I got my first radio when I was four. My father showed me how it worked, then tuned it to a Classical radio station and marked the station on the dial with a permanent marker, so I’d always know where to find it. But within about a minute I’d discovered the local AM Rock ‘n Roll station, and there was no going back.
If you don’t recognize these, These are CHUM Charts. 1050 CHUM AM was a Toronto radio station—supposedly Canada’s first rock ‘n roll station, one of the longest running, and my first radio station. At a certain point it became uncool to listen to CHUM AM, as the more cutting edge stuff was being played on its sister station, CHUM FM, but for several years CHUM AM was transistor radio heaven. 1050 AM was eventually put to rest in 2009 after various incarnations, but during my childhood it was something of a cultural phenomenon in Toronto, not only playing the latest hits, but also hosting concerts and other events. For many years (starting in the ’50s, long before my time) they published a free, weekly pocket-sized Top 30 list, based on Canadian record sales, airplay and listener requests—the now famous CHUM Charts.
CHUM Charts were free in record stores and other locations, including our local Five and Dime that had a wall of 45s for sale (I’m not going to explain what those are for the young’un’s… you can look it up). I was obsessed with CHUM Charts. Every Saturday I couldn’t wait to head down to the store, not to spend my allowance on candy, like my brothers, but to get the latest CHUM Chart, hot off the presses. It somehow seemed really important to know that, for the week of June 22, 1974, the number one song was “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” by Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods.
Apparently, my musical trivia collection/obsession awarded me the status of some kind of Super Star:
I vaguely recall getting this button at an event at the C.N.E., some kind of contest or something, but I have no idea now what I did to get it, or why it has my zodiac sign on it. I wasn’t just any Super Star—I was a Cancerian Super Star. Huh…
Maybe I was…while I can’t remember my own postal code now, I can still remember all the lyrics to all the songs in these charts. Even some I really should forget.