The man behind the airwaves 

Matthew McBride building small radio empire with Pemberton roots

click to enlarge Matthew McBride began airing Spud Valley Radio early this June with the song "Bud the Spud" by Stompin' Tom Connors.
  • Matthew McBride began airing Spud Valley Radio early this June with the song "Bud the Spud" by Stompin' Tom Connors.

He wanted to be a Navy diver, but fate has seen Matthew Gordon McBride swim through waves of a different kind.

McBride, 48, is the brains behind community radio stations that have begun popping up all across the province — and two of them have sprung up in the Sea to Sky corridor.

The most recent one, Spud Valley Radio, is Pemberton’s official community radio station, and has been on the air since early June, broadcasting all kinds of programming, from 1930s-era radio shows to good ol’ rock ’n’ roll.

The station hit the airwaves on June 6, 2008. Its first song? “Bud the Spud” by Stompin’ Tom Connors.

From Navy man to radio man

When asked why he loves the radio so much, McBride points to the intimacy that it has with a listener compared with other mediums.

“The problem with TV is the pictures aren’t very good in my mind, right, whereas radio’s a kind of whole fantasy world (where) you can be who you want to be, sound like you want to sound,” he says.

Comparing radio to print media, McBride says that newspapers are all about covering dead people, whereas radio is all about covering live people.

When reminded that radio also has to report on dead people, he responds, “Yeah, but we get to go dancing with the girls.”

Radio wasn’t always McBride’s main gig. Growing up in Stave Falls, British Columbia, he only ever had two dreams: work in radio or be a Navy diver. He pursued the latter dream first, leaving school early to join the Navy, doing rescue swimming and underwater hull maintenance. He served five years until he suffered a serious diving accident, effectively putting an end to his career in the armed forces.

His Navy dream dead, McBride’s comrades told him to follow his other path.

“If I was going to be a diver, I wanted to be the best diver I can be,” he says. “And in broadcasting, if I want to be a broadcaster, I want to be the best broadcaster I can be.

“That doesn’t mean I’m the best of the best, but it means this is what I can do.”

His desire to be the best took him to BCIT’s broadcast school in 1981, a program that has churned out such staples of the Vancouver broadcast scene as CBC anchor Gloria Macarenko and CTV weather anchor Tamara Taggart.


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