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

 

” WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN “

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We created a new format
which became the new way
it turned out so good
I still use it today

In Canada, your license was predicated on what you agreed to program when you first applied for it. CFTR’s license stated that we were only authorized to program to adults. With that in mind, I was ready to present to Ted and Keith what I wanted to do with CFTR.
I began by informing them that, unlike all the other adult radio stations in Canada, we were no longer going to play Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Mel Torme. CFTR was only going to play the music that Canada’s 30 something women enjoy. When Ted nervously jumped in and asked if I was gonna rock the station, I told him, “Absolutely not, my wife and her friends don’t like rock music.” They only want to hear artists like the Carpenters, Bread, Jim Croce, and Ann Murray. Yes, they do love to look at the guitar gods, but they dislike their music almost as much as they dislike what you’re playing. Ted and Keith both agreed that I should take my plan to the governing body of radio, the Canadian Television and Radio Commission (CRTC).

Even though I’d vowed never to return, there I was back in Ottawa again, but this time I was visiting the CRTC.  Most radio stations in Canada only let their lawyers talk to the CRTC so I was more than nervous. I had no idea what to expect. but they couldn’t have been nicer. Not only did they greet me warmly, but they also claimed that they were fans of my work at CFRA. After congratulating me on my new position at CFTR, they asked why I was there. I told them that I was going to drastically change the music on CFTR, but Ted Rogers wanted me to run my plan by them first. They surprised me by saying that they didn’t care what kind of music I played, they only cared about who listened to it. We, like you, they said, will be very interested in your ratings. If they say that it’s mostly adults who’re listening, all is well, but if they don’t, Mr. Rogers will be hearing from us. Adult Contemporary Radio was conceived at that moment. 
After telling Ted and Keith about my meeting with the CRTC, now all they cared about was how quickly could I get it on. Luckily CFTR had an extensive music library, so I was able to choose the perfect music rather quickly for our launch.
On March 15th, 1972, when a bad ice storm had knocked us off the air for hours, I was driving into work with Keith and his assistant Jeannine. Keith asked when I thought the new format would be ready to launch. Listening to nothing but static on the radio, I said, “Today.” When we finally went back on the air, we signed on with what became, North America’s first ever Adult Contemporary radio station.

Within hours of our launch, the Toronto radio community was in an uproar. They were demanding to know how we could be allowed to go rock without a public hearing. They believed then as did the Dallas radio folks a couple of years later, that hit tunes were all rock records. However, back in 1972, I could only hope and pray that the 30-year-old ladies who lived in Toronto could tell the difference.
The station sounded great, not only was our music familiar, we also had on the air some of the best voices in the biz. I’m talkin’ about Bob McAdorey, Earl Mann, Roger Klein, Sandy Hoyt, The Magic Christian, Doc Harris, and Stirling Faux, who made us sound even more adult than we really were. Because some of our guys did a lot of the national commercials in Canada, I couldn’t help but send a little bragging demo of our new sound to Hilliard in the US. His only comment about the talent was, “George, to me, they all sound like production guys, but I kinda like the music.”

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