Wednesday 23 March 2011

CHIN Radio producing the last live TV variety show on the Toronto dial

Old Time Radio Live on TV. Every Sunday it is the Festival Italiano Di Johnny Lombardi Show on Toronto's CITY TV.

It is old time radio on television. Little bits of live music. A few jokes. An interview here, a promo there. Didn't like that last piece? Wait till the commercial is over and we will try again!
On Sunday I took two leading members of the Italian Canadian business community onto television via a radio show. The men are chairing a charity evening later this month. Group of Seven art from the McMichael hung beside Italian-Canadian landscapes in the Toronto Columbia Centre. Proceeds are to be split 50/50.
One of the sponsors of the evening is Lennie Lombardi, the owner of CHIN Radio. After buying a table he offered to help promote the event, his radio station has a live TV show every Sunday - he'd put my guests on after the first Chrysler Fiat is introduced (on the sidewalk in front of the College St station) and before the opera singer sang her second song.
For the past 25-years CHIN radio has turned their Little Italy street level lobby into a TV studio. A restaurant and magazine shop feed into the lobby and College Street is always busy after Church.
It is live TV that is currently broadcast on CITY TV in Toronto. Patrons from the cafe and newsstand customers wander in and out. The really curious have to be waved off set. People on the street press their faces against the big glass doors to see what Lenny has on TV this week.
Who knows? It is talk. It is product pushing and there is no end to the live entertainment.
When I came into the lobby studio (squeezing past the new Fiat that was all but blocking the front door), I was not sure if it was a show in English or in Italian. Some people spoke in English, others answered in Italian. Some spoke both, all at once. Beautiful Andrea Trentadue is more ring master than host. She is able to keep all the balls in the air at once, no matter what language is being spoke.
There was a friend of Lenny who has a Wizard Magic and Comic Book Show at the CNE in Toronto and in Hamilton. He put on a blue hair wig/hat and waved a spinning brightly coloured laser wand at the cameras. He wore a-way-to-tight bright blue T shirt. He brought the world's shyest magician with him. As soon as they did their 5-minute promo, a folk trio in traditional clothing from Sicily played a guitar, accordion and a tin flute. They were followed immediately by a traditional female opera singer singing Ava Maria. There wasn't a dry eye in the wings.
Cut to commercial, then it is time for MP Julian Fantino to head outside and welcome the first Chrysler Fiat to Canada. It is cute. Cars on the street honk, wave and yell encouragement at the former police chief.
Commercial. My guests run from the street back into the lobby. Perched in bar stools in front the front door (still with the Fiat in the background) they talk about the beauty of the Group of Seven and the good work that is done at the Columbus Centre. Interview over ... cue the Opera Singer!
It is crazy. It is non-stop. There are lots of hangers on, standing along the sides of the lobby. Almost everyone is male. Almost everyone is steaming towards 70. Most are too busy networking to watch the actual entertainment. There is a lot of male-to-male cheek kissing!
I have no idea what happened. Who cares. Let's book 'em Danno for the next open Sunday!


Top Left: Julian Fantino the Federal Minister for Seniors helps reintroduce the FIAT into Canada.
Top Right: A little Magic to promote March Break kid's show at the CNE.
Bottom Left: Folk Music entertainment on CHIN TV
Bottom Right: Opera singer performs in station lobby
Above: TV host Andrea Trentadne interviews Ralph Chiodo (Active Green and Ross) and Pal Di Iulio(Villa Charities) in the front lobby of the CHIN building on College Street. They are talking about the Inspired by Canada Fundraiser being held for the McMichael Gallery and Toronto's Columbus Gallery. Trentadne is host of the Festival Italiano di Johnny Lombardi TV talk show. The programme is seen in Toronto on Citytv and is broadcast live from the CHIN radio station.