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I am writing a weekly article regarding the Toronto election. I believe it’s helped me branch out and switch gears from my normal writing. Here is my first article on Spacing.ca.

Bryan

“Hold on a sec, this woman is fucking crazy,” he says, not looking up from the array of computer monitors that he is editing the audio for an upcoming 45-second break in the music (which is barely audible in the studio). He taps a button to answer the phone. It’s “Gwen Stefani”… again.
The female voice on the other end has been calling Fearless Fred Kennedy all day. She rambles about needing to get in touch with her family and record label to inform them of her whereabouts at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and that if they don’t make it in time she will be heading to her private island in Jamaica, the one where the water is poison to everything except her species. Earlier in the day, she called to announce her return from her campaign as a starship trooper.
Over the next hour, she will call four more times. On the final call, Kennedy politely tells her to “hold on,” and puts her on hold indefinitely. He’s clearly not comfortable being rude to callers.
We are sitting in The Edge’s street-level studio on Yonge St. I’m sitting in a chair with a note on it that reads, “This chair stinks badly, sit at own risk.” Kennedy assures me that the seat is safe, however skeptical, I’ve accepted the seat.
Kennedy is a stocky young guy of about 28. He’s wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans. His arms are covered up to the wrists in tattoos. From a glance, he is moderately muscular, he’s got thick mutton-chops. Eventually, Kennedy pulls on a Kelly Buchberger jersey and raves about him as his favourite hockey player, attaching adjectives that best describe gods.
Kennedy’s off-air personality is a slightly quieter version of his radio persona. He hands me a business card. It reads “Jedi Knight,” a very revealing fact about who “Fearless Fred” is. He pulls up a Facebook picture of him in a tuxedo wearing Darth Vader slip-on Vans. At his core, Kennedy has the heart of a teenage boy, the kind that still has a secret hope that superheroes exist. The twist is that Kennedy is well read. He rambles on about Vimy Ridge and the absurdity of human nature.
Kennedy appears to be living the dream — radio DJ for Toronto’s largest alternative radio station, and the author of his own comic books by night. In a way this is his version of being a superhero. He is passionate about both, recommending comic books I should read based on the topics of conversation we discuss.
When Kennedy was in Grade 2, growing up in Belgium, he visited the Canadian military radio station.
“It was the coolest job in the world. From then on I knew what I wanted to do,” Kennedy says. He continues on in the tone of a great storyteller, apologizing to the girl at the front desk who has heard all of these countless times before. Growing up, Kennedy would make mixtapes for his friends, not that different from the typical child of the ‘80s, however, Kennedy would record his own radio banter between songs.
He goes on in detail about his career and the most influential moments of it. Spanning the entire country, Kennedy began at a Nova Scotia country music station, then moved to a pop music station in Vancouver named The Bear. Finally, he headed to Toronto to take on his current role at The Edge.
Kennedy admits that while working at The Edge has been his dream for years, the beginning of his career at The Edge came with some hardship. The position became available when celebrated alternative rock DJ Martin Streek died unexpectedly in July. Although it was a turbulent time for the entire station, Kennedy recounts that those who were closest with Streek were the most welcoming.
He explains that a lot of listeners sent him threatening messages and hate mail due to his sudden appearance. It’s evident that this line of work requires a fairly thick skin and an indomitable attitude, both of which Kennedy has. Behind the mask that is Fearless Fred Kennedy, is a sensitive soul. Perhaps that is what fuels Kennedy’s fascination with comic books and superheroes, the inevitable clashing of good and evil.
Off-air Kennedy is an intellectual. “The Wizard of Oz, is sort of an allegory for all of humanity, everyone’s believing in this powerful figurehead, but really it’s just a little man behind a curtain who’s controlling it all,” he says. He continues to rant and recommends a book by Desmond Morris called The Human Animal, about human nature and instinct. His tone reveals disillusionment with society, a theme that finds outlet in the comics he writes.
When it comes to radio, he says that it’s a misunderstood market.
“People don’t want to hear variety and trendiness over the airwaves, there’s a certain fetishism when it comes to music lovers,” says Kennedy. The value of music loses meaning when spread to the masses. The meaning is in the personal attachment to a band or song. “It’s like a water fountain that produces chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is great, but if all you want is water, it’s useless,” Kennedy says. To play the music that people love on the radio devalues the music itself, when all people want is to have music to pass the time.
He imparts some final wisdom about making it in the media industry. “Find the universal argument,” he says. There are some things that people just can’t argue against, and winning arguments is about finding those things. “In Calgary, the entire economy is balanced on the oil sands, you don’t have a job that isn’t somehow related to it, thus, it’s almost impossible to argue against it,” Kennedy says. “Unless you argue about the future generation, no one can argue that the future isn’t important.”
For someone who admits to “smoking a doobie” every morning on his walk to work and having an obsession with comic books and punk music, Kennedy is living every 14-year-olds dream to the fullest.

I’ve been the resident blogger of Travis since April 2010.

Read Travis Online here.

This feature article will appear in the November issue of Travis.

Rob Dyer is a special kind of person. For one thing – he isn’t your typical guy – not by a long shot.

Just look at him.

He’s the creator of Skate4Cancer – a charity focused on bringing people together to fight cancer with skateboarding and music.

Dyer’s personality is rare, unique even. It’s difficult to describe him – but he’s genuine.

He’s got all the makings of a superhero – he’s unique, he’s determined, and he’s even seen his share of tragedy. Like Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne – he probably could’ve done without the tragedy, but he’s become who he was born to be.

My phone rings on a Saturday afternoon. I always get pre-interview jitters and this time they are especially bad. I know what Skate4Cancer is, and I know it’s a great cause. But I know that on the other end of the line, is its founder.

“Hey Bryan. It’s Rob calling, how are you buddy?”

And just like that I feel the jitters disappear.

We talk casually for a few minutes about the weekend, and share a little anecdote about how this all came to be. He spoke honestly and openly.

I can tell that his personality is what brought him to where he is today. He’s got such charisma that it would be hard not to like the guy.

Today he’s in Kensington Market enjoying the nice weather. In the background I can hear live jazz filling in our conversation.

I’ve come to understand Dyer as a bit of an icon. He’s one of the best things to come out of “the scene” in the last little while.

I asked him what it feels like to be the face of Skate4Cancer and he laughed. I can tell that I just made him blush. He doesn’t see himself as anything special.

“Ah thanks man,” he said. He went on to express how much he appreciated the compliment.

“I don’t feel like an icon. People are able to relate to the Skate4Cancer story. We want people to feel comfortable.”

That’s what really makes Skate4Cancer special.
It’s not about one person, although Dyer perhaps is the most well known figure – it’s about community.

When Dyer was 15 he lost his Mother – his maternal and paternal Grandmothers, and a close friend to cancer.

He focused his negative energy into something productive. His mom’s struggle convinced him that battling cancer was his journey.

So he got started the only way he knew how – with a skateboard in hand and a community as his support.

A decade later Skate4Cancer travelled across the country twice, and is heading across the world to finish a skate across Australia.

Dyer’s first skate took place in 2004 when he skated from L.A. to his home in Newmarket Ontario.

Two years later he did it again. This year Skate4Cancer attempted to cross Australia but was forced to cut the trip short after their van was in an accident. He still plans on returning to finish what he started.

“Skate4Cancer is about friends getting together to take part in a cause they believe in, and it’s always been that way.”

“Today it’s more of a community,” he explained.

But why is Skate4Cancer such a success? Great question.

It engages young people in just the right way. Dyer’s personality combined with his youthful creative team serves as a driving force.

Skate4Cancer’s awareness campaigns approach youth at eye-level, not from an adult perspective – all with the charismatic and dynamic voice of Dyer.

“A lot of our audience is girls. It’s hard to get guys involved,” he said.

“Any organization that can get men involved in these matters is incredible. We’re trying to bring awareness to something that guys aren’t comfortable with.”

It’s easy to engage and captivate an audience of girls when your leader is tattooed and hunky. But engaging guys who are already uncomfortable with this sort of stuff – it requires something more.

On November 2nd Dyer will be talking to Sheridan students at Connexion about the Skate4Cancer mission – raising money for the Dream Love Cure Drop-in Center.

This place will be a center that provides information and support for anything to do with cancer.

Dyer’s visit kicks off “Movember,” the month where guys are encouraged to grow moustaches for cancer awareness.

“Young people are the cure,” he said.

“Living life in a certain way is the cure. They can change the way everything is right now for a brighter future.”

You can hear it in his voice – he’s passionate about this. This is what he was meant to do – inspire.

So how can you get involved?

“The most important thing is to go to the website, learn about the campaigns, and just show up at an event,” he said over the phone laughing.

“Just spread the word.”

I’m inspired – how about you Sheridan?

– Bryan

I began writing for Oakville.com in September 2010, here are my articles to date.  Forthcoming articles will be posted as they are published.

General Rick Hillier Speaks at Oakville Chamber Dinner
Promising Future According to Town Status Report

– Bryan

Here are my Morning Brew contributions for BlogTO in 2010:

August 28th
August 30th
September 1st
September 4th
September 6th
September 8th
September 11th
September 14th
September 15th
September 20th

– Bryan

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