April 5, 2010
Patricia and I met with J.C. Douglas at the Q104 studios on Easter Monday, 2010, bearing lunch. What followed was a 2 hour discussion on the many accomplishments of Q104, what the heck the various call letters to radio stations mean, and some touching moments as JC discusses a hero of his. What are you waiting for, folks. Start reading!
1. I have noticed that the news reports on Q104 (and Kool FM for that matter) have become ever briefer. Is this on purpose? Is it a Newcap mandate? Do you foresee a day when you will not have newscasts at all?
No, we just want to piss off news junkies like you. [laughs]
When it comes to news, obviously the playing field has changed in the last several decades. While we still have two full-service radio stations here, how people receive their information has changed a great deal. There's nobody tuning into Q104 particularly for news. We give them a roundup of what's happening in their world, what they definitely need to know or should be aware of, and them move on to the things that they tune into the radio station for, which [are] music and entertainment. Staying in the information mode for too long can prove to be tricky territory.
So, it's just a function of how things have changed. If they want more on the story, there's a million other places they'll go to. If we give them too much on the story, then they may go elsewhere looking for the number one thing that they came to us for, which is to be entertained.
It depends on the day. When there's a big forest fire roaring through, rolling into town, we're going to be all over it. I think we have a pretty good grip on when we need to go heavier on the information side of things. And, just then, the chicken flew across the table!
Bevboy: I thought it was dead, dammit!
JC: [laughs] Patricia and I are still enjoying a lovely meal.
BB: OK. Fair enough. I was just wondering, because I noticed that Jessica will do, typically, 3 stories, lasting perhaps a minute, and then she goes to Sports with Bobby Mac. The sports report is longer than the news report was. I'm not being critical.
JC: [chuckles] That's not always by design.
BB: So, Bobby Mac has a passion for sports, I'm guessing, and likes to talk about it.
JC: We keep it all as tight as is relevant to our audience. We don't get a lot of complaints about a lack of news. Even on the radio dial, there are major news sources where that's priority number one for them. It's a different world than it used to be. Then, there are 24 hour news channels, news cycles, and stuff like that. Music-formatted radio doesn't play the same role in the news world that is used to.
BB: I get most of my news from radio because I work long hours. It's unusual for me to be home much before 7 o'clock. I leave the house at quarter to seven in the morning. I'm gone for 12 hours a day, so I miss the supper time news with Steve [Murphy] or Tom Murphy, or the guy from Global.
BB: Well, my spin class will finish around 6:20. I'm usually walking to my car around 6:30. I want to hear the Requesta Fiesta, but I do want an idea of what's been going on, so I'll tune into the first 10 minutes or so of News 95.7 because they're still doing live stuff at that time. Then, I switch over to Tom [Bedell].
JC: And, do you catch any of As It Happens?
BB: The odd time. I grew up listening to As It Happens. I got my first radio when I was 10, and I discovered all these other radio stations, including the CBC. I'm from the Valley; back then, Annapolis Valley Radio had some kind of relationship with the CBC that lasted for a long time. They had to accede some of their programming hours to the CBC. They even had their CBC news hits at the top of the hour. I don't know what that was all about.
JC Once upon a time that would have existed, yes.
BB: Back in the '70's. But I listened to As It Happens a lot back in the day. I'm an Alan Maitland/Barbara Frum guy.
JC: As opposed to a Barbara Budd/Mary Lou Finlay.
JC: Barbara Budd always had the sweetest gig in radio.
BB: How so?
JC: What the Hell did she ever do on that show? Just read the “What's coming up” in the introductions.
BB: She was the “Alan Maitland”
JC: But, the thing is, you're normal, in your tuning. When you were looking for entertainment, you went to Q to hear the Requesta Fiesta. When you were looking for news, you went to News 95.7.
BB: You don't believe in the concept of one-stop shopping? Is there such a thing anymore?
JC: It doesn't work as well. That's the thing. We're still as close as you come to a full-service radio station, and that does work for most people. What we know from our research is that people get up, listen to Q104, drive to work, get to the office, and they feel like they've got what they need from their full-service radio station. Those who want more detail, will go elsewhere to get it. They'll hear something on the air. They'll get to work. They'll get on the internet. “I want to know more about the story I heard”. That kind of thing. People are ingrained in those patterns now. If they want more, like you do, news from the radio, they'll do what you do: They'll go to the news stations.
A radio station with a music format has to own something. It can't own everything. We can't be the news station in town. We have to be the entertainment station in town.
BB: There was a time, in our lifetimes, and in your period of time at Q104, when the Q and C100 and all the other stations (and there were a lot fewer back then) had to provide a certain spoken word component.
JC: That's right.
BB: Sunday morning, I remember on Q104, I remember there was an environmental show...
JC: Yes. The Clean Earth Report.
BB: Yes. It was done in-house. I think I remember, in the mid '80's, some kind of Hotline-type show.
JC: Yes. We used to have a morning talk show from 9-10 or something like that. That continued for a few years. FM was basically de-regulated around 1992, in that way. Some of the music regulations were kept on; but most of those spoken word regulations were wiped out in '92. '
They were kind of an antiquated system of going back to when the CRTC felt that the FM band would be permitted to enter the public headspace, but it was meant to be a “thoughtful band”. That's why they brought in all these regulations. It's funny because in the States, for instance, FM was never regulated that way. In its earlier days, it was a more thoughtful band all on its own. It attracted a certain more thoughtful, discerning listener. They soaked up that more thoughtful end of things. In Canada, the same thing was happening, too. But, as it branched out and became more of a mass appeal kind of idea, that need for the “thoughtfulness” was decreased, depending on the radio station. I think a lot of broadcasters are happy to let the evolution of programming take a more natural course rather as opposed to its being mandated by government regulations.
Eventually, they realized it was a futile effort to keep hounding radio stations. “You can't tell the time during a background information segment”, and stuff like that. You couldn't do a forecast during foreground programming because that was surveillance, and surveillance made it not qualify for foregrounding. It was really bizarre after awhile. That's what we dealt with for years and years.
BB: I can imagine it was a pain in the ass.
OK. Fair enough.
2. How did you get your start in radio?
JC: [chuckles] I took some advice from some professional disk jockeys I'd spent some time talking to on the telephone, and went to Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. I took the 2 year broadcasting program there.
BB: This would have been?
JC: '83 to '85. I applied to stations in Ontario and Nova Scotia. I was from Nova Scotia; my dad was still down here. The first 2 places I had heard from were Q104, and CKBW in Bridgewater. I accepted the Bridgewater job and told Jake Edwards here at Q104 that I'd love to come work for him, but I had already accepted the gig in Bridgewater. He made fun of me. Then, I came to work here, 7 months later.
BB: I remember hearing you back in … '86? Was it your first year?
JC: I started right in the tail end of 1985.
3. What was it like to leave Q104? What was it like to return a year later?
JC: You know what? I was really sad to leave! I was taking a job I had been dreaming about having for a while. I had been auditioning for television gigs with CBC and CTV for years, and I was the perennial runner up for a number of things. Like: “Street Cents”.
P: I remember that!
JC: Hm. And, its predecessor, “Money Penny”. I'd been the runner up to host that show.
BB: You would have been Jamie Bradley?
JC: Well, yes, Jamie beat me out. He was the right guy, though. I state that unequivocally. “Money Penny” was the pilot. I don't even remember the guy who beat me out for that one. I was doing a lot of work with John Nowlan, the head of children's production at CBC. He liked me, and he had me on “Switchback” a lot.
BB: Yes! You shaved your moustache for that.
JC: After Stan Johnson left, I auditioned for that job. I came second to Andrew Cochrane.
BB: Not the Andrew Cochrane of “Theodore Tugboat” fame.
JC: That's right: A much younger Andrew Cochrane, with an “e”. The producer Andrew Cochran has no “e”, I think.
So, between them and auditioning and originally thinking I had the job at Breakfast Television that Scott Boyd ended up getting, because I'd been told I had [chuckles], and then later not having the job... but auditioning for Much Television and a few other things. Eventually, the one time I got the job was when I didn't even have to go audition. He just called and said, “You got it”.
By that time, they'd seen me enough [that] they knew what I could do. They just gave me a call and I had to go and have that experience. But, it made it made it really sad to leave not only a great group of professionals but people who are mostly my best friends in the business. I was just going across the parking lot, but it was kind of the end of a project I had put my entire adult life into.
BB: You had been at the Q at that point upwards of 13 years.
JC: Yes. Since I was 21. It was everything I'd known as an adult, really. And, you gain a connection to the people you work with, and the listeners and just that feeling of comfort, which is probably a real bad feeling to have, creatively. If you're too comfortable, you're probably not being challenged enough. So, I followed the need for a challenge, and to experience something new and different. I've always been a TV hound, almost as much as I'm a radio hound. Having that experience was absolutely wonderful.
Coming back was a pleasure as well because I didn't have the background and knowledge of television that I do of radio. I didn't feel that I had a lot of room to grow without a lot of additional training that would have to come on the job. People there are wonderful, and the job was so much fun. Day-to-day, it was hard to believe how much fun we had on that show. That we were getting paid for it was phenomenal.
But, again, realizing that I needed to be challenged, I though, after doing a full cycle of seasons as the remote guy on Breakfast Television, it looked like, “Oh, boy. We're starting again! It's all the Fall stuff, and the Winter stuff, and then the Summer stuff. And I can do that again and again and again”.
BB: For 10 years.
JC: Yes, before you know it. I had been asked by Bob Templeton, who was the president of Newcap at the time, if I was interested in the morning show when Jay “Mad Dog” MacNeil (which is not his real name, and neither is Michaels) left here for Toronto. Basically, at that point, I felt it could be a lateral move at best. I thought about it for a weekend and told him, “No, but if programming were to open up, I'd be very interested in that”, because I had told him that before I left.
Lo and behold, it might not even have been a month it was posted: Program Director, Q104. It was pretty awesome to see that happen, that fast. When I let him know I was interested, he said, “I was hoping you'd call!” Bob was a big believer in my talents and abilities. I'd been sort of going after the programming gig for a long time. I had trained a lot under Barry Horne, specifically. But, it didn't seem like it was going anywhere, until after I left. So, sometimes leaving a comfortable job can actually raise your commodity level a bit.
BB: Was it Barry Horne who left, paving the way for you to come?
JC: No. It was Eric Stafford who left for Ottawa in '97, I think. We never replaced him as Program Director. Eventually, it appeared that the merger was happening between Newcap and CHUM, so Terry Williams kind of oversaw programming for all 5 stations.
BB: He fancied himself Q104's Program Director?
JC: Well, he was put in that position loosely. He wasn't actually the official Program Director. I think there was probably a CRTC issue there, where someone programming another ownership group's stations couldn't program a second ownership group's stations. That was a bit tricky, and I think eventually Bob thought it was best to have someone overseeing programming for his Newcap stations separately.
BB: You were not just Q's [Program Director]. You were also 780 KIXX's, but never SUN FM.
JC: I had a hands on Program Director there: Gary Evong.
BB: I remember him.
JC: He went through phases of being PD and not being PD.
BB: He was also the morning guy. He kept saying his name every 15 seconds.
BB: As if he had to remind himself.
JC: [chuckles some more]
4. Did you have any idea how much free publicity you'd get from "Richard/Dick, the Frugal MLA"?
BB: Before you talk, I can tell you that people from my work who know that I'm a radiohead who would never listen to a private radio station (they listen to CBC all the time), were coming up to me and asking me what this campaign was all about. You may have got some new listeners. You got a Hell of a lot of free publicity.
JC: Your question is: Did we have any idea how much publicity we'd get?
BB: You were on television. Other [radio] stations talked about you.
JC: Of course, when you put together a promotion that's linked to something as hot and topical and as much of a hotbutton issue as that, you're sort of hoping that tap into the public consciousness that way. It certainly worked to a T.
BB: It sure did!
JC: So, yeah. We hoped that it would work out that way. We were originally going to do a generic radio promotion called, “Larry, The Angry Accountant”. It was down out at The Beat in Vancouver.
JC: It wouldn't have been boring at all. It would have a fun high/low game, a kind of fun twist on a high/low game.
P: But, this is better.
JC: Oh, for sure. Instead of just guessing if the number is high or low, the concept was that Larry had embezzled a certain amount of money away from our company and buried it in the Tropics. Right as that was happening, the thing with Richard Hurlburt and the other MLA's was breaking.
You know, Richard was the name that got used for the promotion, but it's funny. The promotion really started getting press when members of the Conservative Caucus got upset over us using the name “Richard”. I felt bad about using the name “Richard” at that point because Richard Hurlburt was the one who had the integrity to quit. [chuckles]. It's, like, “Man, there are other people who should have had as much integrity”.
But, anyway, we used the name because it was the one that was most associated with the issue. When asked if we were using that name purposefully... I was asked that question straight out by CBC news, and I answered it a few different ways. They just happened to use one quote, which was, “No, no. It was completely coincidence”.
BB: But, the way you said it, though.
JC: [laughs] I gave the little look to the camera.
P: I was listening to it on the radio. I said to Bev, “Do you know what? I can hear him smiling when he was giving that comment”. I could hear you smiling!
JC: For the second, I turned completely to the camera and [said], “Completely coincidence!” So, it was obviously tongue-in-cheek to anybody who was watching it. And, also, they had asked us about the legalities of it. I said that it's just political satire. So, from that perspective, that's why we chose the name “Richard”, and we could have chosen any number of names for that one...
JC: Well... [laughs], Trevor's name came up later, but certainly. Unfortunately for Richard Hurlburt, his name was the most associated with the scandal. For instance, cbc.ca published the story on their website, you saw the number of comments on there that were PRO Q104 as opposed to comments that we in defense of Chris D'Entremont or any number of MLA's who were complaining about the use of that name and the promotion or whatever, there's not a lot of public sympathy for the MLA's going through a little bit of introspection.
You know, people congratulated us on keeping the issue on the front burner.
BB: And having a sense of humour about it.
JC: Sometimes the best way to keep something alive is to have a sense of humour about it. So, it did play a dual role: It kept people talking about a very important issue; and it also entertained our listeners. And, it gave somebody a quick cash prize, too.
But, as you recall, we did change the name from Richard to Dick. I think the tag we put up on twitter and on the crawl on our website was, “Same great money. Same stupid Dick.”
And, there was a hint at the end [Dick] might be back. Do you want some breaking news for my blog?
JC: I don't remember what the hint was. I don't remember hearing that.
BB: Well, they played where the lady guessed the exact amount. “Dick, the Frugal MLA” said, “There's lots more where that came from!”
JC: [laughs] I think that the Richard character, which obviously bears no physical or aural resemblance to anyone named Richard (because that was a whacked-out, zany Bobby Mac creation), was just saying that there was a lot more money where that came from, meaning Nova Scotia taxpayer's money is an endless pit at the behest of our MLA's.
BB: So, that was a one-off character?
JC: Oh, yes. I think so, yes.[chuckles]
5. Please say something about the following people
a. Frank Cameron
JC: Man, I'm so respectful of the history of radio in Halifax. Frank is one of those guys I bow down to. It's funny. I think that Frank would punch me if I said this in front of him because I'm sure he'd like to think of himself as more of a contemporary guy in this. He's accomplished so much in every decade he's worked, including recently. I love the fact that he's still on the air at Seaside, working for nothing, which reveals his obvious love of the industry. But, in my mind, Frank Cameron owned radio in Halifax in the '60's. Brian Phillips owned radio in Halifax in the '70's. In my mind, Brother Jake Edwards owned it, if only for a short period of time, in the '80's. He was more responsible than anyone else for the growth and development of radio as an art form in Halifax in the 1980's. I had a chance to work a little bit, and watch a little bit, up close these guys work. Just to be in the same business, in the same community as these guys has been a thrill.
Frank is just a wonderful guy. Just an absolutely wonderful human being. The way he cares about the people he works with, and his family. We got a good taste of that recently when we had him on the Q morning show in the wake of the Haitian earthquake. He was talking about his granddaughter who was just being airlifted out of Haiti. She'd been down there with a group of students who got stranded in the aftermath of the quake. But, man, I'll tell you, he's just got a heart as big as all outdoors.
I first worked with him as a judge at a cheerleading competition back in the '80's. I was starstruck. I also remember giving him a call in 1994. I was doing a cable access show. I needed a guy who would make a good visual, that if I had somebody lower a newspaper from in front of their face and say, “I don't watch television!”, then everyone would know who it is and would get the irony of it. So, I got Mr. Television for Halifax at the time. He'd been working the late night news for some time and been the weather man on CBC news. I just called him up and told him I wanted him to play that role, and he was like, “No problem! Where and when?”
BB: I'm surprised the CBC would let him work another medium like that.
JC: You know what? I don't think Frank would even care. Why would Frank give a shit about that? Frank's his own man.
More recently, myself and Anna Zee and another friend of mine who's really into pop culture. I've got a buddy who works at the Public Archives. We went down, and for a few hours sat and watched old kinescopes of Frank's Bandstand.
BB: Oh, my God. They still exist!
JC: Yes. They're archived at the public archives. You have to view by appointment, but it was a really neat trip back. These were shows that were airing when I was in the first 3 years of my life. I'd never seen them air in their entirety, commercials and everything included. I've seen clips and that from retrospectives and unearthing of them that CBC did a few years ago, but to watch them in real time was phenomenal. Just to watch Frank at work. He was in his mid-20's then. And, that was a national show out of Halifax. It was part of a series [in which] Frank's Bandstand was the Halifax contribution. Every day of the week, they'd have the show come out of a different place. Vancouver one day, then Winnipeg. Toronto. Montreal. Halifax. It was “After School Sockhop” or something. To watch those productions out of Halifax, with all the local school kids, QEH kids, St. Pat's kids, dancing there in the CBC studios, and having the house band and all that stuff. Who's the producer? Guy who went on to Nashville and married … she was also married to Gram Parsons. Brian Ahern?
JC: Anyway, this Halifax producer, who later goes to Nashville and marries one of the most famous Country singers of all time, Emmylou Harris. But, anyway, he was the leader of the houseband on Frank's Bandstand. Some really incredible people came out of that show. You could do a blog entry on those kinds of things.
BB: I might just do that.
JC: But, it's amazing when you start digging back into Halifax musical history. I did a show on The Great Scotts on Studio Q.
BB: I wanted to hear that!
JC: Well, you know what? I'm going to air it again. It's a 90 minute special. I'm really, really proud of it. [I] had 4 of the 5 members. One of them, Wayne Forrest, didn't want to participate in it, but now he regrets that he didn't participate in it because he heard the thing and thought, “I didn't realize you were going to do [it] justice.” It was really neat to dig back into that incredible story. I'm going to re-air that probably in a month or two. I'll let you know.
JC: But, anyway, we watched these kinescopes just to marvel at where the guy's been in his career. Absolutely phenomenal.
P: Frank Cameron and I have sort of have history, family-wise.
P: My uncle and Frank and the former premier John Hamm used to be buddies.
BB: Tell him the story about the floor hockey.
P: My grandmother, when she was alive, remembers these 3, and the mischief they would get into. It was a hot Summer day, but of course the boys wanted to play hockey. They wanted to play ice hockey. There was no ice around, so what they strapped on those Fuller brushes to their feet and smeared grease all over my grandmother's kitchen floor and they would slide all over the kitchen floor and play hockey. Needless to say, my grandmother was not happy when she came home and there was grease smeared from one end of the kitchen to the other.
JC: Oh. My. God! Is that real?
P: John Hamm, and Frank Cameron and my Uncle Oak.
P: They were just kids, 8 or 9 or something. I can't speak for John Hamm. I don't know what kind of a Hell raiser he was, but I can certainly [attest] for my uncle. And, knowing Frank the way that I do, he was quite a Hell raiser, too.
JC: You've got stories like that, and you have a hard time coming up with stuff for your blog? That's a blog entry!
BB: I think I put it up there once.
P: My grandmother. I was, “Oh, tell me more, Gram.” “Oh, Lord”, she says. She loved them, because they were her boys, but the trouble they'd get into!
JC: [Laughs] That's crazy shit, man. That's awesome.
b. Gerry Parsons
JC: Gerry Parsons. My parents used to listen to CFDR radio when I was a kid. It's hard to believe that I would end up being the program director at that radio station for the last 10 years of its not-even 50 year history. Kind of phenomenal to me. I remember doing all the “maple bud” stuff, and just how folksy he was to listen to. I had no idea I'd actually work with the fella in my lifetime. By the time I started working at Q104 and CFDR, he was still on the air, in early '86. He wasn't on a lot because he had all kinds of problems with arthritis. But, man, I remember the hard time he'd have walking up the stairs from the 18th to the 19th floor to the penthouse broadcast studios. But, whenever he could, he'd be there.
I just marvel at that generation of radio guys. They were just so devoted to their craft. He was right there until the day he could no longer do it. I later went to his funeral to pay my respects, and my respects are huge for that guy.
BB: Where is he buried?
JC: Not sure where he's buried. The funeral was in Dartmouth, though, I believe. That was only a few years after he left the station.
BB: Mary's Breadbasket in The Farmer's Market, for years, right around the corner from where you got your bread, in the hallway, there was a bulletin board. There was a shrine to Gerry Parsons in there.
JC: You're kidding me!
BB: He used to mention Mary's Breadbasket on the air. She must have been taken by it, and he would mention her. There was a picture of two of him up there at one point. It's gone now, but I remember reading it and I wish I'd taken a picture of it.
JC: He was just such a nice, soft-spoken gentleman. His days in Halifax radio even pre-dated CFDR. He was on CJCH back in the '50's. He was old “Hayseed” Parsons, or something like that.
JC: I guess it's a passing of the torch. It happens every generation, but it is surreal to me that I have known and/or worked with some of these legends of the business. I'm so glad that that's happened, that I didn't come into the business in Halifax never having known these people, or having learned from them.
[Recording stops. We start discussing Clive Schaeffer, so I fire up the recorder again]
JC: You know what? It's funny, because Clive Schaeffer is one of those guys... There's the Iron Man of Halifax radio. I don't know anything about him. I have never met him. I never listened to him, much at all.
BB: He worked until the early '90's. He used to ride his bicycle to work. [MBS] brought him back about 10 years ago just so they could say he had worked in 6 decades.
JC: Exactly. He's gotta be pushing 100 now, isn't he?
BB: He's an old man. I shot video of him [last year] saying hello to Bevboy's Blog. I have pictures of him playing a trumpet. He played it for us, for me and Krista Cooke.
JC: Oh, really?
BB: I have that. I should put it up on youtube. I really should do something with the interview.
JC: If I were you, I would get that on [soon]. If he passes away, it will be wonderful to have that ready to roll.
c. Tom Bedell
JC: An afternoon drive guy's afternoon drive guy. He can say it all in 10 seconds and make you laugh and make you think. Nobody on this planet that I know personally, makes me laugh as consistently and as deeply as Tom Bedell, and I mean on and off the air. I've never known someone to have the comic timing, to be as quick with a dry, witty quip, as Tom Bedell. He is phenomenal to me, with his ability to slay you with with just one line. I couldn't be prouder to have a guy like Tom fill the shoes in Afternoon Drive that I worked hard at for ... 11 years? He's been there longer than me now, I think.
BB: Well, you're leaving [in the fall of '98] paved the way for him to come back.
JC: So, he'd be going on 12 now. Just a wonderful part of our team.
d. B.J. Burke. [Note: This interview was conducted prior to Mr. Burke's decision to take a break from his morning show, to concentrate on fighting his cancer]
BB: He sounds the same, even though he's going through all this.
JC: I know. Listen: 90% of our audience doesn't even realize he's got anything wrong with him. BJ is intending to do some more stuff on air about the cancer (and for those who don't know, he's got Hodgkin's Lymphoma). He did make an announcement about it; but he hasn't really talked much about it. We've talked a lot about that. He's got some plans for what he wants to do with it, particularly with the hope in mind that he can encourage some people to go and get checked, which he never did when he should have, and that all guys approaching our age should be thinking more seriously about. He's glad now that he did and wishes he hadn't left it as long as he did. But, he knows that the key to living a long, healthy life, despite being found to have cancer, is to be checked early.
But, it hasn't been called the Q Morning Zoo since [Brother] Jake had the reins of the thing; but it is a zoo, and there's no ring leader tht can run those 3 rings better than BJ Burke. He's phenomenal.
BB: Gary Tredwell thinks the world of him. And, of course, he's the one who really got Greasy Gary going back in Halifax when BJ was hired.
JC: Well, Greasy gives him the credit for that, and gives me no credit. [Laughs]
BB: Obviously, nothing would happen on the air without your permission.
JC: JC laughs! Because, yeah, I think I had a fair amount to do with that. [laughs] Greasy was a Hell of a find. Actually, we got him going in the afternoon with the STP Car Tip thing; that's how that started. I didn't think of it right off the bat, but thought of him doing more stuff, to bring that character to life in more ways, was great. And because Gary was also interested in potentially getting on the air PERIOD.
BB: Oh, I don't remember that.
JC: He did sports. Filled in for Harv [Stewart] for a week of sports, just as Gary Tredwell. We just wanted to see how he'd do. And, then, the next time we put him on the air for a week, it was as Greasy Gary.
BB: Doing the sports?
JC: Yes. We had him in there several times when Harv was off, filling in on the sports, and being a sidekick for a week at a time. That was awesome. He's such a talent. Oh, my God. Gary Tredwell. Talk about another guy who makes me laugh. Tredwell, back when I was on the air, and he knows this too and loved a good audience, any time we'd go to a staff meeting, I would sit as close to Tredwell as I could. I'd either sit in front of him, behind him, or beside him, because I knew I was going to laugh my ass off. He and I are both in management now. We hate it when people do this. But, when we weren't in management, he would just mock whatever was happening at the staff meeting. I would just laugh and laugh until we both got in trouble. He's so funny, just so quick off the top of his head. Having Greasy there is a real strength in that morning show, too.
BB: Something that he does for 10 minutes a day, he says.
JC: Yeah. He tells me it takes him hours to prep for that! Hmm! [Laughs]
BB: On the air for 10 minutes!
JC: I'm just kidding.
P: He's usually in his underwear when he does it, by the way.
JC: The point is: When it's time to renegotiate, he tells me it takes hours a day.
e. Jeff Cogswell
JC: Jeff is a good buddy. It's funny: We are good pals, but our professional relationship has always been Manager and Employee. But, it doesn't feel that way, because I just enjoyed working with him so much. He's so open to receiving feedback and direction. He's just a sponge that way, and wants to grow and wants to learn. I learned a lot from him.
BB: And, he has a new PD now in Rob Johnson.
JC: That's right.
BB: I was surprised that Rob left. It will be interesting to see what happens over at Z103.
JC: You always need new challenges. But, Cogswell is a good guy to have on your staff. He's a hard worker. He's a really good family man, and a funny guy, and has really exhibited good leadership skills. We were sad to see him leave for St. John [where he went to work for an MBS station]
BB: Now, we're Facebook friends, he and I. He is on Facebook until 10 or 11 o'clock at night; and he's up 4 hours later to go to work. I don't know how the guy keeps those kinds of hours.
JC: I would trust he's getting some sleep in the day time.
BB: I would hope so.
JC: [Chuckles] Well, frankly, he's not on our team. I don't give a shit how many hours of sleep he gets. I hope he doesn't get any sleep. [laughs] I would hope they're working him to the bone over there, and the numbers reflect it. I hope the numbers go right into the toilet. I'm kidding, of course. I kid because I love.
f. Bob Powers
JC: Talk about surreal. Bob hired me, hired Anna [Z]. Bob, more than any other individual, I've felt is "Mr. Q104". It was absolutely bizarre and thrilling to bring him back on Q104. He's just meant so much to me in my career and given me so many opportunities. I've learned so much from that guy. To have him come back to us was really awesome; and I know he liked it, and still does. He enjoys being a part of the Q.
Can you imagine having a better weekend anchor than Bob Powers? That's like a dream come true.
BB: And, the research he must do to have those anecdotes!
JC: Yes. He's a musicologist. He knows the market so well. He knows the station so well. He's just a real part of the fabric of the radio station. I love getting up Saturday mornings and turning on Q104 to hear Bob Powers. And, the kind of comments I get from listeners are heavy on the esoteric. "I just love the sound of his voice!". "It just brings me comfort to hear him on the air". And, I agree. He's just such a mult-facted onair performer, from just the temor of his voice to the depth of the content, and just the friendly human connection. He's just a joy to listen to. I feel an embarrassment of riches: I can have a guy of his stature and experience on the air on weekends.
BB: If a full-time position became available, someone left, would you consider hiring him? Would he want to leave [his present position]?
JC: I'm not sure at this point he would want to leave. We've talked about that. I think he's laid a lot of groundwork as a car salesman.
BB: He works around the corner.
JC: He works right next door. I can actually see him at work from my office window. I've knocked on the window a couple of times. "Hey, Powers! Get back to work!" He's laid such groundwork there. That's a job that takes a lot of years to really get the traction that you need, and he has now found it. He's on fire over there, so I'm not sure that would be an option for him. But, I love Bob Powers. If there were a role here that he wanted, he'd certainly be given more than ample consideration.
g. Arnie Patterson
JC: Arnie was such a visionary, and part of that dying breed of independent radio owners who really knew the craft and knew the media. If you've read his autobiography, it's absolutely stunning, the stuff he's done in his career. You couldn't have a better background to be an owner of a media outlet than what he had. Of course, newspaper was what he was particularly interested in, but he got into radio big-time, working with Danny Gallivan, Pat Connolly, and all those guys at CJ[CH] in sports in the '50's.
So, not only was he uniquely qualified to run a radio station; but also he was so community focused, and particularly Dartmouth focused (which was neat because in 1962 when [CFDR] went on the air, Dartmouth had just become a city. It was burgeoning because of the opening of the Macdonald bridge in '55. It was a community that grew like, God, three, five, ten times its size in twenty years or so. He really felt the need for a radio station that focused on the Dartmouth community.
To have come in on the tail end of his ownership was, again, another kind of a surreal thing, because I knew Arnie from back when he was covering sports. My dad was a senior softball pitcher. Back in those days, in the '60's and early '70''s, they got a lot of attention from the local press. Arnie was columnist and radio guy. Pat Connolly, as well, was covering that stuff. I knew those guys from that angle, but to work with them, and for Arnie to be my boss was really, really neat.
You know, it was run on a shoestring.
JC: Yes. No doubt about that. We weren't going to get rich, but it was an enriching experience, working for people like Arnie, and getting and soaking in that vision of what community and radio is all about.
BB: Their first studios were on Ochterloney Street, I think.
JC: That's right: Above Lahey's Hardware later was. I guess it's gone now, isn't it?
BB: That's across the street from where our friend lives. There's a spa there, and a restaurant. That block has been pretty much gentrified.
JC: Every time I drive down Ochterloney Street, it's kind of like, “Holy Smokes! What's going on here?” It's great; they've done a lot of development there. Lahey's Hardware was there for years and years and years.
After CFDR moved out, it moved to Queen Street.
BB: Is that the trajectory? From Ochterloney, to Queen Street...
JC: Yes, and then up to Queen's Square.
BB: I meant to say “Queen's Square” from Ochterloney.
JC: It's where I got to know it. The building they were in, at the corner of Queen and Alderney, which is also the corner of Queen's Square. [Draws a map of where CFDR moved to].
BB: That red brick building?
JC: And that red brick building is still there. The CFDR sign used to be on that building. If you look at that building now, you'll see this big window in the upper right hand corner, 3rd floor. That was the control room. There used to be this big, wide, open picture window. They used to look out to the harbour, because Alderney Gate and all that stuff wasn't there, of course. They had a good view of the harbour from there.
I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My dad was driving; I was in the passenger seat, obviously. We were going [away from the downtown]. We were parked at the stop light, and about to turn right onto Queen Street. I'm looking up at the picture window. We had CFDR on the radio. The announcer is talking. I look up, and he's talking on the radio. I start just maniacally waving at the jock. So, in the middle of whatever he's saying, he goes, “And there's some young fella in a blue Dodge Dart waving something frantically at me” It was, like, “Wow” It was that absolute epiphany moment.
BB: What announcer would that have been?
JC: No idea. Not a clue. But it would have been about 1971, 72, maybe 73. And, as my dad made the turn onto Queen Street, I was just in shock. I remember our Cub pack, Twelfth Dartmouth Cubs, visiting those studios at CFDR on Queen Street.
Jeff Woods is now the big national voice with Q107 and their chain of radio stations and does national voicing for them. He's programmed out of Q107; he's been Jake Edwards' boss at Rock 101. But, he and I came down here together from Fansha; we were in the same class. He had taken a job from Jake here at Q104. I had taken a job at CKBW in Bridgewater. He and I bunked out of my dad's place here in Dartmouth for a couple of weeks. I took Jeff down to introduce him to his new cohorts at Q104, to get a tour of the station.
I remember my dad had said to me, “So, you know where the station is, right? Down on Queen Street, at Queen's Square”
I said, “Oh, yeah. Down by Alderney Drivem, right?”
He says, “Oh, yeah”.
I said, “I know where it is”. I was thinking it was in the old CFDR building.
So, we got down to that building, and I noticed that the CFDR sign wasn't on top of it any more. But, I did my damnedest to get myself into the building. “Where is CFDR/Q104?” They pointed me in the direction of the top floor of Queen's Square across the street. So, I thought it was still in that building. It had moved in 1980; this was 1985. [laughs]
BB: When they moved to Queen's Square in 1980... I moved to metro in '88. Little Nashville was along the waterfront.
BB: And some other ugly ass buildings that had fallen into disrepair. That's what CFDR would have been looking at, when they moved into Queen Street?
JC: No, because it was on the next block. It was wide open. When I was a kid living here, that block where you remember Little Nashville being there, it was actually a Metropolitan store at one point. That's where a famous Dartmouth murder took place.
BB: At that Metropolitan store?
JC: Where Mrs. Warner, the mother of Warner Brothers, who owned Warner Brothers TV on Portland Street (which was a tv retail outlet). I guess she was the matriarch of that family. [She] was working at that Metropolitan store, right there on Alderney Drive. A guy came in and, I think, knifed her. Killed her, in broad daylight. The famous part of that story was that this guy went on to wait on a customer who had come into the store and didn't realize what had taken place. He took care of the customer. I don't know if he rang in a purchase or anything, but [he] at least acted as if he worked there until the person left the store. That was quite a famous Dartmouth murder that happened when I was a little kid.
BB: I don't remember that at all.
JC: After I moved to Ontario, I remember hearing about the resolution, or at least finding a suspect or something like that, a year or two later. [The story's] probably online. If you look up, “Mrs. Warner Metropolitan Store”. I meant to do that, actually, to see what I could find on that, because it's so fuzzy, because I was a little kid. But, it happened in the Metropolitan store, just where Alderney Gate is.
BB: What year would this have been, roughly?
BB: I don't remember that at all. We're losing this history, too.
JC: Hmm. It'd be in the newspapers. That was a pretty big deal. I think it was the summertime. Could have even been '73. It might have been the last summer I was there.
BB: He's a great guy.
JC: He's a wonderful man. He's done this business out of the love of this business, because he certainly hasn't done it out of the money. He's just so talented at, what, age 81? 82?
BB: Thereabouts, yes.
JC: He's still got the best pipes in town. I filled in for him on several occasions as PA announcer at the Mooseheads games. Talk about feeling inadequate. When it wasn't Pat there, all the audience knew was that it wasn't Pat. So, I wasn't Pat. I just felt like I was shortchanging the crowd because Pat was just the voice of hockey in Halifax.
I remember sitting up on the kitchen counter, cross-legged, when I was 7 or 8.
BB: Back when you could do those things?
JC: 1971. My mom would say, “Jesus, you're 25 years old! Get off the counter!”
It was 1971, '72: The first year of the Voyageurs in Halifax. My dad took me to several games at the Forum. But, I was a big fan of the V's. I would listen to them on CFDR. Pat Connolly was calling the play-by-play. I remember my dad telling me these great stories, because he knew Pat through Pat covering the senior softball circuit, which my dad was involved in. He was telling me all these great things about Pat having got an offer from the Philadelphia Flyers to be their play-by-play guy. Even at that age, I knew how impressive that was. I was amazed the guy was happy to stay here in Nova Scotia when he had that much talent and was that sought-after. I talked to Pat about that a few times in the future. He just never had it in his heart to leave Nova Scotia, and I know what that's all about.
BB: He did travel some as a younger man. He'd go out West, but he always came back here.
JC: Yes. And I totally know what that's about. I've also gone other places and realized that markets may be bigger and potentially more lucrative, but there's an importance to where you lay your head at the end of the day. That keeps me here. It's kept Pat here all these years, and what a career he had.
I made sure I was at the opening game of this past Mooseheads season to see the tribute to Pat. The unfortunate thing about that was that his microphone wasn't loud enough. He gave a wonderful speech, but it was hard as Hell to hear. I'm not going to fault the people in the audience because, as a result of its being hard to hear, they started to get a little restless, and a bit of a din started to grow. If the mic had been louder, I don't think that din would have grown. It's too bad, because it made it even harder to hear him. But you could; if you listened hard enough you could hear what he was saying. It was absolutely heart-wrenching. [It was] just a beautiful, introspective moment for Pat and his family. I was really impressed with the job the Mooseheads did to make that night happen for him. Not just the Mooseheads, but the Citadels, the V's, and the Halifax Atlantics and all the other teams he would have supported and given exposure to in so many other sports over the years, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pat Connolly. Is there a sports broadcaster iin Nova Scotia history who could even come close?
BB: Danny Gallivan, I suppose.
JC: But, as far as being dedicated to Nova Scotia sports? I don't think there's anyone who could come close. I mean, really, if you'd look at media, you'd be talking maybe Ace Foley, or someone like that. But, you're out of electronic media then.
BB: He was very generous with us last year. He told us some great stories. Did you read that interview?
JC: Yes, I did, because Pat is the kind of guy I would listen to. I've tried to read all of your interviews. Unless I think I can get to the end of it, I haven't started, so there's a few that are backed up for me. I trust that in the future, I'll be able to go back and take a good, long look at them, but I know that Don Tremaine and there's a few other I would like to have the time to read. I'll eventually get to them. But, Pat's I read on the spot because I want to know what Pat Connolly is thinking and saying.
JC: I filled in for Ian [Robinson] a bunch of times at Mooseheads games this year, and he's got so much insight. He's the most accommodating guy; he makes you feel wonderful. He just makes you feel like you're just beginning.
BB: His knowledge of sports! I just don't care enough [about sports]. I said, “OK. 100 years ago, there was a Canadian heavyweight champion of the world. What was his name?” He told me it was Tommy Burns. I said, “OK. What was his real name?'. He goes, “Noah Brusso”, and there was no hesitation whatsoever. But, he didn't have the book about Tommy Burns, so I gave him a copy of the book.
JC: Well, we were lucky enough to have him do our sports in the late '80's on Q104 for a year or two. That was really neat. We had him, of course, doing Oilers games, '84-'88.
BB: You broadcast those games? When you did your 25th anniversary retrospective, you talked about the jocks. You didn't really talk about the extra spoken word [content].
JC: There are so many different angles to cover, though. Arnie really believed in covering community, whether it be Dartmouth or Halifax, in a big way. Certainly, he was happy to have a home for the local hockey team on his radio station. CFDR had carried the V's for years, and we were carrying the Oilers in the mid-'80's. It's hard to put yourself back in that headspace, because Q was the poor sister to CFDR in those early days. For the first 5 years or so, CFDR brought home the bacon. I think putting half those games on Q104 was probably not to the hockey team's liking, [chuckles] because they would have had an established home on CFDR. I'm not sure exactly why they ended up on Q.
Whether it was part of a sales deal or a demographic targeting issue or what it was, but we ran half, at least, of the home games on Q104 for the Oilers. Pat was doing the play-by-play. That was funny, too, because we did a lot of road games, and they wouldn't be very high tech. I think he was on a telephone line. I think he had a microphone plugged into a telephone.
I think I told this story on the retrospective. I remember Jeff Woods op'ing a hockey game one night, and Jeff had left the room, for whatever reason. I'm walking by the newsroom. I could hear Pat's play-by-play coming out of the speaker from the newsroom. At one point, walking by the newsroom, coming through that speaker, I could hear, “Jeff? Jeff? You can go to commercial now, Jeff” Jeff?” That's Pat, on the air, giving Jeff instructions. I looked into the Q control room: Nobody sitting there. [we all laugh]
6. You're human. You make mistakes. Tell me about a couple of on air gaffes you've made.
The first one would have been in the early '90's. I was doing the afternoon show. Andrew Gillis was my newsman, the Newsman Bluesman, my afternoon cohort. Barry Horne was the PD. Barry was strict about a lot of things, and hitting news on time was one of them. I knew I was screwed because I didn't have much music to pick from as far as to time out with. One afternoon, I figured I would end up being, if I stopped and didn't play the last 4 minute song in my hour, I'd get into the news about a minute and a half before 4 o'clock. If I did play the 4 minute song, I'd get into the news about two and a half minutes after 4 o'clock. I thought I'd cut my losses and try and get in early. But, I realized I was running out of time in the song I was currently playing, so I got on the talk back in the newsroom, and I said to Andrew, “Andrew, if you can get in here in 20 seconds, we'll go now.”
Usually, he's pretty good with that. He's always pretty well prepared. I expected I'd see him trot around the corner seconds later. I didn't see him, and I didn't see him, and I didn't see him. I thought, “Ah, crap!” So, I threw on my headphones and I hit the next song, and I was kind of resigned to it. I had to do an intro over the song because the song that was ending was too energetic, and the new one was a very low intro. I did the intro for the new Styx song that I was playing at the time. It was a really, really low energy intro. It went for maybe 15 seconds or so. I just spoke for a few seconds over it. Then, I took the headphones off, looked over to the newsbooth, and there was Andrew: Headphones on, ready to go, microphone on, the whole bit. I was thinking, “Oh, if I had just given him an extra couple of seconds, it would have been fine. I thought, “I'm gonna have Hell to pay over this.” I put my finger on the talk back into his room and went, “Fuuucccckkkk!!!”, in such deep frustration over the moment. He looks at me with big, round wide eyes; and I kind of clued in that his mic's on, and the talk back into that news booth was not hooked up to the mechanism that would shut that speaker off when his microphone was on. If I talked back to him, whatever went through that talk back speaker would be heard through his microphone.
So, we hauled this cassette tape out of the skimmer that would record what we did on the air, and played it back. You could hear the song going along, this little low level intro, me doing my talk over, and then a few seconds of silence; and then, just right up to the vocal, “Fuuucccckkkk!!!”. I just perfectly nailed the vocal, right? All I can say is that I never heard a word about it. Nobody complained. Barry must not have heard it. I got away scot-free. And, I still have that on tape. [laughter]
BB: That would be fun to hear.
JC: It would have been a little distorted. It would have maybe just sounded like some electronic noise. But, it was me saying, “Fuck”.
But, then, years later -- this would have been around 2001, 2002 – we had a young producer in by the name of Jamie Clark, who was just starting with us. He's turned out to be a great, solid producer with us and also with Newcap in Ottawa, more recently. But, one of the lessons that any young producer has to learn is to make sure they've edited the final version of anything they're putting into an audio file. The other lesson that young broadcasters like myself need to learn is not to use F-words on a microphone. You'd think someone with my experience would know that by now.
BB: You were a manager by then.
JC: And I was a manager by then. Thank you for reminding me. I was filling in during the Anna show one day. I had to record a weather forecast to be used during a couple hours of automation. I went in to see the producer Jamie, to do that. We recorded two versions of the weather forecast. The first one I had screwed up in the middle and went, “Ah, fuck! All right, do it again”, and started over again. He loaded that entire file into the editor and didn't trim off the first part. So, twice it ran, complete with the F-bomb in the middle. I only heard it the second time. [laughs] Really good to hear it, the second time. There was a note that went up inside the window of all the Production studios reminding announcers to not use that kind of salty language. It was, of course, because of me.
BB: And, you wrote that note?
JC: No. I didn't. Somebody more mature and responsible than I did. [laughter all around]
7. When you co-hosted the first ECMA's [East Coast Music Awards] in 1986 or so at the Club Flamingo, did you have any idea how big these awards would become? Weren't you paid with cases of beer?
JC: 1989. It was April of '89.
JC: It was actually the Pub Flamingo. There had been a Club Flamingo on Gottingen Street, but when it moved to Maritime Centre, it became The Pub Flamingo.
BB: Thank you for that correction.
JC: You're welcome.
BB: Weren't you paid with cases of beer?
JC: Yes, by Rob Cohn. I can't remember whether Andrew [Gillis] and I both got 3 cases of beer to split, or whether we got 3 cases of beer, each. But, I do remember 3 cases of beer.
BB: Did you have any idea that it would become what it has become?
JC: You know, I think everyone involved with it hoped that it would become what it has become, because that was the intention. The intention was to recognize musicians on this end of the country, particularly the ones that weren't involved in traditional music. Rob's contention was that there was so much recognition of the traditional artists, and very little recognition that there was more to the Maritime music scene than that. Actually, they were known as the Maritime Music Awards for the first 2 years, and then became the ECMA's in the 3rd year.
BB: So, 1991 would have been...
JC: 1991 would have been the first actual ECMA's. The second year, they were at the Crazy Horse in Dartmouth. Joan Kennedy and Peter Wilson hosted. Pete, at the time, was weather guy on CTV, or maybe on Global.
BB: Was he that Texan guy ? [Bev note: The first weather forecaster on MITV/Global, in the late 1980's, was a fellow from Texas whose name I do not recall]
JC: He was black, if that helps you identify him. He was great on tv. A real natural. The last time I saw him, he was waitering at the frickin' Italian Market on Young Street. It was like, “Oh, my God! Pete Wilson!” That guy had so much talent.
He was the host, along with Joan Kennedy, of the 2nd ECMA's at the Crazy Horse. Myles Goodwin was on stage that year. It was a really good show. Andrew Gillis and I acted as presenters that year. And, that's it: We haven't been invited back since! [laughs] First 2 years? Yes. Ensuing years? No! Stay away!
8. What is your greatest accomplishment as a pd?
JC: I think it's putting together what has to be the all-time Halifax Dream Team in radio. As a program director, as a manager, all you can hope to do is pull the right strings to pull the right team together and to have the people who can really take the strategy that you've devised and put it in action, right? Of course, there's other departments that I'm not doing hiring in, that have helped with that and developed that kind of team. I've just been lucky and blessed with being able to put all the right pieces in the right places. In departments where I don't have direct hiring ability, having people like Anthony McNutt come along as Image Producer; and J. Calnan, who's been our creative chief since about 1989. To be able to keep him here when he could work anywhere he wants...
And, having Anna move into the music directing. Having J.D. Desrosiers come along as our Promotions Director. Bringing B.J. Burke back home from Winnipeg. Re-discovering Bobby Mac, who had left us in 1995, and bringing him back on board, about 4 or 5 years ago. It's just been one thing after another. I've just been absolutely blessed with the right pieces falling in the right places. There's not a weak link in the chain. It reflects in our numbers. That's my greatest achievement as program director.
There have been other really gratifying moments of achievement. We won a gold world medal at the New York Festivals in 2003 for Best Music Special. That's not decided by market size, either. That's one award for all of radio, all over the world.
BB: Oh, my God.
JC: If you go to the New York Festival's website, and you look back through previous years, you go to 2003, and you go to the category of Best Music Special, you'll see: Gold World Medal: Q104, Top Ten Weekend, Q104, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Then, you'll see something about “Country Remembers 9/11” by some major American distributor, as the Silver Medal winner. You'll see all these radio stations from all across the world: Ireland, New Zealand, all major syndicators, Bronze winners, runners up, and Honourable Mentions. We were the Gold Medal winner!
BB: Were you there to accept the award?
JC: I was, yes.
BB: Do you have it here at the office?
BB: Can I get a picture of it?
JC: Sure. That was one of the proudest moments of my career, and it was a group effort. I'll show you, on the award they give us. We've got at least 6, 7, 8 names on that as part of the team that worked on that. Jeff Cogswell's on there. Adam Marriott's on there. Trevor Wallworth's on there. Terry Purcell's on there. He's still a producer with CHUM.
So, that was pretty amazing.
Things like our 25th Anniversary Weekend also come to mind as a real achievement in which we bonded with our audience in so many ways, both in person at our big anniversary concert, and on the air through our memory-soaked weekend.
BB: Well, that memory-soaked weekend is what has inspired me with these interviews.
BB: I was doing them beforehand; but since then, I've been trying to get that type of tone with the interviews. I'll never achieve it, but I'll do my best.
JC: Well, you know what? I kind of piloted the 20th Anniversay Time Capsule, which originally had started back around the time of our 10th anniversary [in 1993]. But, we put the 20th Anniversary Time Capsule on the air in 2003. That took a documentary approach to the storytelling.
BB: It was very interesting.
JC: Which can be quite good and well edited and all that kind of stuff. But, I thought, “Well, if we're going to do something retrospective for the 25th anniversary, we couldn't do the same thing. We couldn't do just another documentary. I thought, “What about one of those great reunion-type weekends that the big old Top 40 stations used to do back in the '70's?” You'd have the Detroit Radio Reunion, or the Chicago Radio Reunion and stuff like that. And, they still do it to some extent, around WLS and CKLW had one a few years ago.
For a few years, I thought, “Well, we've got to figure out a way to get Jake Edwards and some of the other long-time Q jocks in here.” Budget wasn't through the roof, so the goal was to get all the morning show guys here. So, we did. We got all 6 morning hosts from 1983 to 2008 here for the weekend, and some of the other guys who've been with us on air, including Jeff Woods and Doug Caldwell going back to the '80's, and Rockin' Ray Plourde, and a bunch of guys like Doug Barron/Hal Harbour, Billy Bob. All kinds of people poured out of the woodwork. That night, we were on stage there, we brought them all, one after the other, from behind the curtain and had them walk the stage. We had this huge, long pile of voices from over the years. That was a pretty exciting moment, topped only by the fact that B.J. Burke came out and proceeded to walk right off the edge of the stage, and nearly killed himself. You've seen that, have you? But it only makes it a more memorable moment.
So, those are some pretty exciting achievements.
9. Who is the greatest unsung hero of local radio?
JC: First of all, from my professional perspective, there are unsung heroes right here at our radio station, people who make Q104 the station that it is, that the general public doesn't have a clue [exist]. I mentioned them earlier when I was talking about the dream team. Particular names are Anthony McNutt, whose image work on Q104 is unmatched in all of Atlantic Canada.
BB: What does “imaging work” mean?
JC: He does imaging for the station, which would include id's, promo's, just any wacky production that is about Q104 or its promotions or stuff like that.
BB: Nicolle Bellefontaine did one of those [for the Hedonism promotion a few years ago]. “Who's Your Daddy?”
JC: Yes. That's a bit of imaging. That's a sounder that would have been produced by an image producer. It wouldn't have been Anthony. But, Anthony came to us from the Valley. Trevor Wallworth, our production director, has done phenomenal work for us for years and years. Anthony is one of those particularly gifted image guys who's more proactive than any producer I've ever worked with. He's just taken us to a whole new level.
But, working in tandem with people like J. Calnan, who's our creative director (and has been for 21 years now), it's important not to undersell the importance of the words. When it comes to show biz, writing always gets the short shrift. Like, the screenwriters in Hollywood always get underpaid. It's the same in radio. There's no magic to it if it isn't written properly. J. has an uncanny way with words. J. does all our promo's; he and I trade a lot of the imaging stuff. But, when I write -- I've told him this before (it's not just to kiss his butt) -- I actually think, “How would J. write this?” When you realize you're writing to someone who's just down the hall from you, you realize you're pretty lucky to have that guy in your building. I've heard other people at other radio stations say the same thing about J. Calnan, so I realize how lucky we are to have him.
BB: Is he in today?
BB: I'd like to meet him.
And, Anna [Zee] as the most reliable music director anyone could ever have. Honest to God, we do a lot of really work-intensive special programming on long weekends. She's the one who puts up with me. I couldn't ask as much of anyone else as I ask of her, and I know it. It's because she's such a steady force in there. She's so dedicated to doing it right. Without her, I don't think I could do this job.
And, J.D. Desrosiers. To have the best promotions director in all of Atlantic Canada... I say “Atlantic Canada”, but quite possibly the country. That goes for J. Calnan, and Anthony McNutt, and Anna Zee. But, J.D. Desrosiers in promotions is the kind of guy you dream of in promotions, We've never seen the likes of him.
So, to have these people on your team: They're definitely unsung heroes because the public doesn't know who the Hell they are. We play JD up a little bit. Anna's obviously known as an onair person, but they don't know what she does behind the scenes for Q104.
BB: She's here until late at night. I was interviewing Tom Bedell last Fall, and she was in your music library.
JC: She works a lot of nights and weekends. She's here first thing in the morning, and she's on the air as a stalwart every day for her midday show. She's worth her weight in gold.
But, you know what? Aside from my own professional perspective, Halifax's greatest unsung radio hero is Wayne Harrett. What he has accomplished... pardon me. Don't say I got emotional.
P: That's ok. You're among friends.
JC: Despite his many health challenges… I don't know if I've ever actually said it to him -- I certainly was thinking it, back ten-plus years ago when he was first talking about getting a community radio station on the air. My thought was, “This is great. I know you're a fan of radio and everything, but honest to God, Wayne, save yourself the trouble. It ain't gonna happen. It's not gonna work. It's a pipe dream.”
I don't think I ever said it to him, but I know I thought it.
BB: I know he reads the interviews, so he'll see this.
JC: And, you cannot prove anybody more wrong than he has proven me wrong. I obviously did not read Wayne Harrett properly. I didn't realize the stuff he's made of. [He's] not just unsung. He is my hero. Oh, yes.
Just to have been able to accomplish this stuff, and without having a strong background in the business, other than coming at it from the perspective of being a fan of the business.
BB: Or a pile of money either, I don't think.
JC: Or a pile of money. But, look at how he's done it. Look at the team he's built around him. Look at the organization, the structure, that he's led. He's done one great thing that all really great leaders do, is that in areas where he didn't know much about, he found people who did. But, his whole modus operandi is so different than how other people working in the professional side of the business would be able to do it. He had to get those people to do it for the love of the craft, because he wasn't paying them. I know some people make some money now, but it was a long time coming, and a lot of challenges. My God, my cap is doffed to Wayne Harrett. I can't believe what he's managed to do there. God love him. I know he's had his kidney transplant now, and I hope that works out for him, because he's achieved so much and I want to see him be around for a while to enjoy it.
BB: He's back on the air now. I heard him last week,
JC: Heard him the other day.
But, just thinking about what he's been through... And the guy doesn't spend a lot of time complaining, either. He just keeps going on. That's a hero to me.
BB: He was very kind to us last year when we interviewed Frank Cameron. He let us use his office.
JC: Right on. Wayne is an awesome guy. I read this stuff in Frank Magazine, and I think, “Ah, screw it!” You know what? I don't even care whether hes making all the right decisions or not. It's his baby. He's brought it along. He's done the work. He can run that fucking thing however he wants to as far as I'm concerned.
BB: I read the article, too, and it seems like some disgruntled former volunteers.
JC: They didn't put in one, one-millionth of of what Wayne's put into that operation. Just do what he says. He's the boss.
10. What music do you like to listen to when you're off the clock?
JC: What is this “off the clock” of which you speak?
BB: What did you listen to, driving here today?
JC: Uh, nothing, because JD was driving and we had no radio on. We were just talking [laughs].
BB: Poor example.
JC: On a normal morning, I'd probably be listening to Q104, or maybe some of the other stations on the dial. One of the things in this job is that I don't get enough time to listen to music for pleasure. I spend a lot of time listening. Every CD that a record label rep gives me to listen to, I listen to it. That takes a lot of time. I just don't have a lot of personal music listening time, and I'll get around to it. I'll get around to that sometime in the future.
But when I go on vacation, I like to take long driving trips, and listen to my own personal stuff. I think I'm known first and foremost as a Beatles fan.
P: Yeah, no shit, Sherlock!
BB: That came across when you interviewed Mr. McCartney last year.
JC: Right. So, my musical interests are many and varied. I guess I probably slide more into the classic rock category, and I like to listen to good Oldies radio on my down time. I listen to KOOL FM a lot. It's sort of in my wheelhouse as well. I also listen online to K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles, and to CBS-FM in New York. I just love the sound of those radio stations.
I spent a large part of Easter weekend catching up to BBC Radio Two. I love that station. And, I love the music that they play. They're very eclectic, which is very much like my personal musical tastes. I listen to everyone from Daniel Lanois to Led Zeppelin, k.d. Lang …
BB: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss?
JC: Sure. That album I found was a little mellow for me, actually, maybe a little esoteric. But Sarah Harmer isn't too esoteric. I like a huge variety of music. I find that when I'm listening on my own time, I get away a little bit from the stuff that gets played all the time on the radio, although I like to listen to full albums too. I'm still a big fan of the album format.
BB: I notice how Pink Floyd won a court case so that you can't download individual tracks of theirs.
JC: Oh, really?
BB: It was a few weeks ago. Ask Anna about it.
JC: Oh, cool. Boy, there's a band where you shouldn't listen to [on a track basis]. If you're listening to them on your own time, then, Christ, invest the 40 minutes and listen to the album. That's a much more fulfilling venture.
BB: You said you get a lot of CD's in here. What happens to the bulk of that media?
JC: Well, if I'm given a personal copy by a label, I usually keep them.
BB: Do you?
BB: How many CD's do you own?
JC: I'm pretty much out of space on my two big racks, and I'm trying to just download them. I bought a couple 1.5 terabyte hard drives to hold everything.
BB: It's lossy, though, depending on what you use to copy them to your computer. You may lose some highs and lows.
JC: Might, but not enough to make any real difference.
BB: Once you digitize it, what do you do with the physical CD?
JC: I haven't got around to that yet. I've kept everything at this point. I think I'll be hanging on to them.
Are you looking for free CD's?
BB: No, I have enough CD's.
P: No. As the person who has to trip over them in the house. The answer is no.
JC: Well, technically, if they're given to me by a record label, they're still the record label's property. I don't give them away, or I don't sell them.
BB: Just wondered what happened to all that product.
JC: They're still in my possession.
11. What advice would you give to someone reading this who may aspire to become a radio program director?
JC: Think very carefully about how much time you have in your life to devote to the gig before you take it. It's very easy to get married to this gig.
BB: You have to love it, don't you?
JC: Yes. You have to love it. You can get the job done, 9-5, but you'll have a lot of difficulties. You'll find that a lot of difficulties creep up on you. People will start wondering if you're putting enough into the job. And, you probably aren't. It's a 24-7 lifestyle. Some people... it's definitely not for them. But, if it's in your blood, and if it's in your blood to lead a pack of very unusual/creative individuals into battle against all the other unusual/creative individuals at other radio stations, then you've got to do it.
BB: How hard would it be to be a program director at a station whose music you don't like that much? I don't know how you feel about Country music, but if you had to become a p.d. at a Country station...
JC: For me, it would be virtually impossible. Most of the guys I've met who are program directors, to them, that would just be a part of the gig: Changing from one format to another. I look at them as career managers, and good for them. That's great. I don't feel like a program director. I know I have the title and I certainly take it very seriously, and I take my commitment to working with my people from a perspective of being their manager and their director very seriously. But, I'm an on air guy who was wrapped up in this one big project, Q104, and took the reins in a different way. I chose to lead instead of to be one of the on air guys. So, for me, I'm really not interested in being a program director at another radio station or in another format. This is the project, that if I'm going to be leading, it's this one.
JC: Probably not. Depending on the format. I mean, like I said earlier, love Oldies, and programming the Oldies format might be kind of fun. But, I'd be more likely to want to be on the air.
BB: Who's filling in for Rob Johnson [ex KOOL FM p.d., and now at Z103.5 and the new Evanov station to launch in the Fall of 2010] until they replace him?
JC: Steve Jones is taking care of it in the interim. Not sure if that's going to be long term or not. He's seeing where's he's going to go with that. But, he has a certain vision for KOOL It's been a hard thing to get nailed down. So many different people have different ideas of what that station should sound like. But Steve is a genius. He's six years younger than me, and it kills me that I've learned more from him than anyone else I've ever met in the business. He's just got an uncanny intuition for good radio. So, nobody's more qualified than him to put KOOL in the direction it really needs to go. It's been a tough challenge to get it on the perfect path over the last few years. It's interesting to see Steve take that challenge on.
BB: I look forward to seeing what he does with the station.
JC: He may not end up being the guy in the long term. We don't know at this point.
12. Why did you agree to this interview?
JC: Because I wanted to make you work for the rest of the year at typing out the endlessly long [interview], and free food!
BB: All right. Fair enough!
JC: I think it's cool that you're documenting the state and history of Halifax radio. I think that, much in the same way as it's cool to have fans of the medium like Wayne Harrett come out of the wood work, it's cool to have fans like yourself come out. And, I think the stuff that you're writing would some day make a great book. It wouldn't probably mean that much to people who aren't in the business; but to those who are, it's got a whole bunch of neat perspectives and recollections in it. I don't know if I have anything to offer there, but I'm glad to chip in.
But, I was serious about the free food, and the making you type for the next 12 months to be able to unravel all this ramble.
P: And, you wanted to meet me.
JC: And, I wanted to meet Patricia, of course. Exactly. I wasn't going to say that.
13. Patricia asks a question
P: I have a fascination with the call letters. I didn't realize until you were talking that [Q104] originated on Queen's Square. Is that the reason for the [name]? It comes from Queen's Square?
JC: No. The station was being consulted by Gary Slaight, who, with his father Alan Slaight, owned the company that owned Q107 in Toronto. Allan Slaight was really the founder of standard radio. Gary, his son, was probably programming Q107, and Arnie believed that if you don't know what the Hell you're doing, find somebody who does and learn from them. He looked to the best in the country at rock radio, so he went to Q107 and got Gary Slaight to consult this new venture he was getting into.
Gary brought [Brother] Jake [Edwards] into the picture, but Arnie had also met Jake in the CRTC application process. Jake and Gary Aube had together applied to open “Magic 103”, [a station they] wanted to put on the air in Halifax.
So, in the process of Gary Slaight being a consultant to Q104.. the whole “Q” thing was real big in the late '70's, early '80's, just as a letter for no particular purpose being used in call letters. It kind of goes back to stations like KCBQ San Diego, back in the early '70's. There was a whole “Q” thing in the early '70's in American AM Top 40 radio. There was the whole “Super Q” thing.
P: Was it the sound of it?
JC: Yes. Same as sort of the way “Z” has [been used].
P: Hard sounding.
JC: Yeah, “Q” seemed to work really well, in so many ways. It's funny, because you take call letters like “C”, “K”, “L”, “W”, and you think there's nothing unique about them. You put them together and you think, “That might be a little clunky!” But, somehow, just how it sounded, how it rolled off the tongue of a disc jockey... those call letters just look so odd together [yet] carry such magic, you know? You could have really gawky call letters like hundreds and thousands of stations all over North America, but somehow “CKLW” really flowed. There's something about “Q” that works well. You can play with it with your imaging and stuff like that. But, I think it was the Q107 connection.
P: I just thought somehow there was something associated to [Queen Square]. I only found out a couple of years ago. I listened to CKEC [in New Glasgow], because I'm from Pictou County. For years I didn't know what [the call letters] stood for. The “EC” was “East Coast”.
BB: There was a time when call letters actually stood for something.
JC: They didn't have to.
BB: CJCH. The CH stood for “Chronicle Herald”.
JC: I thought so, too, but somebody told me that's not true, that it never really had any connection to the Chronicle Herald. But, obviously CHNS...
BB: CHNS = Carlton Hotel of Nova Scotia.
JC: Yes, but CHNS is also Halifax, Nova Scotia. The “C” was a necessity, but how long were they at the Carlton Hotel?
BB: Not long.
JC: Didn't they start out at the Lord Nelson?
BB: They were there for a long time, and they moved from there to Tobin, around 1941. And, in 1988, they moved to 1313 Barrington. Then, they moved to where they are now.
JC: Where was the Carlton?
BB: I think, in 1926, they were there, briefly. I'll dig out my research material.
JC: But, CKBW Bridgewater. CKLW was “London/Windsor”. That was the area they were first licensed to serve. RQ: Rock. That's the closest I've ever figured to what the call letters actually meant, and nobody's ever said anything other than that. CFDR was “Dartmouth Radio”.
BB: Thank you for your time. Thank you for your support of the blog. And, thanks for kicking my ass 2 years ago when I did the first interview.
JC: Get yourself a recorder, man. Jesus! I have to talk too slow.
BB: This is my third recorder.
JC: Is it, really? Why are you going through them so fast?
BB: The first one, I couldn't figure out how to use it. The second one, broke down. And, this is my third one. I've had it for over a year. It's been awesome.
JC: You gotta love modern technology.
BB: Thank you again. We appreciate it.
JC: You're welcome. It's been a pleasure.