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

 

” MOVIN’ ON UP “

563568_10151829878449307_813267121_n-1Moved to Ottawa
a family of  three

Which consisted of Lana
Candis and me.

But a man needs a son
so we added one more

We named him Curtis
and hit the big time a family of 4.

When I moved from Sudbury to Ottawa, other than the adoption of my son Curtis, Ottawa wasn’t a pleasant experience.
I was hired to program CFRA by the CHUM group out of Toronto, but they neglected to tell me that the staff still worshiped the old owner, Frank Ryan. When he sold the station to CHUM, they must have missed the part where old Frank scooted with the loot and left them all behind.
The group provided me with a whole lot of help. I had two programming consultants, Ted Randal out of LA, and George Davies from Victoria. I loved when Ted came to town because he was into concepts and philosophy, but George was only about the mechanics. Also, a phone call away was old friend J Robert Wood who was the program director of CHUM-AM, as was Fred Sheratte who was the group’s V/P of programming.
CFRA with its 50,000 watts had a huge signal, but technically it didn’t sound big, in fact, we sounded like we were coming out of a phone. I spent hours battling with the chief engineer until he finally relented and backed the compression giving us a little fidelity.
I lived in no man’s land, the locals treated me like I was a “suit” from Toronto, but the folks in Toronto were also wary of me because they knew I wasn’t a “suit.” Even back then, though, I knew that all you needed was 5-7 like-minded people to become successful. I brought in the golden throats of Roger Klein and Woody Cooper to fix production, added Sharon Henwood for promotion, and when our midday guy, Joel Thompson, came around to our way of thinking, we were all set.
The best thing about CFRA was its award-winning news department. I’ll never forget watching the evening news when the Prime Minister responded to a reporter’s question with, “All I know about that is what I heard on CFRA.” How many times do you suppose we ran that little sound bite, “Eh?”
My first rating book at CFRA was big enough that some of the resistance to what I was doing eased up, but the next one was huge. In fact, when you put all the other Ottawa radio stations together, they still weren’t even close. Hell, we even had a 100 share Sunday morning, which of course is bull shit, but when it happens on your watch, you get to own it.
Then, all of a sudden, my radio world went silent. I go from almost too much input to none. Now, instead of hearing from the people who used to encouraged me, the only people quacking at me were the “old guard.” I was later told that the owner, Allan Waters, had backed everyone off as a compliment. He told everyone else that he didn’t want anybody slowing down my train, but he neglected to tell me. Feeling isolated, my rage began to heat up.  
In order to reach my office from the studios, I had to pass by the General Manager’s office. One day, as I was walking down the hall, he along with his sports director friend Ernie Calcutt, waved me in. They wanted to know why I hired Roger Klein, who they said, would only end up leaving because he’s out of our league. My rage, which had been festering for some time, took this opportunity to boil over. Doing my best Ralph Conner, I replied to Terry Keilty’s question with,  “WHEN YOU’VE GOT A CHANCE TO WORK WITH GREATNESS TERRY, YOU GRAB IT, EVEN, IF YOU ONLY HAVE IT FOR FIVE FUCKING MINUTES.” With that, I threw the tape of promos I’d been carrying against his mahogany wall, where it just shattered. I watched as the tape slowly drifted down, enveloping them both in what looked like brown snow. As they struggled to free themselves, I stormed out. Terry was right though about Roger because he did leave when he left with me for Toronto

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