DO IT AGAIN.
CFTR in Toronto
was the start of it all
They even made me the Manager
but America called
Hey, turning a radio station into a laboratory for me in Canada’s largest market was pretty ballsy of Ted Rogers and Keith Dancy. What we came up with at CFTR, forever changed my life and I’ll never forget them for allowing me the opportunity. May they both RIP.
We had an abundance of talent on the air at CFTR, but it was the backstage folks who made it happen. People like Keith Elshaw, (pictured above), Sharon Henwood, Bruce Devine, Rick Moranis, Roger Klein, and especially Jeannine. She was Keith Dancy’s gatekeeper and wouldn’t let anyone, but me, in to see Keith without an appointment. Without all of the above people, nothing would have happened.
What we were doing at CFTR was so different that is was like sailing in uncharted waters. We changed things so often that we needed to have constant communication with each other. One of the ways we achieved this by having frequent but short staff meetings. I had a fairly large office so I would arrange all the chairs in rows facing my desk.
I would begin our meetings trying to discuss my planned topic, but when you have guys like Rick Moranis (pictured above) and Sandy Hoyt in attendance, things always got out of hand. The meeting would start out serious enough until as usual Rick and Sandy would get into with each other. Their comments would soon have everyone in the room laughing hysterically, and I’d have to remind them that we needed to stay focused. To make matters worse, occasionally, the pretty promotion girl would sit in front to torment me. After my opening remarks, she’d slowly begin to slide down in her chair, until she revealed that she’d recently gone “Brazilian.” Focus on that baby!
I’ve never been called sales friendly, but I do like to think of myself as fair. Although many years later when my brother Reg became the program director of CFTR, the sales manager upon hearing his name said, “You’re not related to that prick George Johns are you?”
In spite of my sales reputation, Ted and Keith promoted me to station manager, how cool. My folks never did understand what it was I did at a radio station, but they understood the word manager. So being in between rating books, I took advantage of the situation and headed back to Winnipeg to share the news.
Once back in Winnipeg, I just had to pop up to CKY and visit with my old buds. However, when I arrived at the station, they were all leaving for a press conference, so I tagged along with them. How fun it was seeing the Winnipeg Jets present hockey great, Bobby Hull, with a check for a million dollars. Not only did I hang with my CKY pals but I also visited with a bunch of the folks that I knew from the other stations.
I was pleased to see Don Slade from CKRC was also there, so I wandered over to say hi. When he asked me how things were going in Saskatoon and I told him I was no longer there, a pained expression came over his face. “Oh no, what Happened?” he asked. When I said that I’d just been named the station manager at CFTR in Toronto, his pained expression was replaced by one of disbelief. My journey from board op to manager had taken about four years which didn’t seem startling back then, but now I’m even more amazed than Don was.
I have a whole lot of Toronto memories, but one of my favorites is the day Ted Rogers told me that he’d just hung up with my old boss, Allen Waters. Allen, he said, had called to tell him that I was a despicable human being, so Ted needed to be a little more careful in the future about who he hires. Before I could defend myself, he broke into a huge grin and said, “George, I think you’ve got them on the run.”
When I became the station manager of CFTR, the only thing that changed was the “perks.” Now, I got to run up a tab at fancy restaurants, travel on exotic sales trips, buy new furniture, and put gas into my brand new Pontiac Grand Prix. What I loved best about my new car was the stereo system. While driving along Lake Ontario on the QEW one day, I decided to check out CKFM. They were the only FM station in town that played some pop music now and then. When I dialed them up that day, they were playing, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.” Ahh, I see the future, you talk on AM, and you play music on FM. Hello America, how are ya?