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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Psychogeographic Psychedelic Psundays

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When I was getting to know Toronto 7 years ago I went for long walks at various times, but my favorite (even today) are 3-4-5 hour-long Sunday afternoon strolls through the city. Sundays are made for these kinds of drifts as that vaguely depressed Sunday-feeling (maybe a Protestant hangover from when everything was closed and fun was not allowed) is made for wandering. Some people fill up their Sundays with brunch (the best way to ruin an entire day) but I’d rather cut meandering or diagonal paths through the city accompanied by Q107’s Psychedelic Psunday program, which I wrote about as a Detail in the current Eye Weekly:

Commercial radio stations in Toronto tend to have tight and repetitious playlists, but that all changes once a week during Q107’s “Psychedelic Psunday” program. Hosted by the avuncular Andy Frost — who does double duty as the Air Canada Centre public address announcer during Leaf games — he and listeners share bits of Toronto rock lore in between songs recorded from 1965-1975. It is as close as we can get on mainstream stations to the free, anything-goes spirit of the early days of progressive FM radio, where seldom-played album cuts could be heard along with familiar classic rock anthems.

It really is a lovely program, in a rather surprising place. It can be, as many Baby Boomer enterprises are, a bit nostalgic at times, but I’ve heard many songs on this program that I had not heard before, and it’s nice listening to people from around Toronto call in talk. Coupled with pleasant Mr. Frost, who has a soothing soundtrack of wind chimes playing while he ‘s talking, it sort of nudges the drift along through the city. The playlist is so much deeper than the usual classic rock fare — I think it must have something to do with the thousands of aging liberal American Vietnam draft dodgers who made Toronto their home who demand a little more of their station than listeners did at the Detroit classic rock station I grew up listening to. Another good thing about Psychedelic Psundays is there isn’t the annoying Toronto Sun style working-class-neo-conservatism that “The Mighty Q” often pumps out via “straight talking” DJs — it’s the contradiction I’ve never really understood, but it seems to connect with a lot of people. Even the “beloved” Canadian icon and afternoon host Kim Mitchell lost me one day a few months ago when he ranted against the St. Clair ROW saying it was too much of a hardship for Forest Hill drivers trying to get home “who pay enough taxes.” I’ve boycotted Patio Laterns ever since.

If you’ve got earphones and a portable device with a tuner (harder to come by in the iPod era) try going for a walk this or some Sunday with this program which fits so well with Toronto geography. It’s also nice to listen to a geographically connected terrestrial station instead of an iPod or satellite radio, which aren’t really rooted anywhere specific.



  1. You didn’t happen to grow up listening to WRIF “THE RIF” (“Listen to The Rif. BABY!!”)did you? I sure did…

  2. Sometimes you can find a good radio station that fits the geography – Chicago, I found, had a really good station that did that for me when I was there, it’s called “The Drive” – classic rock, I find, fits a big city wanderings so well.

    Psychedelic Psundays is another, though like you, I generally dislike the station at other times, especially Derringer, who seems such a Rosie DiManno or a Sun columnist in his rantings.

    Most MP3 cellphones have an FM tuner now, so it’s not that bad, it also makes me happy that CBC switched to FM back when, as it’s hard to get a portable AM playing gadget.

  3. Just about everything in the MP3 market *but* Apple’s iPod has an FM tuner in it, it seems.

  4. Do you take tag-alongs on your walks? 🙂