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R.I.P. May 24, 2015 ROB STEWART (cancer, age 62), best remembered in music circles as the producer & host, from 1976-82, of influential weekly radio program 'British Airwaves' at pioneering Canadian college radio station CKCU-FM in Ottawa; considered by many to be 'The John Peel' of Canadian radio, Rob featured all the historic & latest sounds out of Britain at a time when North American access to new overseas trends was limited to import copies of UK music weeklies & expensive record imports (to which Rob devoted a substantial portion of his disposable income!); he made Monday nights destination listening for the alternative music community in Canada's capital & turned the extract of Gary Moore's "Grinding Stone" that he used as his theme music into an instantly recognizable brain worm; an unassuming & amiable interviewer, Rob numbered among his coups an early taped conversation with the fledgling U2 on their first ever North American foray; he was most fond of championing cult artists (the Stiff Records roster was a particular fave from day one) & shining light for listeners on the most obscure but rewarding musical corners & connections; in 1978, Rob also served as co-host & mentor of 'No Future Now' (Canada's first specialty program devoted to punk & new wave music) - until a certain rookie host/producer found his sea legs & was able to sail that ship solo; Rob left Ottawa in 1982 to pursue an Information Technology career in Toronto, returning to civilian life as a music fan & bringing with him a vinyl music collection that would be the envy of any British archival institution...
On a personal note, behind the public veneer of the above, Rob was one of the most kind, decent & good natured human beings on this planet, and a great friend. It was my devotion to his radio program as a listener that inspired me, as a rather shy 19-year-old, to approach CKCU management with the idea for 'No Future Now', & I was both awed & thrilled when they paired me up with Rob as a mentor to get the show launched. I have so many fond memories of sharing musical explorations, passions, minutia, as well as fervent debates & arguments with Rob as we developed a friendship that transcended the decades. For me, he will always be "Robbie", just as I was always "Rockit" to him.
(Note: I was given the incredible honour of being asked by Rob's immediate family to prepare background music to be aired during Rob's wake. The songs currently posted to Reverb Nation are samples from my 2-hour, 46-song, thematic tribute to Rob & 'British Airwaves'.)
ROCON COMMUNICATIONS principal ROCH PARISIEN believes that all the world’s problems have a musical solution. Devouring music since a precocious age, he has invested what would amount to the Gross National Product of several small countries into his music collection. His long-suffering wife Sylvie is not convinced this is a good thing.
Roch adopted the adage that “those who can’t do, teach…and those who can’t do or teach, critique.” Devoid of any innate ability for creating music himself, he thrives on assessing the work of others, having served on juries for the Junos, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, the Polaris Music Prize, the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and the Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards, as well as on countless conference panels.
Where does he get off on this? Well, Roch began his career in music while still in his teens at Ottawa's CKCU-FM campus radio station where he created and hosted many specialty music programs, including the legendary NO FUTURE NOW – Canada's (possibly North America's) first punk rock music specialty show.
He launched ROCON COMMUNICATIONS in 1991 to serve as an umbrella organization for his music business activities. This included freelancing for a major daily newspaper (The Ottawa Citizen) and becoming a pioneer of music journalism on the Internet (via Compuserve Information Service and Rocknet Music Forums). His reviews are laced throughout the various print and online editions of the All-Music Guide and have been copied to every online music vending site on the Web.
He co-hosted music programs on local TV in Ottawa ('Soundtrack') and produced a radio special for the CBC. And he has worked with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Archives of Canada to evaluate and develop their collections of popular music artifacts.
For 13 years, via Rocon Communications, Roch produced and programmed the Folk/Roots Channel for national digital music network Galaxie owned by Stingray Digital Group of Montreal.
Currently, he's experimenting with music journalism and concert photography using social media, via his Rocon Communications music chat page on Facebook (home of daily music history & 'The Facebook Music Interviews' series).
His writing and production work have earned him three international music journalism awards.His broad knowledge puts him in demand as a consultant, commentator, juror and panelist, and he does his very best to have an opinion on just about anything and everything. In his ample spare time, he also co-leads communications planning and editorial services firm Consult Ink Limited.
Give him a world problem to solve, and he will assemble the perfect set list for the occasion.