Part 4

"Memories of nearly 50 years in the Biz"

Part 4

Postby radiofan » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:09 am

Part Four of My Good Old Days in Radio

Illegal Parking, Breaks and Goofs, Jingles and Green

By Brian Lord


This incident happened 48 years ago and there is more than one version. However I was there, on the spot and I'm just gonna tell it the way I remember it and if any of the other DJ's at CFUN remember it differently well what can I say, we're all getting old.

On occasion Dave McCormick, Frosty Forst and I used to go down to this popular American beer joint -- a place called The Breakers at Point Roberts where young people from 18 to 30 used to drink American draft beer in big pitchers and dance to live bands. Washington State had a few such places that existed by servicing beer-swilling kids (and cared not one bit about how they got home). Bob's Tavern was another one just south of Blaine.


On a Saturday night McCormick, and I and I'm pretty sure Brian Forst and our dates were on our way down to The Breakers. I was usually on-air on Saturday night but I was on vacation and Andy Laughlin, our part-time, fill-in DJ was on the air and knew we were heading to the Breakers and also knew about where we would be, casually made the single, short comment: "Dave McCormick, Frosty Forst and Brian Lord are all up at Woodwards Oakridge Parking lot". We weren't. But we soon arrived and there were perhaps a dozen cars driving around aimlessly and more arriving by the minute. Dave and I got on the pay telephone to Andy and said "Put us on the air." We told all the car drivers, by this time there were forty, give or take, to form a semi circle, turn their radios up full blast, leave their lights on and get out and dance on Woodward's parking lot tarmac.



This lasted maybe ten minutes until the police arrived -- alerted to the racket by the neighbours in the area. We got shut down. The C-FUN Good Guys sneaking away like everybody else. We headed for the Breakers expecting to hear no more about this. But we were hauled in to the manager, Jack Sayers's office on Monday and reamed out like codfish – literally gouged by the wrath of Sayers who had "heard" from Woodwards and made to understand their parking lot was not a bloody dance hall. The meeting collapsed into chaos however when Sales Manager Doug Gregg announced that he'd been trying to get Woodwards on the air for months and this just might have done the trick. Apparently Woodwards also realized that C-FUN had considerable drawing power.

--

Toni Fisher, a one-hit wonder, recorded this song "The Big Hurt" and the producer had used some method of echo sound that came and went called (I think) "phasing" and Big Daddy, our music guru was just gassed. It was done by playing two records simultaneously and they phased each other out. The song had "hit" written all over it. We had an exclusive and there was only one copy in town. Dave was playing it in the library and Al Jordan was mesmerized. When it ended Al picked it off the turntable slapped it on the counter and said something like "Gee Whiz what a momentous record … ohh golly" In his exuberance he broke the precious 45RPM single into three pieces. I was on the air and Dave brought it in and told me the whole story, the phasing, the one copy and Al's handy work but that he, Dave, and Mike Powley our Music Librarian had done their best to fix it. There was half a roll of scotch-tape on the flip side. "It plays but ya can tell it's busted". We played it anyway, clicking away, till we could get a replacement. I think Jordon cried.

--

Terry Garner who programmed C-FUN in its MOR days thought DJ's should stay unseen and cover themselves with some kind of "aura of the unknown". That fell apart when Top 40 took over; C-FUN DJ's were introducing acts, doing remotes and making appearances – more often than not it would be Jordan, Breakfast -- and McCormick, Afternoon Drive. For reasons I shouldn't have to explain, the all-night DJ had the least exposure. Few people ever saw him; the station was locked at night and he didn't do personal appearances to speak of and so Jerry Landa, C-FUN, midnight to 6AM, was seen by hardly anybody. Overnighters are mushroom people -- they live upside down -- sleep in the day, work all night and in our case Jerry was really like the bottom part of the hour glass -- he had a beard but no hair. Nevertheless every Saint Patrick's Day, Jerry 'Lee' Landa dyed his beard green. And told people about it on the air. I always thought it was kind of like broadcasting a parade on radio – sound but no colour. Nevertheless we all talked it up on C-FUN anyway. I'm not sure he doesn't still dye it, I should ask him.

--

Our "C-FUN 14-10" jingle package was recorded by this jingle house in Texas called PAMS. (Don't ask what it stands for, 42 years remember?). When it arrived, Brian Forst and I went down to the Canada Customs Complex to pick up the package -- the cost of which had run us something like 15,000 dollars. It was top of the shelf stuff and even today would stand the test of time. Of course we had to get it out of Customs. So this Customs officer (all important with a white captain's hat and a uniform) opens the package and out falls a 15 minute plastic reel, half full of ¼" tape with all our jingles and sounders and what not in different tempos and keys recorded on it.

The Customs man asks "What have we got here"? Frosty says "its recording tape" in a tone of voice that sounded bored and disappointed as if he'd said "Geez… more of THAT crap". Mr. Customs Man did not ask if it contained a recording. He opened his giant book and finds recording tape and after figuring we had received a ridiculously small amount of the stuff charged us about $2.97, stuffed it back in its package, had us sign some papers and we were gone. He should have charged us a few thousand dollars duty and taxes but what did he know? Frosty had saved C-FUN all our salaries for a month, maybe two.

--

Red Robinson, who had a Saturday afternoon gig on CJOR, was the first DJ to play Rock 'n' Roll. Jack Cullen and Monty McFarlane hated the stuff so Red became the voice of teenage Vancouver. He soon left CJOR and went to CKWX bringing a new programming format with him and 'WX began playing Rock 24/7. Not long afterwards, Red left Vancouver for Portland and was on air in Oregon when C-FUN kicked off in the spring of 1960.

It was our habit at C-FUN to record all the stars that came into the station for interviews to say "Hi, this is (Chubby Checker) and you're listening to my favorite station, C-FUN 14-10". On vacation from Portland, Red dropped in one day and we asked him to do our stock "star" recording bit ... after all Red was still well known in town. Well known enough that about a year later he came back to 'WX to boost their sagging ratings. Right or wrong -- on Red's first day back on air at 'WX, Dave, meaning no malice and just fooling around, played Red saying "Hi this is Red Robinson etc etc." Red freaked. Incensed he wrote a column in the Sun . He saw no humour in it and flatly refused to attend Dave's upcoming wedding stag. I remember calling Red apologizing for the incident, saying it was meant in fun and let it be water under the bridge. Red came to the stag. Dave got married a few nights later. Nobody died.

--

Phil Needham at the Vancouver Sun used to call Al Jordon "What's your favorite sandwich?". Why? check in my next radiowest session.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Part 4

Postby Glen Livingstone » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:20 pm

I've really been enjoying Brian Lord's "My Good Old Days in Radio" columns here on RadioWest.

It's stories like these from Brian and other board contributors (Mike Cleaver, cArtie) that make it all worthwhile.

I would encourage other members of this board who worked in radio during those fun years to post their own reminiscences.

In the meantime, thank you Brian Lord for your great stories; more please!
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Re: Part 4

Postby Jack Bennest » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:27 pm

Agreed Mr. P

Brian L. is a great asset and I have asked him to do his best in getting Brian Forst, Dave M. and others to
reminisce in some form and get those memories on these pages.
They will ultimately end up on a great web site I know.
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Re: Part 4

Postby Russ_Byth » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:53 pm

Yup this is great stuff. Only worked with Brian for a couple of years in the late 80's when WX made the move from Burrard to Ash. Quite frankly, I knew he had been in Vancouver a long time, but had no idea how rich it was until I started reading these stories. Awesome!
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Re: Part 4

Postby segueking2 » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:11 pm

RB: You are right on.

We all have some fun stories, and Brian is one excellent writer.

Good job.....
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Re: Part 4

Postby Steve Sanderson » Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:15 pm

Keep the stories coming! They are a great read!
:D
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Re: Part 4

Postby Firedog » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:09 pm

As a newer member to the Radio West site, and this being my first post, I feel compelled to congratulate Brian Lord for his wonderful stories from his C-FUN days. Many of us who were youngsters and teens in the 50's and 60's listened to the local radio stations faithfully every day and were amazed at some of the "stunts" pulled off by the DJ's. I remember sitting on the roof of our house in the early 1960's, having borrowed a pair of binoculars from a friend, in hopes of seeing Fujikami being sent up in a balloon. Gullable, yes! But it sounded so real.

Many other stunts have been forgotten as time passes by. Thank you Mr. Lord, Brian, for bringing these stories back from the past. The Radio West site is a much richer place for your contributions. I do hope that the other great DJ's from CKWX, C-FUN, CKLG and even CKVN join in to bring their recollections to us. Far too many of you have gone on to the great radio station in the sky too soon. There is nothing today to compare with how you all entertained us during what I consider as the best days of radio. Hoping to hear from you all soon.
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Re: Part 4

Postby cart_machine » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:00 pm

Pluto wrote:I've really been enjoying Brian Lord's "My Good Old Days in Radio" columns here on RadioWest.

It's stories like these from Brian and other board contributors (Mike Cleaver, cArtie) that make it all worthwhile.


Alas, Pluto, I don't post my own experiences, just a bunch of old notes about people before my time, and I haven't even had time to do that lately. And no one really wants to read about me anyway.

I had the good fortune to work with Brian at CHRX and have greatly enjoyed his reminiscences here. We never did talk about his early days and I've never heard any of this stuff.

Jerry L., as far as I know, doesn't dye his beard green any more. He isn't in the best of health and has a hell of a time climbing the stairs to the box at Nat Bailey, but I suspect I'll run into him a couple of times there over the summer.

I wish he were here. His story of how he got fired at CKDA in the '50s is priceless. Now people only get fired in format changes. Zzzz. How times have changed.

c. Arthur Machine
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Re: Part 4

Postby mightymouth » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:20 pm

Thank you Baby Blue, for sharing more of the good old days of radio in this town. Did Jack Cullen ever write down any of his old stories of the early days of radio in Vancouver? He was a classic too. The original "rebel" on the radio. The CFUN Good Guys, and the LG Boss Jocks that followed were really something. Does anyone remember Mad Mel, and how he was brought into town in a cage on a trailer pulled behind a truck. How about the "screamer" Stevie Wonder! Not the singer, but Stevie Grossman, disc jockey, who I think ended up back in Montreal in the recording business. We've had some greats, but the early days with Big Daddy, Happy Pappy, Frosty, Baby Blue and Jerry Lee will stand as classics and will never be forgotten by those who witnessed. Radio was still in its infancy even in the late 50's and early 60's, which to some doesn't seem that long ago. Keep the stories coming Brian.
Don't count the days, make the days count.
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