I live in New Brunswick, in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The Maritimes are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Just to confuse things, the Atlantic Provinces are the Maritimes, plus Newfoundland and Labrador.
CBC Weekend Mornings runs from about 5:58 AM to either 9:00 AM (Saturdays) or 8:30 AM (Sundays). I first stumbled across it late last October, and I got hooked. Its tagline is “The soundtrack to your breakfast.” That soundtrack runs the gamut from the opening strains of “O Canada,” all the way through kids’ songs, jazz, well-remembered radio jingles from the 1970s, show tunes, Acadian and Indigenous music, and so much wonderful East Coast musical talent.
But it’s so much more than that. CBC Weekend Mornings — hosted by Bill Roach, along with Shaun Ryan, Greg from Accounting (a female cat who may or may not be real), and the oft-dinged reader of the news and weather (usually Blair Sanderson) — can best be described as “immersive, audience-participatory performance art.”
What makes the program so special is that we listeners are a community. Fans of “Weekendville” (as those in the know call it) rise early together, with their radios, coffee cups, Facebook devices, and telephones within reach. During the week, the show’s answering machine captures song requests, birthday and anniversary wishes, and funny stories, and all of these find their way into the morning program.
A favourite portion of the show (AKA the bane of my existence) is the Mystery Vocalist Contest, in which one-second snippets of four songs are played. Two or three times per show, this fierce competition is announced with a flourish of horns. Contestants call in their guesses, chat with Bill, and hear either the cheers or “awwws” of the crowd. The prize for a correct guess in the Mystery Vocalist Contest is the coveted East Coaster (right), a 45-RPM-resembling coaster. (I’ve only ever seen it in photos, as I am terrible at the MVC.)
While all of this is going on, a number of listeners are typing away on the CBC Weekend Mornings Facebook page, posting photos of the view of sunrise from their kitchen tables, silly memes, asking for song titles, teasing the show personnel (“pawsonnel”?) and just generally hanging out with their friendly neighbours whom they haven’t actually met yet but share breakfast with every week.
In some ways, I feel a bit hesitant to share this little part of my life with the world. After all, what happens in Weekendville stays in Weekendville, and the cool kids are cool because there’s some exclusivity there. But when you can count on something to make you happy week after week, it deserves a blog post and a round of applause.
I never in my life thought I’d say this, but I love waking up at 5:58 AM on the weekends. Starting the days with my Weekendville family is something I look forward to all week.
If only Shaun would send some bacon and toast over this way.