Martin Streek: The Day the Spirit Died

Martin StreekOne year ago today, I wrote the toughest entry I've ever had to write. It was about Martin Streek.

I'm not sure how to write this one, so I'm just going to tell you what I know.

As a long time fan of CFNY / Edge 102, I was sad to learn recently that Martin Streek had been fired after over 20 years of service. As of this writing, that entry had 88 comments from others who wanted to wish Martin well. Soon enough, Martin Streek himself chimed in to say thanks.

Thank to those of you who made comments, both good and bad...either way, it's proof that you listened and/or cared about the scene I/we were part of...

Earlier today, Martin Streek updated his Facebook status message with words that sound so ominous now. This, it turns out, is Martin's farewell to the world.

So...I guess that's it...thanks everyone...I'm sorry to those I should be sorry to, I love you to those that I love, and I will see you all again soon (not too soon though)... Let the stories begin.

My entry about Martin Streek leaving CFNY / Edge102 is #1 when you Google his name, and Steve did just that an hour ago.

I just heard that Martin has passed away... very sad to hear.... (I was a cfny staffer back in the 80s and just heard this from Earl J.)

At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Martin Streek seemed so vibrant, so full of life. But after chatting with Steve, and seeing the Facebook status message, I'm afraid it's true.

Martin Streek has taken his own life.

Martin's death hit me hard. I know I wasn't alone, because I heard from hundreds and hundreds of Martin's friends and fans over the weeks that followed. This black cloud eventually took the form of an entry I wrote entitled "Thoughts on 102.1 Tribute to Martin Streek, Shitty Facts, Closure Sought."

As insinuated in this excellent Globe and Mail piece by Bert Archer (in which I'm quoted), Martin's death also acted as a tragic final nail in the coffin of what was "the spirit of radio". CFNY / Edge 102 was my go-to station for as long as I can remember, but I hardly listened this past year. Martin epitomized passion for music, was a rare link to the David Marsden era, and literally had the spirit of radio logo tattooed on his ass. When he was let go six weeks prior to his suicide, it marked more than the loss of an energetic, knowledgeable and beloved local deejay. It marked the end of an era.

I've put all my Martin Streek entries in a new Martin Streek Remembered category, so if you want to read more I've made it easy for you. At the end of this entry, I'm posting all five hours of David Marsden's excellent tribute to Martin that aired on 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa.

We lost Martin one year ago today, but we'll never forget him. His spirit lives on.

» Martin Streek Tribute with David Marsden PART 1
» Martin Streek Tribute with David Marsden PART 2
» Martin Streek Tribute with David Marsden PART 3
» Martin Streek Tribute with David Marsden PART 4
» Martin Streek Tribute with David Marsden PART 5

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Comments (32 - click here to join in!)

Hector

Sad day indeed. I hardly listen to 102.1 anymore. I tuned in briefly a few days ago....man it is horrible.

July 6, 2010 @ 10:21 AM

Sarah

I remember sitting at my desk last year on this day reading your post that he had passed away - at first I did not believe it. A good man and a great friend to me and to Toronto. Still think of him often and remember the good old days - death of The Spirit indeed.

July 6, 2010 @ 11:12 AM

Ted

Imagine Martin's reaction to Lady Gaga headlining Lolapolooza and Perry Farrell endorsing it. He would be livid. Maybe is appropriate that Martin's spirit will live on in our hearts and minds rather than in some kind of flag, tatoo or branded product. What commemorative action or object could do him justice? The incredible joy Martin brought to all of us around Toronto will never entirely disappear. That is his legacy.

July 6, 2010 @ 11:23 AM

Boomer

Josie Dye mentioned the anniversary today and dedicated Tool-Forty Six And Two to Martin.

July 6, 2010 @ 1:31 PM

Brad

I was driving home last night, after a lousy day, thinking that it was about a year ago that Martin left. I found out while visiting you site, and I found out again today.
I think the last time I really listened to TSOR, was the tribute that they aired. I'd like to hear that again. TM, do you have it?

July 6, 2010 @ 1:33 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

When I linked to the Edge 102 tribute MP3s, they were hosted on martinstreek.com.

http://www.torontomike.com/2009/08/martin_streek_cfny_1021_the_ed.html

That fiasco is an entry in itself. I have a story to tell here, but I'm not quite able to tell it...

I have the 3 hours of the CFNY tribute on MP3. If someone out there can host them, I'll link to them.

July 6, 2010 @ 1:48 PM

Irvine

Why would Streek be offended at Lady Gaga headlining LP? Gaga may get played on pop radio but her vocal abilities are exceptional (see her live on Radio 1 BBC doing Coldplay) and she bends and expands the parameters of pop music. She's did her own thing and clearly it's working. If Alternative radio wasn't so scared of anything but 4 chord white male rock, it might have played her. She's also much more interesting than the narrow 4 chord grunge junk that makes up most "alternative rock" today.

Streek was interested in music, period, not in narrow definitions of genres.

Brad, narrow minds like yours are why Alternative radio/music sucks so much. The format, excluding a few markets, is close to death. Even heritage stations struggle to survive in a sea of blandness. Would you be offended if Katy Perry played? Kissed a Girl made it on Alt Rock radio first...

July 6, 2010 @ 3:06 PM

Mason

'4 chord white male rock'
.. i cant even think of something to say to a statement like that.

July 6, 2010 @ 4:55 PM

Ryan

There are a few guys at work that i just got to know over the past year. They are good guys and know good music. We were brought together by Martin's death in that we did not know each other well at all beforehand. But it was clear we were impacted most in office by death and we soon became buddies. He can even help people from beyond. He is that amazing.

I miss him and his voice so much. I still get chills when i read his final words.

July 6, 2010 @ 6:53 PM

Argie

Wow! I agree with Irvine. Racist comments aside, Lady Gaga is the closest thing there is to a musical genius on the radio today.

July 6, 2010 @ 7:04 PM

Ryan

Not that it matters but i detest Lady Gaga and doubt Martin would have loved having her headline.

But then again, what do i know? I am Mike's brother after all.....

July 6, 2010 @ 7:45 PM

elvis

I was in your apartment once.

July 6, 2010 @ 7:46 PM

Il Duce

Great entry today Mike.

The death of Martin was a tragedy but his problems far extended that of CFNY and his dismissal. Martin battled demons for years, ones that he felt he could no longer beat.

As far CFNY goes, the 'Spirit of Radio' had a great run in what was great era for alternative music. The Spirit was long gone before Martin was.

July 6, 2010 @ 8:36 PM

Ryan

@Elvis,

I have switched from toilet paper rolls to paper towels. Gives me that much more absorption.

LOL

@Il Duce, I agree, the spirit was long gone before Martin was! I think Martin's passing was the final nail in the coffin for me.

July 6, 2010 @ 9:56 PM

Irvine

@Mason: Alternative radio IS 4 chord white male rock. Nearly everything on Alternative radio today is un-inventive & completely predictable. Hell, Lady Gaga's stuff is more musically diverse than the entire Edge 102 playlist.

@Argie: If the radio ratings across North America are an indication of success, the stations playing Gaga are doing MUCH better than those playing "Alt rock". Shit, the largest city in North America can't even support an Alt Rock station.

July 6, 2010 @ 11:46 PM

Romy

Thanks for keeping the memory alive Mike. As I wrote on my old blog, his death was another sad example of the often times heartless and soulless business that Canadian commercial radio is. To fire someone, without cause, after they'd been there 20 years and then not offer any help with what employers like to call "transitioning" - was a stunning lack of compassion and care for someone else - never mind someone who'd done good work for you for a long time. I don't know how the person who fired him can look at themselves in the mirror. Sad.

July 7, 2010 @ 3:03 AM

Sammi

It is hard to believe that it has been a year already. I don't listen to that station at all anymore. It's gone as far as I am concerned.

It sounds like you have another story to tell Mike. I would love to hear it.

July 7, 2010 @ 6:54 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I can't tell this story yet... because a lawyer is involved and I've been asked not to. Yet.

But soon enough, I'll tell the tale.

July 7, 2010 @ 7:58 AM

Ryan

I can't wait.

Mike, I know its probably a bit low tech but my router has a FTP server built in. I would be glad to host the MP3's(try and get me government!)...I have a DNS name that forwards to it as well.

Let me know if you want this!

July 7, 2010 @ 9:09 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Ryan, I'm sending you an email...

July 7, 2010 @ 9:10 AM

A.R.

We need to get CBC Radio 3 on the radio. It'll solve the 102.1 problem once and for all.

July 7, 2010 @ 9:25 AM

Satya

I found this blog seeking information and solace about losing Streek and have been a regular follower since. Conversely, I haven't listened to a Corus station in a year now and never will. I look forward to dancing in heaven while he spins me some "Poppies".

July 7, 2010 @ 9:48 AM

Mason

@Irvine: I understand you obviously have a problem with males and for some reason the colour of their skin. But to bash an entire genre of music, that's just dumb. what about all the female alternative bands, like hole and so forth. hell i can think of a bunch of multicultural alternative bands. Do i really need to start naming bands that aren't just full of white people that would be considered alt rock?

And yeah, lady gaga has talent, but i despise her music.

July 7, 2010 @ 3:25 PM

Trish

Il Duce makes a good point, Mike. Sad as Martin's death is, it's not CFNY's fault that he took his own life. He might have viewed himself as a dinosaur, but the spirit of radio disappeared long before he did the deed...

That said, I haven't listened to CFNY in a very long time...

July 7, 2010 @ 8:57 PM

jason | getyouroj.com

Who in the blue hell would anyone want to listen to a "tribute show" to Martin Streek put on by the very company that fired him. They only reason they allowed that tribute to happen was damage control. It disgusts me.

I heard the Marsden tribute. Nuff said.

July 8, 2010 @ 7:09 AM

Il Duce

@Romy

Come on Paul, to actually use Martin's death as an example of how soulless the radio industry is, a little over the top. To actually point the finger at someone who had to do the deed of dismissing Martin and make them responsible for his suicide is a little extreme.

Martin taking his own life was not the result of his dismissal but rather the culmination of other issues that he battled. I'm no expert in the radio industry or that of mental health issues but it's plain to see that there was more than we'll ever know.

We all make choices in life of what we want to be and do. He chose his profession like the rest of society, if he didn't like what was happening there were a lot of things he could have done. Sadly, he believed that there were no other choices to make.


@T.O. Mike

I was reading that you may talk about how this all played out. I hope that you take the high road, and think of his family before you do. Unlike us who remember it ocassionally, Martin's family lives with this sadness everyday. Just a thought.

July 8, 2010 @ 7:27 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Il Duce

To clarify, the story I want to tell isn't about Martin. It's about his domain name.

I would never tell a story that would upset his family.

July 8, 2010 @ 8:03 AM

Digger

I have been listening to good and even great alternative radio online for years now. When there is nothing on terrestrial radio locally, there is no choice. One thing is certain: alt rock is definitely not limited to "4 chord white male rock". A quick look at the current playlist of a couple favourite stations confirms that.

While the music may not be focused on the cutting edge of new, remember to tune in to Mr. David Marsden's shows on Saturday and Sunday nights on 94.9.

July 8, 2010 @ 8:26 AM

Il Duce

Sorry Mike, I misunderstood

July 8, 2010 @ 10:57 AM

Jason Paris

Irvine:

Many artists have great vocal abilities, but wouldn't be considered appropriate for Lolla (i.e. Whitney Houston). Yes, many of the cool kids like Gaga, but like many mainstream artists, there's a disconnect between the vocalist, the songwriter, the production team, etc. In other words, I'm sure Martin may have been amused by Gaga, but really doubt he'd approve of her playing Lolla.

Yes, so-called "alternative radio" is scared of playing anything but 4-chord white male 90s-inspired rock, but that's got little to do with Gaga. There's about a bagillion credible artists that they could play, but they don't.

Gaga is great as far as mainstream artsists go. Perhaps even the Madonna of our generation. I agree, but I'd never suggest that Madonna be played during "Spirit of Radio"-era CFNY for the same reasons I'd think Gaga isn't really appropriate for Lollapalooza, Glastonbury or BBC 6 Music.

July 8, 2010 @ 11:07 AM

jason | getyouroj.com

@Jason Paris did you freak out when Jay-Z played Glastonbury too?

July 8, 2010 @ 11:24 AM

Jason Paris

Didn't freak out, but thought it pushed the credibility test to the limits. ;)

July 9, 2010 @ 9:49 AM

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