer, Alberta and Dauphin, Manitoba. His most recent radio gig was for Westman Communications Group as morning news anchor for CKLQ and STAR FM.
The idea for his concept was sparked from years of having so many listeners ask him why radio stations seem to only play limited amounts of songs or often only 2 or 3 hits from iconic artists when their catalog offers so much more. “I kept hearing people say, “Classic rock covers 30 – 40 years so there has to be more than the 400 songs radio stations always seem to play over and over, and I really wanted to do something about it.
The Spark was made available to the general public on June 1st. Since then, not only has the listenership and social media following grown, so has the talent roster on the station. McGwire hosts the morning show which runs weekdays from 7 – 9 a.m. Holding down the afternoon slot is Tim Donovan a radio veteran who got his start doing all nights on KX96 in 1989. Donovan also made stops in Vancouver and Chilliwack B.C. As well as London, Ontario in his 30+ year radio career.
The station also offers exclusive specialty programs such as The Excellence of the 80s show Hosted by Paul Devo. Devo aka Gillespie also got his start in Brandon doing wheat kings play by play on Access 12 before moving on the CKX Sports. He eventually moved west to take on the role of Sports Director at two more CBC affiliates in the 90’s with CJFB Television in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, before moving on to CFTK Radio and Television in Terrace, British Columbia. Paul still has a passion for 80s music which he proudly features on his Excellence of the 80s show which runs Saturday night from 6 – 8 p.m.
Fans of Psychedelic rock will enjoy Psychedelic Sundays from noon – 3 p.m. With replays Sunday and Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. The program features the more eclectic sounds from bands in the rock and roll pantheon between the mid 60s and the late 70s. The show is hosted by Paul Derringer (aka McMullen) who also got his start in Brandon at KX96 in 1991. McMullen’s radio career spanned 20 years with stops in Winnipeg, Calgary and Yellowknife.
Metal fans will enjoy the Monday Night Metal Shop presented Monday evenings from 7 until 8 p.m. Hosted by Darryl “Beef” Wolski, the show includes personal selections from Beef that run the gamut from the early days of metal (late 70s / early 80s) right up to the current metal scene. Beef started radio back in the late 80s doing a similar show on 92 CITI FM, his radio career also included a stop at KX 96 a job that lasted a few years until he was let go back in 1999. But as Beef says, “He moved on to bigger and better things”
All of these former radio show hosts have a few things in common, they all once worked in Brandon where they worked together and became colleagues and long time friends, they also never lost the passion to perform through radio.
Rounding out the Spark team is Manitoba Sports legend Peter Young. Young has just agreed to bring back his “Just a Minute” Sports feature. The former CKY sports anchor and ESPN sports contributor is semi retired while working part time as a Marketing Executive for Northerners Entertainment Group LLC. Among Young’s many achievements in the sports world is something nobody can claim, he is the only broadcaster to do play by play of the WHA and NHL Jets, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Goldeyes. He’s also managed pro baseball and hockey teams. His Sports feature will start this Friday, July 3rd. Listeners of The Spark can hear Young’s sharp opinion on the Just a Minute Sports feature at 7:50 a.m, 11:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. Weekdays.