The End of In the Key of Charles

September 9, 2009

It’s over. The final show of In the Key of Charles, hosted by Gregory Charles, aired on CBC Radio last Sunday. I’m kind of sad about this.

I first heard the show about a year ago, when I was going on runs near the beach. After my early Sunday morning runs, I would hop in the car and listen to CBC Radio 2, where I heard something different between 10 am and noon. The playlist was diverse: from pop to classical to show tunes to rock. In between songs, a sweet-sounding man was whimsically talking about the music while also spontaneously breaking into song and playing piano – beautifully. Who is this guy?, I wondered.

It turned out to be Charles, who’s a star in Quebec. He’s known for being able to play and sing virtually any song that’s requested of him. The formula for In the Key of Charles was simple: Charles sat in his Montreal apartment with his producer Scott and technician Pierre, and devoted each week’s show to a theme: “right and wrong”, “pets”, “sleep”, “secrets”, etc. Songs were strategically chosen to fit the theme.

One week the theme was “thinking”, and Charles played a tune by Dido, who I had never paid any attention to before. I had always considered Dido a lightweight artist – someone you’d hear at the dentist’s office. Definitely not cool. But the song, “Don’t Think of Me”, got my attention. In fact I became semi-obsessed with it. I don’t know if the song grabbed me because of its merits or the fact that Charles played it and talked about the bitter lyrics. But the Dido incident exemplified why I became a regular listener of In the Key of Charles. He always conveyed a pure love for music, without a trace of snobbery. While he got schmaltzy at times in his song selection and in his own playing/singing, his openness to all music left an impression on me. Thanks to Charles, I’m going to try to be less of a judgmental music snob. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The theme of the last show was, appropriately, “The End”. The very last song was Chris de Burgh’s “Transmission Ends”. Ciao Gregory Charles – my Sundays won’t be the same without you.

Charles’ hit single “I Think of You” (“Don’t Think of Me” in reverse), which doesn’t exactly ease up on the schmaltz quotient, but I still like it:



  1. To whom it may concern,
    I certainly will miss listening to the Key of Charles. It is a program that I feel it is heart felt directed. Listening to Charles help us to realize that there are deep loving feelings in our souls. It is a a love, healing energy that one feels from listening to this program. Charles help to convey this energy to speak to one’s soul. His passion for music is phenomonal. A gift to be shared.
    Thank you, Gregory for sharing your wonderful gift.
    With gratitude and appreciation,

  2. […] probably scared people off. I have somewhat of a man crush on Charles, which I revealed in a blog post about his radio show, so I’m glad I ignored the weather and went. Charles did what he’s known for in Québec […]

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