Host: Jeff Robson
Debut: September 29, 2002

Perhaps the question I’m asked most often (besides, “when are you going to get a real life?) is: “What’s with that goofy show name?

Tell the Band to Go Home” is the name of a great 6 song EP put out by a singer/songwriter from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, named Paul Macleod. It’s a perfect example of the type of music that I play on the show, and a perfect reason for doing it.

The EP is a simple recording of Paul and a guitar playing amazing songs. It’s recorded live at The Sidetrack Cafe in Edmonton. It’s the kind of amazing music that somehow flies below the public radar. Seriously, have you ever heard of the guy?

Well, I want this show to be a forum for exposing music that we wouldn’t hear otherwise. I try to keep my ears open to great music that just yearns for an audience, but somehow isn’t finding a wide enough one. I also invite listeners to send in suggestions and requests, any time.

History Lesson

I started at UMFM in May of 2001 as the board operator for Lisa Marie Serafin’s “Songwriters’ Circle” program, every second Sunday 2-4 pm on UMFM. LM was a local singer/songwriter (she’s since moved and for the most part stopped performing) who had lots of musical friends, and each week she’d invite a few of them in to sing and talk. She also featured a lot of independent releases from around the world. I’d heard Lisa-Marie’s music and was a fan of the show, so I was very excited to hop on board.

Soon after, I was given the opportunity to be the board operator for another show that I was very familiar with, Howard Mandshein’s Monday Free Range Radio. Howard is an icon on Winnipeg radio, he’s been on our FM airwaves for decades. I grew up listening to his “Howard Hour” on commercial radio, and I heard a ton of great artists for the first time on his show. I was more than happy to work with one of my heroes and one of the reasons that I loved radio in the first place.

As time went on, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer, and before you knew it, I was co-host of both shows (sometimes I think that was to the chagrin of the hosts…). When Lisa-Marie or Howard needed a week off, I was more than happy to fill in and do things my way.

In the spring of 2002, Lisa-Marie announced that she was moving to Quebec. I knew that she’d be missed, but she was moving for good reasons and was happy about it, and I kind of figured the show would be in fairly good hands without her. I was more than happy to carry on the show in her absence, and I hoped to make it a permanent gig for myself. Well, there was some controversy and debate (left out, to be kind, but I can always be persuaded to tell you the whole story, some time…) but eventually I was given the reins and told to make the show my own. I do things a bit differently than LM, so I didn’t just want to change her show, I wanted it to be mine, so some changes were in order.

The Name

If I were going to make the show my own, I was going to have to change the name. The problem is that I am not a creative genius. Thinking up a clever, original title was simply not in my character. So, I decided to take the easy way out and make someone else do it. I decided to run a contest where people could send in ideas for a show name, with some grand prize going to the best name.

I also had a list of names of my own, most of which were lame, I admit. Most folks decided to come up with something original. I knew my friends were clever, but I didn’t expect the amount of great suggestions I’d get. I got so many great suggestions, that the problem became picking one. I’m no good with decisions. Everybody seemed proud of their entries and I really didn’t want to disappoint anyone in particular, so I decided to disappoint them all.

In desperation, I sat in my music room one day staring at my CDs and the answer jumped out at me. At the last minute, I discarded all of the great suggestions that had been sent in, and Tell the Band to Go Home was born.

On Sunday, September 29, 2002, the name was officially unveiled. I was supposed to have Paul Macleod on the phone to christen the show named in his honour, but I also had a special live in-studio visit by Kris Demeanor and Chantal Vitalis. They had to get out of the studio early, so I made Paul wait until later in the show to announce the new name. Well, when Paul’s turn rolled around, he was busy rolling around on his bicycle and wasn’t home to chat. I haven’t spoken to him since, although I used to exchange emails with him from time to time. (Sadly, Paul passed away in 2016. He is very missed, but fondly remembered. You can find a page in his memory HERE. You can find a very special episode of Fly with your Shadow that I put together in his honour HERE.)

For the 2002 season, Tell the Band to Go Home alternated weeks with a show called Lab Rats from the Earth’s Core. It was, to be polite, a strange show. Folks who listened to TTBTGH generally didn’t “get” the Lab Rats, and the folks that listened to their show likely weren’t interested in my little singer/songwriter program. It was hard for people to know when the show was on and remember to tune in on the right week, so I began suggesting to our amazing Program Director, Jared, that perhaps it was best if my show was on every week.

Jared kindly let me do the weekly show, but in exchange, I had to give up hosting Free Range Radio, which I had been doing by myself since Howard went on hiatus during the summer of 2003. I agreed, but somehow convinced Jared to let my friends Mike and Terry have their own Free Range Radio slot on Thursday nights. Steel Belted Free Range Radio was born on Thursday, September 11, 2003, with a very special in-studio visit by none other than Ron Sexsmith. I was allowed to help Mike and Terry “get started” but once they knew what they were doing, I was supposed to leave the show to them.  Instead, Mike left us. That turned out to be ok, because we gained KK, who has been keeping me and Terry in line ever since.

On Sunday, September 14, 2003, Tell the Band to Go Home became a weekly institution on UMFM, and the rest is history in the making.