Movies on the radio: An introduction to cineflyer radio & Ultrasonic Film
Movies on the radio
Discussing film over the airwaves may seem contradictory, but Winnipeg university stations have made it a local broadcasting staple
Meeting the star of his favourite movie at the video store he works at made James Borsa realize his radio program had become an essential part of his life.
“I was like, ‘You’re Michael Biehn!’” recalls Borsa, host of UMFM 101.5 FM’s first spoken-word show, Ultrasonic Film. Borsa — whose favourite movie is 1984’s The Terminator —started broadcasting from the University of Manitoba in 1998, but had considered retiring the show last spring due to personal stress.
Then, while at Movie Village in Osborne Village, the densely bearded Borsa recognized Biehn (Aliens, The Abyss), who was in town filming dystopian thriller The Divide and had stopped by to rent some flicks.
Right there, Borsa convinced the actor to appear as an on-air guest. And with that show, the host decided to soldier on.
“I’m hoping for 20 or 25 years now,” he declares. “That used to seem like a big number but since we have hit 13….”
Ultrasonic Film is now the city’s longest-running talk radio show devoted to the subject of cinema. Its age is all the more amazing when you consider the odd contradiction of its premise: discussing film over radio.
Yet Borsa isn’t even the only such college radio game in town; over at CKUW 95.9 FM at the University of Winnipeg, local indie filmmaker Ryan Simmons jams the airwaves weekly with cineflyer radio, which focuses on the local film scene.
“It’s more of a news program than a critically structured one, although it’s got a pretty loose format,” says Simmons who, in February, took up the radio reins from predecessor and fellow local auteur Matthew Etches (whose own program was titled focus).
Adopting the name cineflyer, after Winnipeg filmmaker Clint Enns’ online magazine, Simmons made his show more “about having fun with friends.
“The best show I’ve done to date featured Mike Maryniuk and Darryl Nepinak, who talked about their films,” Simmons says. It’s through personalities, he explains, that the visual medium at the show’s centre is animated through audio.
Likewise, Borsa — a 2000 U of M graduate in film studies — understands that, while he could chat for hours about the topic, one person talking about film for the full 60 minutes of his Thursday night slot would be, well, monotonous.
Hence his series of co-hosts, the latest being Cindy Doyle, who has been part of the program for exactly one year since Canada Day. “She helps bring out my articulation,” the 37-year-old Borsa confides, adding that he likes younger foils that bring a contrasting perspective.
“It’s a good back and forth we have,” says Doyle, a 29-year-old rhetoric and communications major. “We certainly have different points of view.” (Their most notable recent disagreement was over anti-romance Blue Valentine, which Doyle thought featured the best portrayal of a female character in the last 20 years; Borsa demurred.)
“I’m a complete and total film geek,” Borsa laughs. “And I feel I’m putting my degree to good use.”
– Kenton Smith, Uptown Magazine