Chapter 6 – CHUM Comes Calling

Chapter 6 – CHUM Comes Calling

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon May 06, 2013 7:38 am

I spent nearly two years at CFTR. The radio Station, on King and Adelaide, gave me a real chance to experience “The Big Smoke” from all angles. I liked the City, but found it hard to meet and make friends there.

First thing people would ask me was invariably “which school did you go to” – and when I didn’t come up with a Toronto-centric answer, I found their eyes would glaze over, and I would get ‘the look’.

For some reason I was always treated like some kind of interloper.

The climate in Toronto is terrible. It’s unbearably hot in the summer and you can freeze salmon for the other six months of the year.

The pace was hectic – and CFTR was a demanding mistress.

I liked some ofmy co-workers, in particular, Bob Saint, Bobby Day and Glenn Walters and my ops – but Red Knight and the rest of the staff were standoffish at best.

Working evenings – 6-9 – and mornings on Saturday’s, while my wife supplemented my lousy pay, working for a clothing store, didn’t leave much room for fun.

I spent a lot of spare time playing squash (learning from Ladies World Champ, Heather McKay), and I was still a racquetball freak. I think the heavy exercise regime, I started in Ottawa, probably assuaged the ravages of my ‘party lifestyle”.

I went back to Vancouver in 1978, for a quick visit with in-laws and my family, in Victoria, and when I returned to CFTR, a new PD had been installed – Tom McLean.

He also changed my shift from 6-9 PM to 10 PM – 2 AM, and I was really upset. I had worked my guts out for Rogers and they treated me like garbage (*a common trait in the Industry) – and so I lost all passion for the Station and I could have cared less if they blew up. It was all I could do to not punch Mclean out. Thanks a BUNCH!

Ah, but I got my revenge.

The phone rang one Sunday and it was J. Robert Wood, the genius that made the 1050 CHUM engine run like a sleek Corvette - “How would you like to go back to CFUN, Tom?”

It took me a moment to process this. I asked him to repeat what he just said – “Tom – your ratings have always given us a run for the money and we wonder if you would like to join CFUN’s new PD – Darryl B. and do noon to three for us?

I looked at my wife and told her what Bob had just said – she lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Well Bob, I have a new contract with CFTR, but to be honest I would be thrilled to get back home – but what do we do to get me out of the CFTR legal snare?”

He said “Leave that to us”. I was told I wouldn’t even have to pack – that CHUM would pay for my move, even the car would be shipped gratis – and when could I start?

I said, “How about three weeks” from now?”

Bob, said he would get the CHUM lawyers on the case and he would be in touch on Monday.

On Tuesday of that week – I called Mclean and said I wanted a meeting at 4 PM. He was kind of taken aback – “about what”, he said, with his usual smarmy sincerity.

“You’ll find out, McLean” I said, and hung up.

Next day, I took the subway to King and Bloor and walked over to “Faulty Towers” and took the ride up to the eleventh floor.

I walked up to McLean’s open Office door.

“Tom – (as I handed him a three line letter of resignation, in my terrible handwriting) – “this is my two week notice – get yourself another patsy”.

He sputtered and went red “But you have a contract”. I said with a smile – “Just wait for the call from CHUM. If you wish, you can release me now and get some other jock to fill my shift – your call”.

He asked “why”. I told him with as much control as I could “ All I did was give you monster ratings and worked my face off for you and I get rewarded with a demotion to the middle of the night – I can’t and won’t work for you anymore”.

He was red with rage. He started to say something, and I just held up my hand and said, “Save your energy, I’m done with you and this whole place”.

I walked over to Chuck Camroux’s office and asked his Secretary if I could have a moment.

He was surprised to see me. I shook his hand, and said, “Thanks for giving me the chance to work here in Toronto, but Mclean has my resignation. You have a choice. Keep me on the air for the two weeks, or let me go now”.

I told him I held no animosity towards him, or Keith Dancy – but I think McLean had treated me like garbage and I wanted out.

He was shocked, and mentioned the contact. I told him the same thing I told McLean.

This was the first time in my entire 40 plus year career that I finally got a chance to do things on my terms. I felt like I was getting out of jail.

Jocks are treated like crap. You never knew when you were going to get blown out, a format change could change your life in a nonce, and basically I always felt management thought we had it easy. OK smartass – see how YOU do with a pile of records and six-day weeks for charwoman money.

Most of the PD’s I worked with, I liked and respected. McLean was an exception, and I never spoke with him again.

Chuck Camroux was always good to my Wife and me – and I would miss Bob Saint and my two ops – Carlo and Dave, jocks Bobby Day, Rick Hunter and Glenn Walters – but I was on to a new adventure, and I could not wait to get out of the Station.

We jumped on a jet and I arrived in Vancouver to our rapturous families and a new challenge – with a PD, that was not only a great Broadcaster, but also a good friend.

[NOTE: Sadly, Darryl died of a stroke in 2001, after the news of his passing of his good friend, Rick Honey * more on that later]. B. was charged with taking on CKLG. He was already on the Coast and the Station was cooking with gas.

CFUN had a heck of a lineup in the spring of 1978.

6-9 a.m. - JIM HAULT
9 a.m.-12 noon - BOB MERCHANT
12 noon-3 p.m. - CHED MILLER – (* Sorry, Ched – but I took his gig)
3-6 p.m. - BOB MAGEE
6-9 p.m. - TOM LUCAS
9 p.m.-12 midnight - RUSS McCLOUD
RICH KELLY (Ellwood) (Swing and weekend mornings; ROSS CARLIN (Swing)

Our music Director was a sweetie named Clara Carotenuto and we had a great newsroom – with Bob Ireland, and many other killers.

I was HOME. I felt like I had won the lottery – and I got a nice bump from my Toronto Salary.

Darryl was very supportive, but within a few weeks problems started to raise their ugly head, and I found out that the promised five-day week – was actually back to six days, and things got frosty between me, and Darryl.

Gail and I found a basement suite on West 19th in Pt. Grey and we settled in, if somewhat uneasily.

Three months after the move, my Dear Gran passed, and we moved into her home on West 14th and Sasamat. We rented it from my Father, for a song.

My Parents had always been there for me, and although my siblings, Jim and Alison lived in Victoria, like they did, at least we were closer.

CFUN was a great station – and I am woe to say this – but Burlingham was a far better jock than a PD.

He didn’t last long.

Big changes were in the wind. One afternoon, the Control room door opened up – and in walked Paul Ski – my old PD from CFRA.

Mr. Ski had been sent to Vancouver, by Fred Sheratt - (The Chum henchman) – to clean up the Darryl B. debacle, and to help get the Station back on track.

It worked like a charm.
Tom Jeffries
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