CKUWHO :: The Electric Chair




For your Saturday morning musical brunch, Nicole Firlotte is just as likely to serve up a Scoobie Doobie Doo as she is a Wa Da Da Da Da.

Every other Saturday (alternating with Influenced) she and The Electric Chair roll with the flow wherever the mood takes the day, from Ol’ Blue Eyes to Blue Monday.  It’s all over the map and eclectic, but she keeps it connected.“It’s totally freeform,” she explains. “I don’t have a plan, I don’t know where it will go,” she confesses, “I have a loose idea, but I’ll be in the booth and playing something and think ‘this will sound good and this will sound good.’  It’s a trip to see where it goes.”

“The 80s are a touchstone for me. The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen,” she reminisces. “My first show was in 1986.” Back then, CKUW was located in the basement of Lockhart Hall and resembled every college station you might see in a movie from that time.

“The basement days were so fun and I came in near the end of them. There were always folks hanging around on the couches. Sometimes we would leave and go to class or to get food or coffee but we mostly just hung out.”

“There were not many girls back in those days, Jill Wilson and Barb Stewart and I were in the minority as I remember.”

While Barb and Jill were making names for themselves as music journalists, Nicole was moving on up in radio, becoming CKUW Station Manager. The following year, she left CKUW to further pursue her studies.

The Electric Chair came to life in 2001 upon her return to Winnipeg from Churchill, where she was a naturalist.  Not just a music nerd, she’s also a scientist, helping to save endangered species. “That’s my day job,” she says matter-of-factly. “I try to approach the show like I’m talking to someone, a friend that I don’t know,” she explains. “Of course, you talk about yourself, but how much do people want to know?”

These days the chair is more like a loveseat as Nicole’s young son, Eli, often co-hosts. She still does most of the talking, though. “He’s not one for a lot of talking,” she says, “but it’s cool that he’s interested, and it’s great to share something with him that’s been a part of my life since the 80s.”

The Electric Chair may have its roots in the 80s, but new branches are always growing and new releases really sway the tree, leading to real life adventures that in turn are brought back and shared on the radio.

Such was evident when the family took a trip to Denver to see The Drums. “I interviewed the band, we watched the soundcheck, and they played a special song for Eli at the show,” she recalls. “I love CKUW and how it gives me the chance to take Eli along with me.”

A friendly Manitoban to the core, Nicole’s involvement with CKUW continues to be not just about the music, but the people too. “I like meeting the new folks around the station and the old faces from back in the day.”

The Electric Chair can be heard every other Saturday, alternating with Influenced, between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on 95.9 FM CKUW.