A Marriage of Music and Technology

If you’ve been to a concert or stage performance, recently, and admired the crisp sound or the well-lit stage, then chances are you are already a fan of Bill Charron’s, the owner/operator of Omni Productions.

Charron has been a mainstay of the Yukon entertainment industry since his arrival on the scene in September of 1979.

The story of his arrival sounds familiar: “I came up for a visit and a year later I moved here,” he says with a little chuckle. As a youth, in Ontario, Charron had been a musician who performed in numerous bands. It was here that he developed a talent for the technical elements of live performance.

“It was always in my blood,” he says.

In the Yukon, his talent filled an important niche and Charron went into business managing the sound and lights for local events.

“Three of us formed a company called Unitech, and then for a while I ran Bill’s Lighting, and now I own and operate Omni Productions,” says Charron.

“In ’80 or ’81 I started doing the lighting design for the drama club, he explains, “and it grew from there.”

Before long, Charron’s involvement in the music scene led to the The Battle of the Bands, a friendly competition between local musicians. Since the initial “battle”, the concept has taken off in the territory.

“It started out with a couple of teen bands and, from there, more and more kids got involved.” Today, The Battle of the Bands is part of the legacy produced by Charron’s technical expertise.

In the 30 years that he has called the Yukon home, he has many fond memories in the entertainment business. When pressed, he is able to share a small selection.

“Working with Frostbite is a real highlight, the resurrection of the Ice Palace [now home to the Yukon Transportation Museum]. I did all the wiring for the Guild Hall. And, of course, getting the arts centre up here … that was really groundbreaking.”

Throughout all the developments, Charron has been there ensuring that our performers look and sound their best. Just about everyone who plucks a guitar in front of a crowd eventually runs into him.

“I’ve worked with most of the musicians up here,” he says. “Some of them used to rehearse in my garage.”

One might be curious how Charron stacks up against technicians from the south. He, himself, has also wondered that very thing …

“I went to the University of Victoria, for Lighting Design. I did a year and realized I didn’t need to go back. My prof said I should go to New York, but the Yukon was my calling,” he says.

Now Charron is in his mid sixties and is thinking a little bit more about peace and quiet. “I’ve retired so many times, but they keep pulling me back. We need a young technician to come and take my place,” he says.

The Yukon’s entertainment industry is far larger than it was when he arrived. And it raises an interesting question: Did the Yukon’s culture expand because of the role Charron played in it? or did Charron’s role grow because of the Yukon’s expanding culture?

It’s one of those chicken-and-egg-type questions, but as long as we’ve got quality live performances to keep us busy, we probably won’t think too much about the answer.

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