I first met Richard Gale thanks to my Mom and Dad. Forty years

ago, my parents used to read in bed each night before they went to sleep.

And they weren’t alone. The old family radio kept them company. It was a

Westinghouse — multi-coloured and art deco with a clock planted right in the

middle. The dial was permanently set to the only FM station we listened to at

our house: 95.3 CKDS. The program my Mom and Dad savoured as they

turned the pages of their books was called “An Evening with Richard Gale”.

It ran weekdays from 10 to midnight, and they never missed a broadcast.

If you’re as old as I am, you’re old enough to remember that Richard

Gale brought classical music into thousands of homes each night.

Perhaps not so remarkable. Other radio hosts have done that before. But

Richard was different. He brought us the classics in the most marvelous way:

he made them come to life. His deep, dulcet voice dripped through our

radios like honey as he told the most wonderful stories about the lives

of the great composers. Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Strauss… the list

was long.

Maybe you were a fan. So many people were. Richard had about as

devoted a following as you could imagine. And he knew that in order to

engage his listeners, he had to offer them something different. So instead of

boring us with dull biographical facts, he committed a revolutionary act. He

dished the dirt. And plenty of it. Years before shows like “Entertainment

Tonight” brought celebrity gossip to the mainstream, Richard introduced his

own special brand of it on Hamilton radio. He told juicy tales of the joys and

sorrows of the musical greats. He found the skeletons in their closets and

ripped away the sheets that hid them from view. He peeked into the

darkest corners of their lives and painted a portrait that was often both

tragic and triumphant. He made those classical composers seem

human, real… just like us.

We could appreciate a Chopin nocturne a little bit more, knowing that

Chopin suffered his share of failed romances – just like we had.

We enjoyed a Mozart prelude twice as much, knowing that Mozart’s life was a

series of ups and downs – just like ours. We felt the heartbreak that

Beethoven must have felt when he discovered that he had gone deaf – just

as we had felt heartbreak in our own lives. In short, Richard helped us to see

that on one level or another we are all connected as human beings. We

share the same experiences. We laugh, we cry, we stumble, we fall, we

go on.

All these years later, part of me still finds it hard to believe that I

shared the airwaves with Richard Gale at CKDS. As a young newscaster

and reporter, I paid some very necessary dues on the night shift back in the

1980’s and 90’s. Not exactly the most exciting timeslot at a radio station. But

there was a very big perk. I had the huge privilege of doing the 10 o’clock

news each night… the prelude to “An Evening with Richard Gale”. The

newscast was ten minutes long, and when I did it well, I went home feeling

I had done something good in the world that night. I flung my

shoulders back and walked a little bit taller, a little bit more proud.

Richard was a god to me then. And twenty-five years later, he still is.

So full of warmth, wit and wonderful candour. When he turned on that

CKDS microphone, he made you feel like he was talking to you — and you

alone. And that voice. That glorious voice.

I miss it already.

Written by: Karen Cumming is a freelance writer and former CKDS/CHML/CHCH broadcaster.

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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