Learned to get ratings
which we got in abundance
But before CFRA
I just went with my hunches.
Unlike my arrival in Saskatoon, I was pleased to discover that CKSO sounded pretty good. Already in place were some great weapons like G. Michael Cranston (shown below) and Roger Klein, so I figured all it needed was some fine-tuning and maybe a little sizzle to take it from being good to being great.
After being there for about a week, my boss George Lund (pictured above) stopped by my office and asked if I was ready to meet the big guy? Surprised, I said, “George, I thought you were the big guy?” He just laughed and said that he ran the radio division, but 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)When we enter Ralph’s office a short time later, he motions me to the only other chair in the room. 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 claimed that I was busy putting a plan together while also familiarizing myself with the station’s policies. At that point, Ralph turns to me and says, “George, you don’t know me, 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, George tells me that I shouldn’t worry about what went on because it will all blow over soon enough. Seething, I reply, “I don’t want it to blow over George, I wanna bring that Mother f*cker to his knees! Forget about a plan; let’s tear this puppy apart now.”
However, to do what I wanted to do, I needed my guys, so I convinced Woody Cooper and Doc Harris (pictured above) who were still at CKOM and Gary Russell, from CKLW in Detroit to join me.
After streamlining the music and tightening up the formatics, it was now time to do some big promotions and create some talk.
The first thing we did was to bring summer to Sudbury by throwing a massive family picnic on the town lake.
We had free food, face painting, balloons, clowns, street magicians, and then at the stroke of summer; the Canadian Airforce flew a squadron of jet fighters over the lake straight at us. Whew!
I hadn’t seen Ralph since our first meeting, but then his secretary gets a hold of me and says that Ralph wants to see me.
As I walk in, I immediately notice that George Lund’s not there, which makes me a little bit nervous. Sensing my discomfort, Ralph puts me at ease by saying that he loves the sound of the station.
However, he says, now it needs some promotion, so I’m giving you a big TV budget, a camera crew, and a film editor and all you have to do is come up with a great TV commercial. (me above editing )
The 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 about?” Sarcastically, I tell him that if he had the audio up, he’d know because the sound is 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.”
Things ate going well, and the station is sounding great when once again, I’m summoned to Ralph’s office. This time, he starts by saying that he’s 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 market. “George,” he says, 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 celebration at a fancy resort just north of here.”
What a weekend! A bus filled with booze picks 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.
Ralph, though was right about how good CKSO sounded because shortly after the party, CFRA in Ottawa hired me away.
I’m pretty sure he would have paid me almost anything to stay, but when the “Bigs” call, ya gotta go, man.
Get off your knees, Ralph.