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Punk on TV

In 1978/’79, viewers of cable access TV (Cable 10) in Lower Mainland Vancouver were lucky to be able to watch two groundbreaking shows: Nite Dreems and Soundproof, which aired back-to-back on Sunday evenings. Nite Dreems was like a video version of a chaotic radio show, featuring musician interviews, comedy skits, and that rarest of commodities in pre-MTV days, the music video. Created by producer Don Fraser and radio DJ John Tanner (who were joined by fellow disc jockey JB Shayne, Susanne Tabata, and Deborah Jarvi), Nite Dreems was the place to watch new videos by those punk and new-wave bands who were among the first to exploit the medium of video. The program was always eager to highlight Vancouver talent, even if they didn’t have a video. Sometimes “Long John” Tanner would simply introduce a new single and play it on a turntable while the camera zoomed in on the spinning disc with crude video effects laid over top.

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Soundproof, the brainchild of Martyn Stubbs, started out as a showcase for local punk/new-wave bands, who would perform a short set of songs live in-studio, with minimum set decoration or post-production embellishment. DOA, the Subhumans, Young Canadians, Tim Ray, and the Modernettes were among the artists who appeared in this format. After Nite Dreems left the airwaves, Soundproof shifted format to become more of a video-DJ program, co-hosted by Martyn Stubbs and David Toddington. Over the following decade, Stubbs spent less time on camera, and Province music critic Tom Harrison eventually became the main host.

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Another important program on Cable 10 was the six-part documentary series CHAOS-TV, by producer Paul Wilson-Brown, who booked shows at the Quadra and Windmill. Episodes aired Saturday nights, from April to June 1979, and featured in situ performances by the Subhumans, Visitors, Pointed Sticks, Private School, Detectives/Exxotone, Tim Ray, Rabid, Wasted Lives, K-Tels, [e], Generators, U-J3RK5, DOA, and Dishrags.

Les sez: Nite Dreems had the genius of Vancouver’s finest broadcaster J.B Shayne, who teamed with Long John Tanner to be tireless promoters of the new music. Susanne Tabata kept the faith and this website is an adjunct to her documentary Bloodied But Unbowed, which covers those halcyon days of Vancouver punk. As guest on Soundproof a couple of times, I always noticed that everyone in the studio was seemingly working against anything resembling a normal organized broadcast. There were wrestling matches going on between guests and insults being hurled, all under the bemused eyes of hosts Dave Toddington and "Buzz E. Miller" [Martyn Stubbs].

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