As promised, EZ Rock is now Boom 97.3, playing "Toronto's Greatest Hits". Humble and Colleen are still doing mornings, Maie Pauts takes it from there and KJ still takes you home. But it's now songs like this:
It's really a great improvement over the playlist for the old EZ Rock. Sure, I could do without that Neville Brothers tune but we got Martha and the Muffins, the Clash, Max Webster, Spirit of the West and they just played the B-52s. It's definitely classic hits with a strong focus on the 80s and a little 70s and 90s on the side.
Sample boom 97.3 for yourself at http://cjez.player.myastralmediaradio.com/ and let me know what you think of the new format in the comments. It might not be exactly what we're looking for, but it's a great improvement.
As a fan of the old Humble and Fred show that aired on CFNY throughout the 90s, Humble's role on the 97.3 EZ Rock morning show has been bittersweet. On the one hand, he's back doing mornings on Toronto radio. On the other hand, it's EZ Rock, home of Celine Dion, John Tesh and a soccer mom music paradise.
Thankfully for us old Humble and Fred fans, and fans of the old CFNY, EZ Rock is changing formats on Boxing Day and will become BOOM FM playing classic hits. No more "light favourites of yesterday and today" or whatever that music was supposed to be. It will become sort of an adult alternative station with a focus on classic hits. At least that's the buzz on the street.
It makes sense. Humble and Colleen in the mornings and then Maie Pauts. Goodbye Celine, hello Thompson Twins. Goodbye John Tesh, hello Tears For Fears. Goodbye EZ Rock, hello BOOM FM.
It snowed last night. Not a lot, but enough to get the local media excited. 680 News, for example, opened their Storm Centre for the first time.
It was about six years ago that I first wondered aloud as to what opening their Storm Centre would entail.
I wonder what setting up the Storm Centre entails exactly. As far as I can tell, it's business as usual with more time devoted to the top story of the morning, our little snow storm. Media outlets like 680News thrive when their listeners in are in a state of fear. Listening to them you'd have thought we were all buried and trapped in our homes living off the food and drink we have stored away. In reality, it's not that bad. Really.
The Storm Centre guy back then was Scott Simpson. I had a chat with Scott Simpson and got an exclusive inside look at the 680 News Storm Centre. We'll call this "680 News Storm Centre Exposed", because that sounds a lot more exciting. The words below belong to Scott.
Setting up the storm centre basically entails somebody telling me, "Simpson, you're on standby for Storm Centre tomorrow." That means I try to get to bed early, but end up tossing and turning until 4:15am when I call the newsroom ... I say, "It's not even snowing. The Weather Network says we're only getting 5cm." They say "Well, it's hit Chicago and they've cancelled a ton of flights. Come on in, you're our man."
That's about it. I get in, I see if any schools are closed, I find out what's up at the airport, maybe call Gary Welsh from Toronto Transportation to see what gear they're sending out, load up the admin side of the web site, and climb on the news wheel ... There's no time to run back and forth into and out of the control room, so I sit at a desk (the proverbial "Storm Centre" which, internally, is dialed up as CHFINEWS, even though they haven't done CHFI news from the newsroom in ... erm ... well, I don't think they ever did. Legacy tech, natch.) and broadcast from there, getting up now and then for fluid management.
So I sit there at the desk, and every half hour they throw to me, I read a sponsor or two, and try to tell it like it is .... sometimes it's a brain-bending five-hour whirlwind of bus cancellations and school closures (how many Montessori schools *are* there in the GTA, and why can't they get their kids to class when it snows?!) though, thankfully, most days I end up saying "Well, there's no big storm here ... but if you're travelling by air, you're screwed." I would rather be the voice of "everything's fine, get out and live your lives!" than the voice of doom and gloom when there's nothing to freak out about. I don't want to get a reputation as Chicken Little. If anything, I downplay the severity of what's going on out of the fact that I don't drive.
I saw Bowling For Columbine and some other stuff that has convinced me that keeping listeners "in a state of fear" is a terrible thing to do. I also don't like "neighbourhoods in a state of shock" or "outraged residents" or such things. I have two rules: tell the truth, and never be boring. They rarely clash, because the truth well told is usually a really interesting story.
There you have it, a Toronto Mike exclusive. Since Scott's left, I think they've gone all "state of fear" on us. Now be afraid... very afraid. White substance has fallen from the heavens!
I recently wrote about the Humble and Fred network cable special that aired on Rogers 10 back in 1993. Thanks to Ryan at Rogers 10, I now have in my possession the opening for "Humble and Fred's First Ever Network Cable Special".
It's got some great footage of the old CFNY studio and a very young Humble Howard, Fred Patterson and Dan Duran. Fans of the old Humble and Fred morning show and CFNY alike will want to check this out.
I'm hearing from usually reliablesources that Rick Hodge and Kim Stockwood are no longer part of the EZ Rock morning show. It's now a two person booth with Humble Howard and Colleen Rusholme.
A lot of noise was made by Astral when Rick Hodge left CHUM-FM for EZ Rock and CFRB last year. Roger, Rick & Marilyn on 104.5 CHUM-FM was a Toronto radio staple, and my mom's favourite morning show. Apparently, the EZ Rock / CFRB experiment failed.
I'll preface the following editorial with the following. I've met Kim Stockwood twice: at a party at Humble's house and when I sat in on the EZ Rock morning show to live blog everything. She's absolutely lovely, and I'm very sorry to see she's become yet another Toronto radio victim. Rick Hodge, however, is another story.
I didn't blog everything I witnessed that morning. I was there from before 6am until the show ended at 9, and since they were nice enough to let me into their off-air world, I understood some things weren't fit for print. The main event that morning never made it to this blog.
** Note: I just did something I haven't done in 9525 entries. I've removed a paragraph. **
Furthermore, I don't believe a four-person crew can truly work. I realize a number of three-person teams have succeeded, such as the aforementioned Roger, Rick and Marilyn and The Dean Blundell Show, but the best morning show teams seem to consist of two people. When this new morning show launched on EZ Rock, my initial thoughts were it would be better as Humble and Colleen. They were the pillars. Kim Stockwood seemed too green and it always felt as if Rick Hodge was being forced into the show with a shoe horn. It never sounded natural and it was entirely too busy.
So Rick Hodge and Kim Stockwood are gone at EZ Rock, and the show is now Stu and Colleen with Humble playing the role of Stu. They're also playing nothing but Christmas music starting now, but I doubt they'll be playing Stockwood's "Marshmallow World". That's too bad, I've always liked her version.
If my memory serves me correctly, I've written about five radio stations flipping formats in the past seven years. I'm sure more stations heard in Toronto have changed their formats during this period, but I've only blogged about five.
Here are those five entries and the number of comments left by frustrated fans of the abandoned format. The total for the Country 95.3 entry is as of this moment and will most likely have increased by the time you read these words.
As a life long fan of radio, I know how attached you get to your favourite stations. You get familiar with the personalities, the schedule and the genre of music. When your favourite radio station flips formats, it can be jarring to fans.
Last Friday, Country 93.5 out of Hamilton stopped playing country music and started playing oldies. I wrote about the switch, and thousands of Country 93.5 fans found the entry. As of this writing, 258 comments have been left, almost unanimously calling out Corus and General Manager Suzanne Carpenter. Country music fans in the GTA are pissed.
I chuckle to myself when I think that I'm now the go-to place for country music fans to voice their displeasure at the format change, because new country is probably my personal least favourite genre of music. I can't stomach the crap.
As soon as the last country song died on the station, listeners crowded onto online discussion boards to voice their disapproval. At torontomike.com, a fan with the screen name Sheila moaned, "The last thing this area needed was another Rock station ... Talk about bad judgment."
Jared T declared, "Country 95.3 was a fantastic radio station and a great refuge from the kind of radio 95.3 has now become."