It is said that you’re only as good as your last book. As much fun as it was seeing all my old radio friends at the convention it was now time to get back to Toronto and go to work.
We were doing something scary new at CFTR so I held frequent staff meetings in order to keep communicating with everybody but I also tried to keep them as much fun as possible. I shouldn’t have worried about the fun part because when you have Rick Moranis and Sandy Hoyt on staff, keeping everyone focused and from having too much fun was our major problem. My office was rather large so I would set the chairs up conference style and we’d have most of our staff meetings in there and occasionally the promotion girl would sit down front so she could torment me. As the meeting progressed she would slowly start to slide down her chair and about the time I’d would get to the important part, she’d reveal that she had gone “Brazilian”. Now keeping me focused was the problem, whew!
After being burned big by the sales department in Saskatoon, I wasn’t what you’d call a sales friendly guy but I always thought of myself as being fair, although years later when my brother Reg who also ended up at CFTR, was being introduced to the staff, the Sales Manager upon hearing his name said … You’re not related to that prick George Johns are you.
Things were rolling pretty good at CFTR so when they surprised me by making me the station manager, I decided to celebrate by taking my family back home to Winnipeg for a little vacation.
Once back in Winnipeg I popped up to CKY just in time to join my radio buds at a big press conference where they were presenting Bobby Hull with a check for a million dollars.
Bobby had just jumped from the NHL to the WHL and was joining the Winnipeg Jets.
Most of the media was at the event so I got to see a lot of old friends again including Don Slade from CKRC. When Don asked me how things were going in Saskatoon and I explained that I was no longer there and in fact had just been made the station manager of CFTR in Toronto, a look of total disbelief came over his face. I could almost read his mind saying … How the hell did this board op become the manager of a radio station in Canada’s largest market that quickly. It had actually taken me almost 4 years which didn’t feel so fast back then, but as I look back now I’m even more amazed than Don was.
Toronto was a wonderful experience and I’m filled with lots of memories about my time there. I’ll never forget the day Ted Rogers stuck his head into my office and said that he’d just got off the phone with my old boss from CHUM, Allan Waters. Allan had called to tell him that I was a despicable human being and he should be more careful about who he hires and before I could defend myself, Ted broke into a big grin and said, George I think you’ve got them on the run, turn up the heat.
Becoming station manager didn’t change much other than my perks. Pretty soon I was dining at some of the fancier restaurants in town, going on exotic sales trips, buying new clothes, and putting free gas into my free Pontiac Grand Prix which I loved. Not only did it look good but it had a super stereo system which I decided to try out while I was driving along the QEW. I put it on CKFM who were the only FM station in town who played the occasional pop tune and at that moment they played Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and I got it … You talk on AM and you play music on FM.
Which was very exciting to me but not to my wife.
Crossing the border was a real scary thing
Now there’s no turning back so this cant be no fling.
I became Americanized instantly. During my first week in Indianapolis Jim took me to the Cadillac store to look around and the next thing I know I’m driving a red Cadillac Eldorado and the way I am selling it to myself was the fact my old the T- Bird didn’t have a FM radio. I was becoming an FM dude now so the way I saw it was, the Caddy was a necessity because it had a super stereo system in it. My only problem now was convincing Lana who was still in Toronto selling the house. selling this to lana as well as I sold it to myself.
On Mother’s Day weekend I drove back to Toronto which gave me a little time invent a story, the best I could come up with was when I pulled up to the house and she asked whose car I was driving, I said yours, happy mother’s day. I never got to drive the car again and was back in the old T-Bird.
During my first week in Indy Jim told me to monitor WIBC and WNAP for a few days and also listen to WVBF in Boston on the listen line then we’d meet on Friday. It was great being back with Jim again and I also got to reunite with Gary Todd and Chuck Riley whom I worked with at CKY in Winnipeg. When Friday rolled around, Jim asked what I heard on the radio so far. I told him that I thought WNAP’s music was very unfamiliar and a way too hip for the room, where as WIBC’s sounded way too unhip to me, WVBF on the other hand sounded a lot like WNAP but I knew a few the tunes. Which one do you want to start on first he asks and when I tell him that it doesn’t matter to me ’cause I’m ready to do whatever you want done and I’m ready to do it now. There was a long silence much like the one I went through in Saskatoon before Jim finally says … George if I knew what to do I wouldn’t have hired you!