CJSW Profile: Halfway Home

Walter Porochnuk has been an active part in the Calgary music scene for a while now. He’s played at clubs and pubs across Calgary as DJ Wah, including a stint DJing ThursDen. He’s also been involved with CJSW for decades in various capacities, and is currently hosting Halfway Home.

Gauntlet: How did you get involved with CJSW?

Walter Porochnuk: Randomly. I was in the first half of my first year of university and I walked in the door and discovered the place.

G: And then you just ended up with a show? How did it happen?

WP: Not right away. I was just hanging out like some geeky 17-year-old and I eventually was asked by the program director, “Are you going to do something or what?” and then I was given a show.

G: What’s the theme of Halfway Home?

WP: Well, I don’t know. I sort of live in the arcane. I entertain what seems to be an awful lot of calls, so it’s listener supported, which is great. If people want to hear something I’ll try and help them out and play it. The show is sort of in a driving slot, a lot of people are in their cars and other people are still in their offices. It’s just a really good slot.

G: What are your favourites right now? What are you listening to?

WP: I wish I could give you something, but the coolest music right now to listen to is the music that the 18-year-old on the bus is listening to. I’m really happy to live off the suggestions of other people. The best part is talking to young people and young volunteers here, because they pick things up.

When I first started, I knew almost nothing of what you would call alternative music. My musical knowledge was severely restricted to what was on AM radio in the late-seventies. You weren’t here but, Calgary AM radio in the late ’70s wasn’t exactly what you’d call adventurous.

G: So you just listen to what other people are into to broaden your horizons?

WP: Yah, that too. I’ve also spent some time downtown, because I’ve also been a working DJ for quite a while. As far as it goes for people saying, “Have you heard the new this or the new that?” That’s just a great way for me to figure out what people want to listen to. It helps that our playlist system here is really good and our program department is really good. They bring in hundreds of CDs.

G: Do you find there is more freedom doing a radio show than being downtown?

WP: Half and half– it depends who you are working for. When you are getting paid, you are beholden to who you are working for. But I’ve always been pretty lucky in that wherever I’ve been working, it’s been up to me to play the kind of music I like. And with the radio, we are kind of bound by various government regulations and things like that– it’s not as wild as you might imagine– but it can be equally rewarding to have 800 people going nuts in club. At the same time, having someone phone in and say, “I haven’t heard this in 10 years, this is fantastic,” pretty much gives you the same buzz.

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