The story behind “Bonjour Chanson” on KMXT

Play

Charles Spira has been producing the Bonjour Chanson French Music show for well over a decade, but his passion for French music has been lifelong. He shared with KMXT a story from his youth.

“My mother took myself and my sister each week to a place where I heard music, French music every week, the best artists, the greatest artists, you might have heard of Edith Piaf perhaps? Well, I had eye contact with Edith Piaf, because I was sitting in the first row and she saw a little boy paying rapt attention to her singing, and a vague smile played on her face. That’s a wonderful memory for me,” Spira said.

Spira grew up in Antwerp, in Belgium, with Dutch as his first language. He learned French through immersion after spending time in Switzerland in his youth. He received an education in physics in Belgium. Spira immigrated to the United States in a generational wave in the latter 20th century of Western European scientists and engineers pursuing careers at America’s laboratories, universities and manufacturing hubs. He ultimately settled in Baltimore in 1997, where he has lived since.

For Spira, the story of Bonjour Chanson began with his purchase of a car.

“And then what happened was, in 2007, I got a new car. And that car had a satellite radio. At that time, it was XM, Sirius XM- Sirius and XM were separate companies. And on XM Radio, there was a program from Canada called “Sur La Route,” where they played a French language songs day and night, one after the other. And I thought it was really bad to have no context whatsoever. And I, and also, since they played 24 hours a day, the quality was uneven. So I told myself, “I can do better.” So I invited a company to set up a little studio in my basement. I had to prepare the script. And I created the demo, which was episode one of Bonjour Chanson,” Spira said.

Since then, Bonjour Chanson can be found regularly on some French radio stations, a station in Switzerland- but only one station in the US- and that’s KMXT 100.1 FM. Spira says that it’s not easy to get an American station to play French music.

“My heart is really touched by the fact that KMXT broadcasts my program. And because I see that Kodiak is such a diverse community. There are people of many backgrounds there, and to know that a lot of them enjoy listening to Bonjour Chanson lifts my heart up,” Spira said.

Ultimately for Spira, the music show is about more than just the music.

“I always say, if you know a different language you look at the world through colored glasses, it’s like a different perspective on the world and French chanson gives you a different perspective on the world, you find out how the French- or the Francophone people- how they think, how they live, and how they love,” Spira said.

You can hear Bonjour Chanson on Fridays, from 12:30-1:00 PM, on KMXT 100.1 FM or on KMXT.org. This week’s episode features a song by French Canadian artist Adreanne A Malette, titled “Alaska.”

 

 

 

Check Also

Alaska’s congressional delegation spoke to visiting students outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan were demonstrating the hand signals they use to vote in the Senate chamber. Their gestures happen to reflect how they feel about a Senate trial on the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Midday Report – April 11, 2024

On today’s Midday Report with host Terry Haines: A partisan brawl is about to erupt …

%d bloggers like this: