Don’t Touch That Dial: TV That Shaped My Musical Tastes

Published on July 30th, 2009 in: Canadian Content, Issues, Music, Radio, TV |

By Jesse Roth

Like many members of my generation (and those of the previous one), I received a decent yet incomplete music education via the radio, MTV, and my parents’ eclectic record collection. By the time I hit high school however, I was quickly seeking new avenues for discovering music.

Having moved away from the musically inclined friends that introduced me to many of the punk, metal, and ska bands that I loved, I found myself dependent on media for a new fix. Of course, the satisfactory options in this area were becoming fewer and fewer. The “traditional” music video outlets were quickly choosing reality programming and other enjoyable, but non-music related pop culture shows. Meanwhile, radio had continued its rapid descent into corporate-owned homogenized hell, churning out the same lineups and leaving little room for non-formulaic artists to appear on the air. Where was a teen to turn as she sought out a new musical adventure?

george stroumbo much
George Stroumboulopoulos

Enter digital cable. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, cable companies began adding on stations previously available only to those lucky satellite dish owners. Since I was used to the usual selection of basic cable channels, digital opened up a new world to me. Not only were there 24-hour music video channels, there were 24-hour cable radio stations divided up by genres that I had been previously unaware of. Scoping out the new options on my lineup, I would soon find myself addicted to three of these—ones that would forever alter my taste in music.


Before it morphed into Fuse, American viewers were treated to a good portion of Canada’s MTV equivalent via “MuchUSA.” I had heard about MuchMusic growing up, having read an article discussing its influence on MTV’s live studio format. My cynical, teenaged self enjoyed the Ed the Sock’s intelligent barbs, the subversive humor of Nardwuar, and news segments that introduced me to influential books such as Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance. I was likely one of the few high schoolers in the southern United States harboring a crush on VJ George Stroumboulopoulos, proudly displaying him on my school binder, along with photos of all the Canadian bands I had discovered. I faithfully tuned into shows like Loud, The Wedge, and any specials involving Sloan and Matthew Good Band: two bands that became favorites of mine thanks to their presence on the network. Many of these bands were Canadian, and all were from varying genres. They soon became the focal points of my music collection. I’d read anything I could get my hands on about them, checking out the music that influenced them and adopting it as my own. MuchMusic became daily viewing for me up until sometime in 2002, when MuchUSA stopped airing any content from its Canadian parent, causing me to lose all interest in the channel.

sloan snowjob
Sloan at MuchMusic’s Snowjob, February 1997
Photo from

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2 Responses to “Don’t Touch That Dial: TV That Shaped My Musical Tastes”

  1. Lindsey:
    July 4th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    MuchMusic was so awesome back in the day! It heavily influenced my taste in music and I get nostalgic thinking about all the amazing Canadian music that I was exposed to because of it. You probably didn’t miss much after 2002 – MuchMusic has pretty much gone to crap. All they play is mindless television shows with little relevance to music or culture…no intelligent content to be found! Such a shame! Looking back on what it meant to me growing up, I find it tragic that kids today won’t have that same experience.

  2. Laura:
    March 19th, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I was in the same boat. I got into MuchMusic in high school and had a crush on George Stroumboulopoulos as well. It also got me into Matthew Good and Our Lady Peace. It sucks that they went the MTV route.

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