Downtown London - News

May 2018

  • Blackburn history continues with classic rock’s downtown view

    May 28, 2018

    Blackburn history continues with classic rock’s downtown view

    By Sean Meyer


    The Blackburn name is firmly established in London after having played a role in every traditional media platform — print, television and radio — for more than 120 years.


    The current incarnation of Blackburn Radio sees the company’s head office located at 700 Richmond St. 


    The London station — one of Blackburn’s 13 brands — launched seven years ago and is coming up on the four-year anniversary of its current classic rock logo this August.


    While corporate business takes place out of the location, it’s also where Steve Stax spends his early morning hours looking out over Richmond Row from the windows of the Classic Rock Free 98.1 studio. 


    “I love working downtown. Driving along Richmond I would always look in and admire that view. There is so much going on along Richmond Row at any point in time . . . even at 4 a.m. when I get in here,” Steve said. “I’m an urban guy at heart. I grew up in Toronto; so I like finding my way to city centres. Being in downtown is awesome.”


    Steve’s daily view of downtown often begins long before most Londoners are awake.


    His first alarm goes off at 3 a.m. and he will lie in bed for a bit checking his Twitter for the overnight happenings, before getting fully into what he calls “show prep mode.” 


    He’s typically fully awake at 4 a.m. and headed into work, as he puts it, “fully immersed” in a coffee. 


    Once the show is over, however, he gets to enjoy one of his favourite experiences — when Mother Nature allows of course. 


    “When I’m done, especially when the weather is nice, I love that the downtown has the Thames Valley Parkway, the trail system,” Steve said. “I will ride my bike all the way up Richmond, get on the trail by the university, then go back down and end up back at the Forks of the Thames. Sometimes I snake my way to Springbank Park or take the other branch of the trail and work my way home. I try to maximize it because it is just so beautiful.”


    Ryan Valdron shares Steve’s love of the station’s downtown location, although he doesn’t have to cope with that pesky 3 a.m. alarm.


    An afternoon show host for coming up on five years next February, Ryan said his appreciation of the studio’s street-side presence is shared by many Londoners. 


    “Just people walking by going to a restaurant, heading to Victoria Park for Home County, or every once in a while . . . you will get someone bang on the studio glass and give a wave,” he said. “It’s very cool . . . it’s just a really great atmosphere downtown.”


    Ryan heads home once his show is done around 7 p.m. and although his three-year-old has already eaten, he tries to get in a meal with his wife before unwinding with a little TV— come hockey season, Pacific time zone NHL games — into the wee hours of the morning.


    But come the weekend, he finds time for his real passion.


    “My way to relax is spending time at home watching a game, or sometimes meeting up with friends from school somewhere downtown, catching up on times,” he said. “You don’t find a lot of time through the week . . . once the weekend comes, you value your family, then Monday comes and you are back in radio mode.”

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