Many people in Canada, and perhaps in other places, too, are sharing memories today of beloved storyteller Stuart McLean, who died Wednesday at the age of 68.
McLean was best known for his humorous monologues on a CBC Radio program called Vinyl Cafe that told stories about the everyday lives of an everyday Canadian family.
One such person sharing memories was Terry DiMonte, the host of CHOM-FM’s morning program. He played one of his favourite McLean monologues — the jock-strap episode. It took up about nine minutes of airtime on what is essentially a rock music station. Afterward, Terry commented that management might not be too happy about his decision to air the monologue, but he just felt it was the right thing to do. (Yes, of course it was.)
Afterward, while I was showering — I do a lot of reflecting in the shower — I thought about Terry’s comment, and how McLean was much bigger than the CBC or CHOM or any other business institution. Terry hadn’t plugged a competing station (he was probably more concerned about the monologue’s length). He had simply paid tribute to an individual who was a Canadian institution unto himself. Stuart McLean didn’t work for the CBC: the CBC worked for McLean.
And so my thought process progressed.
People like Stuart McLean, the late Peter Gzowski, Noah Trevor and so many other folks who entertain and inform us in media-related fields, including Terry DiMonte, are much bigger than the institutions they grace. They don’t work for those companies; the companies work for them, and should be honoured to have them.
And so my thought process progressed again . . . to you and me and all the other ordinary people who earn money through the various jobs we choose to perform. We don’t work for our companies; they work for us. Sure, we may be bricks in the proverbial wall, but the wall wouldn’t stay up without us. Think about that . . . I mean, what if there was a company and nobody showed up?
So, the owners should be honoured to have us, just as the CBC was honoured to have Stuart McLean and Bell Media, the owners of CHOM-FM, are no doubt honoured to have Terry DiMonte grace their studios weekday mornings and entertain and inform its listeners.
I think Stuart McLean would agree with me on this.
So, let’s toast a great Canadian storyteller, and let’s drink to the salt of the earth.
R.I.P Stuart McLean.
Top photo: Stuart McLean in March 2008. (Source: Alana Elliott/Wikipedia)