He wanted to be a Navy diver, but fate has seen Matthew Gordon
McBride swim through waves of a different kind.
McBride, 48, is the brains behind community radio stations that
have begun popping up all across the province — and two of them have
sprung up in the Sea to Sky corridor.
The most recent one, Spud Valley Radio, is Pemberton’s official
community radio station, and has been on the air since early June, broadcasting
all kinds of programming, from 1930s-era radio shows to good ol’ rock ’n’ roll.
The station hit the airwaves on June 6, 2008. Its first song?
“Bud the Spud” by Stompin’ Tom Connors.
From Navy man to radio man
When asked why he loves the radio so much, McBride points to
the intimacy that it has with a listener compared with other mediums.
“The problem with TV is the pictures aren’t very good in my
mind, right, whereas radio’s a kind of whole fantasy world (where) you can be
who you want to be, sound like you want to sound,” he says.
Comparing radio to print media, McBride says that newspapers
are all about covering dead people, whereas radio is all about covering live
When reminded that radio also has to report on dead people, he
responds, “Yeah, but we get to go dancing with the girls.”
Radio wasn’t always McBride’s main gig. Growing up in Stave
Falls, British Columbia, he only ever had two dreams: work in radio or be a
Navy diver. He pursued the latter dream first, leaving school early to join the
Navy, doing rescue swimming and underwater hull maintenance. He served five
years until he suffered a serious diving accident, effectively putting an end
to his career in the armed forces.
His Navy dream dead, McBride’s comrades told him to follow his
“If I was going to be a diver, I wanted to be the best diver I
can be,” he says. “And in broadcasting, if I want to be a broadcaster, I want
to be the best broadcaster I can be.
“That doesn’t mean I’m the best of the best, but it means this
is what I can do.”
His desire to be the best took him to BCIT’s broadcast school
in 1981, a program that has churned out such staples of the Vancouver broadcast
scene as CBC anchor Gloria Macarenko and CTV weather anchor Tamara Taggart.