Monday, June 9, 2014

The National Magazine Award Winning Historicist

We did it...

Being nominated for a National Magazine Award for a second year in a row was a great honour, providing recognition for all the hard work Kevin Plummer, David Wencer, and I put into Historicist each week. But looking at a field in the Blogs category which included major publications (Maclean's) and excellent, long-established writers (The Grid's Edward Keenan), I figured I was simply going to enjoy a nice night out with colleagues.

First, Torontoist's city hall coverage (featuring the talents of Hamutal Dotan, David Hains, Steve Munro, Christopher Bird, and Desmond Cole) tied for a Silver award in Blogs. A whoop went up from our table. This felt good - recognition for the site's mighty fine analysis and reporting on the circus at Nathan Philips Square. 

And then Gold was announced...

"Stunned" is an understatement. It's hard to define what my body experienced at that moment. If it were a mixed drink, you'd shake together shock, amazement, and euphoria. Especially since this news occurred at the end of a trying week. I wished the others were on hand, so that all three of us could go onstage to collect the award.

Photo by Dale Duncan.
But it was just me, so up I went. As one of my editors told me, I accepted the award, started to walk off, then realized I could give a speech. Mind blanking, I briefly thanked everyone, said something about telling Toronto's past stories -- can't remember if it was thanking the audience for reading them or promising to bring more in the future -- then wandered off.

One of our editors promised to keep reminding me about what just happened every few minutes. 

Emailed Kevin and David with the good news. Texted close friends. Called Mom and my sister. Amy said I "sounded giddy." I remained so for the rest of the night, my body being in a state I've heard others describe while high.


There were two influential people in my writing career I was happy to see carry award envelopes Friday night. Representing Western Living magazine was Anicka Quin, who was the first editor-in-chief I worked under at The Ontarion. The atmosphere and opportunities she provided that year (1997/98) lit the idea in my head that someday, if circumstances were right, I could be a writer. In terms of Historicist, David Topping (who won for work at The Grid) has to be credited for his help as Torontoist EIC in launching the column six years ago, and for encouraging plenty of work on various sites since then. Thanks to both of you for your guidance then and now -- really appreciated.

Thanks to Hamutal Dotan, for her ongoing support and suggesting many ideas over the past few years that have turned into some of my favourite pieces. And for encouraging gratuitous use of archival photos of diving horses

Thanks to you, our readers, for showing there's plenty of interest in Toronto history.

And, most of all, thanks to Kevin and David. It's an honour to co-write the column with you guys. We've shared a lot of stories over the years, and look forward to future tales. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You're Listening to CFRU, 93.3 FM in Guelph...

PREFACE: Scrolling through Facebook recently, a friend posted a link to a two-decade old video promoting CFRU, the University of Guelph's campus radio station. Based on the date, it was shot around the time of my first spell in a space I knew very well by the time I left the Royal City. Memories good and bad flooded back.

A great topic to write about, right?

Except that I already had. A Google search showed I wrote a lengthy piece about my days at CFRU five years ago, marking the 10th anniversary of the final edition of my weekly music show. Which is now almost 15 years ago. Which is alternately amazing (wow, those 15 years flew by fast!) or frightening (15 years ago? HOLY SH*T!)

So, here's a compromise. Most of what follows is the post from five years ago, with additional images and stories.