Winnipeg-based 'doctor of audio' keeping the records spinning at age 83
Published Friday, May 26, 2017 7:55PM CST
In the cramped quarters of Bill Yaworski’s Sanford Street electronics shop some feel claustrophobic, others see charm and feel nostalgic.
It’s a business, which has stood the test of time and survived numerous changes in an evolving industry shaped by digital downloads and streaming music services.
At Columbus Radio, it’s the resurgence of vinyl records that has helped keep the business running strong.
Yaworski – in his white lab coat surrounded by stacks and stacks of audio equipment including speakers, amplifiers and turntables in need of repair – is known by some as a doctor of audio.
A fitting name for a man who knows his needles, the kind that belong on a record player.
Yaworski, 83, has witnessed the rise, fall and rebirth of vinyl.
“They (records) were sort of phasing out when the CDs were coming in,” said Yaworski. “Needles…we only used to sell between Christmas and New Year’s and then that was it.”
“All of a sudden things started to change, CDs started to fade out and then record players…all the younger generation…became interested in them and now all of a sudden, we’re busy year round.”
Yaworski has owned the shop since 1968, but became fascinated by audio long before that and repairing equipment still gives him joy.
“I was always quite interested in audio, how everything works,” said Yaworski. “It’s just challenging getting things fixed, then it works nice and customers are happy.”
VINYL SALES SURGED IN 2016: NIELSEN MUSIC CANADA
Sales of new vinyl in Canada grew 26 per cent last year compared to 2015, according to Paul Shaver head of Nielsen Music Canada.
“It’s become, dare I say, trendy again,” said Shaver. “It’s just becoming more accessible.”
While vinyl's popularity has surged for the past five years, Shaver sales are down about 10 per cent so far in 2017. He thinks part of the decline is due to the closure HMV.
Overall, Shaver said consumption of music across all formats is increasing.
Yaworksi has certainly noticed the vinyl trend at his shop and he said it’s customers of all ages getting in on the action.
“A lot of younger people,” said Yaworski. “They’re quite interested in the records.”
“The sound is much better from record players, too. You get the full frequency response.”
Yaworski’s daugher, Debbie Beatie, works part-time at Columbus Radio and helps keep tabs on all the equipment that comes through the door.
She said it’s an “organized mess” inside the shop, but that her dad wouldn’t have it any other way.
“He knows where everything is,” said Beatie. “So I don’t try and move stuff on him or if I do I make sure I let him know but no he knows where everything is, believe it or not.”
Customer Mike Stamatinos brought a turntable from the 1970s with mechanical issues in for repairs.
He said the stacks of equipment that greet customers at the door is part of the charm.
"Well it's like a little bit of a time machine,” said Stamatinos. "I think in the end my turntable is one of the newer items in there."
Yaworski has no plans to power down anytime soon.
“I still feel good and I still like what I'm doing,” said Yaworski. “The wife's after me to retire."
Until that happens, he plans to keep on fixing anything that comes his way.