OPS Radio: from graffiti news to the airwaves

Caricature of Trey Helten and Smokey Devil
Caricature of Trey Helten and Smokey Devil by Smokey Devil - Image courtesy of OPS Radio
Gunargie O'Sullivan - CFRO - VancouverBC | 22-07-2021

The Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) was started in 2014 in reaction to the quickly growing number of overdoses resulting from a poisoned drug supply. In 2021, it opened an indoor site in the Irving Hotel, just next door to Co-op Radio. Sarah Blyth, OPS's Executive Director thought that having a radio show could be an interesting extension to the services offered by the society. Thus was born OPS Radio, "a resident-produced, Downtown Eastside show focused on current news and events, as well as art and music made within the community."

Today on the Pulse, we talk with Trey Helten, OPS' general manager, who co-hosts the show. He explains that one of the first things he did in his new role was to ask Smokey Devil, a well known graffiti artist who uses his art to tell what's happening in the neighbourhood, to join him as a co-host. "He uses his art to highlight missing women, people who have passed in the neighbourhood, or COVID awareness situation. Basically, he's been the newspaper for the DTES for the past 25 years" says Helten.

The team has since then grown with the addition of producer Eris Nyx and regular co-host and producer Morgan Davis.

OPS Radio airs on Monday at 8 PM, with a new show every other week, on Vancouver Co-op Radio and "features surreal and often satirical humor, at points, anti-humor and cringe comedy, Downtown Eastside musicians, and bizarre Theatre of the Absurd sketches."