Dave has been our neighbour for close to 20 years. Neither Dave nor his wife, Karina, have aged perceptibly. It’s Luke and Spanky that remind me of the passage of time.
Luke, their son, was a toddler when they moved in. Now he’s Promotions Manager at Canadian Tire, and a few months ago found his own place. Their beagle, Spanky (named by Luke, a L’il Rascals fan as a kid) strained at the leash a dozen years ago. At the end of June she passed away. Over her last couple of years she moped along behind Dave, trailing her master by the full length of the extensible leash.
Dave’s what you’d want in a neighbour–friendly, quiet, considerate. When I encounter him (usually with Spanky in tow) he’ll remove his earbuds and we’ll exchange a few words.
Here’s what’s odd, though: It seems like everywhere I go–the butcher’s, the bulk food store, the Rec Centre–I hear Dave’s voice. It’s my neighbour, but a consistently upbeat, slightly caffeinated version.
One time, having lunch at Ping’s, I had the odd experience of listening to Dave while seeing him through a window, a block away, walking home.
Dave is, I should reveal, Dave Illman, Program Director and principal dj for BOB-FM. He’s on the air weekdays from 5:30 to Noon.
It could be you feel you know Dave: he’s my neighbour, but part of the soundtrack for a whole community.
There’s lots about Dave I didn’t know–even after 20 years. So, recently I waylaid him and invited him to cross the street and join me for a chat. My chance–and yours–to learn a little more about his background, his work-life and his off-work life. For me, a chance to answer a nagging question: Just what is he listening to on those walks?
Dave grew up in Fenelon Falls. He got an early start in radio Lindsay, back when music was on vinyl and djs messed about with turntables. It was the start of high school Co-op programs, and Dave’s placement was at the locally-owned Lindsay radio station, CKLY. He was hired on part-time afterwards.
He’d always loved music–was a drummer in a high school rock band. “The band wasn’t going anywhere,” he tells me, but radio has kept him associated with the ‘80s, ‘90s and whatever music he’s always gravitated to.
He studied Radio, Television and Film at Niagara College, and it was during that period he met Karina (a Lindsay girl).
Dave and Karina married in 1992. They moved to Lindsay, and he found full-time employment with CKLY.
Work (Dave’s A-side)
Dave may not have changed a lot, but radio has. Vinyl gave way to cds, which have been replaced by computer hard-drives. Playlists are now scheduled a few days ahead with a program called MusicMaster. Instead of local ownership, there’s a corporate structure–BOB-FM is part of the BellMedia empire (Country 105 in Peterborough is a sister station). It’s not as freewheeling as it was.
Monday to Friday, for the past dozen years, Dave’s followed the same routine. Get up at 4:15 a.m. and at work by 5:00. A scramble for the first half hour: he goes online and checks news, sports for tidbits he’ll incorporate. At 5:30 on-air with co-host Julie Corlett for Bob’s Breakfast with Dave and Julie. He cracks wise with her and they spin disks. There are guests and games. They’ve worked together for years, so their banter has a relaxed, comfortable feel.
Always upbeat. Dave explains, “Sometimes it’s a bit of self-therapy. It may not be the best morning, but when you turn on the microphone . . . we’re lovin’ it.”
The breakfast show over, he grabs a quick lunch, then continues with his own show until Noon.
After going off-air, as program director he has administrative responsibilities. He programs coming days, has meetings, voices local commercials.
Outside regular hours he’s often called on to emcee community events including fundraisers for Women’s Resources, United Way and others. For Big Brothers/ Big Sisters alone there can be four or five events annually.
All of that–and the guests he and Julie bring in–have left him feeling very connected to his community, and with a deep appreciation of all the dedicated volunteers contributing to our collective well-being.
Off-work (Dave’s B-side)
Off-work there’s more work. A few years ago Dave bought a business that provides show prep to radio stations. Roughly a hundred stations from as far away as Australia pay monthly fees for the subscription service. Karina helps with research. (She also operates “Karina’s Creations,” employing a sublimation printer to add custom designs to everything from mugs to rubber jar openers and tea towels).
It’s not all work, though. Almost every winter since the ‘80s he’s played hockey in an Ops Saturday night league Ops. (Players range in age from 14 to 60; at one point Luke was in the league, too).
Then there have been the hour-long dog-walks with Spanky. He picks up the pace by walking a dog for another neighbour, who has limited mobility after a fall. When he has a need for even more speed, he cycles local roads and trails. He’s registered for the August 24th Kawartha Cycling Classic’s 50 km route.
And the Play-list?
My final question: What’s coming through those earbuds? He’s a genuine fan of what the BOB-FM music but goes deeper into the catalogue of favourite artists–the complete Aerosmith, the complete Van Halen.