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"The Howe Sound System DJ's"

Ed Jordan and Conrad Juraschka are the DJ's of the Howe Sound System, a Bowen Island based radio show that airs Saturday on 101.7 FM CHLY and is archived at Tune in for an eclectic mix of music and community announcements.

Riffing off one another
Susanne Martin

The show opens with an intro sample saying, “Some of the music we play is really not here for your bumpin’ enjoyment…but it’s here for you to think…” Then a beat sets in as the intro continues. The Howe Sound System is Ed Jordan and Conrad Juraschka’s radio show that is produced on Bowen Island and airs Saturdays nights from 9-10pm on 101.7 FM CHLY. The two make a good team, even in an interview. They listen to one another, elaborate and spin off on each others comments.

Jordan laughs at the question about the intro. “First of all, I find it funny. But it’s also about music being about something deeper than just entertainment,” he says. “That fits with why we call it The Howe Sound System. Back in the day in Jamaica, sound systems were set up by DJ’s in the street to play music for the community. It was entertainment but also politics and religion. It all blended together to make the voice of the community.” Jordan believes in showcasing music that is “rich with a variety of layers of meaning.” He says, “Some music is out there to be thought about. You have to spend some time with it in your head. Not into one ear, out the other, can I have another… candy, please.”

Juraschka is happy with the way the intro turned out. “Ed created it and I really like it,” he said. “For me, music can be a connection to something beyond just entertainment. It can be about progression, growth, introspection or inspiration. These are cultural forces that can help communities.”

Jordan thinks that ‘culture’ is the key word. “That’s what we are talking about,” he says. “Music is a fundamental part of culture, both now and historically. The rest of the intro speaks to that. Imagine waking up tomorrow and you have no recollection of music but you remember that it was important to you and that it is part of your culture and you want to hear it again. Music is fundamental to us as humans. We’re playing into that or playing with it anyway.”

As seriously as they take their show, another idea behind it was to have some fun. “The beauty is that we are also hanging out,” Juraschka said. “The sound system idea really attracted us because we both have diverse taste in music and we are both interested in DJ culture and found objects. Creating new music out of past materials is what DJ’s are doing. We aren’t really limited to a format but we play Reggae, electronic music, ambient, idm, downtempo, electro and dub.” He added that they don’t give much space to rock ‘n’ roll.

“We have a base in electronic music and in that production world but our tastes are quite broad so other stuff filters in,” Jordan explained. “We play a variety of different things but we make it work in the grounding of the music we are interested in. I’m always surprised that a show makes sense as a whole.”

Since the start of the Howe Sound System on November 22, 2011, Jordan and Juraschka have produced 22 shows. Having a radio show had been a dream for both of them.

“In 2000, I was involved with webcasting for a radio station,” Jordan said. “I did a show every week for five years and I saw the value of alternative media and presenting an alternative point of view.” Jordan got involved in media activism and when his job came to an end, he found that he missed doing radio shows.

“I remember how distraught I was when I learned that programming on TV and radio is designed to sell ads,” Jordan says. “It’s not ads that are supporting the programming. It’s about making money and the content that you and I are watching or listening to is only there to get us to see or hear the ads. What makes community radio so incredible is that we can play whatever we want because we are not selling ad time. It literally is free media in that respect and to me that is valuable to keep alive.”

After living in Montreal for a number of years, Jordan moved back to his native B.C. “I started listening to CHLY that is based in Nanaimo and I was really impressed,” Jordan says, adding that he is normally not that easily impressed by radio shows. “I listened to it more and more and I thought I would really like to have a show on there. And after a year and a half, I heard someone on air make a comment about their studio on the Sunshine Coast.” Jordan emailed the program director at CHLY who responded with enthusiasm and said he would like to have someone from Bowen Island represented on the show.

Jordan talked about the idea to Juraschka. “Conrad and I had gotten to know each other over the last year and we talked a lot about music,” he said. “We both missed the old days of hanging out with people and putting on a record and actually listening to music.” Juraschka and Jordan discovered that sharing music was important to both of them and that formed the premise for doing the radio show together.

Jordan has a background in new media art and Juraschka studied new media and digital production at the Vancouver Film School. “I was there in 1999/2000 when webcasting and streaming video over the internet was still a pretty difficult thing to do and we started doing that,” Juraschka recalls. “I was part of a group of students who, on one night a week, produced a netcasting show where anybody could tune in and watch it live. That got me excited about the potential of the internet to deliver media and get messages out.”

For the past 20 years, Juraschka has listened to CiTR, a radio station from UBC. “Back when there was no digital media, I used to record music that I heard on radio shows,” he says, adding that he made little mixed tapes for himself he couldn’t find anywhere else. Juraschka liked the idea to play the music he was passionate about. “I thought it was great that there was no corporate agenda, just people with a passion for music they wanted to share,” he said. “I thought how cool that would be. Then I met Ed on Bowen and we hit it off right away, especially around music.”

Juraschka and Jordan share more than a similar taste in music. “We found that we had common interests and we’re coming from a similar place,” Juraschka explained. “When I heard about the radio show, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to collaborate.”

Over the last half a year, the show has changed, according to Juraschka. “It’s definitely grown and progressed,” he said. “When we started out, we produced half the show in our own studios in Ableton Live and then put it together and recorded the voiceovers.”

“We’d play the show back for each other but each half was already pre-canned,” Jordan said. And while this was fun, Juraschka said that the collaborative idea they had envisioned was missing. “Then it transformed into more of a DJ set up where we have turntables,” Juraschka says. “The whole idea is to have the show grow organically over that one hour. Now, one of us will start the show by playing a song. That will remind the other person of another song.”

The show grows from that back and forth process and Jordan explains they never know what they are going to play. “We have ideas but it always depends on what the other guy plays first,” he says. “I love doing it this way. It’s very improvisational, riffing off the other person. The shows all have their own trajectory.”

The shows are available in an online archive at for listeners who can’t make the Saturday night time slot and Jordan says that he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback. “I’ve had quite a few friends say that they are sitting down to listen to three or four of the shows while they work.”

But other than that, Juraschka and Jordan don’t know how many people tune in. “A lot,” says Jordan and Juraschka adds jokingly. “Undoubtedly at least a million.”