A Guitar & Cello (part 2)

photo-11In (part 1) I wrote about purchasing my Fender Stratocaster when I was going to High School in Transcona in hopes of becoming a “Guitar God” In 1967 I decided to give up the dream and move on to Radio shortly after my Daughter Candis was born. I wisely decided to leave dreaming about being on Bandstand and other stuff to some Winnipeg folks a lot more qualified than me such as my friend Randy Bachman and Neil Young. When I began my Radio career I was a fairly quick study so before too long I was moving my family to CKOM in Saskatoon where I had just been hired as their new Program Director. This time I was there as a teacher of Radio not as it’s student.

photo-21I also mentioned in (part 1) I found out early how it all works when I hired a guitar player better than me. I learned a smarter and/or better person than you is always the answer. My first hire was Gary Russell a hippy from Winnipeg who even though younger than me knew more about programming than I did. Gary who is still one of my dearest friend ended up in Radio Hall Of Fame in Canada and helped me put together a very unique radio station in Saskatoon. Together we produced some decent ratings rather quickly plus the Radio Station sounded pretty good considering our budget and what size market we we were in. As good as things seemed to be going management was upset most of the time.           They were a lot more concerned about the length of our talent’s hair than how they sounded. The last straw was when they claimed they couldn’t sell any commercials because the clients didn’t understand what we were doing so they wanted me to change it so I moved on!                                                                                                                                     My next stop was Sudbury Ontario where we put together a great sound with the help of a few of my Saskatoon guys, Woody Cooper, Doc Harris and of course Gary Russell. In Sudbury I learned another lesson which I’ve used again and again. “Always have a road team ready to go”                                                                                                                          The CKSO sound was so good that within four months Ottawa dragged me out of there and made me the PD of my first Major Market Station. My short stay in Sudbury provided me with another recruit for the road trip gang Roger Klein. Roger had what I like to call a silver throat and we produced some gigantic ratings while we were in Ottawa and soon Ted Rogers came calling and recruited me for his Toronto Radio Station CFTR.                                                                                                                                               The first thing I did in Toronto of course was bring along some members of my talented road team, Roger of course, Doc Harris, Keith Elshaw plus my new recruit Sharon Henwood.  As they say “necessity is a mutha” Ted’s license said our programming had to be for adults so we had to figure out which of the hits would appeal to adults without attracting too many teens. Our first rating book was a monster adult book and they rewarded me by making me the Station Manager.                                                                       Next Jim Hilliard calls and says he wants me to be his National PD. Jim who was my first Radio boss at CKY in Winnipeg was now running a Radio Group out of Indianapolis called Fairbanks Broadcasting. He said he loved how we were doing the music in Toronto and wanted me to try it on a brand new station he had just purchased in Dallas called KVIL. We didn’t know it at the time, but while we were busy protecting CFTR from the CRTC we also were creating what was about to become one of the biggest formats ever to hit FM in North America. What fun Ron Chapman another Hall Of Famer and I had doing Kay Ville and watching it become the darling of the industry.                                                     Fairbanks Broadcasting which was headed up by Jim Hilliard was very cutting edge. We did a lot of very creative and innovated things on Stations like WIBC and WNAP in Indianapolis where I still have good friends like Cris Conner, Bruce Munson and Linda Duffy. WVBF in Boston where I sparred with Jay Williams and talked my friend Delilah into leaving Seattle to join us and much later putting Boston’s first Country Station on the air with Bob Christy. WIBG in Philly where good friends Bill Gardner and Chuck Knapp sounded so good and finally WRMF in Palm Beach where Russ Morely and I did the first KVIL clone which became the front runner of the Class/Classy format. WRMF proved you could syndicate a concept and philosophy.                                                                  As good as I had it I was also 39 and headed for a head on collision with mid-life crises. It was 1981, time to move on, time to do my own thing and I don’t think Jim has ever forgiven me for leaving. To this day he never fails to bring up what he calls “The Day I Screwed Him”                                                                                                                                       Growing up in Winnipeg as I did watching all the folks at the Rose Bowl in their shorts and T-shirts every New Years while we were freezing our asses off in Winnipeg would make anyone want to live in California. My muses were screaming … Hey why not right now! I was throwing everything away by starting all over anyway so I might as well do it in a place where I can’t freeze to death. Even my wife had informed me she had followed me around long enough and wouldn’t be joining me, so I could live anywhere I wanted. I chose San Diego as the place to start my brand new consulting firm and KOGO/KPRI became my first client. I must admit those were scary times but also very exciting times for a lad who was a long way from Transcona.                                                                               When Ron Chapman and I were working together on KVIL the best word we could come up with that described our sound was “Class” and it seemed to be the perfect word to name our new format with and shortly after that Class/Classy FM was born. The next step was to recruit my Brother Reg and my friend Reid Reker to help out. Back when I was in Toronto I had purchased a great promotion from Jack McCoy which I ran on CFTR called “The Last Contest” When I moved to the US Jack and I became friends so I had first shot at all of his creations which I ran on both the Fairbanks and Class/Classy stations. Jack happened to live on an island off of San Diego called Coronado and as soon as I saw it I knew if my family ever showed up this was where I wanted my kids to live. You only needed a car if you were planning on going over the huge bridge to San Diego, otherwise walking was the main mode of transportation.                                                         Before we were quite ready for it the Class/Classy format exploded on to forty Radio Stations which was a little scary but it provided the necessary finances needed to turn the large older home I had purchased into a beautiful mansion. We totally tricked this place out with a pool, Jacuzzi, Mexican tiles, award winning landscaping using flowers and fruit trees everywhere. Once all that was done we walled it in and installed some electronic gates that opened with the touch of a button. It all turned out so nice the house made Better Homes & Gardens twice.                                                                                                     As I mentioned earlier we walked everywhere and one of my favorite places to go when my family finally joined me was the Hotel Del Coronado which was just down the street. They had a spectacular Sunday brunch and once there we also loved to check out all the new neat stuff they had in their special shops and stores. One Sunday while browsing I spotted this exquisite Ceramic Cello (pictured) and it knocked me out. When I asked what the price it was a way out of my league and I would have to satisfy my desire for it by just peeking at it each Sunday till it was gone. One particular Sunday after the usual scrumptious brunch I checked the mail box when we got home and lo and behold there was a big check from a client I thought had stiffed me. Hey this is found money so it’s back to the Hotel Del I go, dragging my Son Curtis’ wagon behind me and carefully haul the precious Cello home. What a wonderful day!                                                                           When Lana and I split up the only thing I wanted was the Cello which I still have but like my guitar it’s from a different time and a different life style and sometimes you just have to let the past go. I have no idea what it is worth, hell I can’t even remember what I paid for it. Maybe somebody knows what I should do next. I need to figure out how to get it to the next person who also lust after special things like I do.


4 thoughts on “A Guitar & Cello (part 2)

  1. Geo

    Thanks once again for the kind words my friend but I doubt that I ever knew more about programming than you did. But even if I did for the briefest of moments, you were the guy who inspired me in how to be a leader, how to get everyone to perform beyond what they believed they were capable of.


  2. THIS is my fave. Even though I know many of your stories by heart. This is the one that gave me a sense of you. Not you, the father. Not you, the Casanova. Just you. I rather liked you.

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