97.7 HTZ FM's Paulie Morris Let Go By Bell Media

You may have heard that Bell Media is making cuts across the country. Today, they let some people go in St. Catharines, including long time 97.7 HTZ FM host and music director Paulie Morris.

If you've ever listened to 97.7 HTZ FM, you've heard Paulie Morris. He helped build that station back in 1986, and except for a few years in the mid-90s, he's been there ever since.

Paulie-Morris-HTZ

The St. Catharines Standard secured this quote from Bell Media.

“The reductions in St. Catharines were part of a restructuring of local radio and TV at Bell Media stations across the country. I’m not going to get into the specific numbers, but I can say that like other Canadian broadcasters, we are confronting rapid change in the media marketplace including new broadcast technologies and viewing options and fast-growing international competition,” said Bell Media spokesperson Matthew Garrow. “As the media marketplace evolves, local radio and TV stations are facing significant declines in advertising, their only source of revenue. We need to reorganize and reduce costs to manage the impact. At the same time, we do not expect any changes in local programming.”

Paulie Morris's daughter is Newstalk 1010 reporter Siobhan Morris who appeared on my podcast back in 2014 and recently returned to kick out the jams.


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Guy

Always enjoyed listening to Paulie
His enthusiasm will be missed.

November 17, 2017 @ 10:30 PM

Anonymous

"...we do not expect any changes in local programming..." ...except that it will be done by younger (read cheaper) personalities...

November 18, 2017 @ 12:55 AM

Anon

Younger (Cheaper) radio personality here....

Looking forward to January when I get that Govt mandated raise....

November 18, 2017 @ 3:08 AM

Jimmy Roo

97.7 is my go to for having a station on in the background. Enjoy the morning show and like guitar rock so it makes sense. That said, I’ve always found the song selection (something a music director controls) really stale. It’s one thing to keep playing the current hits of the month, but I’d hear the same non current songs over and over. I was convinced they slapped together a playlist, hit shuffle, and let it run for 3 months.

Yesterday, prior to reading this, I noticed a number of songs playing that I normally wouldn’t hear. I figured the 3 month switch happened; now am wondering otherwise. While I don’t like the idea of a loyal, long time employee being given the boot to save a buck, I have to admit I found Paulie’s musical director-ing totally lacking. Here’s to more rock.

November 18, 2017 @ 6:31 AM

bsmntdwllr73

Haven't been able to access Htz FM in years but had a fondness for this station during the '90s.
Felt that they had a better handle on the heavier rock than Q107. Probably wasn't Paul Morris'
fault if the playlist had grown stale over the past several years, as the rock radio format has sadly
been dormant/stagnant for ages. There is still a lot of great, new rock music being produced but
terrestrial radio is no longer its ideal delivery system.

November 18, 2017 @ 9:20 AM

Jason from Sudbury

Damn. This is really shitty.

November 18, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

WCI

I always thought 97,7 was a superior rock station to Q107 from about 1988 on. I think Dave FM is the better of all the stations. They dig a little deeper into the rock well and sound a little more like rock radio did in its better days. People forget that stations like Q once played stuff like "Life in a Northern Town". Rock music wasn't so narrow in scope.

Too bad for the guy but it's likely he was just too expensive. He'll join the ranks of people who will be under employed (or permanently out of work). There isn't much left to go too unless you want to go work in a small prairie town.

As a side note and disconnected from this, for a long time I said radio had no future and I was attacked for it. So where are you guys now? Your industry is on it's knees, many guys will never work again, etc. The writing was on the wall 15 years ago. It happened. Funny how the opinion on all those radio forums parallels mine yet I'm the great Satan.

November 18, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

bsmntdwllr73

@WCI
Congratulations on being right in this regard!! Perhaps you have been compared to the great Satan
in the past because you have often been quite caustic and overly-negative in these comment
sections. Have to take your word for it that Q ever played any Dream Academy back in the day,
although do recall hearing it in the recent past during my brief return as a listener to that station.
Also,you seem to relish the decline of the rock radio format a little too much. Again, would really like to know why you seem to have such distaste for the genre? Is more Bieber and materialistic Hip Hop
really a better alternative?!?

November 18, 2017 @ 11:29 AM

bsmntdwll73

@WCI
Just checked out the DaveFm playlists and again, you are absolutely correct, they appear to have
a much better handle on the rock radio format than the no longer Mighty Q has these days. Many
similar tracks are played but at least DaveFM continues to play new rock tracks as well. Thanks for
the heads up!

November 18, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

Jason from Sudbury

Dave FM is pretty decent. I'll listen to it when I visit family in Kitchener. The new rock station in Ottawa is pretty good too, I forget what its called now.

CHTZ was awesome in the 90's and early 2000's, but went downhill when Astral Media bought it from Standard Broadcasting.

November 18, 2017 @ 11:47 AM

Brian

Midday host from HTZ Brittany is also gone

November 18, 2017 @ 1:48 PM

Anon

Brittany is gone?? Wtf?? And they kept that annoying, unentertaining Drew ??
Wow....makes me want to reconsider my station choices

November 18, 2017 @ 11:53 PM

Cambo

I worked for Htz from 95-99 ish. Right around the time Standard sold it to the now-gone "Affinity".

Once a corporation gets hold of any radio/TV Station, it's only a matter of time before you're considered a number- to be cut. Your talent is not recognized- you are a dot on payroll.

Radio used to be fun, profitable, and creative. Then consultants and bean counters got involved and completely destroyed it, thinking they could make more money with it.

Htz used to live on the edge, pushing the envelop much like Edge 102.1 used to. Now, it too is dead. You used to have folks like Randy Taylor, Joe Cahill, Kristy Knight, Iron Mike Bennson (RIP), Paulie, Scruff Connors (RIP) and countless others- people that the corporate nerds really didn't want because they wouldn't fit the corporate mould; in fact they refused it- but they were some of the best in the business.

Whenever a consultant comes to tell you how to run your business, run. Run far away.
Radio today, is dead. It's boring, and full of "heard it all before" BS. There are very, very few people that I worked with that are still in the business. For those thinking of a radio career. step back and think if this is something you truly want- because you won't make anywhere close to what you think- and you'll likely be unemployed longer than you will be employed.

One of the few remaining is 94.9, but I suspect it's a matter of time before they're 'consulted', too.

November 19, 2017 @ 12:27 PM

WCI

@basementdweller

I don't have a distaste for rock music. I had a show build around indie rock at CJIQ for 6 years. I ran an online radio station called Indie 101 which focused on new rock leaning music. I gave it up because the streaming costs ate me alive. I'd got to over 1000 listeners and it was costing me like 500 bucks a month with royalty fees (ah, Tariff 22 or whatever it was called). My top song of 2006 was Connecticut's for Fucking. The band did a bit called "Kitchener's For Fucking" for me. Other stuff like Sounds - Song with a Mission, She Want's Revenge - These Things, lots of Feist before Apple found her right through to some pop related stuff like Fray - Over My Head or Boston from Augustana. I ran a complex Myspace page and did a Top 10 songs of the week (new music) much like what Strombo does with the Magnificent 7 only the audience could go to the page and view the song names so I knew which songs got people's attention. Augustana went nuts with women. These Things from She Wants Revenge also got a TON of attention. CFNY played neither. As I had no connection to record labels AND my never said shit I did pretty much whatever I wanted within reason. I picked up my music from all over the place and literally spent all day listening to music. And I focused a lot on Sweden. I had a band named Waver leave a note on their record for me on "Best Rock, Just Nu" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRnsiGpTopM

The highlight of my career was after it was over. I was driving to Calgary and the number 7 song on Rock 97 in Winnipeg was a KW band I'd put in rotation on the station. I was blown away to see they'd got success. I would later go see that band at the Jubilee in Calgary. I managed to get to meet them before they played. When they played the final song, the one I championed, they singer turned and pointed at me and said "this motherfucker gave us a chance" and pulled me onstage.

I don't hate rock music. I hate the ecosystem that surrounds it. I had rock snobbery. I hate the arrogant and the holier than thou crap. I hate listening to old men say how much better rock was in the past. I hate hearing rock fans diss pop music..like slamming Beiber or whatever pop band is popular. I like all music, even classic country.

The amazing part is I never got fired. The band that pulled me on stage came in the studio. The leader singer was black and I asked him how he dealt with the stereotypes that black people couldn't make rock music. He went off on a tangent, using the N word repeatedly. Live. or the time I had this St Catherines band come play. We just played live in the studio and it was so loud the entire college could hear it. I've no idea how it sounded on the air. And, during Katrina I did a montage of Bush-isms and layered it over the start of When the Levee Breaks...because Clear Channel had banned the song.

Truth is I took a job in corporate radio part time so I could learn the basics of programming, clocks, etc. All for my college and online stations. And, I was, without question, the most hated guy on every radio forum in Canada & some in America. I just trolled the hell out of them.

My tagline was "no respect for authority, just a stupid motherfucker, and my sponser (fake) was Toilets and Tissues: recommended by assholes, everywhere.

I was an intense guy. Today, I just listen to music.

November 19, 2017 @ 12:50 PM

bsmntdwllr73

@WIC
Thanks for clearing things up! You seem like a very dedicated and enthusiastic music lover!!
I also like all kinds of music, old and new, but my main interest has always been centred around
rock and its ancillary categories. My problems with much of today's pop music and Hip Hop
probably has more to do with a distaste for the cult of personality that surrounds it. Believe me,
most of my favourite music would totally be looked down upon by the True Rock Snobs out there!!
(Prog Rock, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Jazz Fusion, '70s singer-songwriters, Quirky '8os Britpop)

November 19, 2017 @ 4:27 PM

Matt

@WCI

I feel for people in radio. I dont think they can ever ger comfortable unless they are part of the top 1%

Surprised Brittany is gone too. Wasnt she also asst program or music director as well?

Love to see KK come back but I know that isnt happening.

November 19, 2017 @ 4:43 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Nice tribute from David DeRocco on Facebook.

Imagine for a second that you employed Wayne Gretzky who, after years of performing far beyond the level of his colleagues, was suddenly let go, erased from the franchise records; no dinner, no last go round to say goodbye to not only his fans, but fans of the franchise for which he worked. After producing incredible results for 3 decades, just walked out the door, unceremoniously -- no fanfare, no on-ice acknowledgement, no notice, no final celebration of his awards and accomplishments, no transparent explanation, no thanks, no party. Just...gone. That's what Bell Media did to HTZ-FM's Paul Morris who, without hyperbole, was the Wayne Gretzky of radio music directors. Paul must have at least a dozen awards for being named Music Director of the Year -- a recognition his peers in the industry felt he deserved for being the best at what he did for a living. And say what you want about the entertainment industry and its penchant for giving itself awards for a job well done -- Paul earned his awards through the sheer passion for which he embraced his responsibilities. He wasn't just a guy doing a job to earn a cheque. Paul lived and breathed music, it was hard-wired into his DNA. If radio is supposed to be about music and entertainment, Paul made sure the music part mattered. He didn't just plug records into a playlist. He listened to music, he went to see live music, he researched and learned about music. Through his unwavering love of music, Paul Morris helped turn a little rebel rock station in a town of 130,000 into a legend. Whatever credibility 97.7 HTZ-FM once had in this ever changing radio industry -- with record companies, with musicians, with all those bands who found support from HTZ-FM when other stations ignored them, and with radio listeners who still love rock music -- it owes to Paul Morris, not the rotating list of on-air staff who have come and gone or who are still coming to work after another round of cost-cutting from a money-first media company. Record labels brought rock stars to the White House because they believed the station was important enough to make the trip to St. Catharines, to sit with Paul Morris and talk about their new music. And consider this when you're thinking of letting your kid invest two years worth of tuition to take a radio course at Niagara College -- what does it say to the students who annually pay their money to colleges with radio programs about their chances of getting a job in this industry? When you can be one of the absolute best at what you do and still get walked out the door, it says you're still not important enough to a company like Bell Media to employ -- or to be adequately compensated with a wage that reflects your talent. The spokesperson from Bell Media in this story talks about radio's declining numbers; perhaps they'll learn one day that radio used to be about connecting with people on a local level -- something you can't do when you continue to eliminate local employees in the name of consolidation. Hold your held high Paul Morris and congratulations -- you no longer have to answer to a company that doesn't give a shit about your talent or how you applied it daily to make money for the corporation.
November 19, 2017 @ 6:33 PM

Kristy

Hey Radio Nerds!


The KK Show lives on at 91.7 Giant FM!

Mon-Fri 9a-2p

Privately owned...and no corporate BS!

The list of classics is bang freakin on!

Listen Live: http://www.giantfm.com/player/?playerID=655

November 19, 2017 @ 8:00 PM


WCI

@Matt

Even the 1% in radio get nuked. I know a guy who ran a cluster in Western Canada who did an amazing job improving it all and was fired. I suppose the big question is why do people try getting into the business & why do those in the industry stay. The writing is on the wall.

To put it in perspective, many of the people I worked with in radio don't work in radio anymore. Further, some of my detractors who took GREAT issue to me pointing out the end was coming...also don't work in radio anymore. They were fired and never found work. And as I said before, no one says "you were right Mark"

@BasementDweller: Pop music has a few cult of personality types. But for every Katy Perry there is a Chance the Rapper or a Zedd. What that tells me is that you're listening too much to the Virgin's & not enough to Beats 1 or even Z103.5. Coming back to Southern Ontario I was surprised at the diversity of the 103.5 playlist. They seem to cherry pick big hits you'd find on Spotify & Beats 1.

Pop radio is still very reticent to pick up new music. They do what they've always did, they're quick to jump on a brand name and reticent to add new music. That's why Gaga or the new Taylor Swift (flop) got airplay, but Dua Lipa doesnt (ignoring massive success worldwide). Music directors are nothing but spoon fed drones unable to even hear a hit anymore.

You can't downsize to greatness, can you?

November 20, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

Anon

@wci.

Radio guy here... Many stations aren't even programed locally anymore, and instead share feeds with multiple stations, being programmed by a dude thousands of miles away

November 20, 2017 @ 9:10 PM

BFD

Whoa...I'm just finding out about this now. I've noticed something "different" about 97.7 the past few days. I guess this is it. This has been my #1 preset station for close to 30 years. I used to love hearing Paul interview bands...I can remember a time where the day revolved around listening to "Music Notes at 6" to hear music news and interviews and new music. I remember listening to the 25 year anniversary show a few years back and it made me realize how big of a part of my life this radio station was.

November 20, 2017 @ 10:56 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Paul Morris has written the following message:

I am touched by the tributes, recognition and some very moving words of support. Thank you. Enough. I am gutted by what has happened, but I’m okay. HTZ-FM will always be in my blood.

I’m not bitter. I know how it works. Radio is a tough business, Bell and management always treated me well. Maybe it was just time.

Somebody said “F**k loyalty if they’re not going to be loyal to you”. I don’t believe that. My loyalty is to the people I work with who count on me to do my best. My loyalty is to the listeners, the bands, the record companies, promoters, clubs, agents, the community and clients where the expectation is to be exceptional. My loyalty is to my family and friends who love & support me every day and tolerate my long hours and indulgences.

I am lucky! I once worked at 97.7 HTZ-FM. It’s a place where great radio is made. When you walk into that big, 165 year old white house - you get it. I had a front row seat to Scruff Connors & The Biggs and Barr Show; Iron Mike Bensson & Kristy Knight; Jesse Modz, Eric Samuels & Ben McVie; The Reverend Randy Taylor & Joe Cahill and a supporting cast of others that you’ll never know or forgotten, all of whom do all of the work and get none of the credit. I am indebted to you. My thoughts and prayers are with Brittany Anastacio, Joe Gurney, Larry, Marlene & Sarah Gardiner of our shop who also lost their jobs last week. I wish you well.

I was the Music Director at HTZ-FM from day one. I left the station for 4 years before returning for a second tour of duty. Most of the time, I was given enough rope to do it my way. HTZ-FM’s music had guts. I wanted our station to cut through with music, fun and commentary you couldn't get anywhere else on the dial. I wanted to do the kind of radio when you couldn’t leave your car because you were hearing something on our station that you couldn’t turn off.

Thousands of bands. Thousands of songs. Hundreds of music specials. #Rocksearch –from Ray Lyell to Finger Eleven (F11), The Trews, The Glorious Sons to Crown Lands. Hundreds of concerts and interviews with icons and my heroes.

I leave with a mild case of tinnitus to always remind me that I was there for it all and how glorious it was.

I hope to see you on the radio soon!

November 21, 2017 @ 11:01 AM

Cambo

Sadly, with Bell in particular, it's not a matter of *if*, just a question of *when* you'll find yourself with a pink slip...if you're that lucky.

Won't even buy you a beer on your way out.

November 21, 2017 @ 1:34 PM

H.o.E.

Although I pretty much stopped listening to music radio entirely about 20 or 25 years ago, 97.7 was the last one I had listened to with any regularity.

One weird thing I recall, because they were one of my favourite bands and often had some depth to their music instead the usual "rock this, roll that, drive me insane" clichéd hard rock lyrics, was P.M. on at least one occasion expressing a bizarre dislike of the band Blue Öyster Cult. One of the female DJs (forgotten if it was K.K. or someone else) was coming to the end of her shift and asked for a listener request for the last song, and we heard the song Godzilla (maybe not their best example for interesting lyrics).
P.M. showed up to take over and seemed inexplicably upset that a B.Ö.C. song had been played on his station, and talked about his annoyance at once having been required to go see one of their shows (I would assume at some point in the late 1970s or early 80s), with "their big stupid paper maché Godzilla head with car headlights for eyes at the back of the stage".

What a strange and otherwise kind of bland band to somehow have a visceral distaste for. He didn't hate Rush, so I assume it couldn't have been a dislike of lyrics some would call pretentious.

November 21, 2017 @ 2:21 PM

Jason from Sudbury

@Mike: Not expecting this any time soon, but will you reach out to Paulie at some point in the future and see if he'll come on the podcast?

November 21, 2017 @ 3:18 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Jason from Sudbury

Yes, but not because he was let go. I planned on doing so well before this news. In fact, last time his daughter visited, I told her I wanted Paulie on...

November 21, 2017 @ 3:24 PM

Jason from Sudbury

@Mike: Yeah, I think that would be an awesome podcast. I'm sure he's got some wicked stories. Stories about HTZ, Iron Mike, Scruff, and even of some of the bands he's had the chances to interview.

November 21, 2017 @ 3:38 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Jason from Sudbury

On the topic of Scruff, I asked John Gallagher about him in his recent episode. John worked with Scruff at Q107.

November 21, 2017 @ 3:46 PM

bsmntdwllr73

@H.o.E.
Hard to understand Paul Morris' dislike of Blue Oyster Cult. Very underrated and totally literate
classic rock band in the truest sense!!

November 21, 2017 @ 4:48 PM

Steve

I knew once Bell Media came onto the scene that things were going to change. You could see that coming a mile away. I am sure they have less expensive options re: new DJ's etc to passify the shell shocked listeners. Look out ! Iron Mike Benson must be looking down in disgust, miss the Iron Guy alot, he WAS THE BEST and if he hadn't passed would probably be subjected to this humiliating culling. What would Iron Mike's "2 o'clock Teaser" be for this crap-fest ?

November 21, 2017 @ 10:00 PM

Steve

....damn good to see KK surviving and thriving at 91.7 GIANT FM !!! Screw you BELL MEDIA !!!

November 21, 2017 @ 10:04 PM

bsmntdwllr73

@Mike
Have you ever made any overtures towards having Kristy Knight on THE REALLY BIG SHEW?!?
Again, I realize that distance might play a key factor in her absence so far.

November 22, 2017 @ 9:27 AM

Cambo

@TM

Paulie and KK are pretty tight. Why not have them on together?

That show would be a riot. Music notes at 6 revival.

November 22, 2017 @ 3:27 PM

bsmntdwllr73

@Cambo
Great idea! That really would be a throwback to the golden days of Canadian rock radio!!

November 22, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Russ

Big fan of Paulie. His passion for music shines through and I hope that he lands somewhere new quickly.

I like Biggs and Barr and TJ Connors has had a pretty good start, but without Paulie, KK, and Iron Mike HTZ is a mere shell of its former self.

I had the chance to meet Paulie at Metallica's shoe at the Opera House in T.O. last year. Very nice guy.

November 30, 2017 @ 1:52 PM

Russ

I can understand Bell's decision from a $$ standpoint, perhaps, but I get the impression that they have no idea who HTZ's listeners are. Remove the core of the station and there isn't a compelling reason not to search elsewhere on the dial.

November 30, 2017 @ 2:05 PM

jeff

Wow. Dah, me: long time listener, yeah where's Paulie, man of many hats, WTF gone! Bell, starting with KK's dissmised, the southern Ontario beat, more so Niagara has been gutted. I'm genuinely sadden by Paulie's dismissal, as well as Brittany, music is music, personalities make you listen to the station. 97.7 HTZ will always belong to the Paulie's, KK's, Iron Mike's, Scruff's Ben McVie and on. When Bell whores themselves out to slave labour to re-up for home services I tell them this" Bell is my ex I hate, and have paid the price and I'm never going back, my current provider is soon to join Bell". This travesty continues with HtZ, stop the insanity, resolve privately owned: Bell the corporation doesn't get it.

December 4, 2017 @ 11:08 PM

Craig Pastachak

well have been a fan of this station but cannot stand this drew guy so guess what....finding another station to listen to.......will miss Pauly and Britt they made the afternoons and evening so f - ck you Bell...what elase can you screw up??? Time will tell

December 5, 2017 @ 10:02 AM

Anonymous

Couldn't stand Paulie. Brittany will be missed though

December 6, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

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