The true story of CFNY and Rush’s “Spirit of Radio”

Since I lived across the street from my high school, my friends and I would eat lunch at my place. That way we could play ping pong while listening to whatever new records I had just bought.

One day early in 1980, everyone came over to hear the new Rush record, Permanent Waves, which I had purchased the night before at Sam the Record Man at the Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg.

After the shrinkwrap had been opened and the needle dropped on side one track one, I started scanning the lyrics in the liner notes. At the end of the lyrics for the first song was a little footnote: “Dedicated to the Spirit of Radio, alive and well and living in Brampton so far.”

https://youtu.be/V0et3D9oQWE

Cool, I thought. It’s a song about a radio station. Wouldn’t it be cool to work there one day?

That’s exactly what happened to me, of course. In fact, I’ve been associated for the station for more than 30 years now. Who would have guessed?

Rush was cool enough to give the radio station a platinum album award that hung at CFNY for years. That record was later given to me and now hangs in my home office.

So how did Rush, a heavy prog act, come to write a song about a low-power alternative radio station that lived in a strip mall in a nondescript satellite city of Toronto? David Marsden, the architect of CFNY and its whole Spirit of Radio era, recently gave a presentation on the matter that can be found on Toronto Mike’s podcast.

(Via FYIMusicaNews)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “The true story of CFNY and Rush’s “Spirit of Radio”

  • November 5, 2019 at 5:56 pm
    Permalink

    CFNY was a station that really opened my love of music back in the 70’s.To hear a song that was longer than 3 minutes,or complete sides of an album was very mind bending and is sadly missed.

    Reply
  • January 21, 2020 at 11:00 pm
    Permalink

    Would you please post a picture of this platinum record? =D

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.