Darrin Harvey -- September 21, 2009
Darrin Harvey and I would meet at 6:30 on September 21st. I had another interview that afternoon, so afterward I drove to Wolfville and bought a little something at the juice bar and wandered around that university town for a little while. I bought a Terry Jones dvd about the Crusades. Walked to the car. And drove to the K-Rock 89.3 studios in New Minas.
I arrived about 2 minutes ahead of Darrin. He let us in. We moved to the K-Rock boardroom. And we started to talk.
Get some popcorn. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. And learn more about another excellent Nova Scotia broadcaster.
1. How did you get your start in radio?
DH: I was going to Kingstec, which is where the broadcasting school was at the time.
BB: With Dave Bannerman?
DH: Negative. Way before Dave Bannerman. The teachers at the time were Ben Curran (God rest him), and Graham McDermott. I just assumed I would always work in television. I worked in cable before I even went to school. That's where my interest was; I worked part-time in cable before I went to school. Rod DeViller (remember him?)
DH: Great guy. Just a great guy, Works in Truro now at Cat Country, He came to me because he did some stuff at the cable station. He said, "They're looking for part timers over Christmas.
I was like, "I can't do radio. God, no,"
He asked me 3 times before I finally said, "Oh, fine. Whatever," I was so passive. I showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. I had hair and a pony tail to here [lower back], believe it or not. I showed up at Bannerman's office; Bannerman was the program director at the time. He had this little tiny corner office. I just went in and said, "Rod said to come in and talk to you". He said, "Will you come in and work over Christmas?" I'm like, "Sure." He told me, "Basically, you get double time at Christmas." I said, 'Oh, Hell, yeah!" [Christmas] meant nothing to me; I'm just an angry Agnostic. I don't need to celebrate anything.
So, I worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in 1990.
BB: What shifts?
DH: I did a double shift. I did overnight, midnight to noon, midnight to noon. But, you know, I used to shovel gravel and wheel cement. I've done real work, so I don't kid myself. I had lots of caffeine. I was just a kid; I made a ton of dough.
Then I became known as the guy who would work any time, anywhere. I graduated Kingstec 6 months later. I got a full-time job about a week after I graduated. It was a swing shift: 3 evenings (6-12), ane weekend mornings, I think.
BB: Why do they call nights and weekends the swing shift? I've always wondered about that.
DH: It's not always nights and weekends. It's just when you don't have a consistent shift. I was working a swing shift here at K-Rock until a month ago. I was working 3 mid days and weekend mornings,
Colin and Kate do the Rock Alarm Monday to Friday, six to ten, not negotiable. That's what they do. Mel does the afternoons, 3 to 7. I was doing two different day parts, so it's a swing. Now, I'm just mid days.
BB: Gary said it was a bit of a promotion.
DH: It was a bit of a promotion. It's awesome.
DH: Thank you very much. It just makes the home life a lot better. I get to actually see my honey. Huge,
2. You started at AVR/Magic 97 on December 24, 1990. Why did you start at such an odd time, the day before Christmas? Did you want to add anything to that?
DH: Well, it was just because they were having trouble filling shifts. It was clearly a shit shift, Can I say that?
BB: Of course you can.
DH:It was clearly just a shit shift that nobody wanted. And, frankly, to this day, I'm childfree. i'd like to make the distinction between "childless" and "childfree". There's intent there. It's like "naked" and "nude". You bust in on someone that's naked. But models pose nude. There's intent.
I am childfree, happily. I have an awesome step-daughter; she kicks ass. But I met her when she was 18. She comes to the house. We drink beer and watch "Family Guy". It's all good.
I think people with kids shouldn't work at Christmas. It means something to them. Last year, Gary [Tredwell] and I practically had a fight about, "You need to get your ass and go home", because he's got 2 kids. Christmas is huge! I think you should totally not work. I felt that then, and I feel it now, so I was happy to go and work over Christmas when somebody with a family could [be home].
And, at that time, I was a single guy living alone. Even better! And, make some dough, man. Made some scratch.
And, if I may clear up, I never worked on air at AVR. They're in the same building: AVR and Magic [97.7 then, 94.9 now].
BB: I shouldn't be confused about that, because I grew up in the Valley. I've always thought of AVR as the overall network, and within that you have different things like Magic 97 or ...
DH: When Neil McMullin owned it, and when Willard [Bishop] owned it, the parent company was Annapolis Valley Radio Limited. And, then there was the AVR network. which at that time was just AM, and Magic 97. So, you're exactly right: that's why you thought that. I always worked on Magic; I never honked any Country.
BB: OK, so I ought not to refer to as AVR. The service now at 97.7 is AVR..
DH: Actually, I guess not. Because MBS owns two stations, So, AVR and Magic 97 at that time (now it's 94) are just two of many MBS stations.
BB: I shouldn't even call them AVR any more.
DH: Well, AVR is still the country network,
BB: We had the one service growing up.
DH: Yes, we sure did. That was it. "Adult Hit Radio: AVR",
BB: But, there was the CKWM-FM even in the 1970's.
DH: It was a CBC repeater, basically.
BB: Not always.
DH: At different times of the day, they could program some stuff. I remember going over this week with Mike Mitchell, who's still there. They had to run As It Happens in the evenings. I guess it was nightmarish.
Those call letters have existed for a long time, just not as Magic.
3. What has been your biggest on air gaffe?
DH: In retrospect, it's not going to seem like much, but when I had just started. I think I was part-time, in fact, up the hill [at Magic 97]. You'll know this, but the people that read and listen to your blog aren't going to know this. There's a place in the Valley called Aldershot. A lot of people know that because there is a base there for Reservists. I was trying to say "Aldershot", and I said "Aldershit". I don't know why or how; it was just a nervous fumble. I remember turning red and being just terrified. "Oh, my God. I'm going to get fired and hanged and shot at sunrise. I'm going to get a fine from the CRTC." I mean, it's silly. [I was] just a nervous kid. But I remember that being huge.
Outside of that, I was doing the clip from a U2 concert once, 100 years ago. It was going live. Somebody grabbed the phone from me and said, "It was fucking awesome!!" Not really my fault. Every 30 days we get to erase the logger tapes. I remember celebrating erasing that logger tape, "Whoo! Nobody complained!" That was huge.
BB: Did you ever get in trouble for that "Aldershit" [incident]?
DH: No. I tell you, if you want to hear trouble, this is my favourite trouble story, We used to do big things every April Fool's Day. One April Fool's we did a remote at a fictional place on Main Street. Now, you know how the Valley is laid out, but I'll just tell anyone else. It's a series of towns on a long, straight Number One highway. Basically, our market is Windsor, Hantsport, Wolfville, New Minas, Kentville, Berwick, Middleton, Greenwood, Kingston, Bridgetown, Digby. And every town has a Main Street.
So, I said, "A new electronic store opening". At the time, it was a huge deal to have a dvd player. There were free dvd players. "You bring in anything. If we can't fix it, we give you a new one." I just kept saying "Main Street". And, apparently, there was people driving up and down every Main Street looking for this. That was a biggie. I was in trouble for that.
Then we did something: A new hardware store on the corner of Belcher and Webster Street in Kentville. Yeah, I know the look on your face: The two never meet. That confused a lot of people.
But the biggest was: This is really specific, but there was a time when the phone companies were first merging. It was NB Tel, and MT&T and I think it was Island Tel. They then became Aliant. This was an April Fool's thing. For some reason, it was the one and only time that I ran a script by the boss. It was all approved. I read it really straight. I said that, "Due to the pending merger of the phone companies, effective noon today, Nova Scotia's area code will be 506 because New Brunswick was the first person into the merger."
Well, it was a merger just at that point of NB Tel and MT&T. There's no first person in a two person merger. That in itself is silly. Some people went out nd got their business cards changed. One guy changed the lettering on his truck.
Aliant called, and they were pissed! Oh, God, they were pissed. People were showing up angry as shit. Oh, man. That was huge. I got off the air at 9 at that point. When I got off the air at 9, the receptionist said, "There's a phone call for you. They're not happy, "
I take the phone. "Yeah, that ends now. It's Aliant."
I'm like, "OK, sure. It's all over at 12".
"No. It ends now!"
I'm like, "Buddy, I don't work for you".
So, anyway, we went on and said it was a joke. We pissed off a few people, got some nasty letters. But, again, it was the only time I remember getting something approvedl. CYA, baby. Cover Your Ass!
BB: You have to cover your ass.
DH: Amen, brother.
4. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received and who provided it?
DH: I learned so much from Ben Curran at Kingstec. He was more of a tv guy. I remember one thing that Graham McDermott said, and that is that any time you're reading a script if you screw it up, you should blame the writer. That way you're passing the buck.
So, if I'm reading something that says, "The Deep Roots Festival is in Wolfberg. I'm sorry. That should read 'Wolfville', this weekend". Then you're sort of passing the buck on the writer even if you wrote it.
But as far as professional advice: I don't remember who gave it to me, but the hardest lesson in this industry (because it is so cool in that you and I are talking about it) is that it is a business. It's a hard lesson to teach, particularly young broadcasters because when I was p.d. at Magic, part of the course to get out of the Broadcasting course was you had to do six months of Overnights at Magic. So, I had a lot of young broadcasters coming and going, all the time. It was hard to teach them that, it's cool that you get to crack the mic and say stuff and make jokes and be a smart ass. It is awesome. But it is a business, and we need need to return money to the shareholders (in that case it was a single owner).
That's the hardest lesson to teach young broadcasters. "I'm just gonna go down their and play Metallica and just rule!". "No. you're gong to play exactly what the music director tells you to play".
I don't know where I got that piece of information, but I always say that's the hardest lesson to teach people. Because it's such a great industry and you tend to forget once in a while that it's a business. And, it's a service. That's the other thing. It's a really important service. When there's a coup in a foreign country, the first thing they do is take over the radio and the tv stations, because that's where the power is.
5. What have you not done in radio, that you would like to do? Until a moment ago, I didn't know you had been a program director
DH: Going out up there, I was p.d.
BB: How was that for you?
DH: It was fine, not really my cup of tea It was just by default that it happened. There was a set format. You follow the format. You make sure your CanCon was 35%. I airchecked a lot of young broadcasters, and I made a lot of great friends and great connections at every station right around Atlantic Canada and further afield because, I think, I was nice to them. It goes against my reputation because I like to be a dick. I think I was pretty nice to them.
What I have not done that I would like to do: Fantastic question, and most people wouldn't know this about me. But I would love to do a phone-in talk show. I would love that.
BB: I think you would kick ass at something like that.
DH: I would just love to do a phone-in talk show and just spout my opinion because I am incredibly, insanely liberal about most things, but some things I'm just incredibly Bill O'Reilly conservative on. I think I would confuse most people. It would be fun. I think it would fly. I don't know if I would be good at it, but I know that I would love to do it. Just get some people worked up. That's where the passion is.
I don't hear it being done really well very often. I think Andrew Krystal has got some edge. I like listening to him. But everything I hear on the CBC is so PC that it's painful to listen to. I don't want [the CBC] to become crazy U.S. radio Rush Limbaugh, who should just die slowly. I just hate that guy. But I think you could stir people up and have some fun, and it would work.
BB: OK. Why do you suppose there is no radio talk show in the Valley any more? Terry Thomas did one. There was a history of one in the Annapolis Valley for the longest time.
DH Terry Thomas did the best one. The guy was a genius. He was so smart. Why I think there isn't one is because it's controversial. It's tough. It's easy to piss people off. And, because [radio] is a business, and we do a talk show about the fact that a fast food joint is selling grease ball burgers, and they're hardening arteries and making health care costs rise. And, then, that fast food joint drops you as a sponsor. That's scary. Where does that end? That keeps going.
BB: It has a chilling effect on freedom of expression at some point.
DH: It absolutely does. That's the unfortunate thing that I hear on CBC radio because they have the luxury of no sponsors. So, if they wanted to, they could be really edgy and push the envelopei, but they choose not to. I think that is why there isn't [a radio phone-in show in the Valley]. I mean, that, and music does test so high.
We did a lot of testing in this market before we opened this station. We are playing exactly what people have said they wanted. What they wanted was: Less talk, no talk, shut up, give me local news, and play music I know. Play the friggin' Beatles. It's kind of hard to miss.
Let me reverse the question. Why do you think there isn't talk shows like that here?
BB: For the very reasons you mentioned. Let me put it this way. I've been the subject of some of those calls when they ask me what stations I listen to. The questions they ask are specific to the type of music that they're looking to play anyway, for the type of content they want to put out anyway.
They ask questions like, "I want to hear music from the Beatles or the Rolling Stones". They don't say, "What else would you like to hear?" They ask specific question pursuant to the content they want to produce.
DH: That's bad market research, I think. But, the other side of that is: It is cheaper to play music than to have talk. And, back again to your previous question, your excellent question: The hardest lesson is that it's a business. If we could make the same amount of money in terms of advertising revenue by playing music, then you're going to do it. It kind of follows because otherwise, you're throwing good money after bad. In a talk set, you've got a talk show host. Most times you've got a producer/screener. And then, you've got a newsguy. And it's been my experience at least that, in a talk situation, you've got a newsguy, and a sports guy and a producer and a host. Suddenly, 4 people are doing the job that one guy does on a rock station or a music station. That's 4 salaries.
BB: CJCH managed to do it with 2 people. They would have Rick Howe do the show with a producer, who would be Amber LeBlanc or Deb Smith or whoever. That was pretty bare bones.
DH: It may be bare bones, but if you owned that station, would you rather pay one salary or 2?
BB: I see your point.
DH: I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here, but when the money comes out of Bev's pocket... man, you'd like less money coming out.
BB: Of course I would. But, on the other hand, I think that having a radio station [means] that you have a responsibility to serve the public.
DH: That's what the CRTC doesn't do, man. Now we're going somewhere. That's what the CRTC doesn't do, is that they don't mandate these things. They also, when you apply for a license, once you get it, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it anyway.
That's part of the problem: The fact that there's a governing body that thinks they own the airwaves is laughable at best. But that they do, why don't they take something and run with it? See a market void like a talk station, and say, "We'll approve a license, but it's a talk station. Don't go changing your mind when we give you call letters and give you a license." Some "sticktoitiveness" [will] go a long way.
BB: I think when News 95.7 got the license in Halifax in 2004, there were 4 stations given licenses; and only 3 stations went on the air. It was Z103.5, News 95.7, and there was a religious radio station that went on the air that nobody listens to: 93.9, I think it is.
DH: What's the wattage? Do you know?
BB: No. It's low wattage. You couldn't pick it up from here. They may broadcast from their website. I'll find out for you.
DH: There's a few of them around the Valley, too. Churches with 50 watt sticks.
BB: Well, it's more than that. Global was given a license to launch some kind of light rock type station [to have been called The Breeze], and they never bothered implementing that.
DH: I didn't know that.
BB: I don't know what the Hell happened there, but now Evanov, who owns Z103.5, is trying to grab that license. [BB NB: They got the license. An AAA-format station will be on the air in Halifax in the next 18 months or so]
DH: Well, if there is one sitting out there approved...
BB: But market conditions have changed of our global economic climate.
But, anyway, my understanding of News 95.7 is that they must remain in that format at least through 2011. Another couple of years. Beyond that, who knows what will happen?
DH: How are they doing? I know they're not top 3 or 4.
BB: I met Andrew Krystal. I run into these radio people everywhere I go, but I ran into Andrew Krystal because he uses the same lawfirm as my fiancee. I'll leave it at that. We were there one night, and he was there. I said, "You look like Andrew Krystal."
[Deepens voice] "I AM Andrew Krystal".
We talked for a minute. This was about 2 years ago. His ratings [then] had gone up 50%.
BB: And this was before Rick went off the air. The Hotline was still on the air at that time competing with Andrew Krystal. Since the Hotline went off the air [in May of 2008], I can only imagine that [his ratings] have gone up.
DH: I'd have to assume, yes.
BB: They wouldn't have gone down. And Rick even fills in there sometimes.
I think it's unfortunate that there isn't more of a spoken word component because stations used to have to provide a certain [spoken word component].
DH: Oh, yes. I remember foreground, man. I remember foreground well.
BB: What's that?
DH: Foreground was the law. That's what it was called. The CRTC required foreground, and that was a certain amount of talk a week. And, in fact,when I first started, 'way back in the day, young fella, there was a certain amount of a certain format. You had to play Jazz for 2 hours a week. Sunday nights at 10 o'clock, we would bury this Jazz program. It only existed because the CRTC had this archaic rule. We would run this Jazz [program]. I remember waiting for this B.B King song or something, and every once in a while they would work it in. When the CRTC ceased that rule, that show disappeared that day,. Everyone just dropped it like it was on fire.
Yeah, I remember the foreground days well, man. You had to have so many minutes of talk and all that stuff.
BB: It was a pain in the ass for stations to do it, but I kind of miss having that variety.
6. Please say something about the following people:
A. Karin Begin/Karen Begin/Darian O'Toole
DH: So incredibly talented that it was obvious that she was not long [for this market]. I worked with her at Magic. I was a peon Swing guy, and she was Afternoon Drive. There's the girl you want hosting a talk show, pursuant to our earlier question. She knew how to get coverage. She knew how to get people talking about her.
[She was] so smart. It was so clear that she was destined for bigger and better things. So talented. So funny. Great pipes. That was the most-asked question: "What does Karen Begin look like?" You gotta think: Pre-Internet days, just popping on [to a website] and looking. Radio was a mystery, man. You didn't know what people looked like. She sounded sexy as all get out. She was smart and funny, I [am] just sick that she's no longer with us, because I just loved that she was smart.
Goddamn, we had some fun times. I remember doing an overnight show with Matt Cundell ...
BB: The Whine Line?
DH: This wasn't a Whine Line, but it was around that time. We were just dicking around at the time. It was Karen's leaving party. Karen was underneath the table, throwing up into a bucket while we were doing a break. Just ralphing!
We had carts at the time. Carts are like 8-track tapes that you play commercials on. There were these big cart racks about two foot square and three feet high. They were on spindles, and you would spin them.
BB: Like comic racks.
DH: Yes. I remember: She was throwing up underneath the desk while we were doing a show. Shawn Roswold was sitting on top of the cart racks spinning himself, yelling at Dave Bannerman, because Dave Bannerman didn't come to the party.
So, there's puking going on underneath; and in the back of the studio you hear, "Dave, you dick! Dave, you dick! Dave, you dick!" And, it's spinning, so it's coming in and out [of mic range] like, "Dave, you dick! Dave, you dick!" [laughter] So, that was Karen's going away party. God, that was a good time.
BB: [chuckles] There are those who think that she squandered her talent. She could have done more...
DH: No. I disagree. You have to think that she was in some major markets. She went head-to-head with [Howard] Stern for a while. Kicked ass wherever she went. I wouldn't say she squandered her talent. I think she did pretty well, And if she was still with us, she would always be on top. She would always be looking for the next gig, bigger and better.
I don't know if you remember. She had to break a few rules to even work in the U.S. She made up a resume. She got on 20/20 for that. I helped her make up that resume.
BB: 48 Hours, wasn't it?
DH: It could be. But she was on there because she made up a resume. I remember it was the old Apple IIE's. That was the computer, and it was a big deal to have a computer at all. She was in there typing up, and we were making up names of theatre companies and tv shows she was on. It worked! What do you do?
BB: It was before you could really check out references the way you can now.
DH: Well, when you put on a show that is no longer on the air and say that you were on this CBC show. People just buy it. And when you met Karen, it was like, "She must have been on frigging tv! She's such a character. Absolutely".
BB: You only worked with her for 6 months or so?
DH: Maybe a year. Great memories. Great, great woman. And, actually, as it turns out, my partner now and her were great friends at the time. I don't remember her at all. But they hung.
BB: I lived in the city. I tried my best to listen to her as much as I possibly could. It was a real treat when I could.
DH: Oh, she was something else.
BB: A major talent.
B. Wayne Hines
DH: Wayne would sooner talk about railroads than anything, which was super cool. God bless him. He put up with me for years. He did morning news when I did the morning show. Big fish; small pond. I was out partying hard, and drinking hard, every night. I would end up on the couch. Either him or Wilf [Cornell] would come out and wake me. The show started at 5:30, and they would come out and wake me at 20 after 5. "Dude, get up!". Wilf was a little more gentle than Wayne.
Wayne put up with that for many, many years. [He had] the patience of Job. He and his wife have the fabric store here in town now, [at] the Blockbuster mall. Knit N Stitch.
BB: Oh, he bought that? OK.
DH: They've had that for years and years.
BB: He doesn't miss being on the air?
DH: I doubt it. He's really, really computer savvy, so I imagine they have the nicest website of any fabric store on the planet. He voiced a couple of ads. You have clients who come in and voice ads and you roll your eyes. When Wayne comes in, he just nails it: One Take Charlie.
BB: When he retired, was it an MBS thing?
DH: It was an MBS thing. They just canned him. I'm not here to trash MBS. Like me, like Wilf, Wayne, Frank Lowe. They fired some people this month. "We can make some money by not paying you."
BB: Were we finished talking about Wayne Hines?
DH: I think so, although I love Wayne's hair. He's got big, thick, gray hair. Wilf and I would just tell Wayne's hair jokes all day. Like, the local [phone] would ring inside the studio and I would pick up the phone. "Hey, Wilf. Knock, knock."
"Wayne's hair", and he'd hang up.
BB: Oh, actually, there is something I want to ask you. You said that Wayne or Wilf would knudge you awake at 20 minutes after 5 in anticipation of your going on the air in 10 minutes. Would that have put you behind the 8 ball in terms of show prep for your morning show?
DH: That's why, when you got off the air at 9, you did as much prep as humanly possible. There's only so much you can do at that time of the morning. Colin and Kate [are] great examples. They get off the air at 10. They're here until noon, 1, 2 o'clock just getting 'er done. They're here bright and early, but they know exactly where they're going, and all the bits: when they're going, and where they're going, the day before. So, you don't have to make any crunch decisions the next day.
BB: But there's still room for them to be creative?
DH: Of course. Mel Sampson is the best example of this. She will set an idea when she's doing her prep. If one little idea just takes off, then her show goes off in a whole other direction. That's true of Colin and Kate, and that's true of anybody. You go where people want to go.
BB: Fair enough.
DH: Call Wayne, "Weiner". Everybody calls Wayne, "Weiner". Weiner!
C. Dave Chaulk
BB: Maybe you wouldn't know this, but in the early '80's, he worked at CJCH radio in Halifax. He hosted a sports show [BB NB: The first time I heard Colleen Jones' name was when he did a feature on her for that show, back in 1981!], and in '84, '85 he went to AVR. You know all this stuff. Why am I insulting you?
DH: No, no. It's good. I didn't know he hosted a sports show. I knew he worked at CJ.
BB: I remember that very well. He was the back up sports guy, because they had heavily-staffed newsrooms back then, too.
Tell me about Dave Chaulk.
DH: Well, I work with DC every day. He's my guy. We basically start work at the same time. He works through until 6 o'clock. Solid news man. You forget what an institution that Dave is. I'll just go a little internal here and probably talk more than I should, but when we did testing in this market for this radio station, Dave's name came up more than anyone's. "Dave Chaulk". People want to hear, "That's my opinion. I'm Dave Chaulk". That commentary in the morning is legendary.
BB: And he was working for the competition at the time. Or had he left?
DH: No. He started here Day One.
BB: I know that, but did you guys woo him or ...
BB: He was wooed.
BB: I'm surprised MBS would let him leave.
DH: Never be surprised that MBS would let somebody leave. He had been there for a while. Certainly he was in the wage freeze with everybody else, but he was probably making a few bucks at least compared to many employees. I don't want to turn this into just MBS bashing.
BB: Neither do I.
DH: But, they're really not that concerned with tenure, experience, or anything else. "If we can get somebody else to do that job for less money, then let's get him!"
No. There was no bad feelings. Dave said, "Two weeks, [and] I'm done". And they're like, "Fantastic. Off you go".
[Bev shakes his head]
I know. You don't have to shake your head, brother. I feel your pain. We make each other laugh. We have some fun.
For the last few years he was up there, he was solo in that newsroom.
BB: Vicki Gesner was there?
DH: Vicki's in Halifax. He was solo in that newsroom. Vicki worked up there for years, but then she'd been in Halifax for many years.
It's too big a market for one person. You kind of throw your arms up and go, "Where do I go when there's 2 news stories and 2 directions and one person?" Apathy just runs rampant because you're frustrated. And, he's a doofus.
[Bev and Darrin laugh]
His daughter worked here this summer. She's one of our cruiser people: Sam. Great kid. Just a great kid.
He's got a kid that's an engineer. I think he's graduated. Another kid is Pre-Law. And Sam is Pre-Med. So, Dave calls that his retirement fund.
BB: All right. Anything else about Dave Chaulk other than that he's a doofus?
DH: [Chuckles] No.
BB: I wish I could do pull quotes. "Dave Chaulk is a doofus!"
D. Wilf Cornell
DH: I learned more about radio from Wilf Cornell than I did all other people combined. Wilf is naturally funny. He knows the importance of getting out and talking to people. It is criminal that he is not in this business.
BB: I was just about to ask what he was up to.
DH: He works at the hospital in sort of an industrial cleaning sort of thing, but at an industrial level. I talk to him on Facebook every day, He used to drop in here every weekend when I was doing weekend mornings. But, I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks.
So, so smart in getting out in the community and talking to people. Everybody knew Wilf. Just such a name, you know? The Phone and Sell that he used to do? It was just cheeky bad. People would call him, "Wolf". "Hi, Wolf!" They didn't get that it was Wifred, They thought it was Wolf Cornell.
We did parallel mornings in the same building for many years. We always had deals that if one guy scored a bunch of swag... One time, I got a box of harmonicas to give away. I would just give Wilf half the harmonicas. We always took care of each other. Just a spectacular dude.
Here's my Wilf Cornell story (speaking of giving stuff away). There's this thing called Chase's Calendar of Events. You ever hear of this?
DH It's real cheesy radio, but sometimes you need it. When you've got nothing else, you can go to Chase's Calendar of Events. Every day, there's at least 20 things happening.
BB: National Left Handed Golfer's Day?
DH: Bingo! That sort of thing. So, on my way home from the station, and I realized it was National Kazoo Day the next day.
There was a music store here locally I called Wilf on my cell phone. I said, "Dude, tomorrow is National Kazoo Day. Drop down to see this guy at the music store that I know. Tell him you want all the kazoos". He had them all in a big jar on the counter. "Tell him we'll give him a stroke every time we give one away. But we're not paying anything for these Goddamn kazoos", because we didn't have any money. He's like, "Yes".
I go to him the next morning. And sure enough, Wilf says, "Yeah, this guy's thrilled. He's got 20 dollars in product; he's going to get $2000 in advertising that morning!"
The place was called The Attic. A friend of mine, Vaughn Millett, owned it. It was just like, "Hey, we're giving away kazoos. Callers 1, 2, 3 get kazoos." This is kind of stereotyping Country listeners, so I apologize. I remember I got off the air at 9 for some reason. Wilf got off the air at 10. I was walking around front, and a guy backed his truck up with a trailer, which isn't easy to do if you've backed up with a trailer.
BB: Oh, it jack knifes all the time.
DH: Yes. He backed up his trailer to the front door. He came in to the front desk because he had won a "skidoo".
DH: "I hear I won a skidoo." I remember thinking, "Man, you won a skidoo, I would have remembered a promotion like that. That''s pretty huge!"
"I won it this morning with Wilf. I won a skidoo".
It hit me. It was just like someone had punched me in the stomach. "Oh, Jesus. Oh, oh". And I went around the corner and I ran into Len Holley. Len saw the look on my face, and I said, "That guy's here to pick up his skidoo!"
"What do you mean?"
I shook a kazoo at him, and he just lost it. So, not only did the guy get two friends to help him get the skidoo on the trailer, and bring the trailer, but he was handed this little blue piece of plastic. "This is what you've won". It was a goof ball prize. Take it home to your kids or don't even come to pick it up.
I had to go in to Wilf and tell him. i'm sure he had trouble finishing his show that morning. And it's not like the guy had bad diction. His diction's the best in the business. The guy just heard that caller 1, 2, and 3 won a skidoo three times an hour, every hour, all morning. We must have given away three quarters of a million dollars in skidoos that morning!
BB: It reminds me of that radio station in the States that was giving away a "Toyota". This lady won. They marched her through the car lot. They took her up to this little Yoda, which was a toy.
DH, BB: A Toy Yoda!!
BB: She tried to sue them. "I won a Toyota!" "No. You won a Toy Yoda".
DH: I think it might even have been a New Brunswick station that, during the second Woodstock, which was '99,
BB: Uh, '94, wasn't it? 25 years later.
DH: Oh, there you go. They were giving away a trip to Woodstock to a busload of people, and took them to Woodstock, New Brunswick. That will piss a person off, especially if you get all looped up. "Got some time off work, man. I got a little money in the jeans. I'm gonna go see Nine Inch Nails. Screw this noise." And then you end up in Woodstock. What do you do?
BB: Not too damned much.
DH: Go to Greco and go home. I love Woodstock. I love New Brunswick.
BB: I've got relatives there. I've got to be nice to them.
DH: Yeah, you'd better.
BB: Give away a Toy Yoda sometime!
DH: Toy Yoda! [chuckles] Oh, I'm totally ripping that one off. Don't worry about it.
E. Gary Tredwell
DH: Wicked cool. Best boss I've ever had. We're friends besides; we hang. One of the many nice things about working here: Gary, the program director, his boss Ken (the General Manager)...
BB: Ken Geddes.
DH: ... and me all take guitar lessons from the same guy every week. So, at any given time, we can be just nerding out in Ken's office going, "I learned these songs".
I knew I was working for the right guy two weeks before we launched the station. Gary and I were just talking about nothing in his office. He says, deadly seriously, "We should fucking have work guitars that are right by our desk, and any time we want we can just reach over and grab the guitar and rock out!" I thought it was a beautiful idea. "Can we expense that? We should totally have work guitars!"
[He's] ridiculously smart. If I was on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"... How's this for an answer? Bev is now running out of the room!
[Bev opens and closes the door]
Get back here. Get back here, goddamnit!
There is this wrestler called Cowboy Mike Hughes that I know. Cowboy and Gary would be my Number One Phone-A-Friends, because they know stuff about everything. Freakish, freakish stuff. If you said something to Gary about the chair you're sitting in, he say, "You know, this is 100% nylon. There is no natural fibers in it."
"Why, why do you know that?"
Yeah. [He] knows something about everything. He is just not a bullshitter. He knows a lot of stuff. Besides knowing something about everything, he could take your car apart and put it back together. There's not a lot of people with mechanical ability in this business! [chuckles]. He's got a '65 'Stang, right? He's serious about it. He can talk to a mechanic and actually know what he's talking about. I just go to the mechanic and give him my keys and hope my oil actually gets changed.
BB: Does he ever talk as Greasy Gary around here?
DH: He never does that character around here. But when people realize that it's him... Oh man, it's huge! Some people have figured it out and they won't tell their friends. But, where I come from back in Hants County, that is my claim to fame.
"You know Darrin works for Greasy, right?"
"Oh, yeah. Greasy's Darrin's boss, man!"
Oh, that is huge. Among my brothers and their friends, that is a monster character.
BB: He is amazing. I don't know what the ratings are at the Q for that one half hour that he's on, or the 10 minutes that he's on, but I don't leave my car until he's finished.
DH: I know construction companies that don't start work until Greasy shuts up. And the boss knows that. I know when they're going to start work, and that's when Greasy shuts up. On busy days, they probably send Greasy money to make the bit shorter so he can get some work out of them. [chuckles]
Every once in a while, if you prod him, you throw him something, he'll do it; but for the most, Greasy doesn't come to the Valley much. He lives here. but I never see him.
BB: When I interviewed him last month, there is a special video supplement that will be published with the interview where he teaches me to speak as Greasy Gary. Do you want to see it?
DH: [laughs] I do want to see it.
BB: I'll play it for you here in a second.
Anything else you want to say about Gary?
DH: It's a positive work place when Greasy's your boss!
F. Tom Bedell (he was your m.d. for a time iirc)
DH: Tom is one of my favourite people to listen to, maybe my favourite person to listen to. He is just wry and dry and a fine singer. Did you know that?
BB: He did the Q104 25th Anniversary song.
DH: He also sings in a band, Great singer. Just a smart guy. So knowledgeable about music that he will blow your mind. There's nobody he can't sit down toe-to-toe with and talk music. [He is] is songwriter smart. He is into John Hiatt and that sort of stuff. He's seen some great shows. Tom and I have gone to see the Stones together...
BB: In Halifax, or Moncton?
DH: No, it was in Montreal. We took a road trip.
I don't think he ever got laid off at Q. I think he was part-time at Q, and there was just no full-time [job] coming. But, even then, they realized, "We've got gold here. We can't let this guy go". Unfortunately, there just wasn't a full-time job, and we had one, so got him for a short time. When the full-time gig came up at Q, nobody begrudged him [that] a bit.
When you talk to him, you'll get a sense of it; but he listened to Q when he was a little kid. He told me this great story, which I won't blow, but he is from New Brunswick. He drove to this specific point where he could hear Q104 up there. That was the goal, man. My boy set a goal. He hit it; he met it. Just amazing to listen to. Whenever I'm in the city, I always make a point of listening to Tom.
BB: When Q104 went on the air in November of 1983, I had to go out and buy an FM dipole antenna so that I could pick up [the station] from Port Williams.
DH: I lived in Hants County, and it actually came in pretty clear. I remember that morning. When they played Ozzy Osbourne on the morning show, I remember as a kid just going out of my mind. "Oh, my God! Ozzy Osbourne's on the radio, It's not coming out of my cassette player, anymore. It's on the frickin' radio. This is awesome!" Brother Jake in the morning, man. How great was that stuff?
Andrew Gillis was doing "Newsman Bluesman" at the time, wasn't he?
BB: Yes. Les Ismore or whatever his name was. [chuckles]
DH: Another fine musician, by the way. Fierce harmonica player. One of the best chromatic players in the friggin' country.
BB: He still plays at Bearly's, I think.
DH: He probably does. Fine, fine chromatic harmonica player.
BB: What's that word?
DH: "Chromatic". There's 2 kinds of harmonicas. There's diatonic, which is the 10 hole you're used to seeng. And then there's chromatic, which actually plays all the notes.
The way to think of it is: A diatonic harmonica plays the white keys on the piano. A chromatic has the white and the black keys. I can talk about harmonicas all frickin' day, man. It's one of my passions. We had a harmonica clinic here [at the station] Thursday night.
BB: If I had been in town, I would have gone. Was it here in this room?
DH: We were going to have it in this room. But it got so big, we ended up having it in the lobby. We had Michael Pickett in. It was a good time. Then Michael Pickett did a show at the Whittle Friday night.
BB: At the which?
DH: The Whittle. It's what they call [the former] Acadia Cinema.
BB: I remember Al Whittle. Is he still alive?
DH: He's still with us, man.
BB: Quite a character.
DH: Al Whittle's a great character.
BB: He was really passionate about that theatre. I'm glad they found a way to keep it going and to honour the man by naming it after him.
DH: It's a real going concern. You want to go to their website and see how many shows are going on there. I mean, not just around Deep Roots, which is happening this weekend. But there's always live music and Fundy Film. There's a Pete Seeger film there on Wednesday night.
BB: Its a repertory-type theatre?
DH: It's a film co-op. Its Indie films and just films that you otherwise wouldn't see. You're not going to see "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" down there. But a Pete Seeger documentary is, of course, perfect for that.
BB: It's great that they kept that place going. But Halifax can't get off its ass and have a repertory-type theatre there. They had Wormwood's for years.
DH I remember Wormwood's.
BB: Then [founder] Gordon Parsons died, and they couldn't keep it going after his passing.
DH: The Oxford shows some movies that otherwise [wouldn't be show in Halifax], but that's still owned by the Sobeys empire. It's just slightly cooler than what you're going to see at Bayer's Lake and that.
BB: I'm just happy that we have something like [the Whittle].
DH: Wolfville can support it, man. I love Wolfville, but it's such a hippy town. Oh, my God, man. I mean, where else is there 2 fair trade coffee roasters? You got Tan Coffee, and Just Us. Both fair trade roasting here in the Valley. There's a lot of big cities that don't have 2 fair trade coffee roasters.
BB: Well, Tan Coffee... there's one of those in Port Williams, or there was. And one in Coldbrook.
DH: And in Kingston. And there's one in Ottawa. A friend of mine owns that. Great place. Best coffee, man. A lot of Tan Coffee gets consumed in this building.
BB: Wolfville is an eclectic town. If Gary were here, or Ken Geddes were here... there's one question I didn't ask Gary. Maybe you would know the answer.
DH: Try me.
BB: When K-Rock was getting off the ground, and they were looking for a place to house the studios, why [did they] not consider moving to Wolfville? Was there no facility there in Wolfville at all?
DH: The license was applied for Kentville. The license was approved for Kentville. I don't know that they wanted to go that far afield. People still think we're in Kentville. If you look up K-Rock on google maps, technically we're in New Minas. But we are less than 30 seconds away from Kentville, driving. Kentville starts at the Research Station, as I understand it. We're at the top of the hill, down.
Most people think that when you come off Highway 101 to what most people call the Big Stop exit, you can turn right to New Minas. or left to Kentville. You turn left to come to K-Rock, but it's still New Minas for a minute, and then it becomes Kentville.
BB: The CRTC wouldn't care too much about 30 seconds. Right?
DH: I don't think so. I know that's what it was licensed for because our legal i.d. says, "Licensed for Kentville. Broadcasting from New Minas, with a transmittter on the Look Off Mountain.
BB: Moving it as far as Wolfville might have been stretching things a bit too much.
DH: It might have been, yes.
BB: OK I was wondering about that, because Wolfville is an eclectic town. Even though it's a mainstream station, it would have been kind of cool [to be in Wolfville].
DH: Well, you know they've tried to have community radio there before. Downtown there was a community collective that had a radio station open a couple of weekends. Of course, it was severely embraced, but there's no money in it. It's a money pit.
BB: I'm not sure how Wayne Harrett's doing in Eastern Passage.
DH: Through the internet, I've talked to Wayne for years and years. I think that Wayne is one of the smartest independent radio guys going. He knows that this is a business. He does it for the love of radio. He is such an anomaly because he loves the business. He loves radio, and he's making it work. It's not just like a lawyer who needs to make money, or a guy that loves radio and doesn't know how to make money. I mean, Wayne's not getting rich or anything, but I think he is the anomaly because he is so passionate about it, and he's making it work. Man, I got a ton of time for that guy. Smart, smart guy.
BB: He approached me through Facebook to ask if I would want to volunteer at his station. I didn't say yes or no. The moment he heard my voice... he hasn't asked me since. [chuckles]
DH: You got good pipes. You should do it, man.
BB: I'll think about it.
DH: You should do it. You should totally do it. I'm not kidding. I'm not blowing steam up your ass. You love it. And, you're here talking about it. You could do some of the things that you're talking about. You clearly have some knowledge and passion about talk radio. You could do something like this. Wayne would entertain having other jocks in. I think that's a wicked good idea, man.
BB: Hmmm. Wayne will read this. He reads all my interviews.
DH: All right. See that he does. Hey, Wayne. Wassup, boy?
G. I don't know this guy's real name. I knew him as Terry Thomas. And, then, I heard it was Terry Thomas Brule. His son is still at Magic 94.9.
DH: That's correct. Hunter Brule.
BB: And Hunter Brule married the daughter of the guy I buy cars from: Richard Barnes.
DH: Yes, he did.
BB: It's a small, incestuous world we live in.
DH: That's the Valley, man.
Terry's real name was Terry Brule, The "Terry Thomas" was from a time in radio which I love to think about where everybody changed their name to basically two first names. You know, "Chris James" or whatever. "Brian Phillips". Now that I think of it, "Darrin Harvey" would work. It's just my name.
But he was known as "Terry Thomas" forever. He worked all around the country. For a while, Harvey Kirk worked for Terry. Oh, yes. My boy ran some newsrooms, man.
BB: He worked with Christopher Plummer.
DH: He did. He knew him. Actually, I remember when Christopher Plummer came in to do the talk show [It's Your Call],
BB: I heard that!
DH: There's great pictures that Hunter has on his blog of Terry and Christopher.
BB: I'll have to look that up.
DH: Terry [was] definitely one of the most impressive broadcasters I've ever worked with. What he didn't know was spectacular. If you made Terry laugh, man, you've done something.
I remember making him laugh, You felt as if you had just scored a home run in the World Series. [He was] a smart and fun guy. God, I just loved making this man laugh. I remember when he first was talking about doing the talk show. He put this thing up on the bulletin board: "I need a name. What would the show be called?"
BB: "It's Your Call".
BB: It was called "It's Your Call" eventually. I wrote down my 2 ideas, which were "Stacks of Wax", and "Platters that Matter". I was just being an asshole, you know?
Terry came to me, shaking the paper, and said, "Did you write these 2 things down?" I said, "Yeah, I did". He said,, "That's nice. That's really nice, man. That's really funny". Because it was a talk show, and I was just being a goof,
BB: I don't want to be negative toward the Valley, but why would a guy who had [such] chops, end up here?
DH: I don't know if Heather is from here, or whether this is just where the gig took him. It's a good place to live, you know.
BB: Yes, I know. I wish I lived here.
DH: I could live anywhere, and my partner's got more letters after her name than in it. She can teach anywhere she wants. We love it here, and I think maybe the loved it here. He probably thought it was a good place to retire.
BB: He lived in Port Williams on the Starr's Point Road.
BB: I used to drive past his house. Not in a weird, creepy way, because my parents live in Port Williams.
DH: [Chuckles] Oh, you weren't stalking him or anything.
BB: No,no. We can go off the record for this part if you want, but he died in the early part of 2000, in the Winter or something.
DH: That sounds about right.
BB: I listened to his show as much as I could;this was before you guys were streaming on the internet [or anyone else, for that matter!] The one show that shook me the most was the one with Donna Goler. I don't know if you heard it.
DH: Yes. Like everybody else, I tried to listen to the show as much as humanly possible. For those who don't know, there's a family in the Valley, on the South Mountain...
BB: It's a mountain range. My dad is from there, too. He always made the distinction.
DH: Good for you, You're right. It was literally a very incestuous community. There was one family that bred within itself; I don't know a prettier way to say it.
BB: There isn't.
DH: Terry scored an interview with one of the victims. Obviously, it started when she was very young. That's all she knew.
BB: Well,there was a book, [published] in 1997, which I have but which I can't bring myself to read, about that court case in 1984. In 1984, 25 years ago, this whole story broke open.
DH: It was national news.
BB: It was international news. Sociologists around the world knew about the Goler family.
DH: Absolutely. It was huge.
BB: Years later, there was this book, "On South Mountain", and Donna Goler participated in the production of the book. As such, she did interviews.
DH: She did much of the press because it lent credibility. The author knew the story, but this poor girl lived it.
She was on the show to talk about... Boy, I hadn't thought of that in a long time.
BB: Donna Goler's mother called in and tried to refute everything Donna had [discussed happened] in the book. I'll never forget that phone call.
DH: But the fact that he kept it civil; but he didn't take any bullshit. It was pretty clear that went down, went down. The mother [was] as much of a victim as the daughter, just older. In her vain attempt to refute many of the claims ... it was sad, but Terry wasn't having it. That's one of the many things that just made him great. Oh, my God. You didn't fuck with him because he knew.
And, I tell you, Terry worked. I saw him research for those shows. He did nothing on the fly. Terry went in there and he had everything. He had stacks of paper. He knew everything. I can tell you he read that book back to front, upside down and backwards before that interview. If there was one thing out of place, he'd say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! On page 112 you said this." You'd bring your A game; I'll tell you that.
BB: Yes. I remember that show, and I remember the interview with Christopher Plummer, because he had worked with Christopher Plummer, and [Plummer] was doing that "Delores Claiborne" movie in Kentville. They filmed parts of the movie [there].
DH: He did theater in Wolfville for 2 summers. He's got strong ties to the Valley.
BB: He managed to get Christopher Plummer in on the show. That was a very fascinating hour and a half. I listened to as much of that as I could. I was driving back to the city [that] afternoon; I took the slow route and I drove as slowly as I could.
DH: [Chuckles] We've all done that.
He had every premier of the time in at one time or another, because they knew he dominated the airwaves at that time. If you wanted to talk to Valley residents, that's how you had to do it. Premiers would come and go. I'd always make fun of them, and Terry was always very respectful.
BB: Why in the Hell was that show canceled? Was it just to save a few bucks?
BB: Sad. Very sad.
DH: Absolutely, man. Again, I don't want this to just become MBS bashing...
BB: Neither do I.
DH: But I'll say this on the record: I hate what they're doing to radio. Replacing really experienced people with really inexperienced people or not, which is worse still.
I tell you whom you should interview who's really got balls and will tell you the truth in a really polite way, and that's Dave Bannerman, who teaches radio. He'll be straight with you.
BB: He has seen my blog, and I've communicated with him a little bit.
DH: Yes. He'd do it. Anything I say is just going to seem like sour grapes because, "Oh, you're in competition with them."
BB: And they fired you.
DH: And they fired me. And that was just devastating at the time. But, you know, Frank Lowe [is] one of the classiest people I know. Frank Lowe called me the day I got fired.
I remember about 2 years later, they fired Frank. There is probably not a better [radio] resume in Atlantic Canada than Frank's. I mean, everybody likes the guy for one. He is a brilliant broadcaster with great pipes. And, again, back to what I was saying about Wilf Cornell: [Frank] knows to get out in the community and talk to people. He just knows everybody. He goes to Nashville and it's just stunning: People will find him.
BB: Well, that final morning of 780 KIXX (July 27, 2009], people were calling from Nashville to talk to him.
DH: Oh, absolutely. Sure, they were.
When they fired Frank, I remember thinking, 'Wow". In a really sick way, it made me feel better, because, "If they'll fire Frank, they'll fire anybody".
I talked to Frank because Frank was the first person to call me when I got canned. He told me the difference. This just really speaks volumes. He said that he had been fired from 1000 stations over the years. Whenever he got fired, he got called into the program director's office. The door got closed, and there's the program director and there's the general manager; and they said, "Well, we're going in a different direction, and you're not coming with".
When he got canned up there [at MBS], he went into the general manager's ofice. The general manager and the chief financial officer were there. They said, "We're going in another direction, and you ain't coming with us."
BB: Chief Financial Officer.
BB: It says something right there.
DH: It had nothing to do with his ability on air, because his ability on air is not to be questioned. It's stunning. It was money. And that's a Goddamned shame.
BB: At least when 780 KIXX went off the air, they had no choice.
DH: Absolutely. I think that was handled much better. And I think that Frank would agree. You should probably talk to Frank.
BB: He was able to go off the air with some dignity,
DH: He's just a great guy, and [has] a great family.
BB: One other question about Christopher Plummer and his interview with Terry Thomas. They mentioned, and I knew about this, that there was an actor from Kentville who went on to do great things: Peter Donat.
BB: He grew up in Kentville. After the show was over, Terry was going to drive Christopher around and show [him] where that house was in Kentville. Where is that house?
DH: I honestly don't know.
BB: Oh, crap. I'd love to know.
DH: I'm sorry, but I'm sure we can find that for you, brother. You leave that with me. That's a good piece of trivia, brother. I know Wolfville people who will know that. That's neat. Good bit of trivia. God, man, you remember that.
BB: I remember things I have no business remembering.
DH: Well, I remember him being in the station and going, "Hey, the 'Sound of Music' guy! How messed up is that? Goddamn. Doe, a deer, a female deer. That's the dude!" [chuckles]
H. Blaine Morrison
DH: He works right there [points to next room]. His desk is right on the other side of that wall.
BB: I tried to take pictures of his desk, and they came out blurry.
DH: OK, take another one.
BB: Blues Man: One of my best friends. When my mother passed 3 years ago, I was surrounded by my brothers. None of us had the same mother. But, my friends Barkley, Derek, Mickey, and Blaine: These are my brothers.
He is the Blues Man. He eats it, and breathes it and sleeps it. He just loves The Blues. I just love that about him. I remember being a part-time announcer up the hill, and going to Blaine. I was looking for a record by A.C. Reed. None of your readers are going to know who A.C. Reed and the Sparkplugs are. I was looking for this record called, "I'm In The Wrong Business". This is pre-Internet; you couldn't just jump online and get a record.
I didn't know Blaine. I went over to his desk. He's got these pictures of Muddy Waters in his cubicle.
DH: No, but he took them. Blaine took the pictures of Muddy Waters in 1978 at the Misty Moon. I'll show you the pictures because they're on his desk.
BB: I'd love to see them.
DH: So, I knew this guy maybe could help me out. He hosted The Blues' Own.
BB He still does,.
DH: He still does. [It's the] longest running Blues show in the country. Yes, longer than Holger Peterson [CBC]. Don't go there.
DH: It's a good show, too.
BB: It's a great show; I love it.
DH: I said to Blaine, "I'm trying to find this record by A.C. Reed". He picked up the phone and he called Bruce Iglauer, the President of Alligator Records, because Blaine can do that. The biggest Blues label on the planet then; the biggest Blues label on the planet now.
He calls Bruce. "Bruce! Trying to find 'I'm in the Wrong Business' . Yeah. Yeah. OK. Great! Thanks."
Since then, Blaine will call with Blues emergencies, which I just love. His mantra is: "It's all we know, man. It's all we know". It's totally reasonable for Blaine to call and say, "We're going to Claire because 'Nappy' Brown and 'Rollin' Bob Margolin are playing Claire. I will pick you up at 6."
"Right on, Blues Man. Rock and Roll." And we just drive to see Blues, man. It's awesome!
And, again, just a decent human outside of radio and music and everything. The best kids on the planet: He's got 3 amazing kids. He's got the most patient wife on planet Earth because she puts up with him and his crazy friends (read: me). Just a super, super guy.
He's a great sales person, too. He does a really good interview. He's so well respected. I see him finally getting the props that he's deserved. When we go [to] places like the Dutch Mason Blues Festival, and people like Al Lehman and Fathead and Sue Foley seek him out, because this is the Blues Man. I love that. I just love that.
BB: A bit of a follow up: The Dutch Mason Blues Festival started in downtown Dartmouth about 4 years ago. Then, for whatever reason, it moved out to Truro.
DH: That's where Dutchie lived.
BB: Oh, it was out of respect to him But what happened to downtown Dartmouth? It just wasn't a good venue?
DH: I think it was parking. It's a much better venue in Truro. They do it in the middle of the raceway. So, you've got all the parking for the raceway. It's easy to patrol. It's already fenced off. Blaine actually hosts much of that from the stage because it's the Big Dog guys and the Cat Country guys like Moe Dunn and James Cormier and Chris Van Tassel. They run the Blues' Own up there, because it's a syndicated show. So, Blaine goes up and hosts with them.
BB: He produces [the show] out of where?
DH: He actually produces it out of Wolfville now. There's a syndicator called SMP Skidmark Productions. It's Kevin Brown.
BB: There's an office somewhere in Wolfville. it's a studio.
BB: Can you say where it is? I'm curious.
DH: I'd love to. I don't know. I haven't been to it since he moved to Wolfville. It used to be in Kentville, in the West End. What's that street that keeps flooding?
BB: By where the West End Market used to be?
DH: Yes. It used to be down there.
BB: I don't know the name of the street.
DH: And now it's in Wolfville. I don't know where Kevin lives now.
BB: Oh, he does it out of his house?
BB: It's not a storefront.
DH: No. He's probably got a 2 bedroom apartment; one bedroom is a studio. He's on my friends list on Facebook.
BB: I'll look him up. And I'd love to talk to Blaine Morrison. Would he deign to speak to me?
DH: I'd expect so. He's a pretty laid back guy, man.
BB: Send him to my blog!
DH: All right. I'll do that.
I. Angela Rose
BB: I used to listen to Angela Rose, and another one named Fergie. I don't know what Fergie's real name was, but do you remember Fergie?
DH: I do. Barely. She worked at Q and came down here, didn't she?
BB: I don't know.
DH: I think so. I don't remember anything about her other than short skirts.
DH: Which is an awesome thing.
BB: It is an awesome thing. It's like Heaven. There should be low cut these, and high cut those.
DH: Amen and hallelujah, brother.
BB: OK. Angela Rose?
DH: Just the sweetest girl in the business. She presents [herself] as so sweet, but she is nobody's fool. She is tough and brilliant and newly engaged. About 3 weeks ago. You're engaged anyway. We're all hooked up here. It's almost cliche, and I apologize, but [she's] just a firecracker. It's just a positive thing to be in her presence. That whole deal that what you put out, it comes back: She deserves such goodness because when you're around her you just feel better.
BB: OK. She works out of Truro now, doesn't she?
DH: She does.
BB: Cat Country, or the other one?
DH: Cat Country. I think she does some voice tracking on Big Dog. The entire staff up there all used to work with me except one guy. It's Rod Deviller, Morrissey Dunn, James Cormier, Chris VanTassel, Angela Rose, and "Other Guy". I always feel bad when I go up for the Dutch Fest because it's all hugs and hugs and "What's up?" and high fives and "Hey, [Other Guy]".
BB: When did you work with Moe Dunn?
DH: I never worked with Moe Dunn,
BB: He preceded you. [Moe left Magic 97 in 1988]
DH: He did.
BB: He was the program director at Magic 97 before you. He got it off the ground in '86.
DH: You're right.
BB: He just seemed like a decent guy when I talked to him.
DH: Totally decent guy.
BB: Did you read the interview I did with him?
DH: I did.
BB: I get around.
J. Sean Mac (I know that's not his real name, but it was his on air name at Magic back in the day)
DH: I don't know if I want to say it, because he puts it in the phone book under his real name.
BB: All right. Fair enough.
DH: But, we worked parallel shifts for years, much like I did with Wilf Cornell. When I was doing a swing shift on FM, he was doing a swing shift on AM. I might have put my foot in it earlier when I said that Gary and Cowboy Mike were my phone a friends. He would be one of my phone a friends on Millionaire, too. Really super passionate about music. He's lived around the world, too. It's a military background; he's lived in Germany and stuff.
If you want to get him started, just talk about Denny Laine, because he's just convinced that Denny Laine didn't get his song writing props in Wings. He gets all worked up. When Paul McCartney came to Halifax, he was the first person I contacted. "Dude, are we getting together to see Paul McCartney?"
He's a super good guy. He is morning show host at CJLS in Yarmouth now. You should always listen to Sean when in Yarmouth. He's just another guy who knows how to work the community. That's a neat station, too, because they're actually an independant station. The owners are there. It can't be an easy market, but he's really making it work.
BB: Do they have alternative programming as a result of the fact that it's independently owned?
DH: I don't know. I never get to hear them. Every once in a while, when I can, I'll log in and listen to Sean. What I hear is straight, but I suspect it's probably not.
BB: Does he still go under the name "Sean Mac"?
DH: He does.
BB: I thought he had abandoned that pseudonym.
DH: No, no. That's Sean Mac on CJLS.
7. How difficult is it to go on the air and be upbeat and cheerful when you may be in a crappy mood about something?
DH: I've never been cheerful on the air. Go fuck yourself.
DH: I've aways thought that was something that separated a good broadcaster from a great broadcaster. There are going to be days when you have a fight with your girlfriend. I've had some miserable times; you just need to suck it up. You need to go to work. What we do, we need to sound decent.
BB: Nobody wants to hear a grumpy...
DH: Absolutely not. And there are ways to do it. When you have something really seriously personal going on, don't bring it to work.
But what I like to do is if I have an inconvenience, I bring it to work and make a bit of it. I remember running over a skunk on the way to work. I go on [the air] and say, "Man, I ran over a skunk. Now I stink. My car stinks. I don't know what to do." And somebody shows up with a product called Skunk Away, and they clean my car. And thats awesome!
Then I've solved a problem for the listeners: If you run over a skunk, you want to get something called Skunk Away. It's available at this place, and it's awesome, and my car doesn't smell like skunk anymore. And, that's cool.
So, on a smaller level, you can make a bit out of it. But, how you do it, is: You just do it. If it was a football injury, I'd say rub some dirt on it, get out there, and play ball.
BB: You have to be professional.
DH: Absolutely. This is what we've chosen to do. Rub some dirt on it. Suck it up, soldier. It beats working, man. I always say, "I've shoveled gravel and wheeled cement. I've done real work".
BB: Me, too.
DH: When I go home from work now, I always sniff my pits and go, "I'm clean!" I can go out! Awesome.
BB: I always wondered, there must be times when, "Something bad's happened in my life and I have to go on the air and...
DH: Absolutely. It is. And you'll find that maybe you talk a little less. You just might try to maintain the show. You may not be at your wackiest. But, don't bring it to work, because your co-workers don't want it, and your listeners definitely don't want it, because that's the whole point: You turn on the radio; you want to feel a little bit better. "Get me to where I'm going in the car; get me started in the morning".
That whole negative stuff: Some of it flies for a short time, but even Howard Stern. He's really crass but he's laughing while she's shooting water balloons at strippers.
BB: How about someone like Glenn Beck? He's more on tv now than on the radio.
DH: Conservative talk radio is what conservative talk radio is. Those guys are smiling the whole time that they are stirring up shit.
BB: Do you think Michael Savage is serious about the things he says about people?
DH: I think Michael Savage is a really smart business person who could buy and sell me and you over lunch. That's what I think. I think he knows what buttons to push to make Bev and Darrin sit in a boardroom in New Minas, Nova Scotia and talk about him. That's what I think about those morons.
I think... it's the same syndicator as Rush: Sean Hannity. I agree with Al Franken. Al Franken, in a Playboy interview, described Sean Hannity as "The most dangerous man in America". I agree with him.
BB: He's more.. affable about [his poitics], isn't he?
DH: Yes. He's pretty to look at. He just has this sarcastic downspeak to everything. He doesn't entertain any opposing view. He presents that entire Bush agenda in a much more palatable way. That is terrifying.
I understand that those people that have that kind of hatred in them, want more hatred. But it just can't be good for your stomach at the end of the day, man. It's got to be like drinking hot sauce all day, every day.
BB: It's people like Michael Savage and Sean Hannity who get people so riled up that they'll guns to these health care debates.
DH: Yeah, loaded weapons to where the President is speaking: This has got to be a good idea.
What we're talking about here is what I do: That's a fair question. When they're having a bad day, they don't leave it at home. But, when they're having a good day, they do leave it at home. What they do is negativity. That is the product they're selling. They have a lot of it to sell. They sell it very well. That's what those people do, and bigoted hillbiillies that listen to them want the hatred to carry through to their drive home as well. They can sit their and hate on their President, and hate on anyone who disagrees with them. "You can pry the gun from my cold, dead hands" Yah yah yah. Blah blah blah. I think I'd be happy to put a bullet in their skull if I could pry a gun from their dead hands. Great! Just lay down.
BB: Just to go through life being so full of hatred is no way go live at all.
DH: I don't understand it. Now, that said: We're both guilty of watching it because we both know what were talking about.
BB: Well, I'll probably tune into Michael Savage on the way back to the city. It comes in nice at night. [1080AM, WTIC]
DH: I will flip in and out of Bill O'Reilly tonight and just sit there and look at Sue beside me. "Can you believe this? " And she'll go, "Why do you watch it, honey? Why do you do that to yourself?" I get all worked up, and he sits there and hates on people.
BB: It shouldn't be that way, but it is.
DH: Yes. Sad, but true. This is why the antidote is Jon Stewart. We're talking on September 21st, the day after the Emmy Awards. Jon Stewart cleans up last night, right? I hate awards shows, but that does warm the cockles a bit. Because there are people getting their news from Jon Stewart, and he is the antidote to the Savage's and Hannity's of the world. He smartly points out that Fox News don't report the news;they make the news. And they make up the news. I think Jon Stewart's role is integral to American politics.
8. What is your favourite musical format to work within?
DH: I have to think it's pretty close to what I'm in now. Everyone says that their musical tastes are diverse. I like all kinds of music. Bullshit. My ipod's a mess, man. I have every record that Andrea Bocelli has ever recorded on it; All the operas, everything. I love it, and I go through times when that's all I want to listen to.
For six months at one point in my life, all I listened to was John Barry's "Chaplin" soundtrack. I have every record U2 have ever made, every record Stevie Ray Vaughan has ever made, every record Blues Traveller have ever made, every record A.J. Croce has ever made. And they all make different kinds of music. That's what I listen to.
As formats go, I just thing that classic rock is the most fun. There's so much history there. And right now is a fascinating time to work in this format. The Beatles boxsets were just released. The Beatles Rockband was just released. The Beatles are top of mind. There's always something happening. We're sitting in a boardroom here at K-Rock with 5 Beatles posters around us. It's huge. There's a real resurgence. All the bands that mattered when we were kids are touring right now. Yes is on tour, with a Quebecois singer; Jon Anderson is not singing with them.
They're out there. The Guess Who are touring without Burton Cummings. CCR tour without John Fogarty. What?
BB: J.J. Cael owns the rights to The Guess Who. That's why Burton Cummings ...
DH: J.J. Cael? [Jim] Kale.
BB: Yes. I'm sorry. I got the names wrong. I've been up since 5:30. But he owns the rights...
DH: I appreciate that. But I read a blog today that Steve Jones wrote about just that. It's not really honest.
But, there's lots to talk about. It's fun and exciting and it does create good memories for people. With the advent of Rockband, there are kids out there that want to hear Mountain's "Mississippi Queen", which is awesome! That's bitching, man. We play this stuff, and they know it.
I've got to go with Classic Rock, although it's sort of self serving right now. But it's true.
BB: The day will come, though, when people get so old that [younger people] won't necessarily want to hear the really old stuff any more. You'll have to move with the times.
DH: Oh, absolutely. We'll move every year. It's always fluid. It always has to be fluid.
BB: How far back does the repertoire of this station go?
DH: We'll go to '64, '65 for the core artists. Beatles, Stones, Who, Zeppelin. Zeppelin, obviously, later '60's. But you can play early Beatles and Who and Stones and not offend anybody. But there's no reason to go into the Dave Clark Five. Another Liverpool band, and a fine band. But [the earlier bands mentioned] has impact. The Beatles are important. We would not be sitting here if it were not for the Beatles.
BB: Not in a Beatles room at least!
DH: No [chuckles]. But we go back that far with those integral bands, and then beyond that we try to step it up [to the] '70's and '80's.
BB: But, five years from now, do you think you'll be reaching back to 1964?
DH: Sure. For those bands, I do. Maybe less so, but, yeah, I do. I think those bands: Shit, yes. All bets are off when it comes to the Beatles and Stones.
BB: You'll be playing 50 year old songs at some point? Which ain't that far from now. In a couple of years those songs will be 50 years old as I will be. And, potentially, you'll still be playing them.
DH: And, they're 9 of the top 10 catalogued album charts this week, too. So, is it wrong? I understand your question:
BB: It's like a generational shift, but it's going back...
DH: But, again, the Beatles don't count because they're just so important. So important.
9. Do you feel there is a place for more spoken word content in a music-drive radio format?
DH: No. I think if you have a music format, it is a music format. Now, Gary would say that I talk too much. The old adage is, "Shut up and play the record." If it is a music driven format, it is a music driven format. You still have to be personable; you still have to be friendly; you still have to bring something to the table. And [bring] some prep, and know what you're talking about.
But over prep and don't do everything every show. Shut up and play some music. I don't think it's the answer you're looking for,
BB: I want you to answer the questions truthfully.
DH: And, truthfully, I think that, no, I don't think there is room for more talk. It's a music-driven format. That is what you set out to be. Then, play the songs, regardless of the format.
BB: So, the days of a Terry-Thomas type person having a talk show on a music radio station, or Rick Howe doing the same thing, are pretty much toast. Would you say [that]?
DH: Well, especially with the number of licenses now. A multi-format station used to exist because there was only so many stations. You could do that.. I remember when AVR were Rock in the morning and Country in the afternoon. It's not necessary any more because the voids are being filled. If you want to hear this, go here; if you want to hear that, go there.
Now, community stations like Wayne Harrett's are probably still going to do stuff like that. And that is awesome. But I can't see a bigger, sort of commercial unit, doing something like that.
BB: Fair enough. I wasn't trying to bust your balls. It is what it is.
DH: Absolutely, man. Good question!
10. Darrin Asks Bev a Question.
BB: This is the last question in the list. I've done this a couple of times before. I've done it with Ian Robinson and Nikki Balch. You ask me a question. I have no idea what you're going to ask me. You can ask me whatever the Hell you want.
DH: Who was the fifth Beatle?
BB: It could have been Pete Best, or it could have been Stu Sutcliffe. Or it could have been Brian Epstein as their manager. It's an ambiguous question, Darrin. I guess it comes down to one's interpretation.
BB: Pete Best was fired at the last minute and replaced by Ringo Starr.
DH: You know your stuff! Look at you go!
BB: Hold up the house!
DH: All right. I'll tell you the answer and move on to the serious question.
Billy Preston was the fifth Beatle. He's the only person who the Beatles said, "That's the fifth Beatle". He played keys. I always thought Billy Preston was the fifth Beatle, but because [the] 1960's Western world was so Goddamned racist, they didn't want a black guy to be the fifth Beatle because the cute, mop-topped Beatles couldn't possibly have...
BB: That's fair he would be considered the fifth Beatle.
DH: Yes, because he's just so awesome. God, don't get me started.
Anyway, that's a goofball question. Two-Parter: Why do you do this?
BB: The interviews?
BB: Well, I have a blog. You can only write about your cat so many times. You can only write about what you had for supper so many times, and what you watched on television so many times. I've had this life long interest in radio. I got my first radio when I was 10 years old, 35 years ago this coming Christmas. December 25, 1974.
I've had this life long interest in the radio medium. I wanted to use my blog to start interviewing people on the radio because no one else does this stuff. There is no ...
DH: This is my cat's website. myspace.com/toscagp . Tosca Giocomo Poccini.
BB: Mine is named Newbie. He is a lovely cat. So, we're both cat people. I feel a closer kinship to you.
DH: There you go.
BB: So, I've had this blog, and I wanted to fill it with some content every single day of the year. I've missed one day in 2009 when I didn't update the blog.
DH: Not bad.
BB: I contacted Deb Smith at CJCH [now at C100] for an interview. I didn't have this digital voice recorder. I had my BlackBerry camera. That's all I really had. I used that to take pictures and shoot video. You know what a shitty job BlackBerry's do taking pictures and shooting video.
DH: I sure do, brother.
BB: I did that interview with her. And I did one with JC Douglas [at Q104]. When I sat down with JC, he said to me, "That's all you're bringing here? You're taking notes?" He was kind of disappointed, I think, that I wasn't bringing my A game. After I met with him, I [started] loading up on the gear you see here.
DH: You've got some nice gear, man,. Let there be no mistake. You've got nice gear.
BB: I've got 2 digital cameras and a digital voice recorder, and this digital camcorder. [I have] tons of spare batteries should something give out on me. I bring my A game to [every interview] now.
After every interview, I sit down, and I say, "This is what I did well. I should never ask that question because it's a dumb question. Maybe I could ask this question better." So, I think of ways to do things better the next time.
DH: You're doing what Gary does with us every day. You're doing an aircheck, on yourself.
BB: I suppose I am.
So, I do it because I love radio. And, I think I know what your next question is going to be. I can anticipate your next question because I feel a bond here.
DH: I think you might have, but no. My next question is more of a statement. Promise me that you'll contact Wayne Harrett and do something. Because, you can do this, man.
BB: Can I?
BB: I think your next question might have been: Why didn't I go into radio myself?
DH: I just went around that and said, "Now you're going into it".
BB: All right. I lack the self confidence to do it. I will play back these audio files. I'll hear your wonderful voice. And I'll hear my nasally, mumbly voice...
DH: I sound like Kermet the Frog all the time.
BB: You're not a Brian Phillips kind of guy?
DH: I'm not that, man.
BB: But I
DH: Hah! Oh, my God. What I'd give to have that knowledge, brother. Did you see how many computers are in Master Control? Five! We can't exist without you, brother.
BB: We love computers! I don't regret my career choice, but I still think that radio is pretty cool thing.
DH: So do I.
BB: But I think I romanticize it a bit. I can see that it's a lot of work. I can see that there are days when it's a pain in the ass. I'm guessing you play songs that you may not want to play, every once in a while.
DH: Oh, yes. Bob Seger's "Old-Time Rock and Roll" goes through me like a fuckin' nail.
BB: Mother of God, that song drives me. I still like "Night Moves".
DH: Oh, I don't hate Bob Seger. I dj'd weddings for 23 years. That song just makes white people go crazy, because they think they're dancing and stuff. Oh, my God. I hate that Goddamned song. It's so legendary that my
BB: Brian Phillips knew that whenever he played "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks, I would tune out the station [CJCH]. I would call in and complain. Terry Wiiliams was the program director. He knew that I hated the song.
DH: CanCon though, baby. "We had joy. We had fun. We had seasons in the sun". He's beating me. He's beating me.
BB: [laughter] But, that's why I do this. I think that radio's pretty cool. And, we're losing these stories, As people move away, as they die, or whatever, we're losing these radio stories. If no professional journalist wants to sit down and do this stuff, I guess it has to fall to a blogger iike me to do it. Which is kinda sad.
DH: It's the new medium, man. It is what it is. Willard Bishop ....
BB Willard Bishop? He founded AVR, and I have his book, "Likely They Didn't Get The Memo".
DH: I was going to say, do you have that book?
BB: Yes. I haven't actually read it. He died a couple of years ago.
DH: He did. He left us a few years ago. One of my great mentors. Willard used to come up and just talk to me. We'd talk about music; he was a brilliant musician. Just a great, great man. I encourage you to read that book. He did in that book exactly what you're talking about: He saved the stories. And thank God that he wrote that book before he left us because it's just full of great, great stories.
BB: There's a guy from Kentville who went on to work one of the major networks in the States. A guy named Jack Pineo. He's from here. He worked at AVR for a time. Made his way down to the States and had a big career. He moved to New Brunswick and he died. There are a lot of Pineo's around here, as you know.
DH: Oh, yes. A big name in the Valley.
BB: I am guessing some of his family are still around here.
DH: You read that book by Willard Bishop, man. You'll see that he did what you're doing. And God bless you for doing it, man. Because I agree. I just love it.
BB It's just a little sad. Some people left us before I started these interviews. I wish I could have had the opportunity to talk to Terry [Thomas].
DH: Willard would have been the guy to talk to.
BB: I did go through the portion about how he founded the network. In a time before fibreoptic cabe, he managed to found an actual [radio] network.
DH: He was the first person to split commercials. From Kentville, he started a different cart that played in the Middleton transmitter and the Windsor transmitter and the Digby transmitter. He sold the same 30 second spot 4 times.
BB: A brilliant idea.
DH: Diana is still with us. She was there from Day One.
BB: Do you know her very well?
DH: I see her once a month when she comes in to voice the spots for Centrestage Theatre. She's a big Centrestage Theatre supporter and does the commercials.
She can still read a commercial better than I can ever hope to read a commercial. And she's One Take Charlie. Here's the script. Bam! It's done. And it's done better than anyone in the planet can do it.
BB: Well, can you mention me to her?
DH: Yeah. Absolutely\.
BB: I'd love to talk to her. She would be his widow?
DH Yes. And she was there from Day One when they opened on... I can't remember the name of the street in Windsor, in the back of a house.
BB: It didn't start in Kentville?
DH: No. It started in Windsor. it was Willard's father Avard. The legend goes, because it was an illegal station, CFAB was "Can't Find Avard Bishop", because the CRTC was always looking for him. Willard in the book says that's not true, but I don't like to think about that part because I love that story to be true.
BB: That's amazing. These kinds of stories are what these interviews are about.
DH: Yes. Absolutely. His first sports director... what they would do was local kids bare knuckle boxing out back. They would do play-by-play for the boxing match. And that was Gerald Regan.
BB: He did a lot of play-by-play at CJCH radio too.
DH: This was some dumb kid with dumb kid Willard out in the backyard.
Oh, yeah. Read that book, man.
BB: I will do that.
Are you done asking me that question?
DH: I think I'm done. Thank you, brother!
Darrin Harvey, thank you for your time this evening. I tore you away from your family for an evening. At least you'll be home in time to watch the season premiere of "House".
DH: Thank you and thanks for doing what you do. It's important and we probably won't know for a long, long time just how important it is...