Just Listenin’ to the Radio

Posted on September 22, 2018 under Storytelling with 23 comments

Joe Chesal and Gerard MacDonald

So long Joe and Gerard. Thanks for the memories.

(This story was first published in 2013)


Real men don’t eat quiche.  But they do make their own dough.  No, not that kind of dough.   I’m talking dough that turns into real, home-made bread.   It is Saturday morning.  My beleaguered wife is a tax preparer and while she slaves away seven days a week during the initial rush, I take over the domestic chores.  The first load of laundry is on the go.  Ditto for the spaghetti sauce.  Love letting it sit all day in the slow cooker.  And just last week I dusted off an old recipe and have decided to make my own bread.

I flick on the local radio station just as I am kneading the bread for the first time.  On any given Saturday you will get either Joe or Gerard as your host.  These guys have been at the helm since around the time of Adam and Eve.  And they are old pros at their craft.  I don’t know their ages for sure but I’m guessing they are my vintage because they happen to play the music that I grew up with.  As I wait for the bread to rise, I grab a coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle and settle in, with “Take it to the Limit” by The Eagles playing in the background.

If you want to feel the rhythm of a small town, turn on the radio on a Saturday morning while you’re doing your chores.  It is a pleasant mixture of music, news, local events and announcements.  Nowhere else but in small town Canada will you hear that bingo has been cancelled due to a death in the community.  They must sell a lot of cars on a Saturday because invariably there’s a live feed from one of the car dealerships.  And then I hear the Dave Clark 5 pounding out the lyrics to “Glad All Over”.

No Saturday would be complete without the buy and sell segment.   And when spring rolls around, my wife and her ilk wait breathlessly to hear about the yard sales.  Only in a small town would you get the “lost dogs” report.  Spencer Davis belts out “Gimme Some Lovin’”.

Is the entire globe fixated on weather?   Back when I was growing up, weather just happened.  You knew there was bad weather by looking out your window.  Nowadays, it appears to be an obsession.   And despite all of the sophisticated weather tracking devices, my arthritic knee is the best gauge of all.  Just after the umpteenth weather report, the Beach Boys ramp things up with “Help Me Rhonda”.

One thing is absolutely certain on a Saturday morning.  You’re not likely to hear any rap music.  Joe and Gerard just don’t seem to be rapper kind of guys.

As I’m taking the bread out of the oven, Anne Murray is crooning that old favorite “You Needed Me”.   I look at the bread and the bread stares back at me as if to say “You kneaded me”.  Is there anything better than warm bread just out of the oven?

Yes.  Joe and Gerard.  Like an old pair of slippers; familiar and comfortable.

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23 Responses to Just Listenin’ to the Radio

  1. Brenda Rose says:

    As you probably know, I am a CBC person and because of this I never heard these two on our local radio station. However, after reading the outpouring of grief and anger on various Facebook pages that followed their dismissal I am wondering how such local treasures could have been cast aside. Everyone knows why – the ever-evil ‘cost-cutting measures’ – but this particular dismissal, especially after reading your tribute to them (albeit written some years ago) feels to me like XFM knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  2. The two of you were the backbone of CJFX!
    You two worked ALL the unwanted shifts and played music that MOST listeners wanted to hear!!!

  3. Chistina says:

    I will miss both of these guys! Thank you for writing this!

  4. Great story Len They will be missed!!

  5. Sad time for all 98.9. Listeners. You will be missed beyond words. My favorite time for radio listening was when either of them were broadcasting.

  6. Music makes the world go round. Joe and Gerard not only anchored the weekend Antigonish music world for us, but kept us in touch with the rhythms of our community. Looks like we’re spinning out of control now. Sad.

  7. This is very upsetting, to say the least!

  8. So sad things have to be this way. Times are changing. So sad.

  9. Bernice Grant says:

    Not addicted to CJFX.NEVER really dial in except on Saturday mornings. Absolutely. Loved Saturday morning broadcast— Joe and Gerard. Saturday morning is very quiet in this house now. It is the I-pad or a book that has taken over. NO MORE CJFX. Will certainly miss you guys and you’re great shows. Sad times!!

  10. Miriam Gillis says:

    There are many people who turn in to listen to CJFX because of Joe and Gerard. To let these two very talented and knowledgeable gentlemen go is very, very shortsighted!!! I was blindsided when I heard that they would no longer be on the staff at CJFX. This is very sad news for the Antigonish community.

  11. Cecile MacEachern says:

    Great story Len, thanks for sharing! I too loved the music that both Joe & Gerard played!! They will both be greatly missed Very sad news indeed!!

  12. Joanne MacKenzie says:

    Loved this story and sure can relate to it. The loss is so real. It is so difficult to find good listening on the radio and now our local station has robbed us of the joys of Saturday AM excellent programming.

  13. This is very sad. Joe said they were fired. Does anyone know why???

  14. Bernice Smith says:

    Saturday and Sunday mornings listening to Joe and Gerard were so enjoyable cause they played my kind of music. Such a sad situation. The Hawk has a new listener from now on.

  15. Bunny Brosha says:

    I totally agree Henriette

  16. Joanie says:

    Very sad news . The Comments I read were that they were fired . If it was a money issue we would be reading a different story and 98.9 is not talking about it . Small town. Truth will come out sooner or later .

  17. Miss them too not the same without them

  18. Alena Wilgenhof says:

    Who makes these decisions? This was a bad one. Is it too late to fix it?

  19. Lelia Machnik says:

    I too feel this was a very poor decision . These men took all the early, graveyard shifts . They were a pleasure to listen to on Sat and Sun mornings . Is this the way we treat loyal service ? We talk about bullying in the schools and media devices . I think this is bullying in the workplace . I hope people in Antigonish will address this POOR DECISION .

  20. This is a big mistake. Their programs are a gift to the community. I would urge @989XFM to reverse this decision. I believe their phone number is 902 863 4580. And a petition should be started. Might sound over the top here, but my biggest concern are those aging in the community who are slipping into Alzheimer’s or early stages of dementia. A long running program like this can ground a lister and bring so much comfort. Cuts should be made elsewhere to preserve what these two worked so hard to build.

  21. Truth Teller says:

    There are two sides to every story, this coming from someone who knows the situation.

    An inappropriate email was sent by Gerard MacDonald to Joe Chesal, and Joe Chesal forwarded it to other staff members.

    When Gerard Mac Donald and Joe Chesal found themselves removed from the schedule, they showed up at the studio and caused a scene in front of all the employees.

    Information like this should not get out, but there are two sides to every story.

  22. Marsha Wright says:

    Finally the truth is coming out. They were not fired, they were not put on the schedule to report to work because of inappropriate emails and Facebook comments. These two “people” (can’t call them men) have been spreading malicious lies and hurting the reputation of our wonderful local radio station, 989XFM. Shame on these two people for their actions and for the terrible lies they are spreading. Truth always prevails. Love our radio station, thank you to the music person who selects all the great songs I enjoy so much, especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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