Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (inside the world of radio&records) Chapter XVII July /17




Moved to Sudbury
for a four-month stand.
But Ottawa came calling
which changed all my plans.

Learned to get ratings
which we got in abundance

I just went along with my hunches.

Fed up with what was going on in Saskatoon, I took a job in Sudbury. I became the new program director of CKSO AM&FM. Sudbury is located about 200 miles north of Toronto and isn’t the prettiest place on earth. Earlier mining techniques had scorched the land so badly; the astronauts used it to practice their moon walks. On the upside though, unlike my arrival in Saskatoon, I was pleased to discover that CKSO already sounded pretty good. All it needed was some fine tuning and maybe a little sizzle to take it from good to great.
13230333_10154847702919307_513820795295145358_nThey already had some great weapons like G. Michael Cranston (pictured above) and Roger Klein in place, so all I had to do was come up with a few good promotions. As I began working on my plan, a Van Morrison look-alike would appear outside my office door and just stare at me almost every day. Figuring him to be some sales guy from the TV side, I just ignored him.

2015-10-17-16-40-43-1380780411After being in Sudbury for about a week, my boss George Lund, (pictured above) stopped by my office and asked if I had some time to meet the big guy. Surprised, I said, “I thought you were the big guy, George?” He just laughed and explained that he ran the radio division, but Ralph Conner ran the whole company.
Arriving at Ralph’s outer office, we were told by his secretary that Mr. Conner was on the phone but would be with us shortly. While waiting, I couldn’t help but take a peek over her shoulder, and sure enough, there was the Van Morrison look-alike. (pictured below)2015-10-17-16-39-22-908039545A few minutes later, when we were ushered into Ralph’s office, he motions me to the only other chair in the room and informs George that he’ll have to stand. As I sit down, Ralph turned to George and said, “Mr. Lund, while you’re standing there, perhaps you can explain something to me. Just what is it that your new genius programmer is doing? Whatever it is, I can’t hear it.” George told him that I was busy putting a plan together while also familiarizing myself with the station’s policies. Ralph, then turned to me and asked, “George, could you find it in your heart to do me a small favor?” Before I could respond, he gets to his feet and yells, DO NOT EVER FOLLOW THE STATION’S FUCKING POLICIES IF THE STATION’S POLICIES WERE ANY FUCKING GOOD, THE FUCKING RADIO STATION WOULD SOUND GOOD.” With that, he sat down and dismissed us with a wave of his hand.
George told me not worry about the meeting because it would all blow over soon enough. Seething, I replied, “I don’t want it to blow over, ’cause I wanna bring that fucker to his knees! Forget about making a plan, let’s just do it.”
13256516_10154847961054307_5282310543410961699_nUnfortunately, I couldn’t “just do it” without my guys. I convinced Woody Cooper and Doc Harris, (pictured above) who were still in Saskatoon, and Gary Russell, who was at CKLW in Detroit, to join me. We streamlined the music, tightened up the formatics, then started running some big promotions. First, we threw a huge family picnic at the lake in the middle of town, where we officially brought Summer to Sudbury. We had free food, face painting, tons of balloons, clowns and street magicians. Dramatically at the stroke of summer, the Canadian Airforce flew a bunch jet fighters straight at us over the lake. Whew!
I hadn’t seen Ralph since our first meeting, which was fine by me. One day, out of the blue; I’m summoned to his office. As I walk in, Ralph puts me at ease by saying that he loves the sound of the station. He then goes on to say that all we needed to do now was promote the new sound. With that in mind, he was going to give me a big TV budget and all I had to do was come up with a good commercial. 
The guys were stoked. Before long we shot an outstanding TV spot which I rushed to Ralph for his approval. When he slipped it into his VCR, I noticed that he turned the sound down. After watching for about 15 seconds, he turned to me, and asked, “George, what the hell is this spot about?” Sarcastically, I tell him that if he had the audio up, he’d know, ’cause it’s killer. Ralph lets my sarcasm slide, and then said, “George, people don’t listen to TV, they watch it.”
We fixed the TV spot, and changed a few other things, when, once again, I’m summoned to Ralph’s office.

This time, he just wanted to chat. He started out by confessing that he’s really a New York kinda guy. The only way, he claimed, that he could handle living in Sudbury was by bringing a little New York to the area.  He went on to say, “You have CKSO sounding as good, if not better, than most New York stations. To thank you and your crew, I’m throwing a big thank party at a fancy northern resort.”
What a weekend! A big bus filled with booze and food picked us all up at the station, and by the time we got to the resort, the party had already started. I don’t remember too much about that weekend, but I’m told we had a great time. Ralph was right about CKSO sounding good, in fact, it sounded so good that CFRA in Ottawa hired me away. I’m pretty sure Ralph would have paid me almost anything to stay, but when the “Bigs” call, ya gotta go man.

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