Interviews

Twitter Nation: An Interview with Paul Madden All About Twitter

MicrophoneNext month, I'll be attending the Search Engines Strategies 2010 Conference and Expo here in Toronto June 9-11. One of the sessions, entitled Twitter Nation, includes Paul Madden on the panel. Paul is the owner of Crea8 New Media and he was nice enough to answer a few Twitter questions for me.

Toronto Mike (TM): As a blogger, I originally saw the benefit of Twitter as an RSS alternative of sorts; a way to push content to subscribers. Then, after using it for a few weeks, I realized it was a great deal more. Why should people be on Twitter?

Paul Madden (PM): I also came to look at Twitter initially as a distribution method for my work and there is little doubt that it does that task in a great way. RSS offers an easy way to distribute content but Tweets offer not only a distribution channel but also an opportunity for people who enjoyed the content to further distribute the link onwards.

But as you say its so much more than simply a method to promote content, its a community where people can feel connected to others who they wouldn't be able to reach out to in normal ways, its a brand builder for companies to put forward their message as part of the conversation. Its also a real time customer service tool and reputation management suite.

And away from the use in business Twitter represents a profound shift in the real time spread of news and comment in a way that the search engines and traditional media have struggled to replicate.

So in answer to "Why should people be on Twitter?" I think its hard to find many good arguments for why people shouldn't be on Twitter.

TM: It seems every good and services company has a Twitter account these days. If a company isn't on Twitter, are they missing out?

PM: Twitter offer companies so many advantages that I feel its very short sighted if they aren't taking advantage of them today. From offering a way to reach out and converse with their customer base to a way of promoting their brand and growing new business Twitter is an effective tool. Many companies have learnt quickly that by offering up someone to act as their representative on Twitter they can put a human face on their brand and start to join in with the conversations about their niche and brand in a way that provides them with the sort of feedback that they wouldn't realistically get through any other medium.

TM: What role can Twitter play in B2B marketing strategies?

PM: I think that if the company can open up and become more transparent in their plans and workings then Twitter offers an opportunity for them to truly learn what their customers want and need. It also allows companies to form direct personal relationships with people regarded as influencers in their niche and can therefore offer a powerful method for any brand to launch and promote their message in a cost effective and efficient way.

TM: I love the real-time aspect of Twitter. A Twitter search gives you a great reading of the current zeitgeist. Is search the future of Twitter?

PM: I am not sure it represents the future of search, I do think it represents an important component of what search will become. I think that Googles rushed attempt to integrate real time results into their search results really docent do that well though. I still find that if the search I want to do is about a news or topical subject searching Twitter directly has now replaced Google as my default place to start.

Normal searches and research still relies for me on Google and their link and trust based algo. I can understand though why Google rushed to incorporate the real time Tweets into their results but the current implementation is rather poor.

I do agree that Twitter has recognised the power that search provides them and whilst it isn't their reason to exist it probably represents their best option for profit in the coming years.

TM: I've got to know, how does Twitter eventually make money, considering so many of us use the service without ever visiting twitter.com?

PM: That is their biggest challenge in my opinion. I cant understand why they haven't started serving Adverts in an Adwords style in their search results on Twitter.com. Given the volume of traffic and the fact that people are used to seeing ads in the context of search this seems a no brainer to me.

The challenge though, as you rightly point out, is that a large proportion of users never actually use their site directly and instead access their data via clients like Tweetdeck etc.

This means that to get any revenue from their data they would either have to charge the clients for the data and they would therefore have to move to a subscription or ad supported model (Dangerous for the growth of the platform). Alternatively they would have to find a way of getting revenue from the data itself, serving ads into the stream, charging business for use on verified accounts etc.

There is a huge amount of danger in any of those options for them but they will have to face up to the revenue question soon, for me it probably makes more sense for them to sell to someone interested in acquiring their user base.

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Rick Hodge Interview - Why He Left CHUM, the Sunday Funnies and More

MicrophoneI recently worked with Rick Hodge. Rick and I had a rocky start to our relationship, but as is often the case, the guy you most want to stab in the eye quickly becomes a solid bud.

Rick Hodge is no longer on the air, having been booted from the radio by Astral, but he's now writing very interesting prose on his blog. All bias aside, it's a very interesting perspective and he occasionally tells some pretty cool Toronto radio stories over there. I strongly urge you to check it out.

Here's an interview I conducted with Toronto radio legend Rick Hodge earlier today.

Q: I can't tell you how many Sunday nights I spent listening to you host the Sunday Night Funnies on CHUM-FM. How did that program come to be? Are you aware of how awesome it was?
A: I inherited the Sunday Funnies after the original host left. It was kind of make shift at the time so I thought it would be a good idea to get it organized. Because of content and language a lot of the material couldn't be used and it would take the producer hours to find all the edits. So I catalogued the entire library. Then I made a point of going to the big record stores downtown and bought up anything new I found. I remember coming across Jeff Foxworthy for the first time. I bought him, loved him and played him. After a couple of weeks I got a call from Sam the Record Man. The guy said "what the hell are you doing?" They were getting a non stop stream of people coming into the store asking for Jeff Foxworthy or that southern guy I heard on the Funnies. I also made runs to Buffalo about every 3 months because they had material that wasn't available in Canada. Don Ferguson from the Air Farce told me I had the largest comedy collection he had ever seen.

One thing I took pride in was promoting as much Canadian talent as I could. The 2 comics I got to know the best were Gerry D who cut a name for himself on "Last Comic Standing" in the US and Frank Spadone. I just happened to pick up Frank's cd one day and started playing it. I used it on the Funnies and he called to ask if he could do a ticket giveaway on the morning show. He did and the venue, which was only half sold, sold out. And he did it on Super Bowl Sunday.

The program director at the time wanted me to start cutting back on the older comics. He wanted the young comics I told him the problem with the young comics is that most of them live and die with "F" bomb. If he'd allow me let that word go in their bits it would open things up for all sorts of new material. He did and we only got one complaint.

To answer the question, no I never did realize how awesome it was.

Q: I used to catch you on television hosting Rinkside, a weekly AHL highlight show. How did you score that gig?
A: Actually they came to me. It was just after I won a sportscaster of the year award. I'm not a television guy so thank God it was pre-taped. The most fun I had was with the co-hosts. Brian Kilrea of the Ottawa 67's did regular bits one year and he was a hoot. Brad Smith (Motor City Smitty) was fun to work with. We discovered Jim Ralph when he was a goaltender with the Newmarket Saints. I knew from the start he had a career in sports casting. I also got to know Gord Stellick. Truly one of the nicest people I have ever met and another former non broadcaster who's done very well on hard work and talent as a talk show host.

Q: "Roger, Rick & Marilyn" was my mom's favourite radio show. The CHUM-FM morning show was tops in this city. Why did you leave?
A: Roger Rick and Marilyn was, and remains, the highlight of my broadcasting career. I was honoured to be asked to be part of Roger Ashby's induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. So, why did I leave? The station was evolving. My commentaries had been dropped, the Funnies were dropped and finally the sports casts in the morning were dropped. I disagreed at the time but in an industry that had become specialized I understand why they did what they did. I wanted to get back to doing sports and commentaries and I wanted to get involved with talk radio. There's more to the decision but basically when I was presented with the opportunity, I took it.

Q: Astral never seemed to know what to do with you once they landed you. You were on the EZ-Rock morning show, while running down the hall to be on CFRB. Then, without giving you a fair shot, they kicked you off the air. What the hell went wrong?
A: Good question.

Q: Do you have any resentment towards Astral?
A: No. Sometimes you forget it's a business and the people running that business will do what they feel is best for the company. I understand that. That doesn't mean it doesn't sting when it happens but at least you understand.

Q: What's next for Rick Hodge?
A: Well, I have to check the kitty litter, I have to fill out my NCAA brackets for the pool, Pardon the Interruption is on in about an hour (best show on TV), then I'll read some of the new book I just picked up. Lord I've got cabin fever. Actually I want to stay in radio. It's the old Joni Mitchell line "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." Getting up at some ridiculous hour never really bothered me. I love the early, early mornings and the drive to work at 2:30 am with virtually no traffic on the road. Where I'll end up I don't know and who knows, I may not end up anywhere.

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Interview With Andrew Goodman About SEO, PPC, Twitter and Jays

MicrophoneNext month, I'll be attending the Search Engines Strategies 2009 Conference and Expo here in Toronto June 8-10. Now in its 6th year, the event is organized and programmed by Andrew Goodman, the SES Advisory Board and SearchEngineWatch.com, the leading authority on Search Engine Marketing (SEM), including SEO and PPC. That very same Andrew Goodman, founder of Page Zero Media, was nice enough to answer a few questions for me.

Toronto Mike (TM): In my 9-5 job, I spend a small fortune with Google Adwords. What changes would you like to see from Adwords to improve the tool as a lead generator?

Andrew Goodman (AG): Changes? The tool itself has very few glaring shortcomings. It's been a direct marketing tool serving the custom needs of a million customers who collectively spend over $20 billion a year on the channel, with good reason. We'd all love clicks to be cheaper and we'd all love more customers to buy from us, but AdWords features are of course robust, especially the reporting.

As companies increasingly get leads from their "brand" keywords (though some companies debate that), it's important to see full attribution so that mega-high-intent keywords share some of the credit with earlier research keywords and even other digital campaigns. That's gotta be a priority for the AdWords team (crediting assists, etc.).

TM: In the PPC universe, can one live on Google alone? How important are the other other search engines in terms of securing eyeballs?

AG: Easy question. For now, the others have weak market share, and are not very important. We'd all love it if they could improve.

In a general sense it's not healthy to be dependent on any one marketing channel or any one vendor. But in most markets and most verticals, if you're talking strictly about paid search, then 85%+ of your spend ought to be with Google. Anything else flies in the face of measurable search market share and measurable campaign performance.

TM: I love Twitter as a broadcasting system to the masses. I'm trying to see how the corporate world can harness the power of Twitter. How do you see Twitter helping the corporate marketing world?

AG: Yes, for the same reasons that email or RSS can be a great extension of corporate communications if the purveyors of the message or conversation understand the opt-in, permission-based, respectful requirements of the medium.

That's going to be an interesting, ongoing conversation. Mark Evans will dig into this a bit at SES Toronto. Do you want to be following some lame corporate logo (Whole Foods Says X) or a personality (Juanita at Whole Foods says Y)? Not an easy one. I'll leave it to Mark to elaborate.

I've always been amused by Steve Rubel's take on corporate identities in social media. He had this funny line about how cartoon characters shouldn't blog, and no one REALLY desires to follow the Michelin Man. And if Mickey Mouse were to blog, the requirements of authenticity would require the "real" Mickey working at Disneyland to moan: "I'm schvitzing in this suit and these kids are punching me! This sucks!"

TM: How do you stay on top of the highly guarded Google algorithm when it comes to organic rankings? SEO techniques seem to change on a regular basis. How does a web author stay ahead of the curve?

AG: On one hand, you take the wisdom of crowds (even if that means collected expertise of the top SEO people), but then, it's kind of interesting to try to distinguish between uneducated ramblings and mob mentality on forums, and real, principled expertise.

Is it good to be an independent thinker? Sure, to a degree. And then again, siloed thinkers inside IT depts. may ignore the collected expertise of top SEO people. It's important to be plugged in, to understand where we have strong consensus, and where we have reasonable grounds for debate. And where certain assertions are 100% based on superstition.

A good friend, Mike Grehan, author and expert on all things search technology, takes the tack of listening very closely to what search scientists say.

I've always sort of leaned in that direction. You want to understand the principles underlying search, and take into account some combination of the principles search engines want to pursue, and your judgment of what the economics of the situation and the adversarial game nature of the situation will create in the real world. Everyone in this game is in there trying to "read the tea leaves," and I'm not sure why it is that some are better than others at continuing to read them reasonably correctly.

Remember back to the infamous Florida update. That and subsequent Google algorithmic "crackdowns" caught a lot of clever SEO's off guard. They grew accustomed to their warmed-over linking tactics working, etc., and then as Google inevitably got better at evaluating the true worth of certain sites and pages in the consumer's eyes, wham! a bunch of "optimized" sites got hit. But to not see that coming was to assume that short-term tactics would last forever, in the absence of sound, integrated digital marketing strategy. It's not long ago that people thought hidden white-on-white text, text hidden in CSS layers or in comment tags, etc., was a "clever" SEO strategy. Maybe if you're setting up throwaway microsites for poker gaming, but not for the rest of us. Sigh.

Believing what Google says flat-out (that is, they say X, they mean X) is also a pretty good idea. On the paid search side, you can point to a few publishing business models that were earning $20+mm a year for their small owners just buying and selling clicks in 2004-2006. In the more recent period 2008-2009, the same businesses earn 95% less than they did before. If Google explicitly states something is against their rules, and the CEO is telling the national press why that is the case, they mean it.

On the paid search side you can go on Google's Inside AdWords blog and discover that Google actually has a hate-on for certain business models. Needless to say that poses a major challenge if you run one of those kinds of sites: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/09/websites-that-may-merit-low-landing.html -- and amazingly, some people are dismissive, and conduct their affairs like that's just an opinion. (Google's opinion is never "just an opinion," unless perhaps in a court of law.) When the "tea leaves" are actually there in black and white and in English, they don't need a whole lot of interpretation. Call it a Google Slap and Tickle or Quality Score Madness, call it what you will, but they're not kidding around.

Back to SEO. While I wouldn't exactly suggest you can learn everything you need to know about SEO from Google's "Webmaster Guidelines" page, it is the case that there are solid principles underlying great SEO... with micro-tactics being only slightly important in the mix. Information architecture and site performance tuning, for example, are part of a solid SEO foundation, but how many companies even know what those are? We have a session on this at SES Toronto anchored by the popular Shari Thurow.

TM: How about a hot PPC and SEO tip for the readers of TorontoMike.com?

AG: User experience issues - if you take care of them - can indirectly lead to better search rankings and PPC efficiency. On the SEO side, clean up code weight and make pages load faster and you may see a nice improvement in rankings. On the paid search side, similar basic fixes can lead to higher conversion rates.

That's the thing that companies don't want you to tell them: the magic isn't magic, and there's real navigation, marketing, and testing that goes on. You don't fire all your SEO effort into a silo called metatags (very little or none of it, arguably) or keyword "stuffing", and you don't get 100% success with PPC by building long keyword tests or some other one-dimensional philosophy. They both require a full effort, involving many moving parts.

TM: You're a Toronto guy. Are the Blue Jays for real this season?

AG: Dude: they are totally for real. I've been to the ballpark three times already and I expect to be back to quite a few more before season's end. We can talk about individual player performances and the amazing patchwork pitching staff, of course... but what strikes me as giving them that slight edge is Cito's and the coaching staff's leadership. Showing confidence in players and giving them philosophies to work with pays off, but so does firm control, being pretty ruthless with personnel at times. You'll notice they haven't given Brandon League many innings because he hurts the team with his wildness even though he can throw 100mph. Overrated BJ Ryan gets sent down to AA with an "injury" but the real reason is: he's sucking canal water and there are no special rules for high paid busts. Gotta love Cito. Go Jays!

I'd like to see Alex Rios become more disciplined at the plate. Currently, he is shining mostly on pure talent. Imagine if he combined that with focus and discipline.

Thanks, Mike, for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

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The Definitive Humble and Fred Interview

microphoneHumble and Fred are reuniting to record their 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories on May 2. You're welcome to hang with us at the Dominion at Queen, just get there for 1:30pm.

In anticipation of this first Humble and Fred recording since February 11, 2007 when I joined the guys for the Humble and Fred Podcast of Love at Dan Duran's house, I peppered both Humble Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson with the same 13 questions.

Judging from their candid and interesting answers, May 2 is going to be a blast. Here's how it all went down.

Toronto Mike (TM): How did your first meeting together go? What was your first impression of each other?

Fred Patterson (FP): It was in Montreal in the summer of 1989. Danny Kingsbury was the Program Director of CFNY at the time and he thought Humble and I would work well together so they flew me to Montreal one day to meet him.

Howard picked us up at the airport in a Volkswagen Fox and then took us through a hairy ride through the city. He appeared to be an impatient driver and a bit of a nut but that assessment wasn't totally fair. He turned out to be a pretty patient driver.

Humble Howard (HH): Our first meeting went very well... We drank beer, made each other laugh and had a fine old time... My first impression of Fred was that he was very funny in a very odd way and a great guy. Pretty much my impression for the last 20 years.

TM: How exactly did you two end up with the morning shift on CFNY back in '89?

FP: I had evolved into a sportsguy / co-host with a few morning men at CFNY. Steve Anthony, Randy Taylor and Skot Turner. None of those guys panned out but the powers that be always wanted me to stay on as co-host and then Kingsbury came up with the Humble and Fred idea.

HH: I was doing mornings with Jeff Lumby in Montreal and in fact the PD and GM of CFNY originally wanted to hire Jeff and I to come to Toronto. Jeff didn't want to leave the MTL and after meeting with them, I called later and said I was definitely into it. Fred came to meet me and that's how the Humble and Fred show was created. Lumby later came to Toronto and worked mornings for many years at various stations.

TM: What's your all-time favourite Humble and Fred memory?

FP: Too many to mention. Generally my favourite memories deal with being on-air and coming up with relevant comedy and genuine laughter – something you don't hear a lot of these days, especially genuine laughter.

HH: Hard to say. We had so many great moments, huge laughs, a bit of success and a whole lot of fun. One of my favourite memories was the dude licking the pigs ass and not winning a contest... another was playing guitar with Steven Page while he sang Brian Wilson. Another great show was interviewing Kevin Smith with some no-name actor who was tagging along. Kevin was promoting Chasing Amy and the actor was hanging with Kevin while he was in town shooting Good Will Hunting. The Actor wouldn't shut up and Kevin, Fred and I kept making fun of him. That dude was Ben Affleck. I also loved the fact that we actually became number 1 with men and women 18-34 and never told anybody.

TM: If you could have done anything different with the show during its run what would that have been?

FP: There's really nothing I would do differently, however, if I could go back, I would have appreciated it more. We had a good thing going but while you're doing it you sort of take it for granted.

HH: Play less music.

TM: What was the dumbest thing one of your bosses ever said about the show or your work?

FP: It would have been said through management at the Mix. He asked us why we kept talking about personal things on the air.

The answer was obvious. We were doing the Humble and Fred Show. The show he paid big money for. You think he would have done a little more homework and realized what he was buying. Then again, we should have done a little more homework and realized what we were selling.

HH: One of our bosses told me that maybe we should stop saying the name of the Radio station and just count on people to know who we were.

TM: Name a person you interviewed who was a total jerk, a.k.a. The Billy Bob syndrome.

FP: Howard will agree. Al Waxman. He came in to promote something with little or no idea who we were and without realizing how large our audience was. He was an asshole.

HH: Al Waxman.

TM: CHUM FM had a long run with Roger, Rick and Marilyn. If you could have added a 3rd person, who would it have been?

FP: No question from my standpoint. Sandra Plugakis. She was outstanding as our newscaster back in the late 90s and would have been a great "official 3rd."

HH: Toronto Mike... or a really hot chick like Megan Fox. No scrap that, just Toronto Mike.

TM: Other than EZ Rock, what Toronto radio show would you awaken to today?

FP: John Oakley. I love talk radio and I like his presentation. I also enjoy Bill Carroll. I think there's a huge market for talk radio in Toronto, but with all due respect to the powers that be, none of them are doing it the way I would. It's got to be balanced with more fun and humour.

Very few people spend all day talking about what's wrong with the world, so why would they want to listen to it?

(Mike Stafford has the best balance in town. He can talk about absolutely anything and still make you chuckle – that's the key)

The MOJO format needed more time. They were on to something very good.

I should also say that I'd like to listen to Howard, but I don't have a vagina or any of the problems associated with having one.

HH: Bill Carroll.

TM: Is there something you guys did back then that you could never get away with now?

FP: I'm not sure any of the Really Tough Contest stuff would fly today. A couple had sex in a tent in our studio with a microphone in between them. Another guy beat off several times in the studio bathroom and I'm not sure you could gather a couple of hundred people at a restaurant to watch a guy lick a pig's ass.

HH: Probably not. We did some stuff (Attempted Crucifixion of our Producer) that we shouldn't have done then but we were pretty tame by today's Edge 102 standards.

TM: Is there a song you played which you couldn't stand?

FP: I'll spend the next few days compiling a list of shit we played at the Mix and then get back to you.

HH: Lots. I've always said that I loved a lot of the music, hated some and hadn't heard of lot of it. Which is the same description I could give today at the Mighty EZ!

TM: Why do you think you two worked so well together?

FP: We had basically the same sense of humour and played off each other quite well. It got to the point where you knew exactly what the other guy's reaction was going to be and that led to some great moments.

HH: I think we genuinely liked each other and considering we spent 5-6 hours a day for the better part of 15 years together, we got along remarkably well. Plus we both thought fart jokes were funny.

TM: Where do you see radio in 5 to 10 years? Are podcasts the future of radio?

FP: I can't begin to speculate, although I do wonder if there will be any music on the radio. I can't see it as the delivery system for music in the years the come given the huge leaps in technology.

Younger people are using the radio less and less and as time goes on older demos will become more comfortable with personal listening devices and use them more.

Sooner than later, the "immediate" spoken word is the only unique thing that radio will be able to offer.

HH: In Canada radio will be basically unchanged, although PPM will change the way it's programmed slightly, a lot of the same old will still be on and the real innovations will be taking place elsewhere. As for Podcasts, they already are where really great broadcasters are and maybe that's where H+F will end up on a more regular basis.

TM: Why the fuck aren't Humble and Fred still on the radio?

FP: Humble is, but if you mean together, I can't answer that. The business can be somewhat bewildering. Over the past week I've spent way too much time wondering why Ben Mulroney is on the radio now and I'm not.

Go figure.

HH: No idea... why not ask the PD at Jack FM, who's also the afternoon drive guy and janitor.

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Humble Howard: An Exclusive Interview

MicrophoneNow that he's had two mornings under his belt as co-host of the new EZ Mornings with Humble, Kim and Colleen show on 97.3 EZ Rock, I pummelled Humble with a few questions.

As always, he was happy to comply and he even got me sniffing with his final answer. Enjoy this exclusive interview with Humble Howard Glassman. *sniff*

Q: How does it feel to be back on morning radio in Toronto?
A: Weird. Good, odd and a bit strange. I keep thinking that I've just come back from a really long vacation and that maybe I wasn't fired after all. Having said that I'm very happy to be doing what I really love to do even if I haven't gotten any better at it!

Q: Has there been any rumbles in the hall with Mad Dog and Billie? I know you guys are down the hall from one another...
A: Yes, Billie punched me and took my lunch money. Actually I did see them last week and they couldn't have been nicer.

Q: Are there any plans to bring The Humble Report to EZ Rock?
A: At this point, no...but it's early days now and as the show evolves it might return in another, gentler form. Much like myself.

Q: The EZ Rock website promotes a fourth member of the team. The teaser silhouette tells us it's a male. Care to spill the beans as to who it will be?
A: Well I didn't want to say anything but I'm happy to report that it will be Ed the Sock...except this time he'll be funny.

Q: When will you introduce the weekly segment with Toronto Mike?
A: Strange that was one of the first things I asked my boss,"Why has this station not already signed the great Toronto Mike, master blogger and SEO wizard?" Shame, I say. To be honest and quite sappy, one of the many good things that happened to me after I got fired was meeting TO Mike and the rest of the fine Boon clan and that is the dang truth. Go ahead Boon, have a sniffle. I hope that works for you and your many fine Toronto Mike fans, unfortunately it's about 6:15 pm now and I have to get ready for bed. Peace out!

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Alpha-Getti Ad Kid Spills Deets About Gobbler

microphoneYesterday, I shared the elusive Alpha-Getti ad featuring the Alpha-Getti Gobbler. Ryan Barnett was the boy at the table who didn't say "You're the Alpha-Getti Gobbler!". Yesterday, he was kind enough to share details about the shoot and his memories of the ad.

While taking a break from work I wondered if any of my old commercials I did ever made it on You tube.  To name a few, McDonalds (Starring Lanny McDonald), a Movie with David Copperfield, Mr. Clean, Rice Krispies, Boots Drug Stores (Remember these stores?) and of course Alpha Getti.  I typed alphagetti gobbler commercial into google and was stunned by the numerous people talking about this ad on blogs and chat rooms and was stunned that there were no pictures or copies of the commercial lying around.  This is when I stumbled onto your blog and read through all the commentary regarding your post and was shocked by how many people remembered this commercial 

It felt kind of crazy to me that people actually remembered this ad, it was definitely a good one but it was soooo long ago!  I remember that this ad ran on Canada tv for about 5 years and people loved the famous line "Your the alpha getti gobbler".  I'm definitely not a big shot movie star, espescially now because I'm a Chartered Accountant at 30 years old.  But I can't lie, it feels pretty damn cool! 

My commercial career ended in my childhood days when I lost my baby teeth and they told me that without a smile I was out of a job.  I guess that's how the commercial life goes.  I can't complain though, all my commercials from my younger days paid fully and completely for my University education.

I don't remember anything about the kid who said the famous line but the commercial was filmed in downtown Toronto and it was a local casting so I'm thinking the kid with the famous line was also from Ontario but I could be wrong.

I remember doing the ad with that big yellow "gobbler".  Technology was not very updated back then and I remember that someone had to get into the suit but parts of the suits were mechanic and moved with remote control.  But for the record, it wasn't all a machine there was definitely a person inside that creature.  I also remember a bunch of the kids in the ad were frightened by this big device they didn't know what to expect from it and getting everyone to concentrate on the ad was a task.

I'm really glad I stumbled on your blog and now hopefully the empty void of people not being able to remember the good old commercials in today's world filled with such crappy commercials can be filled.

Anyways... I hope by me stumbling on this blog allows many people can relive the good old days and enjoy one of the great commercials of the past.

If you haven't seen the ad yet, it's right here waiting for you. Thanks Ryan, for sharing the video with me and for giving us further details about this commercial.

Ryan

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The Fred Patterson Interview

microphoneFred Patterson, or Freddie P as he's often called, is best known as one half of the Humble & Fred morning show. I met him through Humble Howard and helped him with his popular blog, torontomike.com.

Making His PointFred's a gracious guy, and he was nice enough to grant me an interview. Here's my interview with Freddie P.

Q: How did Fred Patterson get his start in radio? Tell us about breaking into the biz and that little yellow house in Brampton.
A: After leaving Seneca College in 1978 I took a job at CKFH (now the Fan) writing traffic reports for the morning man who at the time was Brian Barker.

I worked three hours a day for $2.50 an hour. I had to walk half a mile from my house in Scaborough to the bus stop at Birchmount and Eglinton at 4:30 in the morning. CKFH was basically at Yonge and College.

I went all that way to earn $7.50 a day but it was worth it because it put me in the environment of a radio station that leaned heavily towards sports.

Before long I was working the board for Blue Jays baseball and helping out on Bob McCown's original sports talk show, "Talking of Sports."

It was great but I wanted to be "on air" at the folks at FH thought I was too young and green, so at McCowns urging I started to look around and that's how I ended up in Brampton at CHIC 790 - a disco station that needed a news and sports announcer.

It wasn't long before David Marsden hired me to do sports on CFNY (CHIC's sister station) and that's where I stayed for 22 glorious years.

Q: We're missing your voice on Toronto radio. What's next for Freddie P?
A: I have no idea. I'd love to get back into radio but I'm a realist. It's a different business today with less competition and way more interest in bottom line. Ideally I dream of having my own talk show in Toronto, but so do four thousand other people.

I miss the radio station environment and the interaction with people. I'd love to get up each day and have a show to create and present in my own way.

People might laugh at the comparison, but my website has been great therapy for me and in a way constructing it is much like you would a radio talk show. Take a subject, analyze it, give your opinion, piss off a few people, and then wait for the response.

Q: People my age are particularly fond of Mr. Goohead. I want to know the origin of Mr. Goohead and when we can expect a major motion picture featuring the character.
A: When someone makes me an offer. Fat chance.

Mr. Goohead was a real spring board for me. It was his creation that led to my move from sportscaster to morning show co-host. It showed that there was another side to me.

The first episode happened in 1987 with the "Time Change" episode on the Steve Anthony morning show. The clocks and just changed and something inspired me to call a Chinese restaurant and screw with the guy. The voice just came out and the name came from my brother in law who used to call people gooheads.

It got such a great reaction I just kept thinking of concepts and doing them.

At the same time, it was one of those things that after 15 years I grew tired of. Morning shows changed and so did the Humble and Fred Show and prank calls simply didn't inspire me any more.

I still have over a hundred episodes and feature them on my website. torontomike.com

Q: What happened to that BBQ show you hosted on television? Admittedly, my memory is a little hazy, but I remember you giving grilling tips. Was that a cool gig?
A: The money and the experience were fantastic. The product wasn't so great.

I was hired with the understanding that CTV wanted Fred Patterson, the down to earth every day guy who worked on CFNY. I was going to do a relaxed presentation, very casual and off the cuff.

But then the sponsor got involved.

Chinette plates decided they didn't want that image. They made high class paper plates so you couldn't have a guy sloppin' stuff on and off the barbeque. You know, reality.

Instead it turned into a formal and stiff segment that I wasn't especially proud of.

Q: You've done quite a bit of podcasting since you left radio. There's the work you do at beer.com and those awesome Humble & Fred podcasts we did from Dan Duran's house. Will there be another Humble & Fred podcast this Christmas?
A: They were well received so It would be a shame to let the tradition die. But who knows what will be happening by Labour Day let alone Christmas.

Q: What's your favourite movie?
A: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Call it timing. The right movie at the right time for me and nothing has surpassed it.

Q: I've noticed a conservative slant at torontomike.com. When did you sell your soul to the devil?
A: How does the saying go. NDP at 20, Liberal at 30, then you grow up and become Conservative at 40. And I know of what I speak because I've voted for all three parties over the years.

Believe it or not, I'm not partisan. Just give me good honest government. Like that rat Mike Harris who did nothing but do what he said he was going to do. Some of it backfired, but nobody can say he lied to them.

It absolutely amazes me that after 13 years of corrupt Liberal government at the federal level, and four years of Liberal deceit at the provincial level that anyone could even dream of voting for that party.

But people seem to be so anti-conservative they're willing to forgive and forget anything.

Q: I'm a little young to remember Pete 'n Geets, but I hear amazing things. What was it like being a part of that genius?
A: Pete and Geets were fantastic. They were Canada's pioneer FM morning show, and here's what I mean by that. In the early days of CHUM-FM they changed the way morning radio was done.

Less music, more talk, irreverent instead of corny and they didn't yell at you like the am morning shows did. When they came to CFNY in 1980, it got even better.

I often find it amusing how much credit Howard Stern gets for bringing a different style of morning show to radio, but his "style" was being established by Pete and Geets before Stern was even out of college. But without the tits and ass.

And of course, Pete and Geets never got the credit they deserved, mainly because they never had huge ratings. But as we've learned over the years, ratings doesn't mean quality.

The current ratings system is a joke and has robbed Toronto of a lot of good radio over the years.

Q: Is there anything else you want to share with the Toronto Mike crowd?
A: Yea. You don't know what you've got till it's gone. Don't be sad it's over, be glad it happened. Eat lots of fibre and teach your children well.

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Web 2.0 Marketing

microphoneEarlier today I wrote about the invitation I received to see Edward Scissorhands at the Hummingbird Centre. I wondered aloud how many other Toronto bloggers got the same offer. I figured there was no better person to ask than Julie Giles from AWA Touring Services in New York City as she's the woman who sent me the invitation in the first place.

I hit up Julie for a few answers to the questions I couldn't shake from my mind. As you'll read, she was very accommodating.

How many Toronto bloggers are getting this invitation?
About 20 but that number is divided over several communities. For example, we've invited several "cultural trendsetters", several "mommy" bloggers, bloggers from the Goth community, and so on...

How did you determine which Toronto bloggers would get an invite?
We look for bloggers who have interests that dovetail with the subject matter. A sports blogger, for example, would not be interested in this show but a photoblogger might be -- based on the fact the show is highly visual and features very dramatic sets and costumes. I guess you could say we look for a good "fit".

Have you tried this form of web 2.0 marketing in the past and was it successful?
We've been doing Web 2.0 marketing for this particular tour since November. It has been very successful in urban markets like San Francisco and Toronto where there is typically a large number of bloggers writing on a variety of topics. That being said, we've also had successes in smaller markets such as Charlotte, NC, and St. Louis, MI. In these markets, we took a slightly different approach and worked with people and their networks in MySpace and Facebook. It's been a very interesting experience.

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The Bingo Bob Interview

microphoneI met Bingo Bob for the first time when we all showed up at Dan Duran's house to record the 17th annual Humble & Fred Christmas Show. He used to produce the Humble & Fred morning show and recently scored a cool gig producing the morning show at 103.9 Proud FM, the first radio station in Canada catering to the LGBT crowd. I just Googled it... LGBT means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, in case you didn't already know that.

Bingo Bob ArrivesWhen I threw these questions at Bob, I thought Proud FM had already launched. It turns out I was just hearing a test of the signal. Nevertheless, here's my interview with Bingo Bob.

Q: People know Bingo Bob from The Humble & Fred morning show. What went down in July of 2006. Spill the deets...
A: July 2006 was the end of a very significant part of my life. It had already been a strange 11 or 12 months...as Fred was let go a year earlier...leaving Humble Howard and myself the last two left from way back at the Edge days working together. But on July 15th I got a call from the assistant to the GM at Standard Radio Toronto at about 3:30 in the afternoon asking me to come in to the station at 5:30...yikes. I knew exactly what was coming. It was one of the worst feelings in the world. I had never been fired from anything, never mind something I cared so much about. Humble's explanation of how it felt in his article in the Post was very accurate. It's quite surreal. I wasn't even married a year yet, and it was the day before a planned two week vacation in London and Paris...talk about putting a damper on the festivities. I got to the station, my GM told me they are "going in a different direction in mornings"...and that was that. They walked me out...told me I could come back and get my stuff if I wanted...but I didn't...I stopped off at the morning show office and took as many office supplies as possible.

Q: How did you get the nickname Bingo Bob?
A: When I first walked into The Humble and Fred Show @ Edge102 to become an intern, Humble asked me what I did...and lucky me I was a bingo caller/runner/manager. So I immediately became Bingo Bob.

Q: Congrats on being the first Morning Show Producer for the new Proud FM. How is it working with Ken Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace?
A: They are terrific...very nice people who have a great chemistry...I can't wait to get on the air with them...and they cook! It's awesome.

Q: The launch of Proud FM was awfully quiet. You're the first gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender focused station in the country. Shouldn't you be bringing the noise?
A: Well, we aren't launched as of yet. If you do happen upon 103.9 while in your car, what you are hearing is merely a test of the signal...we don't launch until Mid-April.

Q: I'm a heterosexual male. Am I allowed to listen?
A: We are an inclusionary station, we don't JUST cater to the LGBT crowd, we are for everyone.

Q: Who's funnier? Humble or Fred?
A: Hmmmm...actually neither of them. I find them both to be quite serious and somewhat melancholy.

Q: In some quarters, Proud FM is probably a little controversial. Have you had any negative response? Do you receive homophobic email?
A: I haven't yet, but I know some people who were involved in the CRTC application have received death threats.

Q: The Proud FM website has been coming soon for a while now. Do you need a little help with that?
A: Let me ask around...I like your stuff...so we will see!

Q: I live a little west of the downtown core. I get 103.9, but it's a little fuzzy. Any plans to boost the signal so you come in clear throughout the 416?
A: Right now our signal is one of the smallest in Toronto...depending on where you are in the 416 you might have a hard time picking it up on a home stereo...but if you are listening in your car, we are coming in quite well all over the place. My dad called me the other day to say that he was listening while working in Brampton.

Q: Is there anything else you want to share with the Toronto Mike crowd?
A: Not that I can think of...Just that they should keep checking your site as often as possible, anybody who loves Humble and Fred, Pearl Jam and The Simpson's can't be half bad. (Those too are three of my favourite things) And of course to check out my blog too: http://blog.myspace.com/bingobob I have to admit I have been a little light on the postings as of late...who knew building a radio station from the ground up would be so much work?

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My Blogerati File

mouseblogTO has profiled me in their Blogerati Files feature. Click on other there and read my snappy answers to Lily Dustbin's tricky questions.

If you've clicked on over from blogTO, welcome. Hit up the archives and make yourself comfy.

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