Growing up in the borderland

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I grew up in what many people would consider the middle-of-nowhere – a family farm just north of the Manitoba-North Dakota border. Because we’re so close to the U.S. border we get North Dakota radio and TV stations. Growing up we had FarmerVision, also known as Poor Man’s TV, which meant we used an antenna on the roof of the house to get TV. There was no cable or satellite in our area back then. By carefully adjusting the antenna with the rotor we were able to get a few Canadian stations and a few American stations.

Meanwhile our radios also picked up both Canadian and American stations – and still do. In fact, a few North Dakota stations come in better than Winnipeg stations. For my American readers, I’m now going to explain something we have in Canada called CanCon, which stands for Canadian Content. Growing up where I did and having access to both Canadian and American radio and TV, I never gave much thought to CanCon. I learned more about it in a radio class during college. CanCon refers to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission requirements that radio and television broadcasters (including cable and satellite specialty channels) must air a certain percentage of content that was at least partly written, produced, presented or otherwise contributed to by Canadians. It also refers to the content itself which must be cultural and creative content that is Canadian in nature.

In a nutshell, this means Canadian radio and TV stations have to air a certain amount of Canadian content. Consequently, I find that the Canadian radio stations I listen to often end up playing the same Canadian songs over and over again, with some popular American ones thrown in the mix. This means some rising American¬†artists never get played on Canadian radio. When I switch to an American radio station at the farm, I often hear songs I’ve never heard before. And this applies to various genres of music.

The following is an example. I heard this touching song on our North Dakota country station – Maverick 105.1. Lauren Alaina – Like My Mother Does:

Of course this works both ways. The music of many talented Canadian artists will never be played on American radio stations. Here’s an example. High Valley is a group of three brothers from rural Alberta. I often hear this song on the Winnipeg country station – QX104.1 but have never heard it on any¬†American stations. High Valley – On the Combine:

What do you think? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

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7 responses to “Growing up in the borderland

  1. It is a challenge isn’t it? To embrace and support those who are Canadian and yet not miss the richness of what our neighbors to the south have to offer. There are so many hours of listening time per day, and so many people don’t hear things at the same times. A juggling act to be sure.

  2. I remember the days of adjusting the antenna when I was a kid. If we wrapped ourselves in foil just right we could get American and Mexican stations where I grew up!! I think after listening to High Valley I need to investigate Canadian Country Music some more.

    • Oh, the good old days! I definitely recommend High Valley. They have some great down-to-earth country tunes out right now. A lot of their music you can find on YouTube. Thanks for reading!

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