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30 years of rocking out at CFMU

30 years of rocking out at CFMU

For the last three decades late-night radio listeners in the Bay area have been entertained by the sounds of roots, rock, blues and rhythm and blues from Chicago, New Orleans and Motown.

Mr. Pointy Shoes, hosted by former Burlington Post Sunday editor Dennis Smith, is celebrating its 30th anniversary on McMaster University’s CFMU-FM, 93.3.  

To celebrate the anniversary, in between records, Smith has been recalling the major news events of the last 30 years in five-year segments. The show airs from 11 p.m. until midnight every Tuesday night.

“The New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, one night I was working in 1994,” Smith said. “Mark Messier had guaranteed fans a victory and he delivered.”

Smith recalls gas selling for 51.6 cents a litre in the late 1990s, less than half the price it is going for now.

“I bought a detached, storey-and-a-half house on Baker Street in Hamilton in 1991 for $119,000,” he said. “Recently I saw one on the same street advertised for $700,000.”

Mr. Pointy Shoes first emanated from Hamilton Hall on the McMaster campus, then moved to the Students Centre after it opened in the early 2000s. Smith says he chose the name Mr. Pointy Shoes because he plays the kind of music people wearing pointy shoes would play!

During the pandemic, the broadcast has been based in the Smiths’ Burlington home with wife Nancy serving as producer.

The couple purchased a turntable and now play selections from the approximately 2,000 albums they have. That’s in addition to 500 CDs and 500 cassette tapes.

 “I like to think of it as our World Headquarters in west Burlington!” he said.

Nancy, who normally works as a speech pathologist, had no previous experience in radio but was well versed in technology. Smith’s resume is limited to one course in broadcasting when he was studying journalism at Ryerson in the 1970s.

“I love music,” he said. “Over the years I’ve been energized by meeting people at the station who are music geeks and very keen about their show.”

Taxi drivers in Hamilton dial up the program on their late night shifts and Mac students are regular listeners. Although CFMU-FM’s frequency is not one of the highest, Smith got a call one night from Oswego, N.Y.  

Podcasts of previous shows are available on the website of CFMU-FM, 93.3. The station has been on the air since 1963, the same year McMaster became Canada’s first intercollegiate hockey champion.

It began broadcasting on the FM ban in 1978

Here’s a sample of a playlist Smith created 20 years ago.

MR. POINTY SHOES TOP 5 SONGS OF THE MILENNIUM – DEC. 21/99

1 – Life Ain’t Nothin’ But A Party – B.B. King

2 – The Boxer – Butterfield Blues Band

3 – Black Cat Bone – Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland

4 – Snatch It Back And Hold It – Junior Wells

5 – Last Of The Line – Ten Wheel Drive

TOP 5 ALBUMS OF THE MILENNIUM – Aug. 24/99

1 – Caldonia – B.B. King (in London)

2 – Stink (Beltmaker) – McKenna Mendelson Mainline

3 – Fit For A King (Craig Erickson-Floodin’ In California – Various-L.A. Blues Authority Vol. IV

4 – Leaving Trunk – Taj Mahal

5 – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out (Sympathy For The Devil) – The Rolling Stones

Story and picture by Denis Gibbons

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