Winnipeg’s Wizard of Turntables

Tom forwarded this piece from the Free Press about an 88 year-old Winnipeg man who can fix damn near any record player (even my ancient and beloved Akai (picture above) c. 1977.

Bill Yaworski, 81, isn’t afraid of needles.

In 1988, Yaworski got a phone call from a person associated with Eaton’s. The fellow told Yaworski the Canadian retailer was getting out of the turntable business, now that compact disc players were rendering the components obsolete. He wanted to know if Yaworski, owner of Columbus Radio — an electronics repair depot specializing in home stereo equipment, was interested in purchasing the chain’s remaining supply of needles — a reserve numbering in the thousands.

Yaworski had one question: “How much?”

“Everybody thought I was crazy; they told me I’d be stuck with ’em for the rest of my life,” says Yaworski, who, in his white smock, pale-blue dress shirt and grey slacks, looks more like a physician than an electrician. “Now there’s hardly a day that goes by when somebody doesn’t come in here with an old record player, wondering if we have the right needle.”

As if on cue, a 31-year-old, first-time customer named Michael walks through the doors at 1151 Sanford St., with a 1970s-era Philips turntable tucked under his arm. It used to belong to his grandmother, Michael explains, but he wants to get it going as a surprise for his mother, who told him it had been years since she sat down and listened to her LPs.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

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