Bobby Mac Interview
June 21, 2012
Bobby Mac and I met a month or so before we sat down for an interview. I was a little frightened of him, somewhat intimidated. I thought he’d hit me or something. But, he didn’t.
We met for an extended lunch at Michael’s Bar and Grill. We talked about the state of radio in this market, his surprisingly long radio career, and our pets. This a free-wheeling conversation, so smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, pull up a chair, and read it already!
1. How did you get your start in radio?
Bobby Mac: Well...
Bevboy: You’ve had a couple of starts, really.
BM: I’ve had a few starts in radio. The first start was when I went to ABI, the Atlantic Broadcasting Institute, back in the day. Alex J. Walling. And, the infamous John Darrell. He was my main instructor.
BB: He was The Shadow, and a bunch of other things.
BM: Yes. But it was because of him that I got my first gig in radio at Q104. I was in the second class that year. They did two classes a year. I was the one picked to go for contract training in Port Hawkesbury, 1410 CIGO. Actually, I remember that a few people got mad at me because I got sent before them. People in the first part of the class.
I did 2 weeks up there and came back with my tape. John Darrell was like, "That was awesome!" He gave it to Barry Horne, who was the Program Director at Q then. He said I sounded like I’d been on air for a long time, and that I should call him.
BB: Were you calling yourself "Bobby Mac"?
BM: No. I was just Bob MacDonald back then.
That was basically it. He said to call him. I did. And I never heard back from him after a week. I called him again and talked to the receptionist at Q104, Ellie back then. I never heard back from them.
I called her, I don’t know, three times a week, just trying to get ahold of him. Finally, it was time. I got my first gig back in... ‘92? July of ‘92, just after Canada Day was my first shift on air in Halifax. 20 years ago.
BB: You were Bobby Mac back then?
BM: No. I was still Bob MacDonald. "Bobby Mac" was just a name that came when I was working in the bars. I worked in The Dome about six months before I went to broadcast school. We had 6 or 7 Bob’s that worked there, after I’d already been on radio. One of the guys said, "You’re ‘Bobby Mac’. You’re ‘Bobby Webb’.", and so on. That’s how it came. It stuck.
When I came back to radio, eight and a half years later, after getting let go a couple of times, I was doing ‘Bob MacDonald’. I said "Bobby Mac" a couple of times. JC said, "Pick one. Don’t be confusing. Just pick one or the other."
I said, "Well, I’ll go with ‘Bobby Mac’."
BB: Easier to say.
BM: Yes. A little easier to say. A little easier off the tongue. It’s quick and worked like crazy. Like I say, people know it. "Hey, Bobby Mac. What’s up?"
So, that’s how I got my start in radio. It was a right place, right time. Q104 needed somebody. I was pretty happy to be coming right out of school [and be working]. Back then, it didn’t happen, because there was only a couple of stations, right? They could pick and choose who was what. I was one of the first ones to come right out of school to work in Halifax. It’s a neat story. Now, it happens all the time because there’s so many stations.
BB: So many stations and people willing to work cheap. I think that’s part of it, too.
BM: Absolutely. But, that was my start. Hired by Barry Horne.
BB: All right. We’ll talk about your exodus from Q104 and so on. From what I know, it’s a cool story.
2. What is the best piece of professional advice or criticism you have ever received, and who provided it?
BM: That’s a tough question. Because, early in my career, at Q104 at Queen’s Square, I never got any advice. I never did an air check. Barry Horne never did an air check.
BM: I don’t know for anybody. Never did one for me. JC Douglas is my Program Director now. He’s been good. He does air checks; he gives you constructive criticism.
BB: Even after all these years, you still get feedback from JC?
BM: Oh, all the time. Now, we do weekly meetings.
BB: "Don’t do this any more. Do more of this." That kind of thing?
BM: That is a Program Director’s job. It is to guide your on air talent. JC’s been in the business for a long time. He’s a Program Director for a reason. I don’t always agree with him. That’s the beauty of working with JC: You talk about it. "Here’s how I think this should go. What do you think?" You can hash it out. If he really wants it done that way, that’s the way you’re going to do it.
BB: He does listen to where you’re coming from?
BM: Yes. Like I say, he does things his way. And, that’s fine. But, he also recognizes that people have their own strengths in certain ways and tries the best he can to bring that out.
I’ve never really had any advice in that sense, but just be yourself. Don’t be one of those "Turn on your Voice" guys. Be yourself. Talk to people. Not at them.
BB: How did you develop the character of "Bobby Mac"? I met you last month at another event. You were quiet, reserved and polite; but you’re bombastic on air.
BM: That’s me, though. That’s not a character. That’s me. If you were to come play cards with me in the shed, that’s the way I am. I’m an idiot and proud of it.
That’s the great part of the job. Everyone asks, "What do you like most about your job?" I say, "I get paid to be me." It’s great.
That’s just the way I am. You can ask my wife. She’ll be like, "Oh, yes. That’s the way he is!"
Obviously, I embellish a lot of times about certain viewpoints and stuff. JC will pull me aside and go, "You really don’t feel that way, do you?"
I’m like, "Oh, yes. Am I playing it up a bit? Absolutely." But, if I go on and say something about something, those are my thoughts on it. But as far as a character goes, it’s really not a character.
BB: It’s an exaggeration of Robert MacDonald.
BM: Yes. Absolutely. Like I say, I get emails and phone calls from friends whom I went to high school with whom I used to work at the bar going, "You haven’t changed at all. You’re the same guy who’s on the radio doing what you did back in the day at school."
BB: I work with a guy who used to work with you at the bars. [Bevboy states the person’s name]
BM: Oh, yes. He worked at the bar with me. So, it’s fun. It’s not a character development. That’s the great thing about our show: Nothing’s put on about it.
BB: So, Wilson is that way? BJ Burke is that way?
BM: Yes. And I think that’s what makes it so successful is the fact that people can relate to us. The number one thing people say is that, "You guys! It’s like me and my buddies sitting out on the deck, having a drink. We talk about the same stuff." It’s just the way it is.
BB: It’s a successful formula.
BM: It’s working, so far. We cross the line a couple of times, here and there.
BB: OK. Let’s talk about that. Have there been times when, in retrospect, you should not have done a certain bit? I’m thinking "The Male is in the Czech". [Local Member of Parliament] Megan Leslie stood in the house and mentioned your show.
BM: Oh, she was just looking for something to jump on. She didn’t check into that. If you looked at it, for what it was, did we maybe use the wrong wording for it? You might be able to say that, but that’s what we do. It wasn’t offensive, in my opinion.
BB: I don’t think so, either.
BM: People took great offence to it. But those people, once they read into it, they were like, "OK. But it’s still wrong." Well, no, it’s not wrong. What you’re accusing us of, isn’t happening. This is totally legit. Your argument is baseless.
We’re not denying that this stuff [human trafficking] happens. Obviously, it does. If our competition was in any way associated with it, in that way you could prove it, we’d pull it in a heartbeat. We’re not stupid. That’s against the law of the planet. International law says you can’t do it. So, yeah, we’re going to go do that.
We go to great lengths to make sure that we step up to that line and maybe rub it out a little bit, like a batter in a batter’s box. Blur it out a little bit. But I don’t think we’ve crossed the line. Honestly. I know we push it.
BB: Like the rectal examination . And the toenails.
BM: Pushing the line. Is it gross? Absolutely. You guys get to turn it off if you want. I had to sit there and watch it.
BB: I was retching.
BM: But, you know what? It’s funny stuff. It’s what a lot of our listeners want to hear: Us being irreverent and stupid and silly. 25 grand is a lot of money.
BB: It is.
BM: Would I stick my finger up my dad’s ass for $25 000? Probably not, no. But it is what it is. We understand that it’s not for everybody. People who get it, get it. People who don’t, turn their radio off. That’s the whole point of buttons.
BB: How do you endure people complaining to the CBSC [Canadian Broadcast Standards Council]? It’s more of a JC thing than you, maybe.
BM: Yes. But it’s usually because of something that’s happening on the morning show, so we’re involved in it as well. And, just because they complain to it, doesn’t mean it’s bad. "The Male’s in the Czech" got all kinds of complaints. But, guess what? Nothing was ever followed through. The CBSC went, "It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it."
BB: It was baseless.
BM: It was baseless. Yes. We understand why some people might be offended by it, but if it’s not for you, then turn the radio off. That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s like the Luca Magnotta video that’s out now. Would I want to watch it? Absolutely not. No frigging way. [Luca Magnotta is the man accused of killing and filming the death of another man]
3. The "Megan Edwards" question. You lose your iPod. I find it. What songs on it would surprise me the most?
BM: A lot of them. I have pretty much every genre of music on my iPod. Name it: Country, Classic Country, New Country, Hip Hop, Jazz...
BM: I’m not really sure what that is, but it’s probably on there.
BB: Deadmau5. Electronic stuff.
BM: I’ve got some of that stuff, yes. I like good music. I’ve got Classical music. I’m a big Mozart fan. I love Mozart. There’s nothing more relaxing than putting on some Mozart and sitting back and just relaxing.
BB: Is there a particular interpretation of his music that you enjoy? A certain orchestra?
BM: No. The London Philharmonic always seems to be the one that really does it for me, but it’s all pretty good.
Like I said, I’ve got everything. We go away down to the Valley every year for our "fishing trip". Jeff Cogswell comes with us. Greasy Gary’s there. Mike Mitchell from AVR. We all get together and have some fun. I have little speakers. I have my iPod on, and people sit there like, "Whose music is that?"
"It’s mine. What’s wrong with it?"
"Well, it’s not bad, but I just wasn’t expecting to hear Nat ‘King’ Cole and Anthrax all in the same playlist." I just put it on shuffle and away we go. You name it; I pretty much got it.
BB: How many songs do you have on your iPod?
BM: Right now, I’ve got enough to play four and a half days of music without repeating anything. I’ve got a couple thousand on there. I’m a big music fan. I put it on in the truck. We go on a road trip down to the States. I hit shuffle. I don’t fast forward anything. Whatever plays, plays. My wife hates Country music, and she hates it when you get two or three in a row, because I sing along with them.
BB: You say that you’re a music fan. Would you describe yourself as an audiophile? If you’re an audiophile, in my mind, it makes you a purist and that you may not appreciate having mp3‘s because they’re lossy, as you know.
BM: I grew up in the age of vinyl, 45‘s and lp’s. Then cassettes. Then cd’s. I have no problem with mp3‘s. It’s a lot more convenient. You can just download them at home. You can download it on your phone. What’s wrong with that? It’s crystal clear. As far as sound goes, mp3‘s are the boss. But I still like vinyl, though. I still like hearing that little crackling. There’s something about that romantic side of music, the nostalgic side of things. Music’s music. As long as there’s no noises in it that aren’t supposed to be there, like skips or something like that.
Audiophile? Kind of. But, I’m just a music guy. A good song is a good song.
BB: I usually like to embed some music videos in these interviews. Is there a particular artist or any songs that you would like me to include?
BM: Anything by the Hip. I love the Tragically Hip. They’re my favourite band. I’m a huge Tragically Hip fan.
BB: You said on the air this morning that you’re not a big Springsteen fan.
BM: No. I appreciate Springsteen, but I never got into his music. I had the Born in the USA album. That was fine. For me, Mellencamp when I was growing up, was my Springsteen. He wrote songs I thought were awesome. Springsteen was just one of those guys who didn’t really do it for me. Same with Rush. I appreciate what they do, but for the most part, I put on a song and I‘m like, "Meh. It’s OK. I never got the Progressive Rock stuff from the ‘70‘s. I can do without it. Of course, I was a kid of the ‘70‘s, so I grew up listening to the Eagles and Donna Summer. Disco and Rock. That’s what you listen to.
BB: OK. What Classic Country do you like? Johnny Cash? George Jones?
BM: I love George Jones. Johnny Cash. Hank Williams. All of that stuff about heartache. "There Goes My Everything", by Jack Green. That’s one of the saddest songs. "There goes my reason for living. There goes my everything." That’s it, man. She broke my heart. She left me.
BB: How was it for you to voice track at 780 KIXX?
BM: "Country Bob."
BB: I heard you and BJ Wilson and all the key guys there.
BM: Wilson came after KIXX. It used to be a bunch of people. When I got there, because I knew the Classic Country, they asked me to record the afternoon show. "Yeah. Can I be called ‘Country Bob’?"
They’re like, "Yes. We don’t care."
So, I get on there, and record it, not thinking much about it. It’s AM, and nobody listens to AM any more. Frank Lowe, doing the morning show, and I would talk every day. He’d be like, "What are you saying about me?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I had people come up to my show the other night and say, "Country Bob told me to come up and rub your belly." I said, "Any time you’re playing somewhere, I say go up and rub his belly for good luck."
He’s like, "Well, people are digging it. You’re ‘Country Bob’?"
"Oh, yeah." We actually had quite a few listeners. 780 KIXX was popular, for an AM station. It was the last AM station after CJCH kicked off. It had quite the following. People liked it. People liked the Classic Country.
BB: Is that an underserved musical genre in town?
BM: There’s only one [Country] station, man. I can’t believe nobody else has opened up another Country station. We have, what, three or four Dance music stations? And, one Country station? Country music is still really popular. I’m surprised that nobody’s opened one up. It really boggles my mind.
BM: In all honesty, if they’re smart, that’s what they’ll do. I don’t want to give them any advice or anything. Don’t do it! But, how could you not? There’s one [Country station]. They own the market. Why wouldn’t you want to take a share of that, especially against MBS? You know what I mean? They notoriously don’t do things right.
BB: We’re on the record, you know.
BM: I don’t care. I’m never going to work for him. I’ll never work for Robert Pace. Never! He treats his employees like shit. And, we’ll get into that a little later on.
4. Give me a sense of a typical work day in the life of Bobby Mac, during the Mooseheads season. What time do you get up? What time do you get to bed? How do you cope with those hours? And I know about the jock trick of taking a nap in the afternoon.
BM: Very rarely do I nap in the afternoon. Burkie [BJ Burke] takes the naps. I like continuous sleep, so I go to bed relatively early.
Average day? I’m usually up by 10 after 4 or quarter after four. Get up. Have my breakfast. Test my blood sugars and all that stuff with the diabetes. Put the dogs out. Boot on over and get to work for 5. Get the sports together, depending on what’s going on. If Wilson’s [BJ Wilson] off, I’m doing the news, too. Do the show. Finish up. Do Production, or meetings, or whatever else is going on.
Like you say, with the Mooseheads, it makes it a little bit trickier: You can have games any day of the week, usually Tuesday through Sunday. They’re fun to do; I love doing them. It’s great recognition for me and the station. You’re out in front of, well, sometimes 2000 fans. This year, it will be close to sell outs most of the time.
Like I say, it’s fun. Once I get there, sometimes I’m tired and I’d rather just stay home and get some sleep. But you have to do what you have to do.
BB: My mother’s diabetic. She has to eat at prescribed times. I wonder, when you do the Mooseheads games, do you ever feel your bloodsugars starting to crash and think, "I’d better have something to eat, soon!"?
BM: Yes. If I’m feeling something like that, I’ll grab a slice of pizza or a sub from Subway. It’s not too bad in that sense.
It’s demanding on your personal time, your family time. The games go until 9:30 at night. I’m usually in bed by 8, 8:30 at night, on an average night. It’s 9:30 by the game’s over. I have to drive back to Cole Harbour; there’s another 25 minutes to half an hour, depending on the traffic. You don’t just go home and go right to bed. You have to wind down. It can be 10:30 or 11 o’clock. Then, you have to get up at the same time and do that again. By the end of the week, sometimes you’re absolutely drained.
BB: You’re dragging your arse.
BM: Yes. That’s when I sit on the couch and put on The Daily Show that I taped from the night before and never make it through. You wake up 2 hours later and go, "What happened?"
So, I try not to nap. If I do get a 2 hour nap, then I’m up until 9, 10 o’clock. That just gives me less sleep at night. The alarm goes off and I’m just as tired. Especially with diabetes, there’s more fatigue to it. Since that happened back in February, I’ve noticed it a lot. The doctor goes, "Are you out getting your exercise?"
"I’m trying, Bud." There’s not a lot of energy with this stuff, especially with the hours, right? So, it does catch up to you.
BB: Come the end of the season, you’re probably a little relieved. I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
BM: Uh, yes and no. The end of the season is March; then you’ve got the playoffs, which can go to April and/or May, if they do well, like they did this year. So, you still have that. What’s that? We’re basically into the Summer season at the station, which means a lot more going on. You’re out doing a lot more stuff. There’s always something to take your place. I just found out yesterday that my phone doesn’t keep all my appointments that I put in; it only lasts for a month. I was showing people a couple of weeks ago, "Oh, my god. Look at all this stuff I have booked." That’s part of the job. You have to do a lot of it; sometimes, it gets ...
BB: A bit of a grind?
BM: Yes. It is a grind. Like I’m saying, it can affect your family life. My wife is like, "Do you have to go do that? Can’t we go to a movie or something like that?"
"You’re right. We’ll go a movie instead."
BB: Is it hard to say "no"? Not to your wife!
BM: Well, sure it is. Of course it is. A lot of charities, a lot of people, want me there. It’s because of the Mooseheads games and stuff like that. They know who I am from that and the radio, obviously. But more from the Mooseheads games. They want somebody that everybody knows there. I’m like, "I can’t do them all. Sorry!" I have to pick and choose which ones I go to. I feel bad, but I need a personal life, too. I like spending time with my wife. Yes. It’s tough [to say no].
5. What is one thing about yourself, that you’re comfortable discussing, that would surprise your friends?
BM: I wear crocs. I love crocs. I’ve got them on right now. Everybody makes fun of me. I don’t care.
BB: They’re comfortable, and they’re ugly.
BM: I think they look fine. They’re the most comfortable shoe that you can put on your foot. Anybody who says it’s not, is full of shit and/or hasn’t worn them. Have you worn crocs?
BB: I have not.
BM: They’re awesome. You put them on, you’ll go, "My god. These are awesome." Are they the greatest looking thing? No. I wear them all the time. I love them.
BB: Do they provide support for your feet at all?
BM: You know what? I used to get pains in my feet from wearing sneakers. Now, my feet are fine with [crocs] on. The only problem is, there isn’t a lot of protection there because they kind of stick on floors and stuff every once in a while. I did that at the station. I ended up kicking a corner of the counter at the old Agricola Street studio so hard that I lost the toenail.
BM: Oh, dude, it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I was throwing the chair around in the control room. It’s a good thing the mic wasn’t on because I was swearing like crazy. Sure enough, two weeks later, I lost the toenail, just before I started scuba diving lessons that we were giving away at the station. It was me and Jamie Paterson at the time. We were the station representatives. I could barely get my foot in the flippers because it hurt so bad. It was black. It was gross. It eventually just fell off. I had a whole year with no toenail. It was weird.
So, Crocs, man. That’s about it. But, other than that, no, everybody knows everything about me.
6. Please say something about the following people:
BM: What can’t you say about Lisa Blackburn? She was awesome. She’s a sweetheart of a person. She’s an extremely professional newsperson. Very knowledgeable. She knows what’s going on. I don’t think you can think of enough words to describe Lisa Blackburn. I love her to death. She’s still one of my best friends. You still get the little notes on Facebook. "Just thinking about you guys!"
BB: Was it a big loss when she left the station?
BM: Oh, yes. People still talk about it. "Whatever happened to Lisa Blackburn?" I’m like, "What? Really? It’s been 3 years!"
Yes. It was a huge loss. I think we’ve done well, not replacing her, but filling her shoes. Jessica [Rankin] came in. Lea Miller for a while. Now, [B.J.] Wilson’s back in, not necessarily in Lisa’s role. I suppose he is: He does the news.
Everyone loved her. She was the calming influence most times. But, she could be way dirtier than we ever would. She’d say stuff off the air that was... oh!
BB: "You’ve got a potty mouth!"
BM: Oh, like you wouldn’t believe. Loves her wine.
BB: I’ve had other people tell me that. I had dinner with her a couple of years ago. She had a couple glasses of wine. No biggie.
BM: It’s not like she gets hammered on it or anything like that, but she likes to have a couple glasses of white wine, with a bowl of popcorn.
She is so down-to-earth. When people say, "She’s one of the nicest people you ever want to meet.", that’s Lisa. She really is one of those people. And, we hate her for leaving. [Bevboy knows BM is kidding]
B. Darrin Harvey
BM: We’re not the best of friends, but I know Darrin enough to know that he makes great booze. He’s known for his absinthe. Now, he’s never given me any. I’ve asked him. I said, "Harvey, you’ve got to hook me up with some of this absinthe you’re talking about. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it’s fantastic!’" So, Uncle Darrin, hook me up!
But Darrin is a great guy. He’s a great fit down there. He sounds great down there on K-Rock. Just another one of those good guys. He’s good people who works hard.
BB: I’ve always wondered, when they let him go from MBS, why did he not seek an opportunity here in Halifax? I should ask him that. I know he’s a Valley guy, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
BM: I don’t know. Valley guys are like that. Some of them are homebodies down there. That’s fine. It’s a beautiful place. He’s doing what he likes, and in the place he wants to do it.
That’s the way it goes. I have no desire to leave Halifax. I don’t think I’d ever move to Toronto unless the money was spectacular. This is where I’m from. This is where I’m happy being.
BB: Does Darrin go to those parties? [A number of Halifax jocks have an annual party in a secret location in the Valley. Bevboy is not bitter over not being invited]
BM: He went to the first couple. I haven’t seen him in a while, actually. We went fishing one time. He showed up and sat on the bank of the Cornwallis River. He didn’t catch anything.
C. JC Douglas. What do you want to say about your boss?
BM: One of the most handsome people I’ve ever met. I heard he has a huge penis, but I can’t really testify to that.
What do you say about JC Douglas? He is the most dedicated radio person in history. His love and passion for this business is unsurpassed. It’s borderline crazy, but I have nothing but respect for the guy. Like I said earlier, he’s the first gave giving me air checks, when I was just working part-time, just starting off. He’d be like, "Don’t take it wrong."
I’m like, "No. Tell me what I need to work on. I need to know it. These are my first air checks."
"No, it’s not."
"I’m telling you. I never did any air checks at Q before, back in the ‘90‘s. Never did it."
So, yes. He’s passionate. He’s funny. He gets it, most times. He’s the one wanting us to push the envelope more.
BM: A lot of times, he’s like, "Why aren’t you guys doing something on this one?"
"Well, we didn’t think it was appropriate."
"To hell with that."
Now, we run a lot of stuff by him first, to make sure he could defend it, if it was something we think might be touchy.
BB: Was there something that he shot down because it might go over the line too much?
BM: I’m trying to think. I don’t think so. A couple times, he may have asked us to change something, tone it down a touch there. We go re-write it. "OK. Perfect! That’s sick. That’s funny." He enjoys being entertained. He loves radio. Not just working in it; he loves listening to it. He listens to everything. He listens to every station in town.
BB: He would check out the competition for sure.
BM: Check out the competition to see what’s going on. Why wouldn’t he? He’d be stupid not to. You want to know what the other people are doing, right? If you’re not, then you’re not doing your job. Seriously, he’s the most passionate [radio] person I’ve ever met. It’s unbelievable. A bit of a packrat. He’s got videos and scrapbooks. They’re all radio stuff.
BB: How many hours a week does he work? Do you have any idea?
BM: How many hours in a week?
BM: He works about 175. Seriously. He’s constantly working. That’s what makes him and Q104 where we’re at. He’s at the top of his game, and we’re top of the market. There’s no denying the results. He’s working 24/7. I’m sure he’s pushing buttons in his head when he’s sleeping. He dreams about it.
BB: He can’t do that forever.
BM: No. And, he doesn’t plan on it. But, it’s what he does. He’s one of those people who are devoted 100% to his craft. And, like I said, the results show.
D. Denyse Sibley
BB: Or that celebrity poker thing?
BM: Yes. We did that one time down at the casino. We did McHappy Day; she’d be coming in after me, or before me, or something like that.
She is such a super nice person. Overworked. Under paid. What do you say about her? She carries that radio station. Without her, where are they? They’re the only Country station in town. I feel so bad for her in that sense, because from what I know of her, she is an awesome, hard-working person.
She does all the work. I can’t imagine doing a one person morning show in a market this size. It’s horrible, having to do that. You’re there to entertain. It’s the morning show.
BB: And, she runs her own board? She does everything?
BM: She does it all.
BB: She did have Jigger, Justin Dove, to help her out. He was her producer. He left, and they never replaced him?
BM: No. We were surprised that they even gave him to her, because I remember talking to her. She said that she had to do her own production. She had to go pull off her own clips and cut them and edit them. She’d email them to someone in Newfoundland; I think it was Justin Dove. He’d put them in a donut and send them back.
BB: A donut. What’s that?
BM: It’s like you have your intro and extro. You just put the audio in between. It’s called a donut.
When they had to go on remotes, she’d have to set up her own equipment. Not that that’s horrible horrible. But, she shouldn’t have to do that. She’d get to work at 3:30 or something like that.
So, she’s a super nice person, but overworked and underpaid in my opinion, for her level of local celebrity. People know her and love her. Once again, working for MBS. What do you do?
BB: If a second Country station came along, I wonder if they would try to scoop her up? I have no idea what her contract is like.
BM: I’m not sure, either. I mean, how would they not? That’s a sign of a good radio company, in my opinion. You’re going into a market. You know who your competition is. You should try and steal their morning show, or some of their on air talent, if you know what you’re doing. It just makes sense.
BB: Do you guys at Q104 have a non-compete clause? You can’t just leave, right?
BM: Some of us do, yes. Not all of us. If you give your two week’s notice. If you have a contract above and beyond what’s normal, then you have a non-compete clause for 6 months. Or, I think it’s 3 months if you give notice. Something along those lines. It’s different for everybody.
BB: Going back to Gary Tredwell: Legally, "Greasy Gary" could exist at Live 105?
BM: Yes. That’s his character. We don’t own it or anything like that. It was a contracted out kind of deal. A little deal on the side that he did.
E. Anna Zee
BM: Anna Zee! Once again, another one of those so dedicated to the business. She’s another radio-phile. She grew up as a kid like me and like most people in radio, listening to it, loving it, pretending to be on it. She’s a big music fan. You can’t get any more consistent than Anna Zee.
BM: She puts the music together. She works in conjunction with JC. She knows what he’s looking for, for the sound. She has free rein on it because she knows what he wants and what he doesn’t want. And, we’re playing the hits, the stuff that people know.
People say, "Oh, you play the same AC/DC songs over and over again. You play the same music over and over again." I say, "Yes, but it’s like going to a bar. If you play songs nobody knows, they’re not going to dance." If you play songs on the radio that a lot of people don’t know, they’ll go, "I don’t know that song. I’ll switch over to another station." We don’t want that. We know people flip, anyway, but...
I think Anna does a great job. They freshen the music. It’s not always the same music over and over. For the core artists, it is. They always freshen it up every couple of months and throw in some different stuff. She’s funny. She doesn’t try it on the air very much. She’s not comfortable trying to be super funny on the air or anything like that. But, off the air, she’s hysterical. She’s got a great sense of humour. She’s a great cook. She does these little pastry cones, that go with whipped cream. One of them has a lemon filling. The other is an amaretto with a raspberry thing at the bottom of it. She makes them all by hand, too: This incredibly light, flaky pastry. These little cones with whipped cream on the top.
BB: Under what occasions would she bring these into work? Because it’s Tuesday?
BM: If somebody was having a birthday, she’d bring them in a box. We have the 12 days of Christmas. People sign up and bring something in for people. If you see Anna Zee’s name you go, "OK. I’m making sure I’m here." She’d bring in 4 dozen of these things. And, they go quick. We say, "You should be selling these. You should be down at the Farmer’s Market every weekend selling these. Charge a buck apiece, if not more." They’re not huge, but absolutely the best thing you’ve ever had.
BB: I have to have one. I think she lives out my way.
BM: I brought some home for my wife. She’s like, "Oh, my God. Who made these?"
"Anna Zee makes them." If I come home with cones, she’s like, "Ah, cones!"
Anna is awesome. She really is. She’s a lot of fun. She’s very social. She’s our social media queen. She’s the Twitter queen.
BB: I see her tweets. She writes most of the ones from the station, does she?
BM: She takes it upon herself. She loves doing it. She likes looking for funny videos and links to crazy stories. Every day, another email from Anna Zee. "Check this one out!"
BB: I see tweets from Q104 at night sometimes. Would she be writing those?
BM: Some of those. Whoever’s on the air is usually doing it, but if Anna has something, she’ll forward on stuff to our listeners that follow us on Twitter. A traffic report or something like that. Obviously, if you’re on air, you’re a little busy. You can’t always get to it. She does a lot of that stuff. JC tweets, too. We all tweet a bit if we’re at an event or something like that. They want us tweeting as much as we can, if it’s relevant. We don’t want to bombard our listeners with totally useless stuff. "I just had a beer!" Nobody cares.
F. Jeff Cogswell
BM: Do you have to ask me about Jeff Cogswell?
BB: I don’t have to, no.
BM: What do you say about Jeff? Jeffy, Jeffy, Jeffy. Great guy. When I got back on Q104 in 2003, I trained with him. I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall. The first night, we did the evening slot. The second night, he was doing the evening slot, and I just watched and took notes. [That night] he’s like, "Yeah, hop on the board, man. Get ‘er going." Away we went. We did a couple of interactions. It worked out well. At the end of the evening, it was like, "That was pretty funny!" We just hit it off from there.
He left a month later. Went to Saint John.
BB: Oh, yes. Working for MBS.
BM: He wanted to do a morning show, so he left. The friendship was set then. We still chatted. Any time he was in town, a bunch of us would get together. I consider Jeff a really good friend of mine. Hideous. Jeff, you’re so ugly. My God. And piercings don’t help.
He’s another one of those great radio people who’ve had a string of bad luck. Going to the wrong company at the wrong time, trying to better himself.
BB: Is he where he belongs, now?
BM: Well, I would say, ideally, he belongs back on Q104. But, unfortunately, we have a full roster right now. It’s unfortunate, not because he’s wasting his talent. We’re all really happy he got a gig over there. I think he’d be happier at Q104 because he’s with people he knows and likes and so on and so forth. But, Jeff can do anything; he’ll be fine. I just hope everything works out for him. He’s a good guy. Just unfortunately for him, he was wanting that morning show and having to go to Saint John and work for MBS, didn’t work out.
BB: I’m not sure what happened. I heard that they had him answering the phones, sort of a receptionist.
BM: Not just him. They wanted all the staff to actually go and paint the transmitter. That’s the kind of stuff that they dealt with.
BM: Exactly. Isn’t that unbelievable?
BB: [laughing] I can’t believe that. And, they complied?
BB: They were paid no more for that work. They were just paid their salary.
BM: It’s part of your job. "Paint the transmitter." Imagine that. I hope it doesn’t make me sound pampered, but if they told me that at Q, you know what you can do. I ain’t painting nothing. That’s not what you’re paying me for.
BB; My god.
BM: It’s a great story.
BB: When they fired him from Hal FM last year, he typically doesn’t want to burn bridges behind him, but he was saying on Facebook that he doesn’t care if he burns bridges at MBS. He’s very outspoken about them.
BM: Anybody in the radio business knows that it’s so unfortunate that that company is like it is. They were the top of the heap for a while. Country 101 was unbeatable when I started at Q104 on Queen Square back in the ‘90‘s. They were almost always number one.
BB: They’re still doing well, aren’t they? FX 101? I don’t see the ratings.
BM: They’re number one, 12+, which doesn’t mean anything. Who advertises to 12-18 year olds? Nobody. In the demo that counts, they’re... third, I think. They’re still doing OK, but once again, they’re the only game in town as far as Country is concerned. Hal is non-existent. They’re either the lowest-rated station, or the second lowest, behind Z, or Energy, or whatever it’s called now.
BB: Room there for improvement for Evanov.
BM: Well, there’s always room for improvement. It’s just a question of whether you do it or not. Hiring kids right out of school is not going to be an improvement, because you can hear it in the quality of their shows. Not that they’re bad. It’s just that they’re not good yet.
BM: Well, she started with us. She was a Q Cop. You can see them; when you get those people that "get it". They know that they have to do this, and they have to do that. There’s stuff you have to do to make yourself better. If you don’t "get it", you’re not really going to have that great a career.
She was lucky. She got on with Z103 when they started up. She "gets it". She lived the lifestyle. She was out at the clubs and doing all the stuff you needed to do and got her name out there. That’s the key, in my opinion: You have to get your name out there. Who really gives a shit about what you’re doing on the radio? As long as they hear you on there, people (especially on the East Coast) love the people they hear on the radio. Or they hate them. The ones that they like, they want to get to know them. If I say, "Hey, I’m going to be at this place tonight. Come on down and say hi.", they’re going to come out and say hi.
BB: That’s nothing new. Frank Cameron was doing that 40, 50 years ago.
BM: Frank’s Bandstand. He was out doing that stuff. You have to get out and get to as many events [as possible], especially when you’re starting out. Once it’s out there, you can dial it back a bit, but you can’t dial it back too much. You have to stay active in this business; otherwise, you’re done. It doesn’t take long for people to go, "Meh! What have you done for me lately?"
But, K8‘s done a great job. She’s such a sweetheart, too.
BB: Yes. She’s very nice.
BM: Yes. She is. She’s a lot of fun. And, that comes across on the radio. She’s one of those people who asked me for advice. I said, "Be yourself. Be like you are, right now. You’re a fun person. People like that. Gravitate to fun." I wasn’t the only one to give her advice; lots of people did. But, she’s taken it and gone with it. I love it. She’s awesome. I love K8. Jeff, not so much.
BB: Is he having fun there? [At Live 105]
BM: You make the best of what you’ve got. I mean, Evanov’s not really known as a super company to work for, either. That’s why they hire students. That’s what they do. They try to save as much money as they can. They’re called the MBS of Ontario.
BB: Oh, really?
BM: Oh, yeah. We’ve heard all the stories from over there. Our former Promotions Co-Ordinator was their PD, JD Desrosiers. He said it was a shit show.
BB: He was happy to leave?
BM: He hated it. They have no say. It’s all run out of Toronto.
BB: And, he was in the position of having to fire Cogsy last year.
BB: That couldn’t have been fun.
BM: No. I think it was his call, though. Unfortunately for Jeff, the ratings weren’t there, right? The numbers weren’t there. The first to go is the person trying to get the ratings. That was unfortunate.
JD didn’t like doing it. Don’t get me wrong. He felt like shit, doing it. But, it’s not fun for [the staff]. It’s your job. There’s serious time, and there’s fun time. You have to have fun, doing what you do. You go to work and..
BB: Arse around a little bit.
BM: Sure. Absolutely. We’re in the entertainment business, whether we like to admit it or not. People say, "It’s just radio." I say, "No. It’s the entertainment business."
For one of the local magazines, I was nominated for Entertainer of the Year. That’s what radio is. If you can’t relax and be yourself, and have fun, and look forward to going to work, why go to work?
BB: If it’s Sunday night, and you have to go to work tomorrow morning, and you’re dreading it, then there’s a problem.
BM: If it’s Wednesday morning and you wake up and go, "Ugh!" Nobody likes getting up early. I hate getting up early. I was never a morning person. I hate mornings. But, I love what I do. Do I want to get up at that time? I wish I could do my show from home. That would be awesome. But, no, I get up every day and go because I love doing it. I really do. I love working on the morning show and being me, whether people love it or hate it. Some of them hate me.
BB: And you’re paid relatively well for doing it.
BM: Yes. I make a comfortable living at it.
7. How do you decide what things about yourself you will reveal to listeners, and what you will hold back? Would you describe yourself as an open book with a couple of pages stuck together?
BM: Absolutely. That’s a great way to describe it. The only stuff about my personal life would be personal stuff with my wife. But, if something funny happens with her, I’ll talk about it. I’ll tell her, "I’m talking about that on the show tomorrow!" She’ll tell me, "I’d better not hear anything about that on the radio!"
BB: Does that galvanize you to do it, anyway?
BM: Well, it all depends. If it is something that’s personal that’s going to embarrass her, I would never do that. But, if was embarrassing to me, I don’t care. I’ve talked about farting and actually shitting myself, a few times. Anything that happens to people, has happened to me or you. It’s happened to other people. That’s what life is. If you can get a couple of people listening go, "Oh, that happened to me, too!", you make a connection with your listeners. So, you have to put personal stuff out there. That’s why people know my mom and dad, Helen and Leo, because I talk about them all the time. They’re just a non-stop source of show prep for me. My dad’s 87. My mom’s 80. They talk crazy stuff, and I can mess with them, and have fun with them and record them. They love it.
If the phone guy comes over. My mom’s like, "My son’s Bobby Mac on Q104!" She thinks it’s fantastic. "You’re Helen and Leo?" They think it’s great.
BB: Do you have a gut feeling about what to hold back?
BM: Yes. Like I said, when it comes to me, I don’t hold anything back. I’ve got diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I went on the radio and told people about it and tried to get people to go in and get themselves checked.
Some people are personal about it. BJ had his cancer. He kept that a secret for a long time from our listeners. Listeners aren’t stupid. "What the hell’s going on? He’s off again!"
"He’s got kidney stones", or whatever excuse we were giving. But, eventually, it came out. People gravitate toward that stuff. Actually, if it’s funny, you have to go with it. Especially if it’s self-deprecating humour. It’s fantastic.
So, I am very much an open book.
BB: With a couple pages stuck together.
BM: A couple chapters stuck together. I masturbate a lot. [Bev and Bobby laugh]
See? I’m an open book!
8. Tell me about a couple of on air mistakes you’ve made.
BM: Where do I start? There have been all kinds of speaking mistakes.
BB: I know you can use the F-word after, what, 9 o’clock at night? Have you ever used it during the day?
BM: Yes, it has slipped twice that I can remember, since I’ve been on the morning show. BJ got me mad. Talking sports. The first time, I was sick. I had a horrible cold. And, I had to go down to the Metro Centre for a promotion we were doing. It was a one-on-one competition against me. People had to shoot off to get to the final and play me in a one-on-one game. I was sick as a dog. Before I went down to the Metro Centre, we were talking about something about Kobe Bryant. The basketball players were on, and I’m a Lakers fan. He said something; and I was like, "You fuuucc... and I caught it."
Another time, Alex Ovechkin got suspended for a hit he put on a guy. BJ’s like, "Oh, he shouldn’t have been."
I go, "What are you talking about, Bud? Watch the replay." We were arguing about it for a minute and a half. "Watch the replay! He left his feet!"
He said, "He didn’t leave his feet!"
I go, "Are you fucking kidding me aarrrggghhh..."
He’s like, "Whoa!"
BB: Did JC talk to you about those incidents?
BM: No. He didn’t hear those. And it was a long time ago. As long as you apologize, and then nobody complains. But I would never, ever, willingly or knowingly say that word. You can say it after 9 o’clock. You can’t use it in derogatory terms or anything like that. You have to use it in an appropriate place. "Here comes a fucking shitload of music!" This would be after midnight. It says 9 o’clock, but we wait until midnight, back when we used to voice track the overnight show.
I said, "Well, I saw the disclaimers, but I wasn’t sure if that was just for music.
He said, "No. Just don’t go too crazy. Scotty said the F-word once or twice."
"Well, I can beat that fucking record. Don’t worry there." And I did. It was fun. Once again, you get emails from people saying, "That’s awesome." You talk the way your listeners talk. That’s the way our listeners talk when they’re up and drinking.
BB: And if people call in and complain, or send emails or something to the CBSC, it’s beyond that hour, and the CBSC will not do a thing.
BM: Once again, depending on whether you’re being derogatory about something and very graphic. There are still rules.
BB: You can’t say, "I fucked her." You can’t do that.
BM: No. You can’t do that. Exactly. You can’t go into that kind of territory. But, once 9 o’clock hits, it’s done. It’s not "all gloves are off", once again. The guidelines are for when kids are awake. If it’s after 9o’clock and you let your kids listen to the radio, then that’s your own fault.
BB: It’s your own fucking fault.
BM: Yeah. It’s your own fucking fault. So, it was kinda fun doing those. I miss those days, but we get away with some stuff during the morning show. We say "shit" a lot. Nobody else does. We’re the only station doing it.
BB: Yeah, Jeff will say "crap" or something. He says it in such a way that it’s almost as strong as "shit".
BM: But, still, that’s their company policy. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it goes. If you company says "no", you don’t do it.
BM: As far as I know, yes. I know they got in trouble for saying "douchebag". I think it was Cub Carson said you weren’t allowed to say "douchebag".
BB: I think it was Floyd who said it. JD told her not to use it any more.
BM: Yes. It’s like "d-bag" or something like that. It’s just the way it is.
BB: I heard Floyd say "douchebag" recently. That’s without a PD in place. Maybe Gary won’t let that happen any more.
BM: It’s hard to say. Once again, it’s I think their company policy is that they’re not permitted to go along those lines. A lot of companies like to be family friendly, non-offensive. Give them some entertainment and some music. That’s all you need. Not that we’re offensive. I don’t think we’re offensive. People know what they’re getting with us.
BB: You’re provocative sometimes.
BM: Provocative, yes. People say, "I can’t listen to it with my kids." That’s because it’s not meant for your kids. If you want to listen to it, make sure your kids aren’t [near a radio.] If you don’t care, and a lot of people don’t, their kids hear it. But a lot of kids are exposed to what their parents are like at home. What’s wrong with that? It’s the way people are raised.
I grew up with a kid. To this day, I still can’t believe how he talked to his mother. And I’m talking about Grade 6 and 7. F-bombs. Everything. Called her "C" words. He swore like crazy at her. She’d be like, "Ronnie, stop it." That was it. That was all he ever got was, "Stop it." So, some kids are used to [edgy material].
9. Tell me about your infamous exit from radio in the mid-1990‘s, when you hosted a call-in show on a Saturday night and took calls from listeners complaining about the then-state of radio. Do you still hold your opinions from back in the day? Do you think there are some artists who are played too damned much?
BM: Yes and no. I like all forms of music. Like I said earlier, a radio station is handcuffed in the sense that you have to play what the people know. The thing that was getting me that particular night was the Top 30 Album Countdown or something like that. The Eagles’ "Hell Freezes Over" was out. This is at Sun Tower [in Bedford]. I’d been promised at that point that with the layoffs coming, automation was taking over, that I would still have a part-time job. It might just be putting tapes on, but I was, "Hey, no matter what, I just want to keep my foot in the door." And I show up for my shift. I look at the next 2 weeks’ schedules, and I’m not on them. I was told I would be. I was like, "Obviously, I can read the writing on the wall. I’m getting out of there." My PD didn’t care for me.
BB: Who was it at the time?
BM: Eric Stafford. So, I knew this was going to be my last show. I went on saying, "Unfortunately, this will be my last show." I wasn’t really burning any bridges, just speaking my mind a bit. At that point, I thanked JC and Bob Powers, whom they’d fired 7 months before that. But, back at Queen’s Square, when Barry Horne was there, Bob was the only one who gave me any kind of direction. He’d help me out a little bit. I knew Bob from before.
Then, doing this Top 30 Countdown. Two years after the album came out, The Eagles’ "Hell Freezes Over" was still in the top 5. "Really? Here it is again!" It was so frustrating: Any new music that came out ... We played Pearl Jam’s "Better Man" from Vitalogy and that was it. It was the biggest album of the year, and that was the one song we played from it. So, yes, it got a little frustrating.
I find it’s different now. We play the hits, new. And we play the classic hits. Some people complain about it, but once again it’s like, "If we don’t play them, people don’t know them." I know most people know AC/DC’s stuff, but there’s also a hell of a lot of people that don’t. I had a lady caller one night, before I got on the morning show, filling in for Tom on the Requesta Fiesta going, "Can you play that song, ‘She was a fast machine; she kept my motor clean’?" I say, "She Shook Me All Night Long"? She says, "Oh, yeah. Could you play that?" I said sure. How the hell could you not know the name of that song? But it’s amazing what people don’t know. As a radio person, as a musicphile, for anybody that’s a music fan, sure, you know that; but there’s also a good chunk of people out there that don’t.
I was pissed that night, too. It was brutal. Stan Carew had done his famous walk off the air.
BB: Nobody has any tape of that, apparently.
BM: No. I think they got rid of that one. That was the reel-to-reel back then with the logger tapes. Everybody thought that was me. I went to the Midtown. People were like, "You crazy bastard! I can’t believe you did that." I’m like, "Did what?" Like, "Walk off the air like that!" I’m like, "I wasn’t on the air. That was Stan." That’s infamous.
So, after my last shift, and I played my song "Born to be Bad" by George Thoroughgood. "Last song. Peace. See you later. Thanks, everybody." Eric Stafford was out of town that week. I think it was on the following Tuesday when I got a phone call. He just ripped me a new one. He called me an asshole. He promised that I’d never work in radio in this town ever again. Suck it.
BB: What’s he doing now?
BM: He was in Ottawa. I think he got fired. I’m not sure what he’s doing now. It wasn’t that he was a bad person. I just didn’t think he was a good PD. In my opinion, I didn’t think he knew what he was doing to be totally honest.
Other than that, I didn’t really think it was infamous. Compared to Stan Carew’s sign off, I thought it was pretty darn good. Eric was like, "Why are you thanking Bob Powers?" I say, "Because he helped me along. I did more interaction with him about my on air stuff than I did with you. You never gave me an air check." He said, "That was totally unprofessional. You know that you shouldn’t be mentioning him after he’d been let go." I said, "You also told me that I would have a job, and I don’t." And, that was it.
After that, I was out of the radio business for 8 and a half years.
BB: We’ll talk about that in a minute. Why was the Requesta Fiesta canceled? Do you know?
BM: I’m not sure. I think it just go to the point where, once again, people were requesting the same songs. If they weren’t, they were requesting songs that we couldn’t play. Black Label Society is not in our format. It’s great music, but you get the point. I’m not exactly sure why it was canceled, but things run a course, man. People still ask us to play The Champ. We played that a lot. The Champ has been played out all across the country.
BB: It was the same thing every day.
BM: Exactly. How much of that can you take? That’s why we try to do things a little differently. It’s radio. It’s a fickle business.
BB: Well, Stan Carew walking off the air didn’t slow him down too much. Look at him now. He has the most popular show probably in the Maritimes.
BM: I think he’s got the number one show in Canada, ratings wise.
BM: As far as I know, I think his show is one of the most listened to shows in Canada. He’s incredibly popular. And, he’s such a great guy. Me and Stan are great friends and really good friends back then.
BB: Do you see him any more?
BM: I still see him every once in a while. We’ll run into each other. We used to do great little cross overs. If he was working the morning shift, and I was doing the afternoon, on Sundays we’d always pick a Beatles song. He’d pick one, one week; I’d pick another [, the next week]. "Here’s our Beatles song." We’d do some crazy interaction in between. I still have some great tape of that at home. We’d talk about International Mens’ Day and beavers and stuff like that. Back in the early ‘90‘s, it was fun, and people weren’t doing it.
But, Stan walking off. "Fucking right, Stan."
BB: I had heard that the reason he was bitter and walked off the air was not because they were firing him, but they were keeping another person. [Bevboy correctly guesses the name of the person who kept his/her job at the expense of Stan’s. There have been enough hints, clues and allusions made over the years that he was able to put it together. We will keep it at that!]
Do you still feel that certain artists are played too much?
BM: I wouldn’t say, "Played too much." It’s just one of those things. The Classic Rock artists for our station are core artists and people just want to hear them. I like listening to The Who. I like all the music we play. I’m there more often, so I hear it more. So, yes, I get a little tired of it. But, that’s why we turn it down and talk. I still love the music. I’m a Rock guy, first and foremost. I love Rock and Roll. I listen to all of it.
It’s different now. I think radio in this city, for the most part, is better because of a couple more stations. Do we have too many stations here? Yes. I’d say "too many", but the addition of 4 more back in the day was awesome. You really had to step up your game, tighten up your format and playlist a bit to give people what they want. When people come to Q104, they know what they’re getting. That’s what they want. And they love it. People say, "You play the same music." When we had the Requesta Fiesta, people were still asking for Steve Miller. They’re still asking for AC/DC and RUSH. That’s what they want to hear, so that’s what we give them. It’s that simple.
10. What did you do during the years you were out of radio?
BM: For the most part, I worked at The Dome. I started off there as a bouncer. I went to broadcast school. I was on Q. Then, I ended up being the head DJ at The Dome. I became Promotions Manager. I was still DJ’ing stuff. I was also executing promotions. Kind of what I’m doing now. I’d organize it all. I’d get on a mic, perform it.
BB: You’re getting more money now.
BM: Yes. A lot more money. But I was leaving there at 4, 5 o’clock in the morning. Now, I’m getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s completely different.
BB: Tom Bedell mentioned that he was at a party. You were there. He helped pave the way to help you get back on the air or something. Was it Tom who did that? How did the path get paved for you to go back to radio?
BM: I got screwed over towards the end of my tenure at The Dome. I got "let go". I call it "fired". Whatever it was. I was working just crappy part-time jobs, trying to find something full-time. There wasn’t a lot out there.
One day, I had the Q on for some reason. I didn’t listen to a shitload of radio back then. At that point, they were running the 20th Anniversary of Q104 [Bevboy Note: This would have been around the Fall of 2003]. When I happened to have it on, there was a clip of me and Stan Carew doing a couple of our cross overs that JC had. It made this 20 year retrospective. Actually, he had had it on the 15 year retrospective.
I’d run into JC a couple of times over the years here and there. I’d run into Anna Zee and stuff like that. I’d planned on getting copies of the retrospective of the 15 year anniversary. It was on cassette. I think it was $15 or whatever. It was always like: he had them; I didn’t have the money. Or I had the money and he didn’t have the cassettes.
So, I heard this and laughed. I decided to call and see if I could get a copy of it. I got to the phonebook and looked up Q104. "Hi. JC."
I was like, "Hey, JC. It’s Bob MacDonald."
"Hey, Bob. How are you? Long time, no talk."
"Listen, man. I was just listening to the Q and heard the anniversary stuff. I heard me and Stan. I’d love to get a copy of it. I know we’ve always tried to hook up on it."
"Yeah. Here’s the thing: I can’t sell it now." Something about if it makes it to air, he can’t sell it. Something along those lines. "So, what are you doing now?"
"Nothing, man. Getting by. This, that, and the other thing."
"Have you ever thought about getting back into this business?"
I’m working shitty jobs at this point. I was working as an inventory counter for a company where you go to Wal*Mart and count everything in the store. I was making 7 bucks an hour. It was horrible work. Actually, at that point, I was working at Lawtons warehouse in Burnside. Taking orders. Putting them in a box. Taping it up. Great group of people that were there. I made a lot of friends. So I say, "Yeah. Some day I’d love to get back into it."
"Give me your number."
I gave him my phone number and hung up. It was like, "Is there a chance I’m getting back on the radio?" I called my wife. "You’re not going to believe this." I explained it to her. "He took my number."
"Oh, my God. That would be incredible. Is that what you want to do?"
Probably a week later, a week and a half later, the phone rings. It came up, "Metro Radio Group". It was JC. "What’s going on? Are you serious about wanting to get back [on the air]?"
"Absolutely, Bud. Tell me what you need. I want to get back in. I’m working shitty jobs right now and would love to."
"I need somebody. When can you start?"
"When do you need me?"
"December 9th. Can you come in the day before to do some training?"
BB: What year was this?
BM: It was December of 2003. I was like, "Absolutely. Done!"
He was like, "December 8th. Come on in. 9 o’clock."
The next day, Anna Zee called. She said, "Oh, I’m so excited that you’re coming back! We’re all getting together at Peddler’s [Bevboy note: A long-time pub in Granville Mall that closed a couple of years ago, alas and alack]" That’s the first time I met BJ Burke. I didn’t know who he was; I didn’t listen to the morning show. I wasn’t up at that time.
I met him and Bob Powers, Lisa [Blackburn], Jamie [Paterson], some of the old engineers.
Burkie said, "You’re coming in and working there, huh?"
"Yeah. I used to work there back in Queen’s Square."
"Yeah. Me, too."
"I think you left a year and a half before I started."
We shot the shit. There’s a picture of that on our Facebook somewhere. Me without a goatee, really big at that point.
I went in to train with Anna Zee. I started at 9‘oclock. I was there until midnight with Jeff Cogswell. Sat in with Tom because when I was last on radio, at that point we were still using cd’s. Computers were just coming in. At that point, they’d tried the automation and it didn’t work. They were just using it to run commercials. You’d hit the button, and the commercials would run. You’d have to start each cd and all that stuff. Some stuff was still carts.
BB: So, the whole automation scheme had pretty much backfired?
BM: Yes. I went in, because I was going to be filling in for Tom the next week. Two evenings, I trained with Jeff. There was Production work that was involved as well. I had to learn all that. I took crazy notes and sat in with Tom. He showed me how to use the Cool Edit program. I had never used this stuff before. I took notes, and did it. I did the Drive shift. I did a week of Drive. After two on air shifts, after eight and a half years, I got to do a week of Drive
BB: As "Bobby Mac"?
BM: At that point, I was "Bob MacDonald" and "Bobby Mac". Once again, it was shortly after that when JC said, "Pick one." I think it was January . And that, as they say, was that. Trevor Wallworth is the PD at Kool now. He was a producer back then. I’d known Trevor from Queen’s Square, and before that, from the bars. He said, "Dude, just awesome. Congratulations. Welcome back. Just do whatever you can to learn everything."
I said, "Damn right. I got my foot back in the door. I’ll do whatever I can to stay. This is what I want to do."
BB: If you had not called JC that day, do you think you’d be where you are now?
BM: No. God, no.
BB: You’d be counting stuff at Wal*Mart.
BM: I hope I’d have a decent full-time job. But, no, I wouldn’t be anywhere near...
BB: It was pure happenstance?
BM: It was absolute luck. It was perfect timing. They needed somebody, and I called at the right time and got in and took advantage of it. Like I said, I learned as much as I could about the Production side of things. I made myself as valuable as I could. I told them, "I’ll empty garbage cans, man. Tell me what you need me to do."
I was a remote tech when I got taken off the air again because I thought I knew what was best.
BB: What happened that you got taken off the air?
BM: I was just rambling on, going on too long. JC was just like, "Sorry, bud. You can’t do it. I can’t trust you any more. I’m taking you off." Of course, he had Darian O’Toole whom he was going to put on, too. He wanted her on.
BB: How long were you off the air that time?
BM: That was in May until September. But, I was the remote tech, so I’d go set up the remote booths for remotes. And, then, she got drunk on the air, passed out, and that was the end of her. I got back in.
BB: I’d heard there was a Saturday night shift that she was doing where she was obviously under the influence.
BM: Saturday afternoon.
BM: I’m not exactly sure how that went. Me and BJ were golfing. We were coming home, and we had the Q on. She was doing the weather. She was all garbled. "Right now, it’s 12 degrees."
"Twelve degrees? It’s like 26 degrees outside." It was a beautiful day. She passed out. We had dead air for a bit. I guess Kelli Rickard had to go in and wake her up and make sure she wasn’t dead. She was out cold.
This happened twice. Before we got home, my phone rang. It was JC. "Do you think you can handle going back?"
"Absolutely, bud. Whatever you need me to do. I learned my lesson. I promise." And, that was it. Like I said, I became friends with Burkie. We started hanging out. He figured out that I was a pretty twisted individual and thought I’d be a good fit. So, I did a lot of stuff on the morning show without getting paid. The early stuff on the morning show, 95% of it, I didn’t get paid for. I was like, "Yes. I’ll come in. I don’t care."
"Well, you worked until midnight last night."
"I don’t care. I’ll come in. Do you want me to do something? Let’s have some fun." And, it worked out. It didn’t take long for people to take to me and hate me and like me, all at the same time. I know there’s a lot of people out there that that hate me. I love that. But they still listen.
BB: It’s like Howard Stern, right?
BM: Yes. "Why do they listen? Because they want to hear what he says next. Why do people who like him, listen? Because they want to hear what he says next." I think it’s great.
11. Special Bonus Question, courtesy of… Lisa Blackburn!
I think my question for Bobby would be "What is the best and worst thing about being 'Bobby Mac'?"....that should get him thinking!
BM: The best thing is that it’s fun. It’s great being recognized. It’s neat when you’re going to the mall or the store and you pass somebody who says, "It’s Bobby Mac! Oh, my god. It’s Bobby Mac!" It’s kind of cool.
The best thing about it is I’m just happy doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I always, always wanted to be in radio.
BB: And you get paid for it.
BM: And I get paid for it. Now I’m making the most money I’ve ever made in my life, by far. I get to do the stuff I’d always wanted to do, and never ever had a chance to do. Travelling and all that stuff. That’s the best part.
The worst part is also kind of the same thing. "It’s Bobby Mac!", you know. I love talking to people; but sometimes it’s just not ...
BB: You’re having a meal with your wife.
BM: Yes. That kind of deal. It doesn’t happen all the time. There’s other drawbacks, too. If you go to a bar, you really can’t go out and have a good night with your friends."
BB: People will see Bobby Mac.
BM: Exactly. Yes. I got hammered one time after a hockey tournament. And, sure enough, I got emails. "I saw you last night. You were hammered, dude!"
"Was I? OK. I guess." I was drunk. I don’t remember.
So, it has its drawbacks, but very few. Like I said, I love meeting people. I like talking to people. I get, "I see you at Mooseheads games, but I didn’t want to come up and bug you."
I say, "Why, man? That’s what I’m there for. Come up and say hi. I’ll chat with you." I don’t care, unless I’m busy.
Like I say, if you’re looking for some private time. I go out for a bite to eat with the wife or something. It gets to her sometimes.
BB: Well, you’ve lost a bunch of weight since the latest Q104 commercial. By the way, the commercial was playing when I was talking to you earlier.
BM: Oh, was it behind us here? I get a lot of response on that commercial.
BB: Having lost that weight, do people say, "Is that Bobby Mac?"
BM: Well, like I say, we’re pretty open on the show. People know that I have diabetes. People will say, "Wow, you really have lost weight!" That and the other thing: "God, you’re big! I didn’t think you were that big. I didn’t know you were that tall." Like I say, we’re not lying about it.
Or I get, "Oh, you’re not as fat as BJ says you are."
"Thanks. I think."
People know me. They know my mom and dad. They know my dogs. We went to a place in Burnside to get some cleaning stuff. It was, "Hey, Bobby Mac! How are you?"
I said, "Somebody at work gave me this stuff for spraying on your carpet to get rid of dog smell."
He said, "You have three of them, right?"
I’m like, "Yeah."
BB: Was this Janitor’s Market?
BM: No. It was Swish Clean-It Centre.
BB: We have cats. One cat has decided to use my recroom as a place to pee.
BM: Go to this place, man. I’m telling you this stuff is amazing!
We have 3 dogs. The little one pisses non-stop in the house, on the carpets upstairs. They’re stained. We have carpet cleaner. But you’re still going to get the smell, and the stain. We literally tried every stain remover you could buy at Sobeys and Canadian Tire and all those places. They don’t work. We go to this place. My wife goes, "Oh, stain remover. We should try it."
He said, "What do you need?"
I say, "I want to get rid of the piss stains off the carpet. We’ve tried everything."
He grabs this bottle. "Just spray it on. Don’t rub it in. Don’t soak it up. Just let it sit." And, sure enough, we take it home. It’s like, "Oh, my God!" Most of [the stains] were gone. I think it’s Swish 35. It’s fantastic. It’s got a pleasant aroma.
BB: And it takes care of the urine smell, too?
BM: Oh, yes.
BB: I’ll tell Patricia, because we’re at our wit’s end.
BM: This place like a dream central. I had cats. I know what that smells like, too. It’s horrendous.
BB: Oh, my God. They’re clean animals, but Jesus Christ...
BM: They smell like shit.
BB: OK. So, you can’t always be yourself.
BM: Yeah. You can’t always let go. People know who I am. I am a distinctive looking fella. Tall. Bald. People see me on the commercials and at Mooseheads games and know who I am. So, you have to watch what you’re doing. Which is fine. It keeps me in line.
BB: You can’t get like what Andrew Krystal was a few years ago. [Bevboy Note: Andrew Krystal was arrested at least once during the years he worked at Halifax’s News 95.7]
BM: I would never get into that kind of stuff. I live my life as clean as I can. I have fun, but I don’t go out looking for trouble. I’m a homebody.
BB: I tell Patricia that I don’t want to go out for the same reason. I’m a homebody myself.
BM: I don’t like crowds. I worked in the bars; I know what goes on down there, especially nowadays. Who wants to go in the bars? It’s not safe. You never know. Especially if you’re in the public eye, and you have somebody down there that doesn’t like you. They get a little drink on. How about [what happened] out in Sackville yesterday?
BB: It will be a couple of months before this interview runs. This was a guy who was fired from Jesse’s Pizza in Lower Sackville, who went into his former place of employment and started ...
BM: Challenging the boss. Throwing chairs. Pissing in the parking lot. Hit and run. Tried to rob a liquor store. Ran from the police. They used spike chains on him. He’s facing over a dozen charges. Is it worth it? Alcohol and drugs will do some crazy stuff to you.
BB: Bobby Mac, thank you very much for the last couple of hours of your life. It’s been a delight meeting you. People at my work are jealous. They wanted to meet you. I thought they would wonder over here on some pretense.
BM: Want me to come over with you?
BB: Well, if you have a minute.
BM: Yeah. I’ll come over with you. Like I say, I like meeting people. That’s what it’s all about. You get into this business to be known, right?
I appreciate the interview.