Knew upon arrival
I’d need my own team
If this move was gonna
kick start my dream.
My first radio hire
was a hippie named Gar
He helped me a lot
as we gathered our stars.
Sebastian and Woody
were part of our gang
When we added Alfie and Doc
we came on with a bang.
Leaving the Jury was no easy thing because it meant giving up on the dream that Rolly Blacquiere had dreamt when we were kids. In fact, Rolly and I had been in bands together for most of our life, but now it was time for me to move on. Surprisingly when Randy Bachman heard that I’d left the Jury, he called almost immediately and tried to get me to join the Guess Who. When I laughingly told him that I was barely even good enough to play for my own band let alone the Guess Who he claimed that he could teach me the music stuff but what they needed was all that other stuff I do. I told Randy that I was very flattered by his call but that I’d made up my mind to give radio a shot and see where it leads.
In the long run, I made the right decision because I was a hell of a lot better at radio than I ever was playing the guitar. The only bad thing about my new job was by the time I got a full-time position at CKY the Americans were already gone so it wasn’t near as much fun but it still beat working for a living. The only fun we had now was when John Wells and I would go up to Chan’s moon room to drink somebody goodbye and flirt with Embree McDermid. Em wasn’t a wild woman or a “bad girl” either, but she definitely was a MILF.
As exciting as this opportunity appeared to be there were a couple of major issues with it. I was taking the only grandchild away from doting grandparents, and I knew nothing about programming and my wife wasn’t thrilled about the move either. I assured them all that we’d be back soon because I was going to fix CKY as soon as I learned how to be a program director.
All Lana ever wanted to do was raise a family in Transcona, and all I ever dreamed about was becoming the program director of CKY. Little did we know that we’d never live in Transcona again, we’d just boarded the high flying rocket ship called success.
Flying to Saskatoon for my interview for the PD’s job at CKOM was only the second time I was ever on an airplane. My first had been a couple of months earlier when my old boss from CKY, Jim Hilliard (pictured today with Barb) called and told me to jump on a plane and come visit him in Philly. Jim had just been made the new PD of WFIL, and he wanted to talk to me about moving to Philadelphia to do promos for him.
After white-knuckling it all the way to Philadelphia and then filling out all the necessary paperwork, it was time to jump into Jim’s bright red Caddy and head out for dinner with his wife, Barbara. When we arrived at “Bookbinders” the joint was jumpin’ with lawyers who were all wearing their matching uniforms. You know, spiffy navy blue pin-striped suits with matching vests, yellow and red striped power ties, and of course the regulatory red suspenders but they were no match for our table. Jim was wearing a maroon colored Nehru suit with a huge gold medallion around his neck and Barb had on what can only be described as a Toga. The toga was snow white and trimmed in gold which matched her hair that was piled high on her head. She also had little ringlets that sort of drifted down to frame her face, and of course, it was all topped off with a gold tiara. On her fingers were a couple of fancy baubles along with snake-like gold bracelets which wound their way up from her wrists to her elbows. The white Roman sandals that she wore had straps on them that crisscrossed all the way up to her knees.
While enjoying our meal we spent a lot of time just catching up on what had transpired since we last hung out in Winnipeg which included the fact that Lana was now pregnant. At some point, I started to notice that we were being stared at and when I mentioned it to Jim, he said, “they’re just pissed ’cause I make more money than they do.”
Guitars & Radio & Wild Women. (We Gotta Get Outta This Place) Chapter XIV.
So now instead of Philly, I’m in Saskatoon where I’m hunkered down in a hotel monitoring the radio station. The plan was for me to listen to the station for a few days, make some notes and then go in to meet the staff and discuss my notes with management. After only two days of listening, I was nearly crazed! They featured easy listening music in the morning until a piano player showed up at nine to play sing-along tunes for an hour with the morning man. At 10:00 they switched to Country music followed by Top 40 at 4:00 and bunch of talk at night. I didn’t know much about programming back then, but I knew enough to know that this would never work so into the station I go.
After meeting the staff, I sat down with one of my new bosses and begin to go through my list of things that needed to be ripped off the air immediately. After hearing nothing but crickets I look up to discover him sitting there red faced and angry looking, and that’s when realized that I was probably talking to the guy who had actually had put all that s**t on the air.
It seemed like forever until the new ratings came out but it was worth the wait because they were killer. We’re #1 in every daypart except mornings where we rose all the way up to #2, hey maybe we should have kept the singalong piano guy. 🙂
Everybody was seated when I arrived, and the meeting started out cordial enough with the GM congratulating me on our good ratings. However when he got to the part about our having to fix a few problems I stood up and said, you’re right you do have a few problems, and most of them are sitting in this room. Someone I went on to say should have anticipated that there would be some resistance to our new sound and should have prepared a plan on how to overcome it. We should be out on the street there showing our clients how many new listeners we have and how they can to take advantage of our good fortune. Instead, it looks to me like our sales department was caught flat-footed and were totally surprised by the new rating book. We now have the statistical justification we needed to show that not only is our new format is working it’s working well. If you want the old ways back, I can assure you that I won’t be the doing it and with that, I walked out.