Ever wonder if your professor is leading a double life? TRU’s own Jason Bermiller is a communications and English instructor by day, but once a week, he takes the airwaves at CFBX as the ProgDog.
Bermiller has a background in music, part of which stems from being a professional DJ in Toronto for many years and through volunteer work with radio.
“I’ve been involved in announcing and music for a very long time. This was an opportunity to host a show in one my favourite forms of music,” Bermiller said.
His genre of choice, as his show name suggests, is progressive music – hard to contain in just one genre.
“The problem with any genre is that there is always crossover. I don’t even know how many subgenres of progressive music there are. The whole form was invented by Paul McCartney with Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band,” Bermiller said.
Progressive music differs from rock and roll in many ways. Progressive music tends to be a bit longer with odd time signatures and use of unique bass lines.
“Instead of using a blues bass line, like most rock and roll, it will use either a classical, jazz or world motif,” Bermiller said.
Most people will think of older bands when discussing progressive music, but hundreds of contemporary bands like Porcupines, Opeth and Rush are still producing it today.
As far as the driving force behind progressive music, it is exactly as its title suggests, artists are trying to move forward, to progress the form.
“They were trying to progress the music to become more than rock and roll. They were trying to expand it. There is only so far you can go with rock and roll. At a certain point it caps out and dries up. With any other form of music there are limitations to what it can achieve. I don’t see that with progressive, I see it continuing and expanding,” Bermiller said.
He has no problem filling his lengthy two-hour time slot. Once, Bermiller played just five songs over two hours, with one song clocking in at a whopping 59 minutes.
Because of his show, Bermiller has been able to interview giants in the music industry – icons like Ian Anderson, Roger Glover and John Wetton.
“I got into the habit of being silly enough to ask [for an interview],” Bermiller said.
Discussing the current popularity of EDM, Bermiller likens it to a trend and thinks that popular music is cyclical and eventually “ears will get tired.”
“I don’t believe that people have good taste or bad taste in music. I think people have taste or they don’t,” Bermiller said.
When he plays songs on air, he doesn’t need to read the CD cover to know the vital stats of who wrote it, produced it and band members’ names.
His breadth of knowledge of musicians and artists comes from his time as a DJ. After his shifts at the radio station back in Toronto, Bermiller would cash his cheque and head straight to the new and used record store. All the production information is listed on the record package.
The commercial music market is vastly different today. With the digital shift of music sales, consumers aren’t being given that information readily anymore when they purchase individual songs or albums online.
“YouTube isn’t going to teach you. It might expose you to different music, but you won’t learn. iTunes? What is iTunes going to show you? It’ll show you the top hits. It’s billboard driven,” Bermiller said.
Bermiller believes that CFBX is vital and unique to TRU and the Kamloops community as a whole.
“CFBX is very, very important. I can’t tell you how vital it is in this community. CFBX is the only place you’ll hear real radio. This is what radio used to be,” Bermiller said.
“Radio used to be people speaking to people, choosing the music themselves. Every programmer at this station chooses his or her own music.”
While CFBX does sell and feature ads, the ads-to-content ratio is far lower than commercial radio stations. Most importantly, each week there is different content being aired, not just the billboard hits.
“Commercial radio sounds dead – rightfully so, because all it is is wallpaper for commercials to be aired,” Bermiller said.
Looking ahead, CFBX is hosting several different fundraisers for station improvements, one of which is their annual record fair.
“We are looking at moving our transmitter. It’s going to cost several thousand dollars, but it will give a much better sound to the city. We are not a rich place, we run on a very tight budget,” Bermiller said.
Music is an outlet and a form of therapy to many. For Bermiller, it’s not only a longtime passion and an area of expertise, but a creative outlet.
“It is my Monday night sanity break,” Bermiller said.
Listeners can catch the ProgDog on CFBX on Monday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. on 92.5 FM.