Back when I worked in Canadian radio, your radio station license was predicated upon what you promised the CRTC, (FCC) what the nature of your programming be. When Ted Rogers pledged that CFTR in Toronto would be adult-oriented, they granted him his license.
Before I became the new Program Director of CFTR, they were playing artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, and Sarah Vaughn which failed. The reason it failed was mainly because the #1 radio station in town was already doing it.
Luckily, I had a different plan for CFTR, and I was ready to present it to Ted and Keith.
“Gentleman,” I said as I began my presentation, “I have two questions for you, the first is, at what age in Canada do you become an adult?” They both with “21.” “Then my second question is, why are we only playing music for old people,” I asked?. “My wife and her girlfriends, I went on to say, “Are all in their early thirties and are part of a group that controls almost 85% of the spendable income in North America. Shouldn’t we be playing the music they like?”
Nervously, Ted said, “George, you realize that our license won’t permit us to play Rock and Roll, right?” “That’s good,” I responded with, “Because my wife and all her girlfriends hate Rock and Roll, sure they love the Guitar Gods, but they don’t like their music almost as much as they don’t like yours. I plan to play all the hits that younger adult women like, without rockin’.”
Ted then said that I should present my plan to the CRTC, and if they buy it, then we do too.
Even though I’d vowed never to return to Ottawa, there I was on the front steps of the CRTC building. Most radio stations only allow their lawyers to talk to the CRTC, so I had no idea what to expect.
However, they couldn’t have been more cordial, not only did they greet me warmly and even claimed that they were fans of my work at CFRA.
Then after congratulating me on my new position at CFTR, they asked why I was there? I told them that I was about to make drastic musical changes at CFTR, but Ted Rogers wanted me to run it by you first. Whet I want to do, is play all the records that younger adult women like.
Their response completely took me by surprise when they said, “George, we don’t care what kind of music you play; we only care about who’s listening to it. We, like you,” they continued with, Will be very interested in your first rating book. If the ratings say that CFTR’s audience is mostly adults, you won’t be hearing from us, but if it isn’t, tell Mr. Rogers that we’ll be in touch.”
Adult Contemporary Radio was born at that very moment. Now all I had to do was figure out what that was?
After I brought Ted and Keith up to speed about my meeting, all they cared about now was how quickly I could get the new format on? Luckily for me, CFTR had an extensive music library, so in no time, I was able to find the perfect 100 records with which to launch the new CFTR.
On March 15th, 1972, after a bad ice storm had knocked us off the air, Keith Dancy, along with his secretary Jeannine, picked me up on his way into the station. Then when Jeannine asked me when I planned on launching the new format? I responded to her question with, “Today!”
When we finally ready to go back on the air, we came on with North America’s first-ever Adult Contemporary radio station. Within hours, the Toronto radio community was in an uproar. They wanted to know how the CRTC could allow us to go rock without a public hearing. They mistakenly thought as did the radio folks in Dallas when I launched the same format a year or so later on KVIL, that all hits were Rock & Roll. However, back in 1972, I could only hope and pray that the 30-year-old Toronto ladies could tell the difference.
The new format sounded great; not only was our music familiar, but so was the air talent. I’m talkin’ Bob McAdorey, Earl Mann, Roger Klein, Sandy Hoyt, Don Parrish, The Magic Christian, Doc Harris, and Stirling Faux. A lot of these guys did national commercials in Canada, so their smooth voices made us even sound more adult.
I think I was probably more excited about the air staff than anything else, so I couldn’t help but send my mentor, Jim Hilliard, a little bragging demo tape. He thought the air talent sounded mostly like production guys and a little stiff, but our music had knocked him out.
Jack Schell: So, George, I meant to ask you at the reunion if (since you have shown interest in Flanders Field and the poppies there) IF you are aware of the late Jacque Brel’s song, MARIEKE. He is my favorite composer, who is Flemish…and, thus, well aware of Flanders. The song was part of the Broadway musical about his works. I am putting the link to Elly Stone’s singing of that song. She was in the musical with it. Enjoy (turn up sound / it’s quite low): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_wHuw9ze4Q (In Flanders Fields)
Rob Rupe: I have worked in radio and at fine dining establishments in my lifetime, and the most egotistical people I have ever worked with by far are food servers. (waiters). Not that there aren’t egos in the radio biz, it’s just that the egos of some of the waiters I worked with were far more overinflated than most I have experienced in radio. (Restaurants & Radio)
Doug Chappelle: George is the Doug Chapelle in the first comment me with a different spelling of the name; I have posted the same thoughts previously??? I am confused, but then again, I am “Old.” Now, as to the comment about safe streets, that is no longer true in Toronto…those days are gone and the “Bangers” have taken over. (Guess Who)
Geo: Sorry, Dougg, these old eyes didn’t catch it. 🙂
Hollis W. Duncan: Mike Rey’s Assistant Bobby Sorrell went over to KNUS and recommended me for Chief Engineer. I went down to the Theater, and following a tour, I met with Bart and asked him what he wanted in a Chief Engineer. It quickly became apparent that Bart had no concept of the job. After that, I asked the departing Chief Engineer for advice. His response “Close the door” and told me that he had been up all night because Gordon had come through the night before in a drunken rage and destroyed the News Room, and he had to put it back together. When I returned to KVIL later that afternoon, Andy McCollum dragged me aside and vehemently advised me not to go to work for McLendon. So I didn’t. (Happy Birthday Baby)
Bruce Walker: Wow, pretty girls, pretty girls everywhere. One right after another and on top of that, they are all great at what they do. You have lived an exciting life, old friend. (Let’s Hear It From The Girls)
Geo: Eugene Church knew where they were, Bruce, but as I, my baseball coach, told me, “They’re only a distraction, albeit a big one.”
Bruce Munson: I wish I had comments as good as those of Jed Duvall and others here. I will simply say, George, that I am proud to count you among my friends. (The Genius)
Geo: Back at ya, Bruce.
You did have them laughing, my Mom looked great!
She still has the same hairdo and is 98. Evelyn turned 100 this year.
You likely heard Cactus died in ’99 at 88, But he walked 18 at St Charles 2 weeks before he checked out. Loved your random thoughts likely because as an old white guy it was easy to agree with everyone
As I mentioned, life is just fine in Niagara; grandkids will be here for Christmas!
My radio career ended after we last met at OB. It was a bad idea, as you likely guessed. Ironically ratings have crashed, and it’s number 3; CBC wins the day in WPG at last report.
Funny thing George, the stations I worked for all signed off after I departed.
CKY and CKCK both signed off long after I departed, as did CKRC (I sent reports while I was in Regina. (Being Whipped)
Geo: I miss going up to Chan’s moon room to drink somebody goodbye with you, old friend.