When Durham region Conservative Party MP Erin O’Toole rises in the House of Parliament to pay tribute to your accomplishments, you must have done something right. And this was the accolade paid to legendary deejay David Marsden who recently ended an 11-year stint as a weekend host on Oshawa’s CKGE 94.9 The Rock radio station. Yes the same deejay who pioneered The Spirit of Radio concept at Toronto area radio station CFNY in the early Eighties, who reshaped formats at Vancouver’s Coast 104 FM in the Nineties and while, at CFNY, established the CASBY Awards as an awards program which recognized achievements by indie and alternative recording artists.
Seeing that his tenure at the Rock was coming to an end, Marsden accelerated his efforts to introduce a new on-line radio format NY The Spirit .com which was launched September 1st 2014,to showcase the great music of the 80s and promote new music being released by those artists. Also material that does not fall into established formats.
Depressed by the state of contemporary FM radio, Marsden, who had forged a career revamping formats and actively promoting new music, joined forces with Igor Loukine to create a subscription-based digital format which boasts live disc jockeys that are free to format their own shows with a guarantee never to play the same track twice in a 24-hour cycle.
“I had been talking with Igor about this idea for about 18 months,” explained Marsden as he and Loukine met with Music Express at a Liberty Village pub in Toronto to discuss their new project. “Initially, I had no idea my two shows at The Rock were coming to an end but in October I was advised the station was evolving and that my shows no longer fit their format so that was that. No regrets though, I had 11 terrific years at 94.9, it just meant we had to speed up the process to launch NY the Spirit.”
Recorded in a studio at Marsden’s home residence and featuring shows by Marsden, Ivar Hamilton, Rob Stuart and Don Berns, Marsden describes NY The Spirit as a place you can hear music that is rarely accessible anywhere else. “It’s primarily targeted at 80’s music fans who also want to hear new tracks by these artists,” Marsden explained. “For example I love the new Simple Minds’ album and we’ve programmed six tracks off the record, same with the new Depeche Mode record. No show by any of the deejays is going to be the same, there are no pre-conceived playlists, and they can play whatever they want.”
“At a time when kids can create their own playlists on their iPods, it becomes an even bigger task to reach an audience but we are committed to providing an outlet to expose new music by established artists. NYTheSpirit.com is a carefully currated music stream.”
Playing new music to a new audience is nothing new to Marsden. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, he introduced North America to the likes of Depeche Mode, OMD and even Duran Duran via Brampton area radio station, CFNY – coining the phrase “The Spirit Of Radio” while at the same time providing valuable exposure to domestic talent like FM, The Spoons, Blue Peter, Images In Vogue and The Bare Naked Ladies. “We played the music, the fans caught on and they made that music powerful,” he noted.[quote]To me, radio was always about personality, it is the one thing that made each radio station unique[/quote]
“To me, radio was always about personality, it is the one thing that made each radio station unique,” noted Marsden. “You may have two or three people playing the same music but they each have to insert their own personality into the format. It was this approach which made CFNY so special back in the day.”
For a dyed-in-the-wool radio disc jockey, it is difficult for David Marsden to accept that personality is a lost element of contemporary radio but he draws on an analogy to show how formats can change and progress.
“When I was at CKGM in Montreal in the late 60’s FM radio was virtually none existent,” explained Marsden. “No car radios or transistor radios had an FM band. AM radio was the big money maker, FM was considered ‘little old ladies music’, the tuners for FM radio were the size of a Volkswagen. Then the Beatles’ released Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 and people realized you could use two ears to listen to music and that FM would be ideal for this format.”
“So a bunch of folks at CKGM, tried to convince the owner Geoff Stirling to let them program rock music on the FM band and so on one Sunday night he let us play the entire second side of the Beatles’ Abbey Road LP because it ran together like one continuous song.
“Stirling was nervous, he hired extra security for the station because he thought his action would trigger a riot, and he had extra people on the switchboard expecting to be flooded with complaints. But the record played and they received a total of two phone calls, both raving about the format change. So from that point on, we were allowed to program rock music overnights on Saturday and Sunday and FM music took off from that point.
“Now of course, FM music is the big money earner and AM radio barely exists, but it proves my point that formats can change,” concluded Marsden. “Now music is available in so many different platforms, including receiving it on your computer, your cell phone, I-Pad, WiFI speakers and more – those people who are saying that a digital format will never work, just look at how drastic the music landscape has changed recently. We do believe NY The Spirit.com is one part of the future and I personally am looking forward to a new challenge. I believe we must include all the platforms available, when it comes to sharing the great music.”
For those interested in checking out Marsden’s new service you can log on to