The summer of celebrity deaths
This summer’s been a bad one for celebrity deaths. It started off with acting legend David Carradine, who was found in a hotel room closet in Bangkok. Ed McMahon, another television great, was next, following a lengthy history of health problems. June 25th saw Farrah Fawcett lose her long battle with cancer; later that afternoon Michael Jackson, arguably one of the most famous people on earth, died of what appears, at this point, to have been a sudden heart attack. Three days later, OxiClean pitchman Billy Mays died in his sleep from an apparent heart condition.
All of these deaths turned in to media events, Jackson’s especially. Web sites, blogs, tabloids and newspapers were brimming with stories, rumours, theories and scandalous details; clearly, death sells. In the midst of all the hoopla, however, just a few days after Canada Day, I learned of another incredible talent the world had lost. It was a death that hit me harder than any of the aforementioned ones did: Martin Streek, a radio celebrity in his own right, was found dead in his Toronto home on July 6, the result of an apparent suicide.
He was 45.
Martin worked for Toronto-based radio station CFNY 102.1 (The Edge) from the time he was in high school until May of this year, when he was fired. I noticed his absence immediately – one day he was on the air and the next, he wasn’t, and I missed him. It feels silly to say that I missed a radio personality, but I’d been listening to Martin for years, you see. I can’t remember when I started listening to The Edge, but I can say with certainty that it was a while ago. A long while ago. Like, fifteen-plus years ago. And up until a few months ago, Martin’s voice was one that I heard on a weekly basis. His was a voice that I was used to, familiar with. His was a voice that I looked forward to hearing. His was a voice that I learned from.
His long-time radio show, The Thursday 30, was one that, during my high school days, I rarely missed. Every Thursday night Martin counted down the week’s top songs and brought to light new music in a corner of the show called Groundbreakers. I was introduced to some of my favourite artists during that four-hour block; it was Martin, for instance, who clued me in to Beck, whose music became the backdrop for the remainder of my teenage years. During the three live-to-air shows he hosted on the weekends, Martin spun the kind of music that didn’t get regular, everyday airplay. He’d play Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, uncensored, and it was kind of thrilling, hearing the word fuck get spit over the airwaves in all its raunchy glory.
(It wasn’t until I had Dave, my husband, read this piece that I learned of his memories of Martin. Dave lived in Toronto back in the day, and spent many a Saturday night at The Phoenix, where Martin spun live-to-air on Saturday nights. Dave knew Martin was a big Tool fan, and went to the DJ booth more than once to request songs. And this one time he went, he and Martin got talking, just shooting the shit between songs. A friend of Martin’s came in to the booth and pulled out some of the wacky tobacky, if you know what I mean (wink, wink). “So he and his friend had some,” Dave recalled, “and then Martin passed it to me and said, 'My mother always told me to share.' I’ll never forget that.”)
After almost two decades of listening to Martin Streek on the radio, I felt like I knew the guy. I never met him personally, yet I connected with him on a regular basis and learned a lot from him in terms of music. He was someone whose appreciation for music ran deep, and through his work he shared that appreciation with his listeners. He was, without a doubt, one of the best DJs of his time.
And he was, without a doubt, someone whose radio presence will be greatly missed.
:::This is an original
Canada Moms Blog post. Mamatulip blogs her life at Where am I going...and why
am I in this handbasket? and keeps it green over at The Green Mom Review.
Photo used with thanks to Neuenschwander.