Chapter 4 – CFUN Returns to Kitsilano

Chapter 4 – CFUN Returns to Kitsilano

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon May 06, 2013 7:29 am

The Program Director, Simon Ginsberg, of CKVN - was having a heck of a time trying to get any traction for our joint.

We had a couple of disasters, on the promo front. For some reason, Simon decided to have a concert at the Band Shell, on Beach Avenue, in Vancouver.

All well and good – but – you have to get the requisite City approval letters, et al. We had none. We had a few loud bands lined up – and we promoted the fur off the sucker.

Come the day of the show – West End residents were greeted with a wail of badly played guitars and an unholy racket was echoing, as far as Stanley Park.

I, like an idiot, was signed up as MC. Oops.

As the first band hit about song 5 – two Cop Cars showed up, and two really angry Cops started right towards where I was standing.

I had my CKVN shirt on. I don’t recall where Simon was. The Cops told me in rather salty language that they had been deluged with complaints – “Pull the Plug NOW – or you will be arrested”. Uh, that got my attention.

So much for that promotion – as I promised the nice Policemen that we would never do this again,plus abject apologies, and I even did some more groveling.

Then there was the brilliant “Win Tickets to see the Rolling Stones” at the Pacific Coliseum.

The Stones had been one of my favorite groups since seeing them on their first tour of Canada.

So how did we do this ticket giveaway?

We gave out hourly clues as to where the two ducats were hidden.

Since we were a Kits station – we hid the tickets at the Locomotive that (at the time) was displayed on Kits Beach (Now at the Roundhouse in Yaletown).

After basically giving the exact location, we were sitting waiting for someone to show up. Simon assured me we would be mobbed. Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes passed = and nary a soul.

Wait – look – here comes a longhaired dude and his scruffy girlfriend. They won the tickets.

What a waste. Think it clearly showed that we didn’t have a ton of people exactly busting their fingers, tuning us in.

It’s been many years, and as my memory serves, that was the last act of a PD that was about to go back to making tee shirts for a living.

Meanwhile, at 1900 West Fourth – something was up, you could feel it.

The station was sold to CHUM Western Ltd. (a division of CHUM Limited) on January 1, 1973, and regained the CFUN calls on September 30.

Chuck McCoy was dispatched from CHUM to run the circus.

When Chuck took over, it was like a hurricane.

Everyone got along – Chuck was one of the best teachers of the art of being a radio announcer that I had ever met. He was supportive, knew what it took to grab the listener and he also made you feel that you were part of the best team in the World.

With the Change to CFUN – things really started to cook.

I was working all nights – and found a small apartment on West Fifth and so, I could literally, walk down the hill to work.

Kits in the Seventies, while a shadow of its Hippy Glory days of the Sixties, was still full of small houses, longhairs and lots of pungent smoke.

CFUN had many HUGELY successful promotions.

To kick off the return to CFUN – we pulled out all the stops.

This was the birth of “The Phrase That Pays”.

When the Call signs switched – CFUN offered a $5000.00 prize to anyone who answered the phone “CFUN is BACK” – and knew the magic word “participation”.

This was a slick idea – and McCoy used a very clever trick to make sure we got the maximum bang for the buck.

CFUN hired people to make phone calls – and if someone answered

with the phrase that pays, they hung up and wrote down the number.

So – in effect – we knew what numbers were HOT.

Well – it didn’t take long – and after a brilliant two hour retrospective of CFUN (voiced expertly by Mike Cleaver) – we started making calls.

The whole staff was there when a guy answered with the phrase -slightly garbled, because one his friends picked up the extension – but – he knew the secret word and had the phrase that pays and BOOM –our first Five Grand check was on it’s way.

Chuck then started a regular “Phrase that pays” – answer the phone with – “I Listen to CFUN” and win a thousand bucks.

It was huge.

The FUN STICKER – was a Round white Decal you put on your rear window. If CFUN spotted you – we’d call out the License number, and you had a short window, where the listener could call in and claim some cash, too.

The Fun Sticker, like “The Phrase that Pays”, was a huge success.

CKLG, our AM competition knew that the tong wars had started – and boy – the market heated up. All because of a dynamo named McCoy.

I still count my CFUN experience as some of my most joy filled days.

Sure all nights were a grind - but Kits was magic in 1973-4.

I have many regrets about CFUN.

Why didn’t I take pictures?

Why didn’t I save air checks (because we always thought there was tomorrow – but that comes to an end a lot quicker than you can imagine).

Talk to lots of jocks and most will tell you the same thing.

For all my years in Radio, I have a few minutes of me on the air at CFUN, and that’s it.

(Cue up “Those Were the Days” – by Mary Hopkin).

LOL. You get the idea – we thought the CFUN days would last forever.

In 1974 – I got a call from a guy named Paul Ski – the new PD at Ottawa’s CFRA – the top station in the Nation’s Capitol, at the time.

I agreed to fly back to Ottawa and meet with Paul. I had spent three different stints in Ottawa, as a kid. My Father was in the RCN – and so we would be posted to Ottawa, and then back to Victoria – I graduated from Ridgemont High School, in 1967 – so this was sort of my old home turf.

It was a no brainer.

My new wife, Gail and I arrived in Ottawa in the middle of a snowstorm of biblical proportions – (*poor Gail – a Vancouver girl, was horrified).

CFRA – the home of Ken “The General” Grant (Morning legend) – talk show genius Lowell Green – and in the evening, CFRA would have a switch to Rock and Roll – with the “Campus Club for Coca-Cola”.

Coke rarely sponsored shows – just to give you an idea how big time CFRA was.

The first hour of my 7-10 PM show was Coke sponsored – and then the sold out log was crammed.

My Operators – David Galbraith and Bruce “Fingers” Panton, became like brothers.

Boy I had a tough job.

I sat in the studio, and cued the op and the rest was his worry.

It was the best way to jock – although I took great pride in the fact that I could run the audio board, as well as anyone.

Running a broadcast board is, as mentioned earlier, like keeping plates spinning in the air.

Since I was music crazy – I was in heaven.

My best pal was Bill Gauvreau – the writer/recording artist with “Octavian”. We still keep in touch. Talented as heck – Bill’s Family literally adopted Gail and I. They were so generous. I’m forever in their debt.

Working at CFRA included other duties.

We used to have the CFRA Community Cruiser during the day and I would have to drive around, with our Promotion Manager – and do cut ins on the phone – telling CFRA listeners to bring a bottle of coke to the Van first and win.

I met a lot of great listeners.

When I look back at it – I worked 6-7 day weeks.

Two weeks off a year. (*All this work earned me the princely sum of $1000.00 a month).

Ottawa was a great learning experience. The ratings were through the roof, and all of a sudden I realized that I might just have a shot at the Holy Grail of every Canadian jock – a gig in Toronto.

Little did I know that a friend from my CFUN days, and University – Clint Nickerson was about to step back into my life.

Clint was a top Newsman for Roger’s flamethrower in Toronto – 680 CFTR.

I was about to find out what PRESSURE was!

In 1976 -The Toronto Radio War between CFTR and CHUM was heating up, and I was about to step into the breech.
Tom Jeffries
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