January 10, 2010
Bevboy: I am here with Nicolle Bellefontaine in the C100 studios. This is where they do the morning show, right?
Nicolle Bellefontaine: Yes.
BB: For 3 people, it would be a little small, wouldn’t it?
NB: No. Peter’s [in the right hand corner of the studio]. Moya’s [in the left hand corner]. Brad’s [in the middle, running the board]. We’re getting new studios.
BB: Are you?
NB: Yes. We’re moving across where Q used to be, or the old CJCH studio, actually. They’re fitting it now, and hopefully by the end of this month, we’ll be up and running over there.
BB: Will it be a bigger and better studio?
NB: Well, we’ll have less of this cabinetry, because we don’t need it. Everything is smaller now. Everything will be pared down. Stuff will be mounted up in the ceiling. It’s going to be a lot nicer. I’m not a big fan of the colours, but... [chuckles]. Because it’s bergundy, and we’ve been living with pink forever. But, it will be an improvement. We’re going to get voxpro and stuff we haven’t had.
1. How did you get your start in radio?
NB: Ken Geddes, who is actually the general manager of the Newcap station in Kentville [K-Rock 89.3], is the brother to my aunt. He is not my relative through blood, but I know him through family. He took the Kings Tec course. I was torn between going to Kings Tec or going to NSCC, Akerley for drafting. I was accepted into both, and I decided to pursue radio and television programing. I really haven't looked back since.
BB: That was with Dave Bannerman?
NB: No. Bannerman was the pd of Magic  at the time. Jim Curran and Jan MacKinnon were our instructors at the time. That was back in the day when the TelePrompter was paper fed and our first year radio was done on 45's. I'm dating myself now.
BB: Was that back when it was still a vocational school, or was it a community college back then?
NB: It was considered a community college back then, but the designation had just changed a few years prior. But it had not been absorbed into the campus environment that it is now. It was still in that flux mode because we actually had high school students in our wing. They were horrific.
BB: I was one of those high school students because I...
BB: That's fine. I hated that school. I went to Kings County Academy; they did not offer an Industrial Arts program. They used to ship us up the hill to you guys.
NB: I think these kids were not transitioning into regular school. It was a special kind of high school.
BB: A short bus.
NB: Yes. A little bit. Behavioural short bus. They were a little freaky. That was probably the only gross part of the whole experience. I loved Kings Tec.
BB: I'm guessing that you would have done some work experience at AVR [Annapolis Valley Radio] down the hill.
NB: Yes. And [at] Eastlink, back when it was...
BB: Dartmouth Cable?
NB: Dartmouth Cable. [laughs]
BB: OK. What were some of your first early radio stations that you worked at professionally?
NB: The first station I went to was AVR, doing weekends and holidays.
BB: What year would this have been?
NB: This would have been right after graduation in '92. We used to split the weekend rotation with Angela Rose.
BB: Angela Rose. She works out of Truro now.
NB: Yes. She's also my best friend.
BB: I'd love to talk to her, too. If you could finesse that...
NB: Yes. Absolutely. She's a great girl.
I did that until a job opening came in the Writing Department the following March. So, I did that, what, 8 months? 9 months? And, then, I wrote commercials for 8 years full time. The 9th year, I had 6 major accounts and was on air, here.
NB: Yes. But, as far as writing, I wrote for AVR and Magic; and then, in '95, I went to work for Newcap and SUN in Bedford. And, in '98, a job came open back at AVR for the same amount of money and half the workload. I said, “No brainer!”. I love the Valley. And, then, just a few short months after I got there, MBS took over. I wasn't comfortable that I would have any further growth with MBS, so I was given the chance to come back to work, not for Newcap per se, but Metro Radio Group, second generation. So, in July of '98, when everybody moved into this building, that's when I started back here in Halifax.
BB: A lot of people are diplomatic about Maritime Broadcasting.
NB: I'm not diplomatic. It was obvious that they weren't going to be doing any growth. I wasn't going to be making any more money, and I wasn't going to be advancing. That does not appear to be a trend, unless I wanted to do advancement for less money. But, I”m not going to do it for less.
BB: The dismissals and layoffs at that station have been terrible.
NB: It was horrific, the people that were let go.
BB: Terry Thomas. That still pisses me off that they canceled his talk show.
NB: His talk show. Wilf Cornell. What the Hell were they thinking, getting rid of Wilf? I have no idea. Wilf was an anchor on that station. Angela was a casualty of that. I would leave radio before...
BB: We are on the record.
NB: [laughs] I would! I've said that openly. I have no issue with that. I've never been offered a job by them, and I don't imagine I will.
BB: Nor would you seek one?
NB: Nor would I seek one, and that's ok.
BB: Fair enough. You've been all over, really. You work at C100, and this is probably your favourite job, but you have a lot of fond memories for the Valley. Where are you from, anyway?
NB: I'm from Dartmouth, actually. But, of course, going to school up there are my wild and fun days, and first job days. Everybody likes those. And, I love the Annapolis Valley. I think it's incredibly beautiful. It is just one of the prettiest places to live in, in this province. And, the people are fantastic. I love the community. It took a lot for me to get used to, “the Everybody knows everybody's business” side of it. Port Williams? That's a beautiful stretch. I would live in Port Williams in a heartbeat. It's one of my favourite spots.
BB: Well, it's easy to jump on the highway, Nicolle, and be here in an hour.
NB: Absolutely. And, it's funny: Before I left the last time, I found out a month before I left that in the story of Evangeline – even though I had read the story when we were kids – nobody ever made the connection that in the story of Evangeline, she comes from the House of Bellefontaine. Which is kind of funny, right?
BB: I didn't realize that.
NB: I'm, like, “Get out!”
People would say, “Are you Acadian?”
“Well, yeah, kind of.” We are Acadian. Our family is Acadian, but nobody on Dad's side speaks any French. It's always horrific listening to my father try to practice his French.
BB: What part of the Valley did you live in, when you were down there working?
NB: I lived in Kentville, and Aylesford, and Canning.
BB: You lived in Canning? I went to high school in Canning, a long, long time ago. What attracted you to Canning?
NB: I love Canning. I think it's pretty. I was just looking for an apartment. That's where I happened to find one that was reasonable.
BB: They have apartments in Canning? I didn't know that.
NB: Yes. It was above a garage. It had its pluses and minuses.
BB: That meat market that's in Canning?
NB: Honest to God: The best steak ever!
BB: Well, they have a second location now, in Port Williams. I was in there yesterday.
NB: It's the craziest experience to walk into a true butcher's shop, order your steak. There's sawdust on the floor, and it smells and feels like I've stepped back in time. I love that. That's one of my favourite memories of living in Canning is going to that butcher shop.
BB: As part of the background for the interview, I'll get some pictures of the meat market for you.
NB: Absolutely. That would be sweet. I'd love that. I'd love to see that.
2. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received, and who provided it?
NB: It was from a writer. When I took my first writing job, the writer I was replacing (she was moving to Ontario), Monique Manatch, said, “Just don't take it personal”. Not to take it personal when someone is critiquing your work. And, she's right, because, especially in my 20's, I was very, “Oooh, I just want to be liked! Please like me and like what I do.” I'm so earnest and putting so much passion into it. I needed to grow a thick skin, and she said, “You have to have a thick skin to be a writer.”
BB: How about as an on air professional? You must get feedback from program directors ---
NB: You'd think [chuckles]
BB: – or listeners, or even colleagues. Has anyone ever offered you good advice from a broadcasting standpoint?
NB: [Long pause] Well, I can't say any particular phraseology specific. Moya Farrell has been a tremendous supporter of mine. She has just been so great. [And] Adam Marriott. Both have been really fantastic at, as an announcer, I'm contributing, because I didn't always feel that way with a previous supervisor.
My current program director, Earle Mader, is fantastic as well. He's very hands off. He's like, “You're fine. Just go easy on yourself. Embrace it”. So, it's kind of nice that I've reached that stage where I can actually relax on air and be myself. When somebody says to me, when a listener or one of the students from the college, says to me, “You know, you are exactly in person the way you are on air”, I know I've succeeded in what I want to do. I don't like it, when you listen to an announcer, and then you meet them, and they're totally different. It's a different experience. That's, to me, not as enjoyable. I can't “put on”. Now, you're obviously putting on some. But, I like to be as authentic as possible.
BB: Have you ever had negative experiences meeting listeners? That you want to talk about?
NB: I wouldn't say negative. I would just sort of say “grossed out”. [laughter] You know, hygiene issues! “Can you back off a little bit?” But, no, not really.
I find that the [Canadian] Idol fans are a little... impassioned at times. Eva Avila, the Canadian Idol winner of a few years ago... I had this French woman. Growing up with Francophone grandparents, I grew up on “Franglaise”. That's what I grew up on. I'm used to broken English; that's my conditioning. My grandparents spoke French around me; my mother's bilingual, so it's not a French thing. But, this French woman proceeded to tell me how I was getting the name wrong, every time. She'd call, and she'd get so worked up. I think it's because she was listening to everybody else say it. By the time she got to me at the end of the day, she'd just had enough of listening to the name said wrong. She kept saying, “It's Ovuuula!” I'm like, “No. It's not! Please stop correcting me, lady. Stop!” But, she's the only one who stands out in the last couple of years and I sort of go, “Oh, man!” I see that name come up, and honestly, I don't not wish her success, but I really don't want to have to intro one of her songs because I don't want that woman calling me back again. [chuckles] Because I actually do answer the phone. I answer the phone almost every time it rings.
NB: Always answer it.
BB: That was the number for the Hotline a long time ago.
NB: Was it?
BB: Yes. Back in the '80's.
NB: I didn't realize that. It's definitely embedded in people's memories. A contest will go off at other stations, and our phone will ring. “Did I win the patio set?” “Did I qualify for George Canyon?”
BB: I thought I was the only one who ever did that. I called the wrong station once.
NB: We get it quite often, actually. It always makes me laugh. “You got the wrong number,but you got the right station!” [laughs]
“Am I in to win the [whatever]?”
“I have no idea what you're saying! Facelift? OK. Sure. Good luck!”
BB: Is the decision you guys made to cancel the Retro Request Sunday mornings is because there are other stations covering the same music?
NB: Yes. Pretty much.
BB: A lot of stations.
NB: I miss it, though. I'm not going to lie.
BB: Has there been a lot of disappointment from listeners?
NB: You know, not as much of a reaction as I expected, considering how popular the show was. The phones would just light up like [a] Christmas tree for 4 hours. Now, they're like, “What happened to the retro show all of a sudden?”. Two months later, they notice.
BB: It's been gone for 2 months, has it?
NB: It's been gone since September 1st.
BB: Oh, my gosh. Where have I been? [Answer: At the cottage a whole lot]
NB: It's funny. That's what I mean. To me, it's a big deal because it's completely changed my Sunday morning experience. It's not as grueling because it was non-stop, on-the-fly, go, go, go. I'd get a request in for every song possible.
BB: And you would have to source the songs from anywhere in the building?
NB: It had to be in our database.
BB: Oh, it would have to be here? If it were on a cd over there...
NB: We wouldn't go to that extreme. Most people are requesting hits, stuff we have in our database anyway. It was very rare we'd get a request that we didn't already have.
BB: Are those songs deleted from the database?
NB: Nope. To my knowledge, they're still there. They'd be crazy to get rid of them. I hope they don't. [laughs]
BB: You never know. Things go in cycles. When you have Kool FM, and Q104 and the Lite station all playing roughly the same stuff...
NB: Yes. It's a crazy radio pie right now. It's a real moving target. Everybody wants a piece of C100's audience. That's just the reality.
BB: You're the ones people want to be.
NB: You don't see them going after Country too aggressively or classic rock too aggressively. But they want to go after our demo. That's for sure. They're all trying. Good luck! [laughs]
BB: There is Hal, going after Q.
NB: Well, it hasn't nipped at Q's heels the way it could. There's certainly a potential for the rock audience to be divided somewhat more. But, that's the nature of it. Everybody knows, everybody wants the female demo because they're the ones that are spending the money. That's part of the game.
3. What was it like to share a desk with Ian Robinson?
NB: [Chuckles] I laughed when I saw that question. Ian is a riot. Ian is one of my favourite human beings on the planet. But don't tell the bastard that. [laughs]
BB: I'll let him read it. How's that?
NB: He's very funny because I had the top half of the desk, and he had the bottom drawers. He'd pull out the drawers, [and say], “Hey, buddy. Anytime you want something, I got some stuff here: Granola bars, and soups and all this other stuff.” It was pretty funny.
But Ian is the most easy going human being on the planet. Sharing a desk with Ian is like sharing a desk with a monk, right? He would never complain. He always took care of himself. He's just a doll. But, of course, he's a monk that talks raunchy. He can be pretty funny when he wants to be. He's a good boy.
BB: Generally speaking, how was it to co-exist with the Newcap people for a number of years?
NB: You know what? I don't consider myself a CHUM announcer. I was always a Metro Radio Group employee. I started with Newcap in Halifax, went to the Valley, and then came back as part of the Pink Palace, the Metro Radio Group. So, to me, there is no division. I had a history with Newcap before they moved into the building. There wasn't any weirdness for me. To me, it was always one great big happy family. But, there was definitely tension at times, no question, between the two groups.
BB: Well, they were technically competitors.
NB: Absolutely. And then everybody was crammed together and told, “Get along, kids!” [laugh]
BB: You were competing, and you were also sharing resources, because Ian was working at all of the stations, for example.
NB: Actually, when I started on air, as well as on air at C100 live, I was doing voice tracks on KIXX, on KOOL, occasionally when they were really stretched over the holidays at Q. Did imaging for Q...
BB: What does that mean?
NB: Like the Time Saver Traffic, [or] “For Skywatch weather any time, call...”. The lunch promos and stuff like that. I did a lot of that stuff, up until they left, actually. And, for quite a while, I was scheduling the music at CJCH. Now, I'm just a C100 announcer, and I have to say I like it.
BB: On CJCH, it wasn't even voice tracked. It was just songs punctuated by commercials,
NB: Songs, and of course the morning show with Brian and Deb and the Hotline. But, outside of that, everything had to be scheduled. It was joint-scheduled for a couple of years by Adam [Marriott] and myself. There was no music director.
BB: The program director was Terry Williams.
NB: Yes, but he didn't do any of the scheduling. All of the scheduling was done by Adam and myself.
BB: I always wondered who did that.
NB: And when Adam left, when he was filling in on the morning show and became music director, there was that period there where I was responsible for all of it.
BB: I always wondered how you would schedule it so that a song would end just a few seconds before the top-of-the-hour news.
NB: Because we had a cart or a file that was a buffer bed. The top of the hour had what they call a hard time mark on it. We had to time every hour out. All the commercials had to be exactly 30 seconds.
We had it down pretty much to a science that there would be anywhere from 20 to 30 to 40 seconds of that bed that would play. But, there would be a bed that would just play. It would just dump and fade, and would hit the top of the hour and go to news.
BB: It would be 20 seconds of “Dreamboat Annie”?
NB: But it was just an instrumental bed.
BB: I'm not familiar with that term. I work in I.T.
NB: Sorry. An instrumental musical bed is just like what you would lay stuff over.
3.5 What year did you start working at SUN FM? 1995?
NB: You mean, work for Sun, KIXX and Q?
NB: 1995 to '98.
BB: Were you around when Stan Carew walked off the air?
NB: No. That happened earlier in ‘95. I started in October of '95. That was just prior to the merger and Newcap physically moving into that building. I think it was when they moved into that building, or just after they moved into the building. I'm not sure of the timeline.
BB: I'm told that the space that Newcap was given at Sun Tower was very cramped.
NB: Not as cramped as it was when everybody was in this building, let me tell you. [laughter]
BB: If you had to share a desk with Ian Robinson, I suppose [it was crowded].
NB: Nothing like this building. But, looking back, it was quite reasonable. The Creative Department was quite crazy. There were 3 of us in a very small room. But, no, I don't think it was really grotesquely crowded.
BB: There were 3 stations there. Then, it became 5 stations here.
NB: [It was] bonkers. Now, we've got acres of spare space in comparison. We've got 2 studios right now that aren't being used.
BB: What will become of this studio here?
NB: This studio will apparently become Bounce. I can’t confirm that because I'm not sure. But, as I understand it, we'll move over there, they'll refit this studio, and then Bounce will move up here from next door.
BB: I wonder how difficult it is logistically to continue to be on the air in one studio while a second studio is being built.
NB: Well, we're getting a new refurbished board. Everything is going to be new. Nothing from here except our mics and... I'm not even sure if we're still using these monitors. I don't even know what the monitor set up is going to be like; I have no idea. But, most of it will be starting from scratch over there. Which is exciting.
BB: You wouldn't have been at Newcap yet, would you?
NB: No. I haven't been over yet. I ran into JC. He said, “You have to come over and take a look and see our new digs.”
BB: I interviewed Tom Bedell a couple of months ago and it's a pretty neat space there.
NB: It would be nice to have a view of the Harbour, of the [Bedford] Basin, anything, other than this wonderful parking lot that we look at, day in and day out. It was very exciting when they were building the condo unit across the street, so that I could have something else to look at. [laughs]
4. I know you have a second career as someone who runs a bed and barkfest for dogs. How did you become involved in this sideline? What, in your opinion, makes someone a "dog" person?
NB: My partner, John, had worked in the grocery industry for 28 years. His body was physically not able to do it anymore. He was the meat manager; he was just going too hard. He wanted a change. Writing commercials for as long as I have, some of the things that always frustrated me were that people didn't really know how to create a brand for themselves. The idea of starting a business, and doing something with our kids, and our dogs can be there, and go on a new adventure, and do a business that wasn't being offered in Sackville at the time: It just seemed like the perfect fit for us.
There was a lot of unrest here for a while, for me. I wasn't sure if I were going to be staying or not. Now that we have a new program director, I'm happy to stay. It just seemed like, “You know what? Let's do this.” Everybody should have a back up plan. It's always been my back up plan to kind of do something, so this is what we decided to do.
It's worked out wonderfully. I mean, it's a grind. I'm not going to lie. It's really hard. Coming to my radio job is a nice relief sometimes, because there's no barking. [chuckles] And, I don't have somebody jumping on top of me, most of the time. But, no, it's fantastic. I love it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But, that's the reason why we did it: It was always a dream to own a business, and we just went for it. Everything just seemed to be right.
The economy did not work for us. Note to self: Never start a business in the beginning of a recession. It is devastatingly difficult. We have had challenges I don't think we would have had if the economy hadn't been so hard.
BB: Such as?
NB: Such as the fact that people just stopped spending money. We were a new business, and we have had to teach people in Sackville how daycare works for dogs. It's an alien concept. We get giggled at, and laughed at. It's like, “I don't understand why someone would do that.” Educating people about what daycare is, and how it can be a benefit to them and their dog [is] a lot of work on top of just starting a business, right? McDonald's doesn't have to educate people about their product when they start up a new business. There's an audience that's, like, “Oh, cool. Now, I don't have to go across the street for it; it's right next door”.
BB: I would be hurting your feelings if I referred to it as a dog kennel?
NB: No. It wouldn't hurt my feelings. It's just that's not what we are.
BB: OK. You call it a “bed and barkfest”.
NB: So, it's a dog daycare. And it's a cage-free boarding facility. In a kennel, a dog is put in runs, and they're let out for exercise for certain periods of the day; but they spend the majority of their time in their isolated kennel. Our dogs, our boarders, are actually part of daycare. And at night, they go upstairs with us and they sleep on beds on the floor in the same room as John and I. It's a very intimate, very home-like environment.
It is a complete sacrifice. When I said to you I haven't had a minute to myself that I wasn't working here, or I wasn't working at the shop, since Wednesday night (and it's Sunday morning), I wasn't kidding. I've been at my shop, sleeping, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and I'll be there tonight and tomorrow night. I'll spend 5 straight nights at the shop. And, I won't have time to go to a movie. The only “me” time right now, is going to the bathroom and driving from one place to the other. I don't have an ounce of free time.
BB: You have to love it then, don't you?
NB: You have to love it. And, when you asked the question, “What are dog people?”, I think committed dog people are people who really want what's best for the dog. And, that isn't dressing the dog up in a little frilly dress. It is satisfying the needs of your dog. Your dog needs to play. It needs to sniff and to dig, and to sniff each other's butts, and to learn how to be social creatures. They need to have a strong leader. They need to be challenged emotionally and not flooded with affection and treats. Really true passionate dog people understand that they have to satisfy the needs of the dog. And, the same thing with cats; but cats are much more independent, whereas dogs aren't independent. They need you to lead them. So, you really want to be a leader to be a good dog person.
BB: OK. Do you ever have clients or customers or whatever you call them, who disagree with your approach to how you treat the dogs?
NB: Surprisingly, no. It's surprising. We don't use aggressive, old-school dominance techniques. We use positive-based training methods. We defer to our trainer of choice, who is constantly researching and follows the leaders of positive-based training. We can't use treats for training, because we can't have treats in the playroom. If you have treats in your hands... some dogs have food aggression issues, especially in a pack environment. So, we have to do it through a reward, [which is] affection, and verbal and visual contact.
BB: Are there breeds of dogs you will not accept?
NB: No. We don't breed ban, although I will tell you, the breed that has the hardest time, and usually fails at some point in time, is German Shepherds.
NB: People think, “Oh, it's going to be Am Stafs, or Rotties, or Pitties, or Dobes. I'll take any of those dogs, if they satisfy the social assessment. I go into it with an open mind. If someone tells me they have a pure-bred German Shepherd, I'm going to have concerns. They are bred to guard, and to resource guard.
Some people have German Shepherds, and say they love them. They're great dogs. I will not deny that. They are fantastic. But, in a play group environment, if they are not socialized extensively, frequently, with myriad [of] situational environments, they're going to claim, because that's just in their nature. They claim space. We've had dogs claim our pools, claim entrances.
BB: They won't let you go into the pool?
NB: No. Not us. They won't let other dogs. We've had dogs get scratched because they got too close to a dog that was claiming a pool or whatever. So, we have to constantly monitor behaviour and see if a dog is doing that stuff. And, certain dogs are bred to do that. People think that Pitbulls and Dobes and Rotties are bred for that – and they are to an extent. And, sometimes, Rotties do have an issue. If we have a dog that is guarding, and they're breaking up play, the dog's out. It's safety first, fun second.
BB: There have been times when you've called up your client and said, “Take your damn dog away”.
NB: Well, not quite like that, but we had to tell a customer over Christmas that their dog, while he's OK in daycare, he will never be able to stay for boarding. They had noticed some behavioural changes in him. He's a Rottie/Lab mix. But they were the second home. Stuff happened, probably by the young guys who had owned the dog initially, in the first place. They were playing mouth games with the dog.
BB: What's that?
NB: Like, doing stuff with the dog and getting the dog to mouth them. So, this dog: One minute he respects you; the next minute he's challenging you. He's nipping at your hands. I'm not tall. I may be solid; but I'm not tall. This dog is a very big dog, and he jumps up, and he nips at my hand. It was very hard, because he's a nice dog. But, he was breaking up play. He was disrespecting me, [and] challenging my authority all the time. I can't have that.
BB: No. You're the boss.
NB: Well, I am. And, the other dogs look to you. If they see that you're not a strong leader and this dog is getting away with stuff, and constantly being put out for time outs in a crate, that's not good for the group. If we have a dog that's really amped up, and we say, “Hey, you’re so adrenalized, that you need a time out.” So, we put them in a time out, and the whole group just settles. And everybody starts playing and whatever. But the decibel level increases [so that] you can feel the electricity in the air, when you have a dog that's extra amped up and excited. And it's, “OK, buddy. Time for a time out”. We just put them in a crate. They get a time out. They don't leave the room. Sometimes, we put them in a separate area, but most of the time they just stay in the room. They'll cry and whine and whatever; but eventually they lay down and settle. But, you can't be led by the dogs. You have to always be in control. And, the other dogs have to see you have control. So, one of the great things about doing this business is it has empowered me, because I've realized how much, you won't have boundaries with people if you don't create those boundaries. It has empowered me in that way. Personally, have more boundaries.
BB: Do you guys have a website?
NB: Yes. The Chewed Slipper Dot Com. It's easy peasy.
BB: That's fascinating.
NB: We learn every day. If somebody tells you they know dogs, it's like, “Well, you know dogs now, and this is what you know”.
[Nicolle goes on the air for a moment. Bev changes the subject]
BB: Those are 20 dollar headphones. Those are regular headphones as if I were listening to my mp3 player or something.
NB: Yes. And, most of the headphones have perforations on the outside. These don't have any perforations. So, I don't have to take them off. The only thing is that these things slide easy, so I have to put something [on them] to stop them from sliding, because I can't stand that, so that's why I put tape on them, just to keep them in my position. And, they're nice and sealed. They have to have a tight seal, otherwise you get a [leakage of air].
BB: Were you finished talking about The Chewed Slipper?
NB: It's been a fascinating experience.
BB: It sounds fascinating, and I'm not even a dog person.
NB: We are the first to do barkyard socials in Halifax. It's never been done before. We call them barkyard socials.
BB: What is that?
NB: Instead of going to Point Pleasant Park or Seaview [Park], you pay a nominal cover charge, five bucks, you sign in that you're accountable for your dog, you have to clean up after your dog same as you would in a park. But there's an accountability, whereas in a public park, you go in with a dog there, you go in with a feisty little Jack Russell, and you have a couple of Labs that are intact and they pack. Everybody's been to a dog park, and had their dog packed on, or they've seen dogs pack, and the owners are too far away to do anything about it. Whereas, in our environment, they can't get so far away that they can't do anything about it, and everybody's accountable, and nobody wants to be embarrassed by their dogs. So, it's a safer environment for you to socialize your dog, if you can't afford daycare or you don't have a need for daycare.
BB: Is this at your residence?
NB: No. It's at the business. We do it three times a week. We have one just for small dogs. Ted Hyland's the general manager at Newcap. They have a dog, and his wife brings her little guy every Tuesday. Thinks it's a riot. Laughs her butt off. And, it is. The small dog social is a real kick. It's pretty funny. But, then, we have all-dog socials. We have everything from Pom's to Danes that go to the all-dog socials. We do them indoors as well.
5. Please say something about the following people.
A. Tom Bedell
NB: Tom Bedell is hands down the best interviewer in Halifax. I love his interviews.
BB Really? Better than me? Just kidding!
NB: [laughs] On the air! On the air, right now, on Q104! He is the best interviewer. I love his style. He's so relaxed. He's so good at it. He's just a real treat. I like Tom because Tom is on the air the same guy you're going to meet. There's no, “I wouldn't have figured you to be that guy.” He is exactly who is is, and I really appreciate that about Tom.
BB: He gave me some advice for interviewing, actually. It was very kind of him to do that.
NB: He's fantastic, a really approachable guy.
BB: He is... I may not be getting the job title right, but isn't he the shop steward or something for the union for this whole building?
NB: He was our president for a while.
BB: Did you ever have dealings with him in that capacity?
NB: Well, he was there in our meetings. I haven't been to a meeting since we split shop. But, I believe he is still the Newcap president.
BB: He is, yes. And there is someone in this building who is...
NB: It's Jamie Lynn.
BB: And it's the CEP, local 920, which is the frequency of CJCH. It wouldn't be a coincidence. It's nice to see those numbers used for something.
NB: Yes. Absolutely. Tom's a great guy. In fact, Tom's oldest daughter, Julia, goes to our shop for 2 hours every Saturday afternoon to spend time with the dogs because they're really not keen on her getting a dog right now. So, this is a way to satisfy this. She squeezes the Chewed Slipper in her very busy schedule of I think she has dance lessons and horseback riding. She's a busy girl, but she always comes to The Chewed Slipper and keeps my partner John company and plays with the dogs. It's a small world!
BB: It's a very, very small world.
NB: In fact, Lisa Blackburn and Jamie Patterson are in the Dominican right now with Lite 92.9. Their dog, Dexter, is boarding with us. So, my radio world and my dog world have completely collided. [laughter]
BB: They're doing the show this week [January 11-15, 2010] out of the DR.
NB: They call him, Dexter, the Wonder Wheaton! He's quite the character.
BB: That's funny. You're getting a lot of work from your radio [friends], aren't you?
NB: Yes. I expect I will.
BB: Except Brian Phillips. I guess they have cats.
NB: Yes. Some people have cats. Some people don't have any. It's all good.
B. Deb Smith
NB: What can you say about Deb?
BB: A lovely person.
NB: She's nice to a fault, if that could be a fault. A really sweet girl. She has a sassy side, too. She's not sassy as in bitchy; she can roll with the naughty when she wants to. But, I love Deb. Deb is so positive that she's going to make anybody that she works with feel good about coming to work, because she's so positive, so sweet. And, she's in the demo. It's all about being in the demo.
BB: Women, 18 to 49. Is that the official demo that you guys covet?
NB: Somewhere in there. I get confused about these things. I think it's gals, 25 to 39 is the sweet spot. But, don't hang your hat on that.
BB: How were the latest ratings for you guys?
NB: Great. By the way, I'd like to point out that Evenings went up by 7 points. Thank you very much!
BB: Well, it's nice to have a live show at night, too.
NB: I'm just kidding. I never toot my input into C100's success. But, it's nice that Evenings have gone up. That's great. Adam and I are doing evenings now, and apparently Earle [Mader] was quite delighted to see that we were up. We went up from a 16 to a 23 something. There's nothing wrong with that, to see growth in the evenings, especially when you have Bounce, and Z doing their contemporary music thing.
BB: A little bit off topic but, you've got C100. You've got the Bounce. You've got Z. And they're all playing newer music. How does C100 distinguish itself, especially since The Bounce is just across the hall?
NB: Well, Bounce is for the younger female demo. We're for the ... not older female demo, but the younger adult demo. They're going after the 12+. We're, of course, going after the 25+. While there is a lot of crossover...
BB: Beyonce is Beyonce.
NB: Absolutely. I remember my Mom and I used to listen to a lot of the same songs. We liked those same songs. You're going to have that; that's natural. There are certain things that we don't play play that they play, or down the street plays. That's just going with what works. A lot of research goes into it. Quite frankly, I don't know how they come up with this, that, and the other thing. [laughs] Doing music is one of the things I would least like to do on the planet. I have no interest in scheduling music. It's a real crapshoot sometimes, throwing it out there.
C. J.C. Douglas
NB: JC and Mike Cranston were two of the main reasons why I was so excited to come work in Bedford at Sun Tower.
NB: I love Mike. Mike is a tremendous human being. He's a pro. He's a rockstar to me, really. He's a radio rockstar. Love him. It was so crazy to be working with those 2 people. I thought, "This is it! I could die happy now. I work with these 2 people!" I grew up listening to Mike Cranston and to me he's got such a phenomenal news read. I love his style. And, JC was JC. He was Q, you know? It was just huge. So, it was really cool to work with those guys. Of course, when you work with them, you see them in a different capacity, and you see them as human beings. They're not just radio entities, so to speak.
BB: Q104 has done some bits where they do some spoken word interplay. They would enlist Deb Smith or Matt Northorp. I wonder: Did JC ever approach you to do some bits on Q104?
NB: No, because JC has used me for imaging, alot. I did a lot of imaging for him. What do they call it? When they did their.. hedonism? You know. The whipcrack: "Who's your momma?" That's me! Horrifying as it is to admit that that's me. But, of course, when I did that take, Trevor Wallworth (the Production Manager) was just screaming with laughter. He thought that was just the funniest thing ever. I'm like, "You're really going to use that?" And all the stuff I don't want them to use, they use over and over again.
But, my Time Saver Traffics: They've been on the air forever. I'm pretty sure those are the original ones I voiced in Bedford between '95 and '98. I swear to God those are the same ones.
They did their Q104 Rock Awards from the online posts or whatever. I did that kind of voicework in those things, but I don't do any "bit bits" per se.
BB: He was my second interview, and I learned a lot just from talking to him.
D. Jeff Cogswell
NB: I hesitate to say anything nice about the little peckerhead. I'm just kidding, because the guy always gives me the gears. He's quite a character. He's one of the funniest people I know. He's so abusive, but he gets away with it because he's got that little glint of devil in his eyes. If Jeff reads this: I'm gonna kick your ass one of these days, pal! Love ya. But I'm going to kick your ass. [laughs]
BB: You know Shane?
NB: Yeah. I worked with Shane here. He did news over there [Newcap].
BB: I knew I'd heard his name before; I couldn't place where it was.
Generally speaking, what is it like to compete with someone who's a friend of yours?
NB: I don't look at it as I'm trying to push them down, rather than just elevating ourselves. You want to see everybody succeed. The better everybody is, the better it makes everybody else become at their own game. Competition is a good thing. Competition is always a good thing. And when you like the people you're competing against, it makes it extra fun. If you don't like somebody, then it brings meanness to it. And I don't have any meanness toward anybody at these stations. I want to see all my peers succeed at what they do. I just want to be Number One, for the most part, but only by a little bit. [laughs] I don't want anybody to get hammered into the ground. There's no fun in seeing a team struggle. I don't wish anything bad on anybody.
And, of course, if I could abuse him on the air a little bit, it'd be nice, just to give him the gears. But it would only be between he and I. That's Jeff. He's just such a goof. He makes fun of me all the time, man. He's mean, but funny! I let him get away with it, because he's funny. Goof!
[Nicolle goes on the air for a moment and announces she is about to play Taylor Swift]
BB: You guys play Taylor Swift. I did not know that.
NB: Yeah, we play a lot of Taylor Swift.
BB: I thought she was more of a Country [artist].
NB: No. She's crossed way over. They play her on The Bounce. I don't know if they play her on Z, but they definitely play her on The Bounce.
BB: Kanye West helped her career so much.
NB: Actually, no. She was huge. She was the number one selling artist up till Susan Boyle, prior to Kanye. That's why he was such a dick, I think. Part of me still thinks that that was staged.
BB: Well, it got her a lot of free publicity, didn't it?
NB: It got all of them free publicity. Beyonce got to look like the benevolent, gracious queen. Taylor Swift got her moment. And, Kanye got his moment.
I didn't even think of it as a conspiracy thing until I saw a headline. I think it was on gawker.com. They were going through the pro's and con's of why it was staged, and why it wasn't. I'm like, "You know? It's totally possible that that thing was staged." Totally possible.
When you look at the pro's and con's, or the different angles. They set up how there was foreshadowing by Beyonce on the red carpet. "I really hope Taylor Swift gets her moment". Going into the weekend, Taylor said, "You're going to see something you've never seeen before on the awards show". You know what I mean? "You'll never believe it." What the Hell else was big in that show that was of that kind of calibre where you would make a claim like that? Right? And nobody's ever followed up on that.
They cut away at some point (because I didn't watch the whole show; I only saw clips of it), and [they showed] Kanye drinking openly. Have you ever seen anybody drinking openly in the audience during any of these shows, even if it is MTV?
[A listener calls in. Nicolle takes the call]
NB: There are people who listen through their satellite tv to C100. We have people who listen across the country, depending on how they're listening, whether it's satellite tv. I think we're also on satellite radio now. I'm not sure; I can't remember. And the internet has also expanded that reach.
There are people who are passionate C100 listeners. They are absolutely devoted to us. It is very humbling. They will listen anywhere: The Northwest Territories. When it comes to the radiothon, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, we will get countless emails from people in places like the United Emirates. It doesn't matter where in the world. they are. It's like their way of checking in with home. There are people [for whom] C100 has been their station since day one.
BB: Even more so then Q104, because they keep going on about [the loyalty of their listeners]
NB: Well, Q has their passionate audience. There's no question there are die hard Q listeners. Which is great. And that's why it's kind of funny when you have management coming in from outside of the Maritimes who do not understand that you may think you can take this audience away from us because they haven't had any other choices over the years, but the reality is that people like what they like. They like what they're comfortable with. Maritmers are faithful. We're faithful by definition. Our audience proves that. They keep coming back. Right?
BB: Evidently so.
NB: It's not like we're playing the same music we were 20 years ago.
BB: No, you're not. You guys have changed with the times much more so than any other station in this market, I'm sure.
NB: All the time. So, they're coming back because there's something in it that keeps them here. That's great. [That's] fantastic.
E. Brian Phillips
NB: [chuckles] I actually went to high school with Brian's son, Drew. One of my first experiences with Brian in this building was... he was outside, having a smoke. He took a break between songs. I was coming in to write. Our security is Chubb Security. He's standing by the door, and I'm fumbling for my card. He's like, “Here! I have my chubby right here!”
[Bev and Nicolle laugh]
He's so funny. He's one of the funniest people. What's just as funny as Brian Phillips is Ian Robinson doing Brian Phillips. Honest to God, it is the best ever. Brian's been doing voice work at Eastlink, and Ian's at Eastlink now. He is my producer. Almost every week, Ian sends me my cursing outtakes, of my potty mouth. God love him. He always makes me laugh because Philly's been in earlier in the week. He'll be saying something that Philly said. And it just kills me. It kills me because [Ian's] funny, and what Brian says is funny.
Brian is awesome. He's another guy that is an icon in this city. He's the man. I love Brian Phillips. I think that he's a fantastic human being; but he's also still rock solid.
He's fast. Everybody says, “They talk so fast on Bounce”. I say, “Dude, have you listened to Brian? Who talks faster than Brian?” He's amped, man. I love Brian. I just adore him. He makes me giggle.
BB: He has not said no to an interview with me. I keep working on him. He says, “Send me the questions.”
NB: He hasn't said no or yes?
BB: He hasn't said no yet. I'd love to talk to Brian. I know he knows about the blog. He likes the new picture of me.
NB: The caricature.
BB: I'd kill to talk to Brian.
NB: How would you even compress that down? He is so interesting. My first memory of Brian Phillips, in person, not in here as a professional, is back when he was driving the CJ Cruiser for a contest. This was back in the Atlantic Lotto days. I remember we were on First Street in Dartmouth at my friend's place. We heard on the radio that he was coming down First Street. We ran to the end of the driveway. Because it was her driveway, she got to pick one of the envelopes, and she won free Coke for a year or something like that.
I remember meeting him and thinking, “Wow! He looks just like he does on tv.” It was just crazy, right? I would have been maybe 8, 9. I can't remember. I remember thinking, “Boy, that's so cool.” That was my first brush with radio was in that driveway that day.
BB: I used to watch him on Atlantic Lottery every Wednesday night. Somehow, he would be on the air the next morning at 5 o'clock. I don't know how the Hell he maintained that schedule.
NB: I love the twinkle in Brian's eye. He's just a doll. A total dollface. Love him.
BB: I'm glad he's back on the air, too.
BB: The whole CJ going away thing must have hurt him....
NB: And he was so uncomfortable with his knee replacements. It's nice he's back. Good for him.
BB: He's filling in for Griff [Henderson at KOOL FM]. I hope there's something full-time for him somewhere.
NB: Good on him. Good guy.
F. Moya Farrell
NB: Moya Farrell is the hardest-working woman in radio. She works non-stop. She does so many public appearances and stuff that nobody knows anything [about]. Moya is truly one of the most generous announcers of her time. Really generous. I don't think she says “no” as much as she probably should. She really does just go. She's just go, go, go, go, go. She is the anchor of this station, hands down. She is a rock star. I love her to pieces. I have great respect for Moya. She is a survivor, really. She's on her, what, 3rd, 4th P.D. here? She's been a trooper.
She really is a tremendous role model for other female announcers. Very supportive. I don't believe you should cut down other female announcers. Female announcers can be a little catty toward each other because it's still very much a boy's game. You don't see female-led morning shows. Females are in them; but you don't see too female-led morning shows, with the exception of Denyse [Sibley]. But that's not widespread in every market. That's just not common. We're getting there, but there's not a lot of female upper management and station managers. So, I respect the fact that she supports other female announcers. She's very good that way.
BB: Would you call her a friend?
NB: Absolutely. She's a doll. Absolutely she's a friend. She's become a great friend; I adore her.
BB: I'd love to talk to her as well. I'm slowly making inroads here at C100.
NB: [chuckles] That's right.
BB: I just have to work my way in. Tell her about the blog.
NB: I will. Absolutely. I'll direct everybody to your blog when you've got the interview up.
BB: Thank you. You're so sweet. Would you mention it on the air, though?
NB: I'm pretty sure I can mention. I'll mention it and put it on the In Studio chat,. I'll check with Earle [Mader].
BB: I'm not saying anything bad about anybody.
NB: Your interviews are very positive, actually.
G Adam Marriott
BB: I've always wondered what people do during a music-intensive show, when it's live. Now, I know. You talk to bloggers the whole time. Mystery solved!
NB: [Chuckles] I don't usually have anybody in here. I'm usually talking to myself. It' pretty funny. Too bad you're not going to be here when Adam comes on, because I have so much fun with Adam. The highlight of my week now is handing off to Adam. He's so funny. I'd do a show with Adam in a heartbeat. He and I have an absolute blast together.
BB: Now, Adam was the music director, and he became a teacher. I thought he was a teacher.
NB: He's been a teacher for the last number of years. He has his teaching degree, and all that stuff. He keeps telling me he's going to go back to teaching, and then he stays. He just tortures me, because he knows I don't want him to ever leave. He's my Halifax radio besty. He's my boy besty, and Angela is my girl besty. I would die if he left. He's the most popular kid at “school”. Everybody adores him. He keeps saying he's going to leave, but he never leaves.
But, he wasn't happy in the Music Department. You don't know a lot of happy music directors. I don't know if you know that or not. Most music directors are just stressed to the gills. It's a grind, doing music. It is too much work for me. Too much data entry. I did that writing. I know I don't want to be in that part of radio. Radio, for me, is not being chained in front of a computer. But, he just wasn't happy; he wasn't himself. Everybody could tell he wasn't as happy. Now, he's as happy as a clam. Goof! I love him, though. He's the best. He's the most fun human being you will ever spend 5 minutes with.
BB: Well, I hope to meet him someday.
NB: Yes, absolutely.
BB: Tell him about the blog!
NB: I will. I'll direct him.
H. Karen Begin
BB: I used to listen to Dave Bannerman on Annapolis Valley Radio in the 1970's. He was a jock there, along with other people like Morrissey Dunn, a fellow named Wally Milan...
NB: Jordi Morgan. Who hasn't been on the air in Kentville at some point/
BB: Jordi Morgan wasn't there very long. He was there for just a few months in 1980.
NB: Shawn Roswold.
BB: He hired Karen Begin. And, then, when she went down to the States [in 1991], she hired him to be his producer. I went out with Karen Begin once.
NB: Did you?
BB: I wouldn't want to call it a date.
NB: Karen was an interesting and complicated person.
BB: Twenty years later, I can say that. I can look back and say that she was a complicated person.
NB: She worked with her for a while, with Newcap, with Q. I hung out with her for a bit. She was an interesting and very complicated person. Tragic.
BB: It was sad, what happened. She was very talented. Did you read the interview I did with Darrin Harvey?
BB: He talks about Karen quite a bit.
NB: Yes. He worked with her for a long time. Truly gifted human being. But broken, brutally inside. I was so excited when she came back to town. I thought, “She's going to raise everybody's game.” It just didn't happen.
BB: She was ill-prepared on the air. She made a lot of mistakes on the air that even I noticed.
NB: Well, she was relying on it being about her. She became very narcissistic on her on air show. If they weren't talking about her, she wasn't really interested in putting it out there. Her head was not in it. She just was not what I know. I mean, at the top of her game, they took her from San Francisco to New York. They wanted her to go toe-to-toe with [Howard] Stern. You've got to have some serious moxy if they think you can go toe-to-toe with Stern. He's the guy. He's the Goliath that everybody wants to fight. That's pretty cool. That's the same person that was at Magic. “The Raven-Haired Radio Wench”. She was so good on the air.
BB: I got a letter from her [in 1990]. On the return address, it said, “Raven-Haired Radio Wench”.
I. Dave Bannerman
BB: How would you know Dave Bannerman, other than the fact that he still teaches... He still teaches across the harbour, doesn't he?
NB: Yes. He's at the new NSCC waterfront campus. But, I met Dave because he was the pd of Magic when I was working for Ken Geddes at AVR.
BB: OK. This would have been, uh, 1992, I think you said.
NB: 1992, yes. 1993. That time. I can't remember exactly what year it was that he went to Kingstec; he took over when Mr. Curran died.
But, Dave's Dave. I love Dave.
BB: What is it about Dave Bannerman that has inspired so many people? Nikki Balch loves him, too.
NB: Because he loves radio so much. He believes in radio, and the power of the medium. He is still as passionate about it now as if he himself was still in school. So, you can't help but get excited about what you do when you talk to Dave.
He refers to all the stations by their [legal names]
NB: He's just such a geek about it, and so knowledgeable. He just knows everything that's going on. Like, me? I know what's going with C100; that's about it. And, a little bit of what's going on at The Bounce. I don't really follow it. It's not the part of radio that I enjoy. But, he gobbles every ounce of radio. He lives and breathes everything that's going on. So, he's just really fun to be around in that regard. And, he's been so incredibly wonderful to me, and has always believed in what I do, and makes me feel like I'm a good announcer. So, how can you not love somebody that loves you, and supports you?
He helps me see myself in a different way, which is great. When they were transitioning from the old campus to the new campus, he needed to lighten up his workload because he was commuting constantly from that campus to the new campus. He was so busy. It was brutal. One of the things he took off his plate was Creative Writing for Radio. I taught that class for him for a semester. I have no teaching experience, but I was really honoured that he would ask me to do that. I'm teaching his students about writing: He thinks I'm a good writer as well as a solid announcer!. It's still really cool, though, when somebody backs up what they say and puts their money behind you, essentially. It was very neat to teach. I don't know if I'd want to do it full-time, but it was definitely neat to teach radio.
BB: Did he move to the city?
NB: No. He's in St Croix. He and Leeann and the kids are still in St. Croix. They have a nice house. So, he commutes from St. Croix. But, he was he was commuting from... Bishop's Settlement to Kentville. It was bonkers. The guy was on the road all the time. Now, he's on the road, but in a different capacity. It's not quite the same, I don't think, because it's all highway.
[Nicolle goes on the air for a moment]
But, Dave Bannerman's just like a little radio champion. He inspires anybody to be excited about radio.
And, a lot of people don't realize that Dave's brother is an Academy Award winning director in LA. What's his title now? He's involved in “Twilight”; that's one of his latest projects.
BB: I did not know that.
NB: I've been telling Dave for years, “You should just pack up everybody, move to the States, and do voice work”, because he's got such a great voice. That's all he should do. Instead of killing himself, doing all this little radio stuff, not making any money, he should be using his brother to get himself down there. I know his brother has offered to hook him up in certain ways, as I understand it. He just loves Nova Scotia. He loves radio. It's his thing. He's happy here. He's got huge connections: His brother was an AD, an Assistant Director, on “The Unforgiven”.
BB: So, he knows Eastwood.
NB: He hobnobs with hobnobbers, like big-time. He's done everything.
BB: I would never have made that connection.
NB: Dave doesn't talk about it. He's just, so, “No big deal”. It's a huge deal. Massive. “Bridges of Madison County”: He was the first AD. “Unforgiven”: Second Assistant Director. As a producer: “Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, post-production. “Anatomy of a Hate Crime”. “Hulk”: He was a Production Manager.
BB: Which Hulk?
NB: Hulk, 2003. The big one there. He's just the guy, man. “Air Bud: World Pup”. He's just in everything. [Dave] doesn't talk about that, but he could be down in LA. He chooses to stay up here, doing his little radio thing. He could be making a Hell of a lot more money if he went down there, I tell you.
6. Tell me about a couple of on air gaffes you have made.
NB: I do the usual stumble and stuff; and it drive me crazy. I've really tried to monitor that. Some days are harder than others. I would say the one that stands out most recently, that I go, "Oh, my God. I want to kill myself. That was so stupid". I said Kanye West's name wrong. I didn't look it up. I couldn't find out anywhere. [Nobody] at the station I could [as], "How do you say this guy's name?" So, I said, "Kanyeeee". [laughs] The, a while later, Ryan Summers (he's the hip hop god here), said "Kanye", and I died. I just died because I got it wrong. But, kill me. What can I do, right? That was before his "Golddigger" hitting number one.
But I make [errors] all the time. You know what? When it comes to on air gaffes, I just learned to roll with it. If you draw attention to it, you make it worse. If I'm a goof, I'm a goof. Everybody knows I'm a goof, so I might as well just own up to it, rather than apologize for it and stumble and whatever. And, because I'm not so tense now on the air, I'm not trying to overcompensate. People should hear you make mistakes: That way, they know you're real and that they know you're live.
If someone was to ask me the question, "What is your strength as an announcer?". My strength as an announcer is that I can voicetrack, and it sounds exactly like I'm still in the studio. I have many people who tell me, "You know what? I really can't tell when your voicetracked and when you're live". And, that is a skill.
BB: That's a compliment, too, isn't it?
NB: It's a skill to learn how to voicetrack and sound exactly the same.
BB: The only way you can tell is that you don't get the current temperature. That's a dead giveaway.
NB: Yes. Current temperature and time.
BB: Well, the time can be pretty close, though, right?
NB: Right. I don't do time checks in voicetracked hours. I always get concerned it's not necessarily going to be accurate by the time it goes. I'll say, "Coming up before 10". It's less than 20 minutes. It could be 19 minutes, right?
I do [gaffes] daily, so it's hard to just isolate one.
BB: When are you voicetracked, anyway?
NB: Sunday mornings, 6-8. My evenings shifts, from 10 to midnight.
BB: You're in earlier in the evening from 7 till 10 or so.
NB: Six till ten.
BB: Six till ten. Sorry. And, for whatever reason, Q104 will do...
NB: The opposite.
BB: … it so that they're live later in the evening until midnight.
NB: That's because they're doing hockey scores. That's not our demo, so we don't do that stuff. Isn't that funny?
BB: I always wondered why you guys were off [the air earlier]
NB: As I understand it from what JC had said at some point in time: It just made sense because that's when most of the games are rolling or starting to wrap up, so that way they can give hockey scores and whatever.
BB: You solved a mystery for me. I appreciate that.
NB: As I understand it. There could be another reason now.
7. How hard is it to inject your personality into a broadcast when you play long sets of music and are not supposed to speak much?
NB: You just have to own the moment that you're on. You just maintain your consistent, positive, personality, and have fun with that 5 or 6 seconds that you have to work with. One thing about writing commercials for as many years as I did is that it has taught me to compress, and to make the most out of a moment when required.
BB: You can be concise because of your earlier commercial training?
NB: I mean, putting personality into anything and being authentic is difficult when you don't feel safe and secure. Two things have happened. I now have a fantastic program director that is good to me. He makes me feel like I'm contributing something that's my own and beneficial to the station. And, the other thing is Ritalin.
I went on Ritalin a couple of years ago. I am totally ADHD. It's a wonder I function most days. I can't believe I got to the age of 37 without being medicated. Being on Ritalin has changed my life. I think most announcers are a little ADD or ADHD. We're all Energizer bunnies and we go, go, go, go, go. We're non-stop; balls-to-the-wall; go, go, go personalities. Ritalin has helped me focus, hugely. It's also helped because I don't have that monkey on my back. My actual monkey-kind of thing, this narrative that goes on in my head that isn't there so much now. It's still there, you know, whatever, talking smack to me; but for the most part I just go, “Screw off! Get lost. What I'm doing is enough”. When you are able to do that, you can kind of have fun with any moment that you're on the air.
You always keep in mind what your demo is. I always imagine that I'm talking to my best [friend] Angela. That's who I'm talking to, all the time. In doing that, and having those things fall into place, it's absolutely helped my performance on air. I am much more comfortable being myself and creating that personality that is always “Happy Nicolle” on the air. I'm not always happy, but I'm always happy on the air. And it is coming from a real place.
BB: So, you don't ever imagine yourself talking to a man on the air? It's always women, because that's your desired demographic.
NB: No. Sometimes, I will switch to a male, imagining that what I'm about to say impacts the male, moreso that I am talking to him. My best friend, Angela, while she is a girl, right? She's a chick. And we talk “chick”. We have our own almost language sometimes. We sometimes say things to each other in fragmented statements and anybody else following along will go, “What are they talking about?”, because we jump from topic to topic that can be years past to whatever. But, ultimately, she's just got that funny sense of humour, that she “gets” me. And, I know guys that “get” me, too. While I'm talking to her, I'm talking to that type of personality. I'm talking to somebody that “gets” me. You get me? Yeah, you get me!
BB: Yes. I get you.
NB: I'm talking to you the same way I would talk to Angela. The difference is that you kind of have to imagine that that's who you're talking to: Somebody who kind of “gets” you. OK, buddy! Somebody, the “buddy” can be a guy.
BB: Interesting. I was wondering how you did that.
8. What kind of music do you listen to when you're off the clock?
NB: I don't.
BB: Do you have the radio on at all when you're not at work?
NB: When I'm in the car, I sometimes listen to music. Most of the time, I listen to CBC.
BB: The reason I was a couple of minutes late getting here, I'll admit this now, is they had Maritime Magazine on. They were talking about the singer who was mauled by the coyote. They were talking about theories as to why that happened. I was going to listen to the whole thing, but said, “No. I have to be with Nicole”.
NB: CBC's come a long way in the last number of years. If you want to have music on, then a music station like ours is what you listen to. But, if you want something to mull over, then absolutely: I can completely see why somebody would want to listen to CBC.
I don't listen to it all the time. It's not what I want to listen to when I want to putter around and do stuff. But, if I'm in the car occasionally and I want to hear some news, I'll put that on, because I know it will be on at the top of every hour. And, there's certain shows that I like to listen for. I like “Vinyl Cafe”. My kids love “Vinyl Cafe”. There have been many Saturday nights when we've put the “Vinyl Cafe” podcast on while we had supper. It's our thing. I'm very proud to say that the first thing my kid downloaded on his iPod was a “Vinyl Cafe” podcast. As a radiophile, I think that's just fantastic.
BB: Do they strip out the songs for the podcast?
NB: No. Most of the time, it's the full show. Sometimes they do just the story.
BB: I thought with licensing, they wouldn't be able to have the music.
NB: I don't know how they get away with that. Maybe because it's radio and it's free. You're not paying for it. You don't pay for the “Vinyl Cafe” podcast. You do for “Afghanada”. And, you do have to pay for ... what's-his-name's show, the advertising guy... Terry O'Riley.
BB: “The Age of Persuasion”.
NB: I think you do have to pay for that one.
BB: I love that show.
NB: I love that show, too. That's a fantastic show.
BB: It's on tomorrow morning at 11:30, I think.
NB: It's a great show.
BB: Well, we have a lot more in common than I thought, Nicolle.
NB: Like I say, I don't listen all the time. But there are certain things I do listen to.
BB: Do you listen to Stan Carew's show?
NB: When I'm on my way to my job, yes. Absolutely.
BB: Do you ever feel a twist of a conflict of interest there?
NB: No. People always say, “Well, you're only supposed to listen to your station”. Well, that's like saying, “Do you think that Oprah only watches Oprah's show?, and only reads Oprah's magazine?” You have to know what the competition is doing and go, “Oh, that's cool. Good on them.” If you're so focused on your station, then you become insular. Then, you have the potential to lose perspective as to what else your audience is being bombarded with.
I'm interested in information. But, I don't want to just listen to the news. I don't watch the news before I go to bed. I think it's a terrible way to start off sleep. Absolutely awful. Get your news in the morning. Find out what devastation happened in the morning. And, then, start your day. Don't end your day with that; it's a completely negative way to end the day.
BB: You like your information in the morning, but ...
NB: Most of it, I get online.
BB: I was going to say: Do you find, in private radio, that most news broadcasts are too brief? I mean, C100 is a music-driven station. But, to what extent is a news component important?
NB: Well, I think for our audience, for the purpose of getting going in the morning: I have a psychotic life. I know most of my female friends do. So, you want to get the most important stuff I need until later on when I have the time to expand on stuff. I want to know what's going on with my city, with my community, provincially is there something I need to know? Is there a big story that's going to impact on a federal level?
Could it go deeper? Possibly. But, if I want more, the onus is on me to pursue that information. If I want news, I'll go to a news source for that. In the morning, I just want to get going. I want to know: What's the best route traffic-wise? I want to have a good giggle. And, I want to hear a tune that's going to put some pep in my step. That's what I want in the morning And that's what I get with The Breakfast Club. So, that is why I listen. I like energy. If that's what works for you, then that's what you're going to listen to. Could [the news hits] be longer? I suppose. But, they do so much research that if they thought it was lacking in content, in length, they would extrapolate that through the research. They would know, and they would be putting it in there. So, it must be satisfactory on an overall level. It has to be.
BB: I guess it must be, too, because I notice that other stations around here are shortening their news broadcasts. And Q104... Have you met Jessica Rankin yet?
NB: No. Not yet. I've heard she's fabulous, though.
BB: I'd love to meet her. She sounds like a firecracker. But, the morning news hits that she does: 3 stories, and that's it. Barely one minute long. And, Caroline Parker at KOOL, is down to 96 seconds now. At the Lite station, they're 92.9 seconds long. They're so damned brief that I wonder why they bother with them sometimes.
NB: I don't know. I could surmise. But, that's not my role here, to make those decisions and really understand it. I suspect that that's the reason. I mean, if everybody else is abbreviating it on a music-intensive format, then that says that their research is saying the same thing.
And, the internet has changed the game. Paper's feeling it. If you don't have game online, then you don't got game at this point. We've dramatically changed our online presence. We have online contesting specifically that we push our listeners to, which is pushing them to another medium, essentially.
9. Is there a musical format you feel is underserved in Halifax? Or things that are overserved?
NB: That's a hard question, because, no matter how I say it, it's going to sound like I'm not happy with what's here. The reality is that everything is driven by commerce. It has to be financially viable as a business to support a particular format. Do I think we could maybe have more Blues and Jazz? Can you do a whole station on that? I don't know if you can do that. Every now and then it would be nice to just turn that on, but people have that option now with satellite radio. It's just that you have to pay for that. I'm still a big believer in terrestrial radio; call me old school.
So, I don't know. I think we could certainly have another Country station in this market. That would certainly change the way things are rolling right now, as far as who goes where for what. But, an alternative rock station? We don't have that. That question always comes up: Is it viable? I don't know.
BB: Well, Evanov, or Halifax Broadcasting, or whatever they're called, have...
NB: The AAA format.
NB: I don't understand that format, quite frankly. And [of] everybody I talk to, nobody seems to have a clear idea how that's going to work, because it sounds like it could even be playing current hits as well as non-hits.
BB: But, before they got that [license] awarded, there was a company trying to get a Blues format in.
NB: Well, as I understood it: I thought that Global, when they secured their license, they were going to be doing a light jazz, World music kind of format. But, then that never happened. All that money to get a license, to get accepted, and then not actually go through with it. That's insane to me.
BB: It says something about the company and how much trouble they're having, I guess.
NB: I can't speculate on that. People have no idea what goes into these license preparations. If you go that far, to be actually given a license, and then never go to air? Or sell it? That's crazy. That's bonkers to me. [chuckles] That's big business. That's money that as a business owner I'm, like, "Wow! Really?" That is a major loss to me.
BB: They probably pissed away a couple of million bucks?
NB: I wouldn't even guess at how much that would have cost. But, man hours alone and just preparing for that license and the fees and legal whatever would be required would be pretty outrageous. It's not cheap, going for a license. There's no question.
BB: But, these people went for a Blues format, and were not awarded it. This AAA thing is coming down the pike. I read their [CRTC] application, because I do things like that. I need to get a life, too, I guess.
BB: In their application, they're saying that they're going to have an expanded playlist. Instead of you guys having about 1000 songs, these guys will have about 1600. They will have less fluff talk: Less talk about Hollywood celebrities and more substantial talk about music. There will be a fair amount of spoken-word content.
NB: Like interviews?
BB: I'm not sure if that's just what they're saying to get the license, or if that's what they'll actually end up doing.
NB: We'll see. The proof will be in the pudding.
BB: Do you think we'll have a second Country station? Is that your speculation, or your hope?
NB: Well, I think that if you want a viable format, that there's room for it. If you want to do something, then do Country in this city. Country is still a solid format, and people that love Country, LOVE Country.
BB: Even 780 KIXX, an AM station, had a fairly loyal audience. It wasn't big, but it was a solid audience.
NB: I have to say: Voicetracking on KIXX was a lot of fun.
BB: Was it, now?
NB: Well, because that's Country that I grew up with, with my grandparents and stuff. George Jones and Loretta Lynn. Man, you want to talk about a crazy ass, firecrackin' momma. Love her. I'm not a big star struck kind of person. I'm not into celebrity stuff. I'm an anomaly. There's very few artists that I'd just like freak to meet. Bob Barker, I would freak to meet. Mary J. Blige, I would totally freak to meet. I love her. Elton, I think, would be a real kick to meet, because he's just so outrageous. He's just such an intelligent human being. And Loretta Lynn. I'd love to meet Loretta Lynn! I love Loretta Lynn! I think she is kick ass. Her and Tanya Tucker, but Tanya Tucker not so much. But, they're bad girls. Everybody thinks of bad girls as Britney Spears. Are you freaking kidding me? Bad girls are Loretta Lynn, Debbie Harry. Those are bad girls! Those are women that are still doing it today, are survivors, personally and professionally. They are icons in their own way. It's super cool.
People think that "rebel" is getting out of a limo without underwear on. Give me a break! That's just ho-ish. [laughs]
BB: That was Loretta Lynn 35 years ago doing a song about birth control pills.
NB: Yes. That woman was a pioneer. She pushed the envelope. So, that's why it was a kick to play her music. That's funny. And, those country songs are all about hurtin', losin', and lovin'. They make me giggle. They make you feel good because they're so miserable. I don't know why. I can't fathom it, but I could be in a grumpy mood or not. Then, I'd do a voice track shift on KIXX, and then I'd be like, "Oh, my God! That's too funny!" What a giggle. You can't take anything too serious when you're honking classic country. George Jones! So funny.
[Nicolle goes on the air for a moment]
10. Why did you agree to this interview?
NB: You've never asked this question?
BB: I don't think I have. Nikki Balch alluded to it. But nobody else has really answered it.
NB: Radio people love to talk about themselves. You haven't figured out that they like to be the center of attention. [laughs]
And, you know what? I actually am so self-effacing sometimes. I have a history of diminishing what I do, and devaluing it. I made a commitment last year to myself and Peggy Regimbal, (Executive Assistant to the General Manager) that I'm going to take on a new attitude and say that I'm fabulous. I am fabulous, and you're lucky that I'm even giving you 2 seconds of the day. Okay, that's extreme, but I'm really trying to put more value in myself because between doing this and doing my business, raising two kids, and being in a relationship and having a house, having two dogs, and having this incredibly, frighteningly busy life, I've always thought I could just do it all, because I could always give of myself. I realize that there is an end. There is a limit to what I can do. Now, I'm going to put some value on this. So, what I have to contribute as an announcer to anybody who is interested in knowing, some of my points probably have some value, so sure: I'll share them.
That's a funny question. I saw the question and went, "Wow, that's a weird question to ask!"
BB: I was just wondering why you jocks like to talk to me. I guess I provide a forum for you to say whatever you want.
NB: Absolutely. And you put a lot of work into your interviews. You don't go for cheap shots. It's very easy for someone to do that. And I think it's interesting that you are doing this and showing an interest in us, because a lot of people don't really know us. They think that they do. This is a kind of a little bit of a peek into our world. It's like a reality kind of endeavour, because people have this idea of us, and what we do. But they don't necessarily know our story.
BB: Thousands of people listen to you every day, [but] they don't know anything about you.
NB: They think they know us, but they ultimately don't know everything. This interview is not going to tell them everything, but it certainly gives them a bit of a timeline, a point of reference. I like the questions about being able to say X about So and So, because it's nice to talk about people that you work with or have worked with and that you have great respect for.
BB: Exactly. And I wouldn't ask about someone you hated. If you said, "I hate J.C. Douglas", I'd put another name in there. I don't want this to be negative. I'm not picking on J.C., but you know what I'm saying.
BB: Thank you very much for this morning, Nicolle Bellefontaine. I appreciate your time. This is the first time I've done an interview...
NB: In a studio.
BB: In a studio.
BB: I was telling some friends about it. “Oh, my God. You're going to be in the studio!” I thank you for that.
NB: That's funny. I never really thought about that. I suppose, most of the time, you're going to be meeting in different areas. You should be here next month, because next month is when we're going to be in the new studio. So, you'll have to come back and take some photos of that, and see what the studio transforms into.
Once you get [the interview] up and running, I'll put that on my Facebook. I'll link to it on my In Studio chat. It will give you a chance to people to get excited about radio and a link to the other [interviews]. So, on the side there, of your blog, where you have the different people's names, that's how people can access the other interviews. Right?
NB: Somebody's got to be chronicling and getting a viewpoint. I mean, who's interviewing radio people? Or media people? Media people aren't getting interviewed. Steve Murphy would be a great interview.
BB: I would love to talk to Steve Murphy.
NB: Love Steve Murphy. Nice human being.
BB: Tell him about the blog. I have no advertising budget, so I have to [rely on word-of-mouth].
NB: Absolutely. You need to be exposed in the paper and in The Coast.
BB: I'm getting business cards made up.
NB: Are you?
BB: I am. I have them on order. I'll give you a couple.