Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Mysteries of Radio

Share |

Back in fall, my book Dust City was nominated for the 2012 Red Maple Award, part of Ontario's Forest of Reading Program. A couple months later, one of the organizers contacted the nominees with an unexpected proposition.

"We would like to see if a few of you could be voice recorded," she wrote in an email, "for a commercial" to be played on an Ottawa radio station. I agreed, of course. (How often do you get to make a radio ad?)

A few days later, I drove up to a grey, anonymous, commercial park in the northern netherburbs of Toronto. There I met some of the folks at Sky Words, a recording studio that specializes in "aerial advertising."

I learned that while they often record audio ads like the one I was about to make, their true specialty is traffic reports, which they provide to a host of different radio stations across the country. (Who knew you could run a news-gathering service almost exclusively reporting on traffic jams? It's surely proof that car-culture in Canada is alive and well.)

Before I started recording, Lisa, the program director, offered this small insight into how radio is made. "Speak with a smile on your face," she told me. "It will make you sound livelier and more friendly." Fair enough, but now whenever I listen to a traffic report, I picture the announcer grinning like a fool. The things you learn.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Robert Paul Weston

Robert Paul Weston's fiction has appeared in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic and been nominated for The Journey Prize in Canada and The Fountain Award for Speculative Literature in the United States. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and lives in Toronto.

His website is

Go to Robert Paul Weston’s Author Page