Man with autism debuts show on CIVL radio

Darren Riga will host the show on a monthly basis on the Abbotsford station

Darrin Riga sits in the studio at the CIVL Radio station on campus at the University of the Fraser Valley. His first radio show Darrin on the West Coast will air Thursday. March 3 at 10 a.m.

Darrin Riga sits in the studio at the CIVL Radio station on campus at the University of the Fraser Valley. His first radio show Darrin on the West Coast will air Thursday. March 3 at 10 a.m.

Darrin Riga has always had a fascination with radio. He vividly remembers being a child and sitting with his dad in the living room of their home in Campbell River listening to the AM station on their large, console radio/record player.

“On Saturday mornings, my dad would turn it on and sit in the living room listening to this great program focused on old-time, vintage, jukebox music,” Riga says. “I asked dad if he thought there would be anyone there on a Saturday and if they would let me go in and see what it would be like.”

There was someone there, they did let him in to show him around and it completely captured Riga’s imagination.

Ever since, he has dreamed of having his own radio show. On March 3, that dream came true when the radio program Darrin on the West Coast aired on CIVL radio, which broadcasts from the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.

Riga’s one-hour show is a mix of talk and music, featuring the eclectic mix of tunes that Riga loves as well as music requests from listeners.

What makes his show unique is that Riga lives with autism and his show will feature interviews with others who live with developmental disabilities.

“I want my show to be a voice for people with special needs,” he says.

Riga is part of the Community Inclusion program at Communitas Supportive Care Society. He and his worker, Brian Cucek, have been preparing for months.

They first approached the program manager at CIVL, Dave Cusick, who gave them a tour and invited Riga to consider a show.

“It’s part of our mandate to have diverse voices and perspectives on our station, especially those that mainstream, commercial media typically doesn’t include,” Cusick says.

In order to get the show to air, Riga and Cucek had to complete ethics training, which helped them learn what they should and should not say on the air.

Tech training taught them to properly use the recording equipment in the studio and what the procedures are for hosting your own show.

Since CIVL operates primarily under the auspices of volunteers, Riga and Cucek also put in a couple of hours of volunteer work, cleaning the studio and doing some music recording for another show.

Finally, they had to write a proposal for Riga’s show, which was approved by a committee.

Riga invites music requests, and he and Cucek would like to interview people in the community who live with special needs.

“I have my own equipment so we can record interviews anywhere in the community,” Cucek says.

Anyone interested in participating in this way or requesting a song for the show can contact Riga through Cucek by emailing bcucek@communitascare.com

“This has been my dream for quite a while,” Riga says. “Now it’s coming true.”

Darrin on the West Coast will air monthly. The first show was aired on Thursday, March 3 from 10 to 11 a.m. on CIVL radio, 101.7FM.