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One YouTuber is saving and sharing Vancouver TV from the 80s and 90s

Looking to feel nostalgic?
The YouTube channel Retro Vancouver posts TV shows and commercials from the 1980s, 90s and 2000s.

The nostalgia of 80s and 90s TV in Vancouver is being preserved on a YouTube channel.

RetroVancouver, run by Dax Sorrenti, has become the home to commercials and clips from the pre-Internet decades that many remember but may not be able to find online. Sorrenti says he runs the account to give people a chance to relive memories and the feeling of being younger.

"The way I look at all this stuff, it's a catalyst for retrieving memories," Sorrenti tells V.I.A. "It's more about the time the commercials came from. I prefer stuff from the late 80s and early 90s just because that's my preferred time to travel back to."

While there are plenty of places to watch old commercials on the internet, Sorrenti specializes in Vancouver specifically, having spent his life here. He's been able to collect 80 TB of video from old VHS tapes. with broadcasts from all sorts of local TV brands, including UTV, VTV, and BCTV. He's also got clips from Seattle stations that broadcast into the Vancouver area.

"Seeing something for the first time in 30 years causes a wave of a memory," he says, explaining that for many the commercials are stuck in their memories, but haven't been recalled for decades. "It's like a library where you have the books that no one has checked out in a decade and they're put in a box in the basement."

In this case, Sorrenti says, he's doing the research and finding the old TV content, removing a barrier to those memories and feelings.

"I just do this for fun and hope people come across it," he adds, noting it's often stuff people wouldn't hunt for, but enjoy watching. It's not so much beloved core classics as it is the everyday stuff that people enjoyed.

Getting started

The hobby came around by accident. Sorrenti, who works in video production, was visiting someone's house and collecting old home videos to make a DVD for them. Among the tapes, he found old recordings of TV shows. It hooked him on the nostalgia of old TV.

Digitizing the tapes to save what was on them made sense to Sorrenti, who did his thesis on archiving retro media.

He's collected hundreds of tapes now, digitized them, and goes through them to put videos together for his channel.

At first, it was just to save the commercials, but he's begun putting more time into RetroVancouver. One project he's worked on is creating playlists of songs from different years, collecting songs that were popular at the time, but didn't make the "classic" status and therefore don't show up on Spotify playlists so much.

He's also started recreating blocks of TV from the 80s and 90s based on old TV guides. The shows are pared down and he creates the impression of flipping around and watching bits of different shows and movies that would show up on a specific night.

Sorrenti is still collecting old VHS tapes of local TV to see what's on them if anyone wants to donate material. He can be reached via his website or Instagram.