Vina Olynyk is not the model of what most people might think a radio DJ should be.
Originally from Portugal, the youngest of 14 siblings celebrated her 69th birthday earlier this month.
When she moved here she wished to lay a wreath on Remembrance Day, as her father served in the Portuguese forces there during the Second World War and her son was serving in the Canadian Forces. Following some misunderstanding about laying the wreath, she was asked to lay a one.
She is very proud of her son and his 20-year service in the Canadian Forces. He is currently serving as a warrant officer in Winnipeg and has done peace keeping tours in Europe.
Olynyk has had a regular one-hour show called Spice of Life on local FM station CICK for the last three years. This year she again has a planned playlist for her a special presentation show on Nov 11.
These are songs many people will associate with the military and will be known to most listeners. Some examples are It’s a long way to Tipperary and The Last Post.
This special show will be aired on Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. and will last around one hour and 20 minutes.
“I want to be able to give it to the people who are unable to go (to the wreath laying ceremony) because it is too cold or they can’t stand for that length of time. Last year I got feedback that it was good to listen to that music. Some people cried. I played it in the common room where I live and there were some people whose husbands were in the war and it brought back sad memories but I believe that sad memories are a part of healing,” she said.
Olynyk comes by remembrance honestly as her father, brother, cousin and son have all served in the military.
“This is something that I like to do. I always try to meet people where they are at. If they are stuck somewhere and I can help them to be feeling like they are elsewhere, I like to do that,” she said.
“I have to approach the station manager way ahead of time because there are people who want that specific spot. I need to think ahead,” she said.
Olynyk loves her volunteer work at the radio station. She has about three years on her show now and at first needed help from the station manager with the technical side of things.
While she has a bit of an accent, there is no difficulty in understanding what she has to say. She also has an excellent command of the English language, which can be one of the most difficult tongues to master.
“I told the manager that I finally figured out what was the matter with my brain. On the left side there is nothing right and on the right side there is nothing left,” she said.
“I told one person I had CRS and they asked me what that was. I told her I can’t remember stuff,” she said.
She got into the radio gig almost by accident.
“When I was in Penticton, a friend had an internet radio station and I would go there to hang out,” she said.
When she moved here, she wanted to do some volunteer work and she ended up at CICK.
“Someone put a microphone in front of me and asked me what I was going to call my show. It was a variety so I called it Spice of Life,” she said.
It took a while to get used to how to use the equipment, but overall she feels it has been good and there has been positive feedback. Past episodes are available at smithersradio.com/program/spice-life.
Don’t forget to tune in to her special broadcast on 93.9 FM or streaming live at smithersradio.com Remembrance Day at 10:30 a.m. for some tunes that will help stimulate those memories of the family members and others who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom.