Monday November 07, 2016

'It was chaos': Christopher Ward reflects on his early MuchMusic days

Christopher Ward was Canada's first VJ, working for the nation's music station MuchMusic.

Christopher Ward was Canada's first VJ, working for the nation's music station MuchMusic. (Melody Lau/CBC)

Listen 13:56

On Aug. 31, 1984, Christopher Ward and J.D. Roberts burst through a screen of fireworks and launched MuchMusic, the Nation's Music Station. 

Those early years of MuchMusic (nowadays simply named Much), which are now chronicled in Ward's new book Is This Live?, were filled with live energy and lots of improvisation, something that set itself apart from its American counterpart, MTV.

As Ward remembers: "All the VJ bits [on MTV] were recorded in a little shot box, they were all scripted [...] Ours was just live and flowing. It was pretty unusual."

That unusual TV made for some awkward moments (like when Ward bombed an interview with Plantinum Blonde on City Limits) but also some thrilling memories (the annual Christmas tree toss). But even though the wild, open nature of the network proved to be stressful behind the scenes, Ward wouldn't change a thing about his experience, adding: "It gave us an enormous freedom."  

When asked what MuchMusic's lasting impression on Canadians is, Ward responded, "We helped to give a national identity and recognition to artists overnight. We did something meaningful to Canadian music culture." 

WEB EXTRA | Watch Christopher Ward and J.D. Roberts launch MuchMusic back in 1984.