Learned to get ratings
which we got in abundance
But before CFRA
I just went with my hunches.
On the upside, though, unlike my arrival in Saskatoon, I was pleased to discover that CKSO already sounded pretty good. I figured that all it needed was some fine-tuning and maybe a little sizzle to take it from being good to great.
Already in place were some great weapons like G. Michael Cranston (pictured above) and Roger Klein, so I just needed to come up with a few good promotions.
As I began working on my plan, a Van Morrison look-alike would appear outside my office door every once in a while and stare at me. Figuring him to be some sales guy from the TV side, I just ignored him.
After being in Sudbury for about a week, my boss George Lund (pictured above) stopped by my office and asked if I had some time to meet the big guy. Surprised, I said, “I thought you were the big guy, George?” He just laughed and said that he only ran the radio division, but a guy called Ralph Connor ran the whole company.
Arriving at Ralph’s outer office, we were told by his secretary that Mr. Connor was on the phone but would be with us shortly.
While waiting, I couldn’t help but peek over her shoulder, and sure enough, there on the phone was the Van Morrison look-alike. (pictured below)Before long, we entered Ralph’s office, where he motions me to the only other chair in the room and tells George that he’ll have to stand.
As I sit down, Ralph says to George, “Mr. Lund, while you’re standing there, perhaps you can explain to me just what it is your new genius programmer is doing because whatever it is, I can’t hear it.”
George said that I was busy putting a plan together, which I was getting ready to present while also familiarizing myself with the station’s policies.
At that point, Ralph turns to me and says, “George, we don’t know each other, but do you think that you could you find it in your heart to do me a small favor?”
Before I could respond, he gets to his feet and yells at me, “DO NOT EVER FOLLOW THE STATION’S F*CKING POLICIES IF THE STATION’S POLICIES WERE ANY F*CKING GOOD, THE F*CKING RADIO STATION WOULD SOUND GOOD,” and with that, he dismissed us with a wave of his hand.
As we leave the office, George says that I shouldn’t worry about the meeting because it will all blow over soon enough. Seething, I replied, “I don’t want it to blow over George, I wanna bring that Mother f*cker to his knees! Forget about me presenting a plan; let’s tear this puppy apart now.”
However, I needed my guys, so I convinced Woody Cooper and Doc Harris (pictured above) who were still in Saskatoon, and Gary Russell, who was at CKLW in Detroit, to join me in Sudbury.
After streamlining the music and tightening up the formatics, it was now time to do some big promotions which hopefully will cause some talk.
The first big promotion we did was to bring summer to Sudbury. We threw a massive family picnic at the lake in the middle of town with free food, face painting, balloons, clowns, and street magicians.
Then dramatically at the stroke of summer, the Canadian Airforce flew a bunch jet fighters straight at us over the lake. Whew!
I hadn’t seen Ralph since our first meeting, which was ok with me, but then his secretary tells me that Ralph wants to see me.
As I walk in, I notice that George Lund’s not there, which makes me a little bit nervous, but Ralph immediately puts me at ease when he says that he loves the new sound of the station.
However he says, it needs some promotion, so I’m giving you a TV budget, a camera crew, and a film editor. All you have to do is come up with a great TV commercial. (me above editing )
My guys were very excited, and before long, we produced an outstanding TV commercial, which I rushed to Ralph’s office for his approval.
However, when he slipped the cassette into his VCR, I noticed that he turned the volume down, and after watching for about 15 seconds, he asks, “George, what the hell is this spot about?” Sarcastically, I told him that if he had the audio up, he’d know, the copy’s killer. Ralph lets my sarcasm slide and then says something that has saved me thousands of dollars over the years, “George, people don’t listen to TV, they watch it.”
Surprisingly a couple of weeks later, once again, I’m summoned to Ralph’s office.
This time, he starts out by confessing to me that he’s really a New York kind of guy, and the only way that he can handle living in Sudbury is by bringing a little New York to the area.
Then he said, “George, you have CKSO sounding as good, if not better than most of New York stations, so I’m throwing you and your whole crew, a big thank party at a very fancy resort north of here.”
What a weekend! A bus filled with booze and all kinds of food picked us up at the radio station, and by the time we got to the resort, the party had already started.
I don’t remember too much about that weekend, but I hear that we had a great time, and Ralph was right about CKSO, it did sound good. Truthfully, It sounded so good and so rapidly that CFRA in Ottawa hired me away.
I’m pretty sure Ralph would have paid me almost anything to stay, but when the “Bigs” call, ya gotta go, man. Get off your knees, Ralph.