The Return of Atlantic Canada’s Longest Running Heavy Metal Radio Show
Music fanatic Chris Waddell grew up listening to CHSR FM on the cusp of campus radio’s last major heyday. Before the Nirvana craze opened the ears of a new generation to the beauty of heavy music and flooded the airwaves with distorted guitars, campus radio was the only place to hear music that didn’t include clap tracks and highly gated snare drums on the regular. Best of all, if you had a band and could manage to create a recording of any quality, there was a good chance campus radio would play it.
“No matter how poor the quality,” points out Chris Waddell, the station’s current music director and host of the recently resurrected, Crazy Train. “When I put my first band together in Grade 8, I knew CHSR was the only station that would probably play our ghetto-blaster recorded demo tapes. And they did!”
While programs like CHSR’s late 80s punk show, Institutionalized, helped shape the city’s music underground for years to come and provided a vital resource for fans of punk and hardcore back in the days before downloading music existed, few programs garnered a listening audience like the Crazy Train. That show was an institution.
“Like many kids around town, I grew up listening to the Crazy Train,” said Waddell. “The show introduced me to so many bands that had a major impact on my life and direction as a musician. I’m very, very appreciative of CHSR being there for all this time, not only for the Crazy Train, but many other shows like the Chickle Pickin’ Show, Institutionalized, Atomic Cafe and the Lunchbox to name a few. I moved to Vancouver in 1994 and when I got back in 2011, it was just a shock to find the Crazy Train no longer running. The station has many fine Metal and Hard Rock shows but the Crazy Train was like a staple show. It was always there, you know?”
So what does a die-hard metal fan do when he returns home to find the sonic pipeline of his youth no longer corrupting city the ears of music lovers? He saddles that horse himself. And with the encouragement of station manager Tim Rayne, that’s exactly what Waddell did earlier this year
“A lot has changed since I did a show back in 1994,” he admitted. “There was a definite learning curb figuring out the editing software, doing show I.D.s and getting the podcast uploaded. But we’ve got the train back on the rails and it looks like smooth sailing ahead. I was very fortunate to get the show’s original timeslot, which was from 6-8 on Saturday nights. Some later hosts had a three-hour show but I find two hours is just enough to accomplish what we’re doing.”
The Crazy Train began its original run in 1983 with host Andre Faust. Although it experienced a number of host change-ups over the years, the show grew to become Atlantic Canada’s longest running Heavy Metal radio program, reaching roughly 20 consecutive years of power-chord and head-banging goodness. Now back on the air, Waddell hopes to keep the show true to form while putting his own spin on the programming.
“The original show played Heavy Metal of all genres from all over the world,” said Waddell. “The show we’re doing now is two hours. The first hour of the show is dedicated solely to Canadian independent Heavy Metal acts of all genres and the other hour is global Metal, contests, interviews and requests.”
Together with his co-host Steve “The Buzz Man” Dunnett, who occasionally co-hosted the program in the early years and hosted a show of his own, Waddell has reconnected the Crazy Train with many of the program’s past listeners and is well on his way to establishing the show as a resource and promotional outlet for the city’s growing Metal underground.
“The feedback has been fantastic,” he said. “People are really happy the show is back. I’ve had a lot of Facebook messages from old fans of the show and a lot of new ones too. I think it’s great to be able to help out all the new Metal bands that are in the same boat I was in at their age. I’m about to start a poster campaign to let the middle and high school kids know about the show. I want them to know they have a station where they can listen to heavy music.”
Waddell was part of the original influx of Metal bands that sprung up in Fredericton and Oromocto back in the late 80s and early 90s. From his first band, K.G Wolfe, to his last group, Wasteland Zombies, Waddell and his band mates helped introduce the growing popularity of heavy music to local bar owners and helped bring an end to the cover-band culture that reigned supreme in Fredericton for far too long. And according to Waddell, the city’s Metal scene of today has never looked so good.
“This city and surrounding area has so many brilliant and talented heavy acts, it really, really makes me proud. To come from an age when we brought Heavy Metal into the bars and to see the legacy is now flourishing, it’s really a great thing to hear and see. With bands like Hero’s Last Rite, Hard Charger, Spinesplitter, just to name a few, leading the way and really taking not only this city by storm but every city they play, I see great things for the Metal community in Fredericton.”
Listen to the Crazy Train, Saturdays from 6-8 on CHSR FM.