Despite a move down to a smaller market and audience, Bill Welychka is doing well. Better than ever before, according to him. 

Bill Welychka, a former video jockey, or “VJ,” on the classic Canadian television music channel MuchMusic has released a memoir, titled A Happy Has-Been, commemorating and revisiting his 35 years and growing in broadcasting. Canadians with a wide range of musical tastes remember Welychka from his time at MuchMusic, which began in 1992. 

Welychka said he was initially skeptical about the idea of writing a memoir, noting that the suggestion had come up a few times throughout this career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Welychka noticed podcasts becoming increasingly popular, even being interviewed on a number of shows. 

Soon, Welychka began thinking there may be interest for his memoir, and not longer after he began to write his book based on his syndicated newspaper column and more than 5000 interviews.

“I’m just surprised that anyone cares,” Welychka said with a laugh. “That’s why I called it ‘A Happy Has Been,’ in that there’s some people who only know me from a certain period of time in Canadian broadcasting with Much and MuchMoreMusic. When I left, they had no idea where I went, I fell of the face of the earth.”

Photo/The Bill Welychka Team

Welychka said after he left MuchMusic, he occasionally heard from people who would recognize him. The VJ never left television, however, and is now an on-air news anchor in Kingston, Ont. Welychka said since he decided to make a move to the smaller audience, he’s the happiest he’s ever been. 

The book recounts major life events and many tales from years of music journalism, with Welychka saying the book is for “anyone who wants to hear a good tale of life and hanging out with musicians.” During his career, Welychka interviewed stars such as Madonna, Prince and David Bowie. Welychka said while many idolize celebrities, adding he had done the same previously, he believes more attention should be given to “every day heroes.”

“To me, the people we should be putting on a pedestal are first responders, just look at what’s going on in the world,” noted Welychka. “I watch these firefighters go in, and they run into the burning buildings. These people are heroes to me. I think in terms of elevating, we should elevate the people around us. I think that’s important.”

The memoir is not all rock and roll, as Welychka opens up about his battle with depression and other sensitive topics, including grief and loss. A percentage of proceeds from sales of Welychka’s new book will go to White Ribbon Campaign, an awareness campaign of men and boys looking to end violence against women.

In addition to the memoir, fans of Welychka can see him interviewed as part of an upcoming MuchMusic documentary called 299 Queen Street West. There is also a film in production by an independent filmmaker, Jay Middaugh, based on an exaggerated version of Welychka’s story. 

For more info, visit www.billwelychka.ca