Part 2

"Memories of nearly 50 years in the Biz"

Postby Jack Bennest » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:57 pm

(Part two of My Good Old Days in Radio)

Happy Pappy, Baby Blue, Big Daddy, Frosty and Jerry Lee….

By Brian Lord



In late 1959 I was doing the all-nighter at CFUN and I got a call from a guy, Bill Hall, who was the PD of the Kamloops television station, CFJC Channel 4. (It's since changed to Channel 7). Bill wanted to meet me for a drink and discuss a job offer so I met him and another guy, whose name I've forgotten but I think he was the Sales Manager, at the Vancouver hotel Coffee Shop and was offered a job as the evening "person" in Kamloops lone TV outlet. I don't think the job had a title.



I asked Al Jordon what he thought and Al said "take it, get all the experience you can get Bri." (Al used to call me Bri in those days.) I started in early January reading the 6PM local news on camera, did the weather and then sat in the announce booth and ran the place which consisted of loading up slides over which I read commercials and ran film of programs like "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show" and "Mule Train".



At 11PM I read a 15 minute newscast over a slide that said CFJC-TV CHANNEL 4. The only really interesting thing that happened in my short tenure in Kamloops was when I decided to do the 11PM News 'Live'. I bundled some newspapers together – made a form resembling a human shape, sat it on top of about a dozen 14 inch film boxes balanced on top of the announce booth's wobbly secretary-type chair, then set up by focusing the camera on the newspaper figure from the main studio through the window to the A/B. At 11PM, from atop the stacked film boxes I'd reach behind me and pulled the switcher, face the audience and read the News.



One evening, while groping behind me for the switcher at the end of the 'cast, the film boxes collapsed and me with them -- accompanied by a lot of racket. I remember watching my foot flashing by in the announce booth monitor. To stop the clattering of the metal film boxes rolling around, I scrabbled for the mic, shut it off, composed myself and punched up the night's movie, "Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever" starring Mickey Rooney: to me an unforgettable film considering the circumstances.



About this time, spring of 1960, down in Vancouver at CFUN, PM drive DJ Dave McCormick -- who ran the stations highest-rated program: "The Coca Cola Hi-Fi Club" had successfully talked the Manager, Jack Sayers, and Sales Manager, Doug Gregg into over-ruling Program Director Terry Garner's fit-filled adamancy to continue playing Guy Mitchell and Teresa Brewer, and other such drudge for the times. Dave argued, successfully, that CFUN should expand the music featured on the Hi Fi Club and turn the station into a wall-to-wall rocker playing Elvis, Fats Domino, Connie Francis, Frankie Avalon, Del Shannon and Chubby Checker, et al.



This meant going up against CKWX whose format was also Rock but their franchise player, Red Robinson, had left for a better job in Portland, Oregon and 'WX's aging announce staff was playing music they hated, with lyrics like "Long tall Sally, she built sweet"; "Wop boppa loo bop a lop bam boom" and "shananana yipyipyipyip mummumumum… get a job".



At CFUN, Terry Garner flat out quit. In his farewell, he said he'd think of us but wouldn't be listening.



Dave brought in Brian Forst from CKLG, at that time an MOR station in North Vancouver, dubbed him "Frosty", and placed him in the teen slot, 6PM to Midnight; called me in Kamloops to come back and do the mid-day, 10AM to 2PM; kept his own Drive shift and hired Jerry Landa for over-nights.



Dave called Jordan "Happy Pappy" -- he was forever talking about his kids on the air; Forst dubbed 6'3" McCormick, "Big Daddy" and me "Baby Blue" – it was the eyes. I began referring to Jerry Landa as Jerry 'Lee' Landa – I was always a big fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, still am. So we all had nick names and called ourselves "The Swingin' Men at 1410", informally known as "The Good Guys".



A "sounder" blasted out between news stories. Hal Rodd, the News Director who reminded me of Lowell Thomas, couldn't get the hang of the "sounder", ran out the door, screaming, after having read the last word in his ploddingly correct 'cast, heard in his 'phones the ear-shattering blast that introduces "Red River Rock" by Johnny and the Hurricanes. Ray Torgrud, a speed reader who sounded like he belonged at a tobacco auction took Hal's place and CFUN was off and running.



Well almost. We didn't have a jingle package. KJR, Seattle, run by Pat O'Day was the class of the North West's "Top 40" radio, as Rock stations were then known. We stole all KJR's jingles by having the Texas-based Production Company do us a package substituting KJR's lyrics for our own over the same music beds. There was a 50 mile protection area so KJR could have cared less. We had a "CFUN Flashback" and a "CFUN Twin-Pick Hit of the Week" (two potential hits instead of one … wow). We had a News Intro and a dozen or more station ID's -- "CFUN, 14-10" – bright, slow, cute, slick, and we ran them between every third or fourth record.



We talked over the instrumental intro to a song right up to the vocal (hitting the post). We called the temperature gauge the tongue-twisting "CFUN-ometer" We went on remotes, gave away records and began the advent, known as "thons". The first was a "Sound-a-thon" played at the end of December -- a countdown of the year's top 100 songs.



Al Jordan was chief announcer due to tenure and age, but it was McCormick who programmed the music that blasted out of transistors and car radios all over the city. Frosty used to have a gimmick where he'd announce "horn blowing time at the Drive Ins". You can imagine the effect.



And then we started to get really creative.
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