Remembering Jack Cullen

Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby radiofan » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:40 pm

It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since Jack Cullen left us.

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It seems like April 27, 2002 was just yesterday. I remember hearing John Ashbridge on CKNW
with the news that Jack has passed away at St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster. I was lucky
to have worked with Jack for many years from the early 1970's until May of 1999.

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Radio rascal Jack Cullen knew how to have fun on air
The creator of CKNW's Owl Prowl was highly competitive but never nasty

Red Robinson Vancouver Sun Thursday, January 19, 2006



”I grew up in the second radio generation.

The first was the Golden era, when radio featured programs such as Jack Benny, Lux Radio Theatre, The Green Hornet, live band shows such as Mart Kenny, Glenn Miller and others. It lasted until the mid-'50s, but television soon lured them all away.

Deejays, who had been part of radio since the thirties, took over the reigns at the radio stations.

As a young teenager, I discovered this new world where I could escape to, listening to deejays from far away. The dial wasn't so crowded in those days, and I could hear Al Jarvis, in Los Angeles and Gil Henry in Seattle, but my greatest inspiration was a local deejay named Jack Cullen.

Each night I'd listen to him as he played a mix of pop music and big band sounds of the past. In the early '50s he took requests. This was a magical time and place for me. I used to sneak out to take in his Saturday afternoon show, and enjoy being a part of his audience.

I knew then what I wanted to do with my own career.

Cullen came out of the Canadian Navy in 1945, enrolled in a radio school and found a job as a deejay and newsreader at CJAV in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, in 1946. In the Spring of 1947 he moved to Vancouver and CKMO (it later became C-FUN). He had an all night show called Pacific Patrol and then later formed his own show Owl Prowl, heard nightly from 10 p.m. to l a.m. He was getting noticed and was approached by Bill Rea, owner of a new station in New Westminster called CKNW. It was new and at a much lower power than CKMO but Cullen made the switch in 1949. The famous Owl Prowl was heard nightly from 10:05 p.m. to midnight and he also hosted the 1320 Club (the frequency at the time) daily at 3:10 p.m.

In those days, radio was bigger at night than during the day.

Cullen took his portable recorder with him around the nightclub circuit in town to capture interviews by visiting artists such as Judy Garland, Kay Starr, Tony Bennett and just about every major entertainer of the day.

Some times, he hid his recorder and taped live performances by the stars and played them on his radio show (that was as much of a no-no then as it is now). He was a true radio rascal.

You tuned in for more than just the music and his patter. You tuned in to hear the stars, and the stunts. You might find him broadcasting from a taxi cab as it cruised around town, or he might be broadcasting from the chair lift at Grouse Mountain or in the nude from the YMCA (truly) or you might hear him going up a flight of stairs to the roof above his studio to get a thermometer reading.

He was a character, but more importantly, a performer with a vast knowledge of music and a record and tape collection second to none. (At one time, the story goes, he had the largest private collection of sound recordings, only eclipsed by the corporate collection of BBC radio in the U.K.)

In Canada, Jack broke the mould of formal broadcasting, which had until then been entirely scripted. He ad-libbed everything and created a new informal, natural style.

He became the trend-setter for all who followed.

One of the funniest incidents for me was when I first started my rock and roll show. At the time, Jack owned a record store on West Hastings. He would tape television shows and illegally cut certain musical numbers on to, what was referred to in those days as an acetate recording (it was not pressed but cut on a record cutting machine). He would then sell them to you.

He would tape the Ed Sullivan Show when Elvis first appeared and then play songs that were not yet available such as Ready Teddy, Rip It Up and others from the Sullivan Show. He was driving me crazy because the kids would call the next day and request these songs that were not available on disc yet.

One day I sent one of my listeners (I played in front of a live audience in those days) down to Cullen's to buy an Elvis disc. When I received the record I quickly put it on the air, without hearing it first, and in the midst of the song you could hear Cullen saying "You can buy this record at Jack Cullen's record store."

He had been tipped that the disc was for me. You can imagine my chagrin.

He was highly competitive but never nasty. When he and clothier Murray Goldman brought the first true rock 'n' roll concert -- Bill Haley and his Comets -- to Vancouver in 1956, he asked me to emcee the show at the Kerrisdale Arena.

Cullen was named to the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame during it's first year of inception. His final radio shows were aired in 2000 on CKST in Vancouver (now Team 1040). He was removed from CKNW in May of 1999 when they decided to concentrate on talk radio.

His final sign-off came on April 27, 2002 at St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster. He was 80.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

http://www.bcradiohistory.com/Biographi ... Cullen.htm

Above from Jack Bennest's BC Radio History

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Jack and first wife Joy (Who worked on-air with Jack.)

Here's some audio of Jack .. it's the first two hours of his 35th anniversary Broadcast on October 15, 1982.
The show was hosted by Big Daddy Dave McCormick and it features a cast of thousands!

Jack Cullen 35th Anniversary Show Hour 1

Jack Cullen 35th Anniversary Show Hour 2

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A shot of Jack and a future CKNW PD!

Thanks for the memories Jack and thabnks for teaching us what real radio was all about!

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Thanks to Red Robinson for sharing the pics!
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Anotherwpgguy » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:12 am

What an excellent tribute to Mr. Cullen.

At one stage of my time in Vancouver, I lived in Burnaby and owned a nice 12 speed racing bike. Often, as I'd be out for a spin, I'd stop in at Jack Cullen's place for a few minutes of great conversation, marvel at his collection of music, photos, and memorabilia.

He was as I recall hearing someone say .... "A life well-lived."

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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Ross Ewage » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:29 pm

Whoever was the PD in the late 1980's, (Doug somebody I think) really had a hate on for Jack. I remember Jack complaining on the air that he was now only allowed to play music from the 1950s thru the 1980s and any chance he had, he'df sneak in a Glenn Miller or some other classic from the 40s. I think it was in 1987 the added Larry King at 11PM, so Network Replay was gone from it's longtime timeslot. In the 1990s the 8 o'clock hour became a sports talk show (with Lee Powell as I recall, great show!) and Jack started at 9 (usually a pre-recorded show).

Regardless of the time slot, it was always great listening.

Thanks for the audio from Jack's 35th anniversary show. A lot of memories there.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Russ_Byth » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:21 pm

I was one of the last people to 'op' for Jack when he was doing a live show from 9-11 (then network replay at 11)
Showtalk was a great bit of radio and one of the best parts was guessing what was going on in the background when Jack was doing the show.
It was quite the introduction to radio.
Thanks Ted!
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby hagopian » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:11 am

Rutherford? Jack was a natural. Shut up and let him do his thing. Drinking was a sore spot. He was a very talented gent.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Toomas Losin » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:37 pm

I have fond memories as a kid of listening to Jack Cullen and Network Replay beginning in 1977. I had heard that episodes of Superman were being aired at nine o'clock on CKNW; I tuned in at nine and after that night's chapter I heard mention of another program at eleven o'clock. Later that night I heard Network Replay for the first time and immediately became a regular listener. The late time slot made it harder to wake up in the morning for school but each night I'd go to bed listening to the news, then the Network Replay theme, Jack Cullen's introduction, and then the night's show. Yes, very often I would fall asleep before the program ended. I treasure those memories as a personal golden age and his voice is an important part of it all.

Does anyone know what music was used for the Network Replay theme? I have many OTR recordings from that show but none are a complete aircheck of what Network Replay was like. It's been years and I'd really love to hear that theme again.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Joe Leary » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:00 pm

Toomas Losin wrote:Does anyone know what music was used for the Network Replay theme? I have many OTR recordings from that show but none are a complete aircheck of what Network Replay was like. It's been years and I'd really love to hear that theme again.

The Owl Prowl theme was 'Girl Talk' by Neil Hefti and I remember asking Jack some years ago about the Network Replay Theme. He told me it was a piece called 'Passionata' but I don't recall who performed the version he played.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Russ_Byth » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:15 pm

Joe Leary wrote:The Owl Prowl theme was 'Girl Talk' by Neil Hefti and I remember asking Jack some years ago about the Network Replay Theme. He told me it was a piece called 'Passionata' but I don't recall who performed the version he played.



I can hear Cullen coming in after the first verse....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVgmLY9XEMs
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby radiofan » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:56 pm

Russ_Byth wrote:
Joe Leary wrote:The Owl Prowl theme was 'Girl Talk' by Neil Hefti and I remember asking Jack some years ago about the Network Replay Theme. He told me it was a piece called 'Passionata' but I don't recall who performed the version he played.



I can hear Cullen coming in after the first verse....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVgmLY9XEMs


Great find Russ. I don't think Jack ever had a copy that was that clean! His always had clicks, pops and scratches.

I just came across an old Aristocart with a handwritten label written by Jack on it .. it's either the Owl Prowl theme, or the Network Replay theme .. Now, I just have to dig out the old cart machine
and see if it still plays! If that fails, I'll go thru some old Network Replay airchecks that should be complete with music and commercials!

Great memories Toomas and welcome to radio West!
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Toomas Losin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:28 pm

Joe Leary wrote:The Owl Prowl theme was 'Girl Talk' by Neil Hefti and I remember asking Jack some years ago about the Network Replay Theme. He told me it was a piece called 'Passionata' but I don't recall who performed the version he played.

Passionata. Thanks, a net search gives many possibilities, maybe one will work out.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Toomas Losin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:32 pm

radiofan wrote:I just came across an old Aristocart with a handwritten label written by Jack on it .. it's either the Owl Prowl theme, or the Network Replay theme .. Now, I just have to dig out the old cart machine
and see if it still plays! If that fails, I'll go thru some old Network Replay airchecks that should be complete with music and commercials!

Great memories Toomas and welcome to radio West!


Thanks. I may have been lucky when I digitally transferred all of my VHS and cassette tapes a few years ago, as I only needed to replace a pinch roller to have working gear. My tapes reflect a sad story about my keeping only what I felt was important at the time, such as OTR episodes, rather than the ephemeral stuff like news and talent bits. The former are widely available everywhere but the latter are lost to history.

That's probably a common story but to a kid a few decades ago tape was expensive. Now digital storage is cheap and I often wonder what I would have done if I had the recording capacity then that I have now...
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Paul P » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:08 pm

Russ_Byth wrote:
Joe Leary wrote:The Owl Prowl theme was 'Girl Talk' by Neil Hefti and I remember asking Jack some years ago about the Network Replay Theme. He told me it was a piece called 'Passionata' but I don't recall who performed the version he played.



I can hear Cullen coming in after the first verse....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVgmLY9XEMs


Wow... was that great to hear that music after all these years... "John Francis Cullen, boy disc jockey"... :occasion5:
Being nice is my resolve - in 2012
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Joe Leary » Tue May 01, 2012 10:48 am

Great find Russ. I don't think Jack ever had a copy that was that clean! His always had clicks, pops and scratches.

Well said. I had occasion some years ago to hang out with Jack in his then warehouse/studio in Port Coquitlam for a newspaper story I was doing for The Province.
Watching him tape his show, I was surprised at how little care he took of his seeming irreplaceable record collection, grabbing records by the vinyl to lay them on the turntable; cigarette butt hanging from his mouth with the ash dangling ever so perilously, often landing on the record before he would brush it off with his sleeve.
That, of course was part of Jack.
Not really a stickler for quality control, more just an old fashioned radio showman who didn't bog himself down with details.
It's great to reflect back on this one of a kind performer.
I wonder if anyone has any pictures they could post from his old record store and studio in Brentwood Mall.
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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby Joe Leary » Tue May 01, 2012 10:48 am

Joe Leary wrote:Great find Russ. I don't think Jack ever had a copy that was that clean! His always had clicks, pops and scratches.

Well said. I had occasion some years ago to hang out with Jack in his then warehouse/studio in Port Coquitlam for a newspaper story I was doing for The Province.
Watching him tape his show, I was surprised at how little care he took of his seeming irreplaceable record collection, grabbing records by the vinyl to lay them on the turntable; cigarette butt hanging from his mouth with the ash dangling ever so perilously, often landing on the record before he would brush it off with his sleeve.
That, of course was part of Jack.
Not really a stickler for quality control, more just an old fashioned radio showman who didn't bog himself down with details.
It's great to reflect back on this one of a kind performer.
I wonder if anyone has any pictures they could post from his old record store and studio in Brentwood Mall.

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Re: Remembering Jack Cullen

Postby ttony_at » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:56 pm

Excellent tribute! The first time I heard his shows was on CKNW around 1983.

The very last time I heard Jack Cullen was around the year 2000 for a few months on CKST AM 1040. He did the Owl Prowl
and Network Replay on that station, but not 98 Memory Lane. Then suddenly, CKST changed it's format and I didn't hear
him on radio anywhere. I don't know where if he had gone to another station.
There were then bits of news such as his birthdays until he died. They'll never be another one like him.
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