Windchill, You Say?

I heard the silliest thing on 680 News this morning.

The weather person, whose name I didn’t catch, said “it’s currently 13 degrees, but with the windchill it feels like 11.”

What? Windchill? When it’s that warm and the numbers are that close together? If it’s currently 13 and the windchill is making it feel like it’s 2 or 5 or something, that I care about. But 13 feeling like 11? Is anyone even going to notice that? Maybe someone has and went to the CBSC to force them to talk about it, but man, it seems goofy to even mention it.

Some Radio Retirements

Seriously, I’m getting old. The last few years have really driven that home. Everyone I grew up on seems to either be retirement age or dead now.

New to the retirement pile is Eddie Matthews, who has spent the last two decades or so as the morning guy at CJCS or Juice FM or whatever they’re calling it these days, but who I remember best from his time doing evenings at FM 96 in London during the 80s and 90s. He doesn’t hold the record (that belongs to either Joe Bowen or Tom Cheek I’m pretty sure), but for a while there his voice was quite often the last one I’d hear before falling asleep at night. He’s getting out of what’s left of the radio business to become the general manager of the Stratford and District Chamber of Commerce.

And then there’s Darryl Dahmer, who has announced his retirement from CFTR, where he had been doing traffic reports since 1973. My first memories of him and the also retired Russ Holden are as a very small child hearing them on my transistor radio and marveling at how cool it was that they got to fly helicopters and be on the radio at the same time.

I also learned something while I read a few articles about the two of them. Apparently the call letters CFTR stand for “Canada’s First Ted Rogers”. Makes sense, I guess.

Unfortunately, I do have to round this out by mentioning a dead guy. Doug Cameron, who did news in Hamilton for years before winding up his career on CKPC in Brantford, passed away a couple of weeks ago. I remember him best from his time at 820 CHAM. His voice always makes me think of driving around with my folks. I didn’t care for much of the country music CHAM played, but they had quite a few voices I was drawn to, including his.

For More On These Annoyances, Turn On A Radio

Yes I’m an old man and yes times are changing, but I don’t care. And I know that it probably makes things more efficient and a little easier on a few people to do this the way it’s done now, but I don’t much care about that, either.

If you’re a radio station and you’re broadcasting during some sort of weather event or the like, maybe talk about the damn thing instead of trying to shepherd us all to your poorly designed website or begging us to hit up your Twitter. If there are schools closed and buses cancelled, tell me which ones they are. You’re the radio. Telling me things is kind of your fucking job. It used to be, at any rate. Whatever your job is, I’m coming to you because I’d like the sorts of information that you’ve been giving me mostly reliably for generations and I either can’t or don’t wish to get it elsewhere.

Maybe I’m in that admittedly shrinking group of people that doesn’t have internet access. Maybe I usually have internet access but the weather has knocked it out. Maybe I’m in the car and don’t want to drive into a tree or up the ass of a big rig while I dick with your Facebook page trying to find the frigging storm centre.

Really, it doesn’t matter what my reasons are. The point is that I came to you because I’m supposed to be able to do that. Most of you advertise yourselves that way. “Number one source for local news and information” is a pretty popular phrase in your world. So how about actually being that? It’s a whole lot more useful than this shrunken Spotify with commercials thing most of you have got going on.

I especially expect better from our local CBC. They generally do a fine job with their morning show, but this is one area they could certainly tighten up. The storm page is a nice supplement to your regular coverage, but it’s not a replacement for it. Nobody aside from Bob Wilson is going to give much of a shit if you have to bump the special feature on Bob Wilson’s coin collection in favour of running down immediately relevant local happenings live on air.

And while I’m here and talking about areas that CBC Radio One could tighten up, if you’re going to play a song, please play the whole thing. There’s nothing worse than hearing a new song, deciding I may like it and then having it cut off as the host openly tells me that “there’s just a bit of…” If you don’t have time to play it, don’t play it.

Thank you.

Dear People Who Put Newscasts Together:

Can you do us a favour and not play audio related to somebody famous before telling us why? I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but that’s kind of become the signal that the person has died. CBC World Report started playing Never Surrender this morning and for a good five seconds I was certain something bad had happened to Corey Hart. Fortunately nothing has unless going into the Juno Hall of Fame is somehow not good, but we really didn’t need the scare especially given how absolutely shitty the last few years have been on the celebrity death front.

Congratulations, Corey! Good to hear you’re alive and well.

CKWR Gets To Live And A Better Plan For Christmas Music

We had to pick a new morning radio station today. Our usual stop, CKWR, has made the flip to all Christmas for its daily hosted music blocks and automation as of December 1st. The specialty shows are free to do their own thing, but that doesn’t do us much good when it’s six A.M. and we need something listenable to get us going. We went with the Kitchener version of CBC Radio One or “the useful CBC” as we like to call it, in case you’re interested. We call it that because it’s filled with news and information with a bit of music thrown in, as opposed to Radio Two which is also enjoyable but basically the opposite.

As for CKWR, we’ll see them in January, I guess. And yes, we will get to see them in January. Their broadcasting license has been spared, for now. They’re good until August 31st, 2020. I hope they can keep their shit together, because it would be a shame to lose one of the few independent media voices we have left, even if they’re overdoing it with the damn Christmas music.

At least unlike some folks they had the decency to wait until December began. It’s still way too much, but starting up in November or even late October like some stations do is far worse. I know it’s done because it’s supposedly good for ratings, but I’ll never be convinced that the bump isn’t attributable to people being held hostage by offices and retail stores. Even if you like Christmas music, do you like it that much? I like beer and cotton candy, but that doesn’t mean I want nothing but those two things for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at all points in between for 60 to 90 consecutive days.

I’m not one of those people who hates any and all Christmas music. In fact, a couple days a year I’m good with it and will even seek it out. But once we get beyond that point I range anywhere from a little testy to ready and willing to strangle someone with a wreath. For me, Christmas on the radio is done best when you start sprinkling it into the rotation at the start of December but hold off on going all Christmas until Christmas Eve. You can keep it up on Christmas Day obviously and I’ll even give you Boxing Day because it might as well be Christmas. But after that, it’s time to start slowing it down again and phasing it out entirely by January 2nd. That’s much more reasonable than literally driving people mental with it in the name of a few extra dollars.

Radio Waterloo, A Documentary About The Creation Of Community Radio Here And In Canada

I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but since I’ve seen it recommended in a couple of places that are generally pretty good about recommending these sorts of things and because let’s be honest, odds are it was going up anyway, enjoy this documentary on the history and struggles of community radio in Waterloo Region.

Radio Waterloo is the story about the advent of community radio in Canada as told by the people who struggled to create it. The story follows Radio Waterloo (later known as CKMS) and CKWR through the development stages in the 1960’s, until now, 2017. You will hear from DJs from the early days of Radio Waterloo provide details about how Radio Waterloo was established, others provide insights from the University of Waterloo referendum which left CKMS without funding, and then current DJs share how these events have led to the current format and state of the station. Join us as we re-live the painful dedication of local DJs who fought to keep the community voice heard on FM radio.

This documentary also includes performances by local indie and established bands who have been featured on CKMS, and proudly boasts an original soundtrack created by Canadian musicians specifically for this project. Some of the collaborators include:

Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, The Mounties), Brad Merritt (54-40), Ian Somers (Limblifter), Brad Weber (Caribou, Pick a Piper), and many more.

I’ve only ever listened to CKMS a handful of times because it’s damn near impossible to pull in anywhere I’ve ever lived so has unfortunately mostly been off my radar, but CKWR, with its significantly better reach, is a station I’ve listened to somewhat regularly since I was a kid thanks to the wide variety of programming it offers. Hopefully they’ll both be around for many years to come, even though the struggles continue. Real, honest to god local radio has always been important, but in this era of everything being consolidated, homogenized and voice-tracked to hell, we can’t afford to have our already limited choices limited even more.

Happy Belated Birthday, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

I’m not quite 100 percent sure that this was the very first thing ever aired on CBC radio, but if not, it’s close. It’s Chairman Leonard Brockington’s welcome message to listeners from November 4th, 1936, two days after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation replaced what had been known as the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, which had existed since 1932.

To mark the occasion, the CBC Archives has put together a collection of photos, audio and info about some of the early programming. The royals and the dance lessons are neat little pieces of history, but I was most interested in the bit about the war and the news service. Not because I’m a war buff, but because I’ll never not be impressed by the ability of journalists and engineers to send timely reports from war zones using 1930s and 40s technology.

September 1939 brought the start of the Second World War, and with that, the news programming of the CBC expanded considerably.

An overseas program unit accompanied the first troops overseas in December 1939, and on Jan. 1, 1941, the CBC News Service was established. 
An article in the program schedule for January 1942 justified the dedication of 20 per cent of broadcasting hours to news, due to “the most tremendous drama in the world’s history” unfolding “in the daily chronicling of the news.”

Matthew Halton was one of the overseas correspondents who brought the news of the war to Canadians at home.

His description of the Allied battle for Carpiquet, in July 1944 is characteristic of his style, with vivid descriptions of his surroundings as well as of the attack.  
“This is the morning we waited for,” Halton told Canadian listeners back home. “A morning in France, a morning in which the fair fields in Normandy are torn and ripped and split apart.”

It is also an illustration of the many recording feats of the engineers who were part of the overseas unit. 
The 1944 edition of the CBC staff magazine called Radio has a description by recording engineer Alex McDonald of the recording he made with Halton.

In the magazine, McDonald — shown in the photo above — recounts choosing a stone hen coop as an observation post, and the sound of chickens and ducks that squawked at their intrusion. He ran wires out to the battery of the jeep, his source of power. He recorded the barrage of Canadian guns, and that recording was quickly short-waved to Canada and played over CBC News Roundup.

So happy birthday, CBC. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Whether you use it daily or curse it every time you think about your tax dollars going to pay for stupid gardening shows and special interest propaganda, every one of us is better off in some way because of it. No other outlet in Canada has done more to keep us in touch with our country and our world than the CBC has, and at a time when so many things around us are changing faster than ever, a healthy CBC is as important now as it may have ever been.

Bob Cole Is Leaving Hockey Night In Canada Because Television Executives Kind Of Suck

Bob Cole is 85-years old and has been calling hockey games in one place or another for 50 years. He is, for a lot of us, the voice of hockey. The one we grew up with. the one who has always been there. The one with whom we’ve spent more nights than we can possibly count.

Sadly, this year his run comes to an end.

Bob Cole will return to the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast booth for a 50th and final season.
Sportsnet says Cole, 85, is scheduled to call 10 games, starting with the Montreal-Pittsburgh matchup Saturday, Oct. 6. The network says the games will all be in the first half of the 2018-19 season.

“There are so few broadcasters and voices in sport that transcend the way Bob’s has over the last half a century and we are honoured to have him call this last season for Sportsnet on Hockey Night in Canada,” said Scott Moore, president, Sportsnet & NHL Properties, in a release. “Bob is a true professional in this industry and he will pour his heart and soul into these games, focusing on doing the job that he loves and delivering the call to our hockey audiences from coast-to-coast.”

Those are some nice words, but boy oh boy do they ever come off as completely insincere.

First of all, only ten games? You’re not even giving the guy a full season? And they’re all in the first half? A legend like this, assuming he wants to, should be able to go out calling as many games as he’d like up to and including one last Stanley Cup final.

But the main reason that statement rings so hollow is that it comes from the same people who have been trying to drive the guy off for years.

For the first time in almost five decades, the legendary play-by-play announcer won’t be calling any playoff games.

It’s a decision that caught Cole by surprise. And it’s a decision that he still doesn’t quite understand, considering he’s been this country’s broadcaster since 1972.
“I’ve been doing playoffs every year of my life in broadcasting. This is the first time that I’m not involved,” said Cole. “It’s difficult to live with the fact that I’m not working. I surely will miss not working the playoffs. That’s the best way I can say it.”

During what might be his last broadcast — a 4-2 Bruins win against the Senators on April 7 — Cole described a Noel Acciari breakaway goal as a “free break for a cherry.” As the final buzzer sounded, he signed off on Ottawa’s season by saying “and then the roof kind of caved in.”
It was an appropriate line for what then happened to Cole.
A day later, while watching the Masters on TV at his home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Cole received a call from his bosses. At first, he assumed he was getting his marching orders for the playoffs. Instead, he was told he was being grounded.
“The decision sure wasn’t mutual,” said Cole. “It was right out of the blue. Rogers decided to go with other (broadcast) teams and I have to live with that. But it was their decision — not mine.”

Though Rogers did not indicate why Cole isn’t part of the plan this year, the decision isn’t that surprising. After all, Cole’s workload has been cut back more and more over the years.
In 2009, he didn’t call the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1983.
“It’s time for a new generation of play-by-play voice,” Moore said at the time.
And a year ago, he only worked the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“It was the first year I didn’t get to the conference final,” said Cole. “I called the seventh game between Washington and Pittsburgh and was told, ‘That’s it.’ They didn’t need me after that.
“They cut me back quite a bit this year, so I just lived with it and kept going,” said Cole. “But I was never told that once that playoffs start, I wouldn’t be working. I’m not going to be part of it all. That’s kind of tough, but you have to live with it.”
Cole isn’t sure whether he will be back in the booth next season.
“You never know with the way things are going,” he said.
But he also isn’t sure he’s ready to retire. After all, the voice still feels and sounds as good as ever. Plus, he still loves calling the games, whether it’s at the rink or at home in front of his television.
“I’ve been pretty lucky over the years that my voice has continued to serve me,” he said. “I hope that it has served the viewing audience OK. I just love my job. Once someone tells you that you’re not going to be involved in the playoffs, you have to respect that decision. There’s not much you can do about that.
“But I kind of miss it, for sure.”

Maybe something has changed for him in the last five months, I don’t know. When you’re 85, sometimes planning too far ahead is an iffy proposition. But those don’t read like the words of somebody who feels like working ten mostly meaningless games and then being quietly stuffed into the dustbin of history, of that I am sure.

But since that’s what Rogers is intent on doing with him, all the rest of us can do is enjoy him while we can. Hopefully getting him on a few Leafs games before he’s out the door for good isn’t too much to ask.

Thanks for the memories, Bob. The goofs you work for may not appreciate you, but the rest of us certainly do.

One More Person Who Isn’t Happy When John Cena’s Music Plays

I’m not sure how common these sorts of prank calls still are on American radio, but here in Canada, at least anywhere I’ve had a chance to listen, they pretty much don’t exist anymore. I don’t know if it’s some sort of legal thing or down simply to the fact that most radio is uninspired and lacking any real personality now, but I can’t remember the last time I heard something like Jesse and Gene’s Wreck a Wedding Wednesday as I flip stations in search of something interesting to listen to.

Thanks to Z104 for the reminder that radio can still be kind of fun sometimes. I enjoyed this.