- Become a Member
- About Co-op
- Contact Us
Main & Hastings: 33 years on … the air
Don Larson waits in the Co-op Radio lobby with a handful of newspaper clippings and a brochure of the coming Heart of the City Festival, waiting for Mark Bignell to finish operating the She-Boom program. "He never lets me in until right at ," he says.
Nothing in his relaxed attitude indicates that this is a special day for him. Election Day, to be sure, but also the 33rd anniversary of the debut of Main & Hastings. The show began in mid-October of 1982, then only half an hour long every other Thursday, with several denizens of the Downtown East Side taking part as well as Larson. "There were three or four of us at one time," Larson says. "The rest all sort of left one by one. I liked it and I stayed."
Larson was a volunteer at Carnegie Centre, and organizer of the campaign to create the CRAB waterfront park, when Centre administrator Susan Gordon came to him with a proposal she had received from Co-op Radio, still only seven years old and based in Pigeon Park. "They needed a Downown East Side show," he says. "I guess they felt a little guilty about not having one, since they were in the DTES." We ended up with two: Main & Hastings and East Side Story, now each an hour long, running on alternate Mondays.
strikes and Bignell starts the show's theme, Orange Blossom Special. Larson enters Control Room A, and after the theme ends, chats with Bignell: Larson always laid back, Bignell sometimes bursting into bombastic enthusiasm. After a few minutes of chatting, they play a musical selection -- something political, because it's Election Day. "We've always been a variety show," Larson says. "We've never done just one thing. Once we had Harry Rankin (as guest). He thought he'd have the whole hour; we had him on for maybe five minutes."
Guests aren't a regular feature on Main & Hastings, but Larson can remember a few. One was an activist protesting the killing of B.C.'s wolves; Larson can't recall his name, but he remembers the two live wolves he brought along. "They just climbed up the stairs (of the Pigeon Park studios) and sat under the table," he says. On the air, Larson begins reading from the clippings and press releases he brought. His and Bignell's announcements of upcoming events are very laid back. ("When is this happening?" "I don't know... oh, here it is: October 24th.")
Although Main & Hastings was conceived for Downtown East Side listeners, its audience is now "really mixed," Larson says. "The word got around to many different types of people. And now that we're on the World-Wide Web, it's changed who's listening." But Larson isn't foreseeing any major changes in the program, and as for what he'd like in an audience, his answer is simple: "More."
Larson was 36 when Main & Hastings debuted, and is now six months away from his 70th birthday. "I've enjoyed every minute," he says.
What's Going On
Co-op Radio's commitment to providing a broadcast platform for underrepresented language groups was recognized and rewarded Nov. 20 at the B.C. Multicultural Awards Event at the Hotel Vancouver.