Leave it to an independent Canadian to do his weekly radio show, Hurtin’ For Real, on his website only, which is unique. Brian Saunderson says, “Eventually my show will grow, but for now, I’m just glad I was able to make the jump online. I love my turntable, but hate computers!”
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio?
Brian Saunderson: I started my show in 2002, on a campus station in Kamloops, British Columbia. After 15 years, I decided to bring my show to a new home on the internet. Before that, I co-owned a DJ service for 12 years, and worked as a DJ in a nightclub when I was in university. I’m a teacher by day. My show, Hurtin For Real, is on the website only. Twitter: @hurtinforreal. A new show is posted once a week, each one is an hour long, except for the Hurts of the Month shows, which usually run 2 hours.
How do you describe your show?
I like to say I play good country music you don’t hear near enough. I play alternative country, classic country, outlaw, hillbilly, Americana, Canadiana, twangy stuff. Whatever those are, to paraphrase the old No Depression magazine.
Do you have theme shows or sets or spotlight certain artists?
When I started my show, I’d often play songs at random, but every once in a while I’d do a theme show. I found my listeners liked the theme shows more, so when I moved my show online, I decided to do mostly theme shows. However, at the end of each month, I have the Hurts of the Month, where I feature just new albums.
How much new releases, old stuff, and independent artists do you play?
I try to reach back decades, but also play something that might have just been released the day of the show. Lots of independent artists and small label stuff, but I’ll play the new Willie Nelson record too.
What was the first artist that got you into roots music?
When I was growing up, Mom and Dad always had Gordon Lightfoot records around, Don Williams cassettes. In the 1980s, I remember listening to Steve Earle, k.d. lang, Blue Rodeo, Rodney Crowell on the radio. Imagine commercial country radio playing artists like that nowadays! How times have changed.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre and what artists define Americana music for you?
I’ve liked Corb Lund’s stuff since the start. John Prine for sure. Laura Cantrell, Robbie Fulks, Gillian Welch. As for the word “Americana”? I have a tough time using it. What I play has a definite link to country music, and that’s good enough for me. Plus, I play a lot of Canadian music. Would Stompin’ Tom Connors be Americana? I don’t know.
Where do you see radio going in the future?
I gave up on commercial country radio a long time ago. I don’t think it’ll improve any time soon, if ever. However, I listen to many stations here in BC, and around the world, that have an interesting and diverse stack of records they spin each week. The internet is good for that, with so many radio shows archived.
What are your most memorable experiences or memories from working in the music industry?
I used to own a record store, and met so many music lovers. I once went on air for 30 hours straight, doing a radio fundraiser – I’ll never forget that. I’ve done some unforgettable interviews – Guy Clark, Marty Stuart. I think my favorite experiences are just talking with others about music. Doesn’t matter if they’re listeners, songwriters, or whoever.
What projects are you working on next?
I’m always planning my next shows, sometimes months in advance. I’ve got shows with all songs about wine, boots, and vinyl records coming up. An all duets show. All country waltzes too. And some co-hosts – my wife will be sharing her favorite Dwight Yoakam songs. That’ll be fun.
What inspires you or what keeps you going?
I used to think one day I’d get tired of doing the same show every week. Fifteen years in, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. There is just so much good country music out there. It’s the songwriters who aren’t household names that I love to play the most. Many of them are Canadian – Tim Hus, Sarah Jane Scouten, Kayla Howran, Geoff Berner, The Divorcees, Jack Marks. When others get turned on to their music, go see one of their shows, because they heard a song on Hurtin For Real – that’s rewarding.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
I just discovered a songwriter from Prince George, Naomi Kavka, whose new record is just fine. A young songwriter named EmiSunshine has a long career ahead of her. I like a band from Brooklyn called Karen & the Sorrows, and there’s a BC rockabilly band called The Wheelgrinders. As for albums I’m looking forward to in 2018 … John Prine, Lindi Ortega, Kacey Musgraves all have upcoming records. It’s a good time to love country music.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies you wish to share?
I’m a songwriter myself, though my audience is just my niece and nephew. One day I might put all my songs on an album. Maybe in about 30 years.