HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!
Ten years ago this week I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn't be
getting up at 4:00 AM. U2 played the Bell Centre and I couldn't go
straight home as wired as I was. Needed to unwind a little. Finally made
it home by two, dragging my ass into The Team 990 studio wondering if
my previously strong recuperative powers had suddenly left me in my
early 40's. Then I looked across the table at Ted Blackman who was
nearly 60. He had also been at the concert. But Ted would be gone in
less than a year and a half.
I think of Ted Blackman a lot these days. And Lee Hambleton, our first
GM who died in 2005. And George Balcan and Danny Gallivan and so many
other broadcasting greats who inspired me to join their wacky world.
What a treat it was to meet and work alongside so many of them,
especially Ted & Lee & George & Danny who were always so
supportive and helpful. I remember thinking many times that their words
of encouragement meant so much more to me than any ratings point. I was
I have a great deal of respect for almost anybody who works morning
radio. Personally I tried but couldn't do it. Even napping didn't help
my state of perpetual fatigue. So when a radio consultant - and a good
one - named Rick Scott told me that he thought the station would be
better off if I moved to the drive home slot, I was beyond relieved
(after initially feeling that I was being demoted). Almost born again,
you might say.
I honestly don't remember the exact date I changed shifts - Shaun Starr
probably does because that's when we split and he stayed in the AM - but
I did feel a seismic shift at the station. We had survived the toughest
parts-the initial launch, the attacks of 9/11 one week into out first
major Fall ratings period and the deaths of Ted and Lee. Cathy Newton
fled as far away from me as possible (3,000 miles west to Kelowna)
leaving me woman-less (professionally; if I had a dime for every damn
rumour spread about me and the wonderful women who helped me out I'd
have quit the station years ago) for the first time since the late
1980's. And then along came Andie.
Denis Casavant coming on board to join Elliott Price and Starr in the
morning was a pivotal moment. So was Tony Marinaro getting his own show.
Our sales department, led by Wayne Bews, never wavered.
We have, by a country mile, the best radio spots in the country, thanks to our creative department named Scott Saxon.
what I'm most proud of in 10 years on the air is the number of young
(and not so young) broadcasters we've developed at The Team 990
including Tony, Andie Bennett, PJ Stock, Rod Francis, Noel Butler, Conor
McKenna, Sean Campbell, Marco Campagna, Mitch Gallo, Ben Raby (now in
Washington), Gabriel Morency, Vinny Barrucco, Jimmy Spencer, Dave Simon,
Matthew Ross, Dwight Walton, Moe Khan, Dave Kaufman, Jessica Ruznak,
Amanda Stein and several others. If you're not sending young people out
into the work force then you've become stagnant and stale. We've had our
share of rough moments but we've been anything but stagnant or stale.
I've had a very good time at The Team 990. Most of it's been a lot of
fun. Don't know if I enjoyed anything more than the first of two seasons
in the broadcast booth working alongside Elliott on Expos broadcasts.
That was a blast. Kind of a flashback to the couple of years we shared a
living space (Pickwick Arms at 5010 Sherbrooke W.) and would provide a
running commentary on games we'd watch. Now we were actually getting
paid to do it (at least he was).
The Alouettes first Grey Cup since the 1970s was fun to cover,
especially the parade in the bitter cold on McGill College Avenue. Last
spring's run by the Habs had, it seemed, the entire city listening. Our
commitment to community has been especially strong over the last five
years including our participation in Hockey for the Homeless and our
first foray into large scale event planning that was our SPOY Awards
(Sports Personality of the Year) at Place D'Armes & Nelligan Hotels
in Old Montreal.
Most of all we owe a great deal of thanks to our clients, some of whom
have been around since May 2001, and especially our listeners, many of
whom have also been around since Day One. You're the best.
I havent seen U2 since that week in May 10 years ago. Lord knows I heard
enough with Ray Lalonde in charge of the "in-game experience" at the
Bell Centre. But it's time. I purchased some tickets for their highly
anticipated show at the Hippodrome originally set for last July. I've
been sitting on them for over a year. I know Shaun Starr will be next to
me. Might even keep a seat empty for Ted