Chapter 7 – CFUN – The Halcyon Days of the 80’s

Chapter 7 – CFUN – The Halcyon Days of the 80’s

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon May 06, 2013 7:41 am

For reasons that will be obvious – I am not about to talk about some of the antics us CFUN jocks got up to – one, because it is unfair of me to talk about events that involved my ‘brothers in arms’ – when they are not here to defend themselves.

I stayed at CFUN from the Spring of 1978 until 1986.

During the decade plus, I was lucky enough (due to Fred Latremouille’s kindness) to back him up on the Morning show, when he finally took over for good, in 1982, and Fred even gave me the chance to be his replacement “weatherman “on BCTV ‘s “News Hour – with Tony Parsons”.

I stunk. I went to Maui for a vacation (and fell in love with the Valley Isle – a love affair that continues to this day) – and came back to find that BCTV had Douglas Miller as the ‘fill in guy’. They didn’t bother letting me know – and that was fine with me.

I was well suited to being a jock. I would sit alone in a room, talking into a mike to an imagined audience. I have never been comfortable in crowds and at parties. I think that was one of the main reasons that I graduated from Junior drunk, to a full-blown alcoholic.

It’s a vicious “dis – EASE” – and I used the booze to hide my shyness and lack of social graces. It is also a progressive condition, which in the end nearly killed me.

This tome is not about booze – but I wanted to be honest with you. I was in trouble and I lived in denial (in AA we call DE Nile, as the largest River in Egypt).

CFUN afforded me the chance to meet great musicians, and hang with the plethora of excellent “record reps” of the era.
Lionel “Train” Wilson, Peter Taylor, the late Wolf Burandt, David Bryan, Dave Chesney, Monica Netupsky, Frank Gigliotti, andRay Ramsey wasthe crew that provided CFUN with the vinyl.

I really enjoyed the perks of the job. I got to know Gary Taylor, who ran a Strip club and Lounge, across from the Cave, on Hornby Street. (*Gary’s younger brother, Don, has had a sterling career, as a top flight Sportscaster).

The Cave was where I saw so many fine acts, including my idol, Roy Orbison. Remember I told you about how Darryl B. had a hard shell? During Roy singing “In Dreams” – I looked over, and tears were streaming down Darryl’s face. Like I said, a mush, under all the armor.

I was a huge fan of Blue Northern, led by the late Bily Cowsill, and one night at the Cave, Tanya Tucker was pounding the comp Champagne and she got up and jammed with the group. Stan Grozina, the Cave’s manager was as tough as nails – but was very nice to me.

ABBA, The Who, Dylan and a ton of other shows highlighted the 80’s.

I was not into Disco – but did my fair share of acting silly at the clubs, up and down Wasserman’s Beat. It was a lot of fun, but I paid the price.

Hangovers are not a lot of fun.

The only reason I managed to keep it together, career wise, was just by luck. I could never go on the air, with even one beer in my system – because I would slur my words. Thank goodness.

Never a fan of “Bolivian Marching Powder” – I confess to enjoying the odd fattie. I smoked cigarettes for yearsand I gave them up – but my lungs would have to handle the abuse for years before I finally got fed up.

I could spend six chapters talking about the people I worked with at CFUN. Freddie, Russ “Too Loud” McCloud, Jack Casey, Kathy Danford, J.J. Richards, Freddie, Jim Hault, Tom Lucas, Darryl B., Brian Lord, Robin Hagenbuck, Curtis Staples, the list is a mile long. I was so blessed to work with such talented people.

(Pat St. John and Neil Gallagher were two PD’s I toiled for, right up until the fall of 1986).

In 1982, I was divorced from Gail and wound up sharing my home on West 14th, with an old University bud named Alan Mann, and Wayne Blashill – two very fine people.

You might wonder what was the attraction of working as Radio Announcer, in the first place.

I loved it because it involved 1. Music 2. Uou made people’s day a little brighter (I hoped) 3. I got to work with some great people – and 4. It was a lot of FUN.

It was also a skillset that was constantly evolving. Everyday, new challenges, no heavy lifting, and no windows to wash.

With all that, sure there were negatives, as I talked about before. It was a capricious existence. You had zero job security – and if you were unfortunate enough to work for a martinet, it could be miserable.

I only worked with a few Program Directors that I didn’t like. Most were very nice to me and I have to say that I was treated – on reflection, very well. (*But underpaid).

Being a deejay, I also listened to people I respected and tried to learn things. One confession – in my 40 plus years, I never listened to the Station I worked for (the exception was Fred Latremouille, when we worked together).

My main influences were - Freddie - John “Records” Landecker, Larry Lujack, The “real” Don Steele, Red Robinson and Glenn Walters.

The reason I didn’t listen to the stations I worked for? I didn’t want to sound like the rest of the crew. It was too easy to slip into habits other Jocks had. I wanted to sound like no one else. Well, at least I tried.

At best, I was a fair jock, not great. I was lucky.

Meanwhile, I was living the life of a single man, for the first time in years.

I had a few runs at Club Med – and basically lived like a carefree goof. I got hooked on jogging. I would run every day – I was also one of the first people to buy a Mountain Bike, in Vancouver. West Point Grey Cycle – sold me a Specialized Stump jumper, in 1982, and I lived on the darn thing. I would go to work on the bike, which was great on the downhill run to CFUN, and an excellent workout up the hill back to Point Grey. I was in great shape, but was undermining it all with the party hearty lifestyle.

Then some sanity (or so I thought) came into my life.

A grad of Ryerson, Jo Ann Ramsey auditioned to be my Traffic Reporter in 1983, and quickly we fell into the deep end. My parents moved from Victoria to the house on West 14th – and Jo Ann and I took up residence at Shannon Mews, on Granville Street.

Jo Ann and I were married on Sept 15th 1986, in her hometown of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. Mahone Bay is a beautiful small town on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
The day after the wedding, we noticed that a thriving Fruit and Vegetable market was for sale, literally blocks from Jo Ann’s Family home. With Mr. Ramsey’s help – we got a loan and bought the place. I decided that my years of working as a produce boy for Loblaw’s (while in High School) was a perfect training ground for taking on this small business. Talk about impulsive.

When I got back to Vancouver, I walked into Paul Ski’s office and resigned. I thought my Radio career was over, and while Jo Ann stayed back in Nova Scotia, to learn the business from the old owners - I started to pack up our meagre belongings, with the help of my best pal, Phil Mackesy. I was ready to take my stuffed U-Haul, solo – right across the Country to a new life. Phil got my huge record collection, for his help, and I was ready to go.

Or so I thought.

BUT – events at CHUM’s Halifax Station were about to throw me a curve.
Tom Jeffries
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