Hey Joni

This article originally appeared in the 2021 POP Montreal Programme

I met Joni years ago when a mutual friend told us that we should meet (his exact words, "it's gonna be good"). Visiting Montreal from Ottawa, she was a fellow community radio music director. We talked about our respective stations over some Boustan, sharing notes about how they operated before going record shopping. Not just colleagues, but instant buds. Music talk with her could range from Rancid to Rhys Chatham, to our mutual love for North of America and Autolux.

Over the years we became closer through our On-the-Road-esque network of radio friends, making sure to link up at music and radio conferences along the way or whenever she was in town for a show or a screening at the dearly departed Blue Sunshine (and most importantly explaining what the words "plenary" and "groat" meant at an NCRC). One visit to POP Montreal  in 2011 involved a packed Japandroids show at le Divan Orange where Joni emerged from a sweaty mosh pit excited that she had just been kicked in the face by a crowdsurfer. Nothing fazed her. 

When she moved to Montreal, the entire CJLO staff were so happy to finally be in the same city as Joni, and to be given the opportunity for more frequent hang outs and run-ins with one of our fave out-of-town radio pals. Through radio, she dug her roots into the music scenes of the different cities she lived in; she became an exceptional resource for DIY bands trying to book tours, and got involved with festivals like Arboretum Festival, Suoni Per Il Popolo, and of course, POP—becoming the Symposium Director for a time, where I had the pleasure to work with her on two workshops. Joni loved more than just community radio, Joni loved community

I have so many stories about Joni, a lot of them about her great sense of humour, but most of them about what a kind, helpful and incredibly supportive friend she was. My wife always remarked how she truly listened to you, and was always interested in what you had to say, what you were putting out into the universe, and what kind of art you were creating. She genuinely cared. 

Joni was the familiar face you looked for in a crowd at a show; she was a lot of people's security blanket and probably never realized that. Everyone rightfully loved her. Mention her name to a stranger in a different music scene and you will immediately bring a smile to their face, followed by an, “Oh, you know Joni too!?” As our different communities live on, Joni will continue to link us together, but it’s still going to be hard to get over the habit of looking for her when walking into a packed venue.

Joni was also incredibly fun, and did not waste time. The drumming, welding, sailing, embroidering, knitting, I-learned-to-code-cuz-pandemic-freed-up-a-lot-of-time-ing marvel wouldn't want us to waste any time either.  Live your life, learn that new skill, go on that trip, meet those new people and take that chance. Don't waste the little time you have. Fill it with whatever challenges and interests you, and whatever makes you happy - and share that with those you care about. That's how we can continue to pay tribute to Joni and keep her memory going. 

She was, and will always be, the coolest person I know.

Shots ring out from the center of an empty field
Joni's in the tall grass
She's a beautiful mental jukebox
A sailboat explosion
A snap of electric whip crack
She's not thinking about the future
She's not spinning her wheels
She doesn't think at all about the past
She's thinking long and hard about that wild sound
And wondering, will it last?

-Sonic Youth, "Hey Joni"

Joni Sadler Memorial Bursary - "Endowed in 2021 by family and friends in memory of alumna Joni Sadler. Awarded annually to undergraduate students in demonstrated financial need, who identify as women, and are entering or continuing in a Bachelor of Computer Science degree at Carleton University. Carrying on in her spirit, this award is intended to support students who are working towards accessibility and inclusion in the field of technology."