February 1, 2011
I met Cub Carson for lunch at the Pogue Fado in downtown Halifax. I explained that we were meeting in a pub that had once been known as the Green Lantern Restaurant, and the building was known as the Green Lantern Building (there’s an actual Green Lantern above the entrance). Knowing Cub is a comics fan, we talked for a bit about who our favourite Green Lantern is. I like Alan Scott; Cub is a Hal Jordan guy. Neither of us liked Guy Gardner. Kyle Rayner didn’t come up at all. The jury is out on John Stewart.
We ordered our food, and the subject turned to... radio!
1. How did you get your start in radio?
Cub Carson: Going back quite a few years, my dad was in a band. He was a drummer. He always had me exposed to a lot of music. I never really put one and one together until my Grade 8 English teacher, Wanda Parlier at Darcy McGee High School in Hull Quebec, [approached me]. I’d get in trouble a lot for talking in class. After one day in particular, I was disrupting the class enough for her to make me stay after class. She said to me, “You seem to enjoy all the attention you get from people when you talk. Have you ever thought about getting into broadcasting?”
Up until then, I hadn’t. I wanted to get into the Air Force. Just like my grandfather. But I wanted to fly airplanes. That’s what I wanted to do. When I realized that I got more attention from making people laugh, and my science marks weren’t as good. I actually looked into it, and it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I decided to go to school for it. There was a great program at a college in Ottawa called Algonquin. A lot of broadcasters went there.
Bevboy: Gary Tredwell went there, I believe.
CC: I believe so, yes. I think he was on our alumni list. One of the current voices of the Ottawa Senators, Gord Wilson, is a graduate from Algonquin as well. A lot of people who went to that class ended up getting jobs in radio. It just seemed like it was a better fit than what was being offered at the universities in communications, where you didn’t really have a lot of context when you got out of collage. But, as far as Algonquin went, everybody who was anybody was working at radio in Ottawa.
BB: Was it a two year program?
CC: Yes. I actually got in twice. The first time I got in, I was just 17, because in Quebec, we only go to Grade 11. I got accepted. Then, I realized I was far too young to be in collage at that time. I thought, too, if I got there, I was going to end up partying, and wouldn’t end up treating it as a job. So, I decided not to go. I waited six more years. I started dj’ing school dances and...
I got my head around the fact that I was coming up to 23 years old. I didn’t have a career yet. I still loved listening to radio. I remember growing up and listening to an AM clock radio at night, trying to pick up skips from Chicago and Washington and Virginia, and just being in love with it. I remember hearing Paul “Cubby” Bryant, who was a bigwig at WCBS in New York City, which was the Oldies station down there.
BB: It’s a news station now.
CC: Now it is. They flipped it. But, hearing him and hearing what he did. I always loved the old Midnight Specials with Wolfman Jack. When I saw “American Graffiti” for the first time, and I heard Wolfman Jack’s voice, I just thought, “That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to be.” I loved music, but I wasn’t good enough to play music. So, I decided, “Let’s go in the radio route.”
2. Had you ever been to Nova Scotia prior to coming to work here? How difficult a decision was it for you to leave friends and family behind and come here?
CC: I’d never been here before.
BB: Not even on vacation?
CC: Not even on vacation. The furthest East I ever got was probably Montreal. But, I had a lot of friends that had visited. Friends who were in the Navy and stationed out here as well. They were raving about how great it was. I never really thought about moving out here until Brad Dryden was let go, because Brad and I used to co-host the morning show at The Bear in Ottawa. Brad is not only one I consider one of my closest friends, but he’s also my best mentor because I learned an awful lot from Brad about how to be a professional when it comes to being a morning show host. Up until then I was doing evenings and over nights and what not. When a position opened up on the morning show in Ottawa, I moved in.
The way it usually works is, you start off with weekends. You do your over nights. You do your evenings. And, then, you get shifted into the day time, like drive. I was being groomed for drive, which I loved, because you get to sleep in until noon every day. [chuckles] You get to stay up the night before; you get to go to all the shows. But, I knew I wanted to be on a morning show.
I grew up listening to an AM station back home called 54 Rock. They flipped to 106.9 The Bear, which is now Virgin Radio. I grew up listening to that radio station. My number one goal in radio was to do mornings at that station. I was able to accomplish that before I hit 35.
BB: And that’s how you got your nickname “Cub”, isn’t it? You showed up in a bear costume or something?
CC: Yes. I was still in college. The afternoon guy had just been let go. I went out and tried to find the most ferocious, scary-looking bear costume I could find. All I could find in my hometown was this really pansy-looking teddy bear costume. It looked like one of the cubs from the Golden Grahams commercials that were on tv at the time.
I got in there. I never took the head off. I handed my audition package with my cover letter and my demo to the program director at the time, Gord Taylor. He still didn’t know what I looked like. I bugged and bugged and bugged, and eventually he’s, “OK, fine. Listen: I don’t have a job for you right now. You’re not getting drive because you’re still in college. But, when you get out of college, let me know, and we’ll take it from there.”
I ended up winning an award, through my school, for best audition, from The Bear. It was funny that way. It was one of these things that, for a few years after that, the timing was always a little off for me to get in there. It took me 6 years to the day after applying for the job the first time, to actually get hired on full time. That happened 2 weeks after I got fired from a production gig that I had at a sports/talk radio station back in Ottawa.
From there, I remember coming in and sitting down. My boss at the time had a big, big deal about having his announcers at The Bear have some sort of an affiliation with the outdoors. We had Geoff Mauler, who has gone on to do great things with Hot 89.9, and was the only person in Canada who got on Regis. Mauler is fantastic; another Algonquin College grad. We had Mauler. Then, there was Trapper Biggs, and Grizz Michaels.
He said, “Well, here’s your job. You’re going on this weekend, over nights. Have you got a name yet?”
I said, “Well, I don’t know.”
He said, “Why don’t we call you Cubby?”
I thought, “Well, let me test it out.” I tested it out among my friends who were girls. They thought it was adorable. The guy friends thought I was saying “Chubby”. I did a full four days as “Cub Carson”, and it just stuck. It wasn’t until about a year after that that I found that I wasn’t the first “Cub Carson”. There was another dj at another Bear station out in Edmonton. He spelled his name “Cubb”. The weekend I did my first on air shift at The Bear in Ottawa, he quit his job at The Bear in Edmonton. We were owned by the same company, so essentially, the Cub Carson “brand” was up for grabs. That’s the way it’s been ever since.
BB: Getting back to coming to Nova Scotia. I realize you had to find work. What made you decide to come here? How hard was it to leave friends and family behind?
CC: It was very hard because I had never made the big move before. In radio it’s like, “Have headphones, will travel”. A lot of people I knew, when they graduated from college, moved off to Alberta or BC. They’re in small towns. I have no problems with that, but I was lucky enough to get my first job in Cornwall, Ontario. From there, I moved to Fort-Coulonge, Quebec, doing a mid day show in a Country format, in English and in French. And, on top of that, I was doing news as well as jocking the shift and bouncing my own CANCON’s. It was very, very hands on at the time; but the station itself could best be described as a bombed-out school [chuckles] in a very small town about 20 minutes away from Pembroke, Ontario. Then, once an opening came up in Ottawa at a station I did my co-op at, which is Y105 for Rogers Broadcasting back home, I got in there as an OP, pushing buttons on weekends. Then, I nagged and nagged and nagged until they gave me a shot on a Sunday night. That translated into over nights. At the same time, I’d do the over night show on Y105 and crossed the show to my real, full-time paid gig, which was producing the morning show on Oldies 1310 for a guy that was an absolute legend in Ottawa. He was the number one morning man in Ottawa for 20 years: Ken “The General” Grant. He was with 580 CFRA for the longest time. He was the biggest name in Ottawa for a long, long time. Up until Mauler hit it big, it was all about “The General”. He even showed up for events with an old-fashioned civil war general’s costume, complete with the sabre.
This was a big thing. You’d send your birthdays into him, and he would march you off to school. If you heard your name on The General, it was the greatest thing ever. When I think about it, it was really neat that I got a chance to work with him for 3 and a half years.
BB: Is he still working?
CC: He’s not working in radio any more. He has a part-time gig as a community liaison. Well, he did until Oldies 1310 flipped to News Talk. I think they severed the ties with him.
BB: That’s too bad. So, it was hard to come to Nova Scotia, but you don’t regret it?
CC: No. Not at all. I tried looking for a full-time gig in Ottawa. It’s a very tough market to crack into. A lot of stations have their line ups, and they’re very solid line ups. I don’t know. I think maybe being a strong personality can work against you in radio, especially nowadays because it seems like the big monkeys in the suits that make all the decisions are afraid to have someone with a lot of personality on the radio. I think it’s the exact opposite. I think people want to listen to someone that engages them and you can develop a relationship with. I think people want to go back to the days of boss jocks back in the ‘70‘s where it’s big voices and big attitude and big songs and big music. It’s a different playing field.
When the opportunity came to come out to Nova Scotia presented itself, it was always on my list. My wife and I made a list when I was let go of what stations, what markets we’d think about moving to. My wife had a fantastic job back in Ottawa. She was working for the federal government, Chief Information Officer’s Branch. A dream job. She said to me, “Look. This is what you love. This is your passion.” I thought about being a postman, or going to work for UPS. Just something that wasn’t in a traditional office environment.
Then, when the jobs weren’t coming in my neck of the woods, I started to expand that circle out a little more. I sent a tape down to Rob Johnson, who was the former PD for Z103 and Live. That was back in May. It was for afternoon drive at Z.
BB: Oh, really? K8 had left.
CC: Yes. She’d left. They were looking to fill the position, so I sent him a message. He said, “Are you serious? Would you really want to come down here?” I said yes.
We started talking a little bit about money. I had my range. We couldn’t get together when it came to that, so it was, “OK. No harm, no foul. At least I made a contact.” It’s always good to have extra contacts. I ended up forgetting about it for about a month and a half.
Then, I got an email out of the blue from Rob. He said, “Are you still interested in making a move out East?”
I said, “Absolutely.” By that time, I was working part-time for CHUM in Ottawa for BOB FM. It was great; I had an absolutely amazing time working there, but it was just part-time. Again, that line up they had their was one of the toughest in the city to crack because people had been there for 10, 15, 20 years. I knew the writing was on the wall, but at the same time I thought, “It’s a big company.” I’d worked for them before. Maybe I can cultivate more relationships and try to get another job within the chain.
I got the email from Rob. The timing was perfect. I said, “Yes. I’m totally up for it.”
He said, “Well, here’s what we’ve got. “
I said, “Still with Z?”
He said, “No. We’ve got a license for a brand-new rock station. “
I did my research. At first, it was a AAA format, which is Adult Album Alternative. I started looking around. “Oh, my God. I don’t know if I want to play this kind of music.” But, at the same time, if it was a job in a rock format, and a chance to start fresh. I’ve always wanted to live by the ocean. When he informed me that it was a modern rock format, I was, “OK. Let’s get a deal done.”
BB: I’ll work for free!
CC: [laughs] The talk really started to take off in late July and into August. It was literally the worst-kept secret in radio. Everyone knew that we were doing the dance and that something was going to get done. I got flown out here at the end of August. As I said, I’d never been to the city, so before I accept a job in a city that I’ve never been to, I want to see the city first. I got flown in very quickly, very hush hush.
They showed me around the building; I met a few people and got a feel for the city, as much as you can in 24 hours.
When I got back home, my wife was, “So, what do you think?”
I said, “It just felt really, really good.” It felt like I’d been here before. It felt very much like home. It was just like Ottawa: A big small town. You still have a lot of amenities that you have, being a bit city; but, at the same time, you’ve got that smaller town feel to it. I grew up in a small town, so it just made sense. It just felt like it was home.
3. So, what’s the deal between you and the mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson? Do you have similar feelings for Peter Kelly?
CC: No. It’s Larry O’Brien. For the records, Jim and I are very good friends. I’m very happy that he’s the mayor again. My issue with Larry O’Brien turned personal when we invited him on old morning show at The Bear; he did nothing but talk about our competition for the entire time he was on the air.
BB: That’s not very nice.
CC: That’s how it started. I completely disagreed with his policies as far as how the city should be run. He came in from the private sector; he was the President of Calian Technologies. He came in thinking that he could run the city the way he could run his business, and that the other councillors were his employees and hot his peers.
BB: Dawn Sloane doesn’t work for anybody, except her constituents.
CC: Right. And nobody else in town would take a stand on that. When he did something that I thought was bullshit, I’d call him out on it. But, at the same time, too, I was trying to extend the olive branch. I even have a picture of me kissing his head at a Sens game one night after we’d eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins. I know that’s going to tick off a lot of people in Cole Harbour. I tried having him back on the show. It got to the point where he snubbed our station and would constantly do things for other stations. I thought, at that time, “Well, I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure that you’re not re-elected.” So, that’s the story right there.
I’ve got no issues with Peter Kelly at all. I’m trying to get him on the show with me, but I’m afraid that my reputation back in Ottawa precedes me here. But, no, I think that Peter’s doing a great job. When I see him in person. When I see him on tv, he seems like a guy who really, really cares about his community, and seems like he’s willing to work with Council to get things done. Especially with the U2 announcement, that there’s too much red tape, trust me: I’ve seen the worst that municipal politics can offer.
So, I’d love to have Peter on the show and have him be a big part of the station and proclaim it “Live 105 Day” eventually. That’s my goal.
BB: Did Larry O’Brien, other than snub you, actually say anything about you to anyone that got back to you?
CC: Not that I can pinpoint, no. It was all hearsay. But, I never got that feeling from him. I think he was trying to be funny, but he’s not very funny. We were in a dogfight, just like we are here with Q. Every time you get someone who commands respect, and does nothing but disrespect you... yeah, I took it personally. I took a stand for it. I doubt if that cost me my job, but it definitely made it harder to get people on. But, at the same time, there were a lot of city councillors back in Ottawa that enjoyed coming on our show and giving their opinion because they knew where we stood. They were in the same situation. It’s hard to get things done when one person is in charge of things and wants to do it their way.
4. You’ve been in Nova Scotia for a few months now. Have you found some places here that you really like? What places in NS do you really want to go to?
CC: Well, we hit Peggy’s Cove, my wife and I, when we moved her up here. We wanted to get some pictures taken at the big lighthouse. That was a definite on the list. Lunenburg is definitely on the list to go check out. My wife is really excited about going camping this summer out by the Bay of Fundy.
BB: We have a cottage in Pictou County.
CC: That’s where she was talking about. I’m a big foodie. So, what we like to do is, every other week, go out to dinner at a new restaurant. If we like a spot, we go back, constantly.
BB: Do you want to mention some places?
BB: There’s a place down in the South end...
CC: Boneheads. Yes. I haven’t made it there yet, but I definitely want to. I’m a big fan of Mexico Lindo on Dutch Village Road. And, we’ve gone back to Mezza a few times. There’s a bunch of great restaurants on Quinpool as well. What I like is that, in every single neighbourhood that you go to, there’s always a stretch of road where there’s 3 or 4 or 5 really, really great restaurants. I think that’s a great way to get used to things. We’re not big seafood eaters because we’re damn mainlanders. But, we’re open to it. We’re trying more and more of it. My wife had scallops and shrimp at the Hart and Thistle. It’s great being in a new city and being able to check out new places. If people say, “Well, I didn’t like it there”, we may try it out anyway because I want to get my own opinion. But, mostly, it’s food related.
5. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received, and who provided it?
CC: It would have to be from Ken “The General” Grant, who was a long-time morning show host at CFRA Oldies 1310 in Ottawa. He was the number one morning show host for 20 years in Ottawa. He took me out after the show one day when I was producing for him. He said, “I think you have to give up this dream of being on air and being a morning man because you don’t have the chops for it.”
BB: Oh, my God. That must have galvanized you, did it?
CC: A week later, I quit. I went over to work with a friend of mine, Geoff Franklin over at the Team 1200. He encouraged me to keep going. I used that as motivation. He told me to stop, and I said, “No! I’m going to keep going.”
BB: Sometimes, the best piece of advice is the one that’s ignored.
CC: That’s the one that really stuck out in my mind because it was like, “Really? OK. Well, you know what? I’m going to prove you wrong.” And, I think I have.
6. Please say something about the following people.
A. Brad Dryden
CC: I would have to say that Brad is my big brother in radio. He taught me how to be a professional and what it takes in putting together, executing and following through a fast-paced morning show. Brad was fantastic because he was amazing with interviews. He was incredible with production. And his clock management was second to none.
BB: What does that mean, “clock management”?
CC: Meaning, knowing how to get in and how to get out of breaks. “OK. We’ve got 4 minutes here. It’s :40; we have to get out at :44.” He would make sure that even if you’re going off [on a tangent], he would do the wrap up signal. At the time, I though, “Ah, geez. This old guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m young. I’m going to have fun. What’s he talking about?” It wasn’t until I got the reins of his show that I realized just how much work, how much effort, and how much dedication goes into it. Without a doubt, Brad Dryen is probably the most professional morning show I’ve ever met in radio.
BB: So, he taught you how to be structured, I guess.
CC: Yes. He taught me a lot of discipline and showed me how to properly share the ball when you’re working with multiple hosts on the show. You’re the quarterback of the show, but if you keep calling quarterback sneaks all the time, you’re not going to move the ball. Sometimes you have to hand it off to the runningback. Sometimes you have to throw it to the wide receiver. He made me aware of all the weapons that are in your arsenal that you need when you go to war.
BB: Very good. How far did you take the morning show?
CC: We were on the same morning show together for 3 years. We gave Doc and Woody at Chez 106 a run for their money. He’s been here now for 3 years. This was 2006, 2007 when he was let go.
BB: Oh, he was let go?
CC: Yes. Same reasons. They felt that the numbers just weren’t where they should be.
B. Floyd. You met her just a few days before going on the air. Did you bond by getting drunk?
CC: We did. Floyd is a Jack Daniels and Diet Coke girl. I’ll have whatever she’s having.
Floyd reminds me of my cool little sister. She’s confident. She’s funny. She’s quick-witted. And she will be a morning show host on her own. She will be the lead of a morning show, somewhere. I hope it’s here in Halifax, because this is her home town. Well, she’s from Pugwash, but this is her de facto home town.
She has been an absolute joy to work with. She’s probably been the best co-host that I’ve ever worked with on a morning show. That’s saying a lot for someone who’s only been in [radio] for a few years. She’s very young, and she’s only worked full-time in radio for maybe 2 years. But, she has delivery. She has attitude. She’s got a style that is all her own. She will be the best female rock jock in Canada by the time she’s finished her career. Hands down. There’s nobody out there that’s doing what she’s doing.
BB: As a female?
CC: As a male. She’s got more potential than a lot of people that I’ve seen in this industry. And, I’ve seen a lot. She completely blew me away, right out of the water. We had some great, great qualified people that could have been doing the show with me. Christina, our mid-day announcer? It was right down to between her and Floyd. But there was something about Floyd. I think it was her sense of humour. Plus, she’s got the crazy hair. She’s got the tattoos. I’ve got tons of tattoos as well.
Just looking at her, and hearing her on tape. Oh, my God. I couldn’t be happier.
BB: How did you react to meeting her at the airport for the first time?
CC: I picked her up at the unoccupied minors section. [laughs] It was great, because we had talked quite a few time on the phone and via text and email. She just had a great sense of humour. When we saw each other for the first time, it was like I was picking up my sister at the airport.
BB: You knew what she looked like.
CC: Oh, yes. She was coming down the escalator. I was standing there. We just locked eyes.
BB: Was it a handshake or a hug?
CC: It was a hug. Definitely a hug. I’m a huggie guy. I’m not a handshake guy. I’ll give you a hug afterwards, too.
BB: I’m looking forward to it.
C. Jeff Cogswell
BB: Really? You knew him beforehand?
CC: Yes. Mostly through Facebook, but we followed each other’s career. He’s just such a great guy to have in the hallways. The last major thing that I did to Jeff, because I like having some fun during the show, I’d go to the bathroom or something when they’re on the air. I’d stand in front of the window and make faces or hand gestures. It’s funny because I just mentioned this last night when we were texting each other. “I’m sad that the last time that the last time we really got a chance to hang out, all you saw was my ass.” Because while he was on the air, I dropped my pants and mooned him. [Bev and Cub laugh]
The way the Z studios are set up, Shane and Nikki couldn’t see me; they had their back to the door. But, Jeff could see me, dead on. I loved trying to crack him up while he was trying to keep a straight face. I’m going to miss him in the halls, but he’s such a pro. Any radio station anywhere would be lucky to have him in their hallway.
BB: He’ll find something soon.
CC: Absolutely. He’ll bounce back.
BB: I visited the studios when it was just Z. It’s a relatively small office.
CC: No, actually, we’re pretty big. They built a brand spanking-new studio. It’s got windows to the streets. It’s very big in there. You can put a band in there to perform if you wanted to. It works out very well. The only thing is that there is a window that separated their studio from our studio. And, again, I liked to have fun with Jeff, so I used to crank call his show live on our show. But, it got to the point where we all he had to do was just tilt his head over to the left about 2 inches, and he could see me doing my thing and catch me on it.
D. Megan Edwards.
CC: She’s got an unbelievable personality. She was the very first voice I heard in Halifax radio. When the talk about me possibly going to Z came up, I decided, “Well, I may as well listen to the radio station to see what they sound like”. What struck me the most about Megan is how professional she is. It’s so hard for women in radio to be taken seriously because of the Old Boy’s network, which is such a crock. I’ve known strong personality announcers that were female that could easily run their own stations, let alone their own show. Megan’s dangerous because she’s fantastic on the radio; and she’s fantastic on television as well. She’s an asset to our company. She really is.
CC: Oh, very personable. She was one of the first people that I got to talk to the first night that I was in town when they had Z’s Booty Cruise. I was helping lug stuff in. We got to talking. She has curly hair like my wife, so she told me where she gets her hair cut. She helped me make an easier transition into the building.
BB: When I interviewed her, we sat at the next booth.
E. Scotty Mars. Patricia has a crush on Scotty Mars, by the way.
CC: [chuckles] Everybody has got a crush on Scotty Mars. Scotty is a star. He was the very first voice of our radio station. He has got such a great connection with the city. I know what it’s like because I did the exact same thing that Scotty did. I worked my way up. I had to leave home to come back home. He’s another asset to the company. We’re really, really lucky at Live 105 to have a really strong local connection as well. It’s difficult, if you’re starting a radio station, and you imported everybody from elsewhere. I know the whole thing out here in Halifax: “He comes from away!” But, Scotty is great. We’ve got a good rivalry between the two of us, too, that extends beyond radio. I like that we’ll do things in the morning that will encourage him to do things in the afternoon, that will encourage us to do things in the morning. I think having Scotty in the afternoon, and with us in the morning, and Christine in the mid days, is a good thread throughout the show. It’s a good bookmark as well, because you want to have a strong morning show. You want to have a strong Drive show, and Scotty definitely delivers the goods when it comes to that.
F. JC Douglas, because everyone knows him.
CC: Yes! I have a lot of respect for JC. JC’s one of the best programmers in the country. Everyone knows who JC is. JC’s a star, and rightfully so, because he’s busted his ass. He’s earned it. It’s funny, because I had actually applied for a job at Q before the whole thing at Live kicked off, so in a way, I’m glad, because I sent him my best stuff. He has an idea of what I could do before I got there.
BB: Did you apply for the job that Lea Miller got?
CC: No, no. I didn’t know if anything was open. We have a mutual friend by the name of Pete Travers. Pete was my PD at the Bear in Ottawa, and the first year of Virgin. I had nothing going on. Pete said, “Why don’t you call my buddy JC?” Pete was JC’s best man at JC’s first wedding. He gave me a little inside joke to do. I did it. I had never talked to this guy before. The next thing I know, I’m singing the theme song to “Flipper” to a man I’d never met before.
I have a lot of respect for JC. I think competition is really good for the industry. I think that Halifax wins when you’ve got 2 strong products like Q and, hopefully, what Live will be some day.
7. The Megan Edwards question. You lose your iPod. I find it. What songs on it would surprise me the most?
CC: [laughs] Songs, or artists?
BB: Artists. Songs. Whatever.
CC: OK. I’ve got a lot of Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin. I love the crooner stuff. On the record, my favourite band in the entire world is The Eagles of Death Metal. They don’t have feathers. And, they don’t play death metal. It’s a joke. It’s the same guys that are behind Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homey; it’s his side project. I love the band. Actually, I’ve got their second album tattooed on my arm. My wife and I met them in Montreal, completely by accident. We ended up partying with them, and for a full six months we followed the band everywhere they went between Toronto and Quebec City.
BB: Like Dead Heads?
CC: Oh, absolutely. We were Eagle Heads. But, guilty pleasure? Hall and Oates.
BB: Really? Your Kiss Is On My List.
CC: I love that stuff. But, just like any kind of amount of cheese, a little bit of cheese is good. Too much will spoil the broth. [laughs]
It’s sad in a sense if all the people you’re talking to ever listen to is the music they’re playing at work. I’d put my head in an oven. I like to balance it out. It’s nice. My grandmother got me turned on to Frank Sinatra. I don’t have a record player at home, but I’ve got 3 albums. One of them is “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. “Sergeant Pepper” by the Beatles. And Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits”. Actually, 4, because I’ve got Eagles of Death Metal’s last album on vinyl as well. But, that’s in a frame, hanging up on the wall.
8. Were you on the air on September 11, 2001? What was that day like for you?
CC: I wasn’t. I had worked over night that night. So, when I got off my shift, which was at 5:30 in the morning, I went home and I fell asleep. I didn’t get a call about 9/11 until, I think, about twenty after ten. I got woken up by a friend. He said, “Are you watching CNN?”
“No, man. I just worked an all-night shift. I’m sleeping.”
“You’d better put it on CNN right now.”
I flicked it on. Immediately, I started freaking out, because my father was working security at a building that housed the Israeli embassy. Without really knowing what the heck was going on, you think, “This is it. Here comes Armageddon.” I couldn’t get in touch with my dad for about 3 hours after that happened. We were all freaking out, but my dad was in charge of making sure that the building was clear and working in conjunction with the RCMP.
I was on the air when Princess Diana died.
BB: That was a Saturday night.
CC: Yes. I was working until midnight. It was about 11:30. I remember I flicked the channel over to Saturday Night Live for the last half hour of the show. I looked up and said, “What the heck is this?” I thought Alec Baldwin was hosting that night or something. “Where’s Baldwin? What’s going on?”
Then, it was [the news about] Princess Diana. By then, there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t a news guy. I was very green in the industry. And, I was scared shitless of calling my program director at 11:30 at night on a Saturday to ask him, “What do I do?” So, I just let it go. Plus, when it comes to breaking news, I prefer to leave that to the news stations because that’s where people are going to go to get their information. But, it was tough, because people were calling in and saying, “Have you seen what’s going on?” Canada has such a close connection to the monarchy.
The first shift back after 9/11 was very, very difficult.
BB: How did you approach it?
CC: Well, I had had a couple of days off, so it wasn’t like I had to get on right away. But, because it was in Ottawa, and because a lot of people were gathering at the American embassy, and because we knew some people who had been affected directly by it. I knew a couple of guys who were with the L.A. Kings who had lost their lives. They were friends with friends of mine at another radio station.
Our boss at the time, Gordon Taylor, had said, “If you’ve got something that you can relate to the audience about, then do it.” But, because a couple of days had passed, it wasn’t top of mind. But, it still made it tough, because I’m all about having fun and joking around and being a smart ass. You can’t joke and make fun [of 9/11].
I thought it was probably more difficult for people at Saturday Night Live when they did their first show after 9/11, because it’s right in their back yard and it affected them directly. It didn’t affect me on air as much as it would have affected someone in New York City.
BB: It’s funny you should mention SNL. I remember their first show after 9/11. They had that cold opening with Paul Simon doing “The Boxer”.
CC: That was terrific. And, then they launch into that scene with Will Ferrell all dressed up with the American G string and the too-short t-shirt.
But, sometimes, I find that comedy is a coping mechanism for a lot of people. A good amount of comedy, done the right way, can actually speed up the healing process a little bit.
It’s difficult, especially when you’re doing a show when you’re supposed to be talking to a 20 year-old guy. What does an average 20 year-old guy think about? They probably have other things on their mind. Like, “Where am I going to put the Snap On tool sticker on my car?” [laughs]
9. Tell me about a couple of on air mistakes you’ve made.
CC: Listen to the show week days. [chuckles] I’m still getting used to a brand-new computer system, and a brand-new playlist. Floyd and I are big fans of breaking down that Fourth Wall. I think, sometimes, there’s this old radio way of doing things. “Never make mistakes. Be clear and succinct as possible. I think people want to listen to people that aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves, aren’t afraid to take chances and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. I think when you’ve got to the point where you’re, “Oh, I don’t make any mistakes on the air”, then you’ve painted yourself into a corner. By making mistakes on the air, you open yourself up to being accessible. In the end, it’s all about making a connection with the listener. That’s what I try to do.
There’s a great quote from a movie called “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”. Sam Dunn, a Canadian guy from Victoria, did it. He was talking to Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. Bruce said as the frontman, his job is to be at the show where there’s 80 000 people and be up there going, “You! Right at the back. You!”
That’s the connection. I try to make it as accessible as I possibly can. I never, ever, ever, have an ego. Not in public. [laughs]
BB: Have you ever said “poop” on the air? Or the F word?
CC: I said “shit” once. It was my very first on air shift at Live 105. I bugged and bugged and bugged to do it. They finally said, “Fine. Friday night. Here you go.” Well, that night was the same night the engineers decided to rewire the board and install a computer system, because up until then, we were using the old carts. They look like 8 tracks. You can’t fast forward. You hit it once. You have to let it queue up afterwards. They’d gotten away from that. They were installing this brand-new computer system.
I turned on my mic. One of the engineers was on the floor, between my legs, on his back, on one of those dollies. I said, “OK, Chris. I have to go on the air right now.” So, he ducks underneath the board. I flick on my mic, and I completely forgot what I was going to say. I said, “Hey, everybody. Oh, shit. I have to do that again!” [laughs]
I shut the mic off, and right on queue, Chris slides over in the dolly and looks up at me and starts laughing. That broke the ice for me. It was fine after that.
I think the main problem that I have is that I speak too fast sometimes, because I’m so excited, and I still can’t believe that I get to play radio for a living. It was something fun when I was in my twenties, but now I’m pushing 40, and it’s like, “Wow. I’ve actually got a career now.” It’s a good feeling.
10. Why did you agree to this interview? I've listened to the radio since I was 10. I love the medium. But, I have no credentials as a broadcaster.
You know what? It was Rob Johnson, my former P.D. for a day here in Halifax. He said, “You have to do the Bevboy interview. Everybody does it. It’s a rite of passage.” I figured if I’m going to survive here, I’d better sit down with Bev.
BB: Well, I’ll send a thank you note to Rob Johnson.
BB: Cub Carson, thank you very much for the last 90 minutes of your life. It’s been a lot of fun, and I have enjoyed meeting you. Say hi to Floyd for me. I will approach her.
CC: Definitely. I will warn her in advance. Thank you so much, Bev.