Barry Taylor Reveals All - CFNY: Top 40 With Grunge

radioOn the heels of The Ballad of Martin Streek comes another super revealing look into the culture change at CFNY / Edge 102.1 under the direction of Program Director Ross Winters. Glove tap to Shane Fame Alexander for this find. Barry Taylor, fired Edge DJ, reveals all on his MySpace page.

There are no delusions of grandeur going on here. But at the same time try and name another radio personality that managed to use his name to create a play on words for the title of a joke and a survey. Seriously. That’s pretty awesome.

The inquiring emails have gotten out of control. At last count there were 7. Let’s deal with this before someone gets hurt. There were some statistical rating issues at the Edge. These began a couple of years ago when the station started to air six, two minute commercial breaks an hour instead of three breaks of three to four minutes. The station suffered - except for the morning show as they were the only time slot that didn’t change to the six commercial break format.

This new format created times when there would be two minutes of commercials followed by a song followed by another two minutes of commercials followed by a song, two more minutes of commercials, another song followed by a minute long promo followed by a song.

It should also be made clear that in radio the only times that really matter for generating revenue are Monday to Friday between 6am and 6pm. I worked Mon-Wed evenings starting at 7PM and weekend afternoons, A.K.A. – prime time. And according to Ross Winters I was a problem.

Ross Winters. The latest Program Director at one oh two point one the Edge. The guy who continually calls all the shots. When one thinks of Ross one word comes to mind: Adonis. Cut from the pages of a romance novel, the man turns heads when he walks into a room; the ladies stare with lustful eyes and the men stare with envy. He speaks with a slight accent that moistens the loincloths of every female within ear shot. The only thing sexier than his long, chestnut-brown hair are his muscles. A man among boys.

The first thing Ross ever talked to me about was how much money KROQ in Los Angeles made. This wasn’t a good sign. He casually continued to express his ideas on making the Edge like a Top 40 station but with grunge music. “Zee Edge must appear sexier to all zee people of Toronto” he told me. “Like Paris Hilton.” But he pronounced Paris like Pair-ee so I was confused at first. From that point on I was pretty positive I was ####ed. Sounding like a monotone burnout doesn’t really work with Top 40 Radio.

Changes came quick with Ross. The music played on the station became incredibly restricted and really repetitive. In the past I was allowed to have input at the station’s music meetings. The meetings happened weekly and it’s where we’d decide which songs to add. Enter Dr. Don Mitchell, the Music Director and Assistant Program Director.

Don is a six foot six, 300 pound African-Canadian who lives and breathes Gangster Rap. When Don was hired a few years ago the Canadian Music Industry instantly stopped and thought: Why, in the name of all things holy would one of the biggest new rock stations on the planet, whose musical integrity and credibility are unmatched, hire a music director that is the absolute antithesis of the demographic they’re trying to reach? Don became known in Toronto music circles for his catch phrase, “Nigga, here’s my mother ####in’ philosophy…”

Ross and Doc decided all music at the Edge would be based on what other stations were playing. They also sent out for a ton of research to try and tune them into what the demographic liked.

One of the last music meetings I was at we were trying to decide which Canadian band to add. Ross liked band A because he had met the lead singer and thought she was sexy. Don wanted band B because they were being played in Edmonton and Calgary, I offered band C. Band C had three sold out shows at Toronto’s Massey Hall that month and band C’s iTune sales were exponentially greater than band A and band B put together.

Dr. Don looked at me like I just pissed in his soup. “Nigga, here’s my mother ####in philosophy,” he snapped. “#### three sold out shows at Massy Hall. I could take a shit on stage and sell out Massey Hall. Why don’t you take your Barry Funny Ass out of this mother ####er. “ Ross agreed. I wasn’t allowed at another music meeting.

Another nail in my coffin came with the whole electric car chaos. Holy crap that upset people. The coverage received more attention from outside media than any other thing that happened on the Edge in the 7 years I was there. Awesome. Management is gonna love the publicity. No. No they didn’t. I was immediately told to not talk about the issue on air.

I was also told I talked too much about music. The 420 Thought was replaced with familiar Foo Fighter or Pearl Jam songs. The Blue Jay Breaks I did with my dad were also axed and for the record, while we covered the Jays this season they were 21-12. Since I was fired they’ve tanked to 49-51 ....so…yeah. Pick a side.

As the station continued it’s homogenization it became clear changes were coming for those who didn’t fit in. The music became even more repetitive to the point where I’d be playing the same song twice in a four hour shift. No artists were to be interviewed on the air, aside from the morning show. Announcers were told to talk for 30 seconds or less and our content was heavily scrutinized.

Finally on a Tuesday in May I was called in before my shift and let go for rating reasons. As an email went out the following day the first person to reach out was Martin Streek. He was very supportive and let me know he had my back. A few hours later Ross had him come into the station for the last time.

So that’s it. In the end it’s not a big deal, it’s a business. The Edge’s number one goal is to make money. Some have asked about Megaphoneman. Sadly he was let go too. Was it discriminatory? Let me put it this way, now that he’s gone Corus Entertainment employs no vocal-impaired Megaphonites. The days when a former opera singer who lost his vocal capabilities due to expired cough syrup and subsequently had to speak through a Megaphone was allowed on the Edge are dead. But let us not forget those days and they will live on as the Spirit of Radio.

That which we thought was true, is true. CFNY is now a Top 40 station but with grunge music.


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Comments (36 - click here to join in!)

Wayner

I said it earlier...if they could get away with it they would copy Virgin's play list...funny how the morning show seems to be untouchable...

July 30, 2009 @ 10:17 AM

Steve Kasan

Who the hell is this Dr. Don Mitchell? Sounds like a house-nigga with that stupid phrase!

Their stupid ass Top 40 Mentality with Grunge is stupid because that woodbridge station also plays the same songs, MGMT "Kids", they play them.
And why the hell do they keep on playing Sabotage and Wonderwall?

now with CKNY messed up, is there any good stations in this city?

July 30, 2009 @ 10:32 AM

Michelle

Wow, the whole thing is just incredibly sad. I gave up on the station ages ago but to think that 14 year olds in the suburbs won't have the chance to grow up with this station just makes me - sad.

July 30, 2009 @ 10:37 AM

Jason Paris

I mostly gave up on CFNY around 1997, but I think it's really telling how we all still care about this station that was, but we all really, do which I think is only a testament to what it was (and I'd argue still could be, although highly unlikely). What an enormous testament to the power of those four letters: C-F-N-Y. And what a joke that those owning those four letters don't seem to have a clue regarding the fanatical worship that radio listeners in this market (young and old) have for it.

While it really sucks that Martin is gone, I can't help but be elated by the fact that the words "CFNY" and "Spirit of Radio" are all over the newspapers, blogs and in general chatter these days. I think this torrent of discussion will lead to one of two things by Corus...

1.) A complete removal of any vestige to CFNY's past, by changing the call letters and turning her into some general youth-oriented rock station or possibly even something worse.

2.) Possibly, just possibly, a return to wider playlists, less frequent repeats, announcers who care and are allowed to talk about music, etc. No, not a return to "Spirit of Radio"-era CFNY, but maybe something more in-line with mid-late 1990s CFNY.

The above read was juicy beyond belief. I'm still shaking my head. Some dumbo may think he can get an audience by shitting on a stage at Massey Hall, but the truth is that new music fans have been shit on by PDs and and MDs at CFNY for 15 years now. Yes, it's about making money, I get it, but nobody will ever convince me that in a music-crazed city like Toronto we don't have a market for a proper new music station. Would it make enough money to be palatable to Corus shareholders? Probably not. Would it make some money anyway? Probably so.

July 30, 2009 @ 11:26 AM

Wayner

Expecting the Edge to change is a lost cause. It is part of a corporate entity and there is money involved (lots of money by the sounds of it)...Perhaps we need someone (or a group) with vision like Marsden to take the leap and start-up a new, independant station with the elements of the former CFNY...It was done before and it can be done again

July 30, 2009 @ 12:04 PM

Jason Paris

I'm not saying its probable, but let's not forget that throughout most of its history CFNY was a coprorate entity. Yes, even in the "Spirit of Radio" days.

July 30, 2009 @ 12:12 PM

James

Sad, sad, sad.

I hope Barry Taylor finds work somewhere else. Although, I'm not quite sure where he'd go.

As commercial radio gets worse and worse I find myself listening more and more to CBC. I believe they're #1 in Toronto, so perhaps other people are turning there for the same reason.

July 30, 2009 @ 12:27 PM

Jason Paris

CBC Radio One is number one in Toronto and in many markets across the country and I'd argue is some of the best radio being heard in North America these days. There's very little music played on Radio One though.

CBC Radio 2 went down for the first book after the programming changes, but is now on the upswing. It's new line-up is less classical-heavy and features a wide range of music that wouldn't otherwsie be heard on Canadian radio. It can be a bit all over the place, but has some great shows once you get used to the schedule.

It's a shame that the CRTC never gave a broadcast license for CBC Radio 3 as that is a place where many of us "spirit of radio" folks would probably call home on the terrestrial dial. I'm not in support of their nationalistc 100% Canadian content (although, I'd be happy with 60%), but otherwise they are mostly a pleasure to listen to.

Other "Spirit"-type stations out there would include WOXY, Radio Nova, BBC 6 Music and of course Marsden's show on Oshawa's "The Rock."

July 30, 2009 @ 12:55 PM

Burlington Andy

First time I gave up on cfny was in '92 when I woke up to Bon Jovi. Unfortunately, the airwaves really suck in this town. I listen now and again to 'ny when I am tired of my music, and the internet stations.

What set cfny apart all those years ago was things like talking about the music, no repeats, and having the balls to play anything, Ministry followed by Sinatra followed by Bob Marley.

So, totally against what they are trying to be now.

Never changed the station because I didn't want to miss what was coming next. Not now, the next song will probably be the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilly Willies or some god awful piece of crap that they played last hour.

I always hoped that the Mars Bar, Alan Cross and just about anyone from the old days would start up a new station and be true to themselves and the music, like they used to be.

Now, I am not just some 40ish longing for the music of the old days, there is so much good stuff out right now that you could never hear the same song twice. But hearing some obscure goodies from the past is always nice.

Barry, you are missed, I hope to hear you again somewhere. Martin, you are missed.

-Andy

Oh, and I agree with Jason, CBC 2 has it's moments, 6-9 and what is it, 3-6, and the jazz ain't so bad either.

July 30, 2009 @ 1:23 PM

G

CFNY also died to me around 1999. Wow, it's been 10 years since I really tuned in.

My peak years for that station were the mid 80's to mid 90's.

Hell, I remember the station playing then obscure bands like Kraftwerk and Throbbing Gristle. It's where I first discovered the whole Madchester scene.

Now, the station is just a mess of Green Day, Linkin Park and a Stern-wannabe morning show that truly is terrible.

July 30, 2009 @ 1:34 PM

Laine

First -- I was a big fan of Barry on The Edge.
Second -- I also agree with the sentiment of the comments prior to mine - as well as the overall theme of Barry's post as well.

However - he has embelished or told a fib re: at least one detail. (probably for the purposes of pure comedy or at the very least, an inside joke to those who know)
Dr. Don Mitchell is not a large African-Canadian man, and nor does he live n breathe Gangsta Rap.
(I have met the man, many times)

I don't doubt that Barry's overall take on his tenure at The Edge is that far off. (ie. The company is about making money - not about promoting new music.)
My point is this. To present this as a juicy insider's point of view is probably only 'half right'.
He's making a point, but he's also "F-ing" with us.

Again - please understand, I'm a fan of Barry's and I'm not a fan of what the Edge is now.
But... please... understand that some of his comments are comedic. So make sure you weed through his comments a little.
(honestly... I had a good chuckle)

Also a quick google search will show you that Ross Winters is not the Adonis that Barry claimed him to be.

Either way... The Edge has changed - and it CERTAINLY is not the CFNY of old. That much is true. :(

July 30, 2009 @ 1:42 PM

Mississauga Mike

So who was the artist that sold out Massey Hall, City And Colour?

July 30, 2009 @ 2:00 PM

shane alexander

thanks for the shout out..i found it over at THAT yellow radio board...

July 30, 2009 @ 2:52 PM

Mississauga Mike

Another reason to be mad at the Edge, they cursed our Blue Jays wonderful start. :(

July 30, 2009 @ 2:57 PM

Hector

I'm not sure how much of this is real or Barry being Barry....but the station keeps getting worse and worse. Who is this Ross Winters guy anyway???

July 30, 2009 @ 3:23 PM

Timexxx

"First time I gave up on cfny was in '92 when I woke up to Bon Jovi."

Bon Jovi would have been 1988, 1989 ... gone by 1990.

But people have been complaining about this station "selling out" for 30 years, so the confusion is understood.

July 30, 2009 @ 4:37 PM

Buffaloboymike

There is one night of the week I still listen, as soon as that night is axed, Im done, Sunday Nights I will listen until they ax it, hopefully that won't happen, but if it does, Im taking 102 off my stations in my car.

July 30, 2009 @ 5:43 PM

Andrew

Timexxx...
I was working in the music department at that time... you should have seen the difference in the Thursday 30 the week McLean Hunter bought the station... it was awesome.

Great insight by one of my fav people's to listen too. Everything he says is probably exactly how it happened.

Cheers!

July 30, 2009 @ 8:07 PM

James

Hey Jason, was the CRTC ever considering offering Radio 3 a license? I would LOVE that. God, is there a petition we can sign or something?

The R3-30 podcast is quite literally 9 trillion times better than anything on the Edge right now.

July 30, 2009 @ 9:07 PM

Khristopher

Very sad to read this. It's unbelievable what has happened to this once awesome radio station.
I think I really stopped listening when I heard Eminem being played on it. Oh and Metallica.
Now when I hear it in the car every now and then, it's the same songs over and over. I hear that new Green Day single 21 Guns. Almost every time I happen to turn it on in the car, it's almost a guarantee.

July 31, 2009 @ 4:20 AM

Mike from Lowville

When Barry Taylor first came on the Edge, I thought he was kind of geeky, like, right out of radio college and I like him. I guess that's why I'm hooked on Mohawk College radio. Burlington Andy, give it a try. Signals weak but downtown Burlington can pick it up. It's hit and miss in Lowville but in cases where Fred's Wolf steals the air space I just listen on the Web. Fuck Corus!

July 31, 2009 @ 10:38 AM

The_Voice

I used to listen to Edge 102.1 ALL the time. Then, well, the music got stale. It's still stale. Same 90s music with some random new stuff that doesn't interest me as much.

My iPod on shuffle or OTHER radio stations have replaced the edge, for the most part.

July 31, 2009 @ 11:00 AM

Mike from Lowville

What else would you expect from a station owned by a company that is "One of Canada's largest media companies with a focus on children's television production."

I rest my case

July 31, 2009 @ 11:07 AM

Trish

Very enlightening, Barry Taylor. Wow. I abandoned Edge years ago for a few reasons. For one thing, it got boring. Too much grunge. It seems like the idiots who ran the asylum have only gotten worse...

July 31, 2009 @ 12:55 PM

Barry Taylor sucks

Thank god that gay lover fag is off the air.

September 13, 2009 @ 4:23 PM

Josh B

It's really too bad. Barry was the best thing on the edge, now some babbling "fearless idiot" is on the air talking about god knows what for 5 minutes at a time. I change the station every time he's on. It's a shame that Barry is gone and this douche from alberta took his job.

October 22, 2009 @ 1:53 AM

Scotty A.

The Edge will never be the same. I noticed a huge decline in the quality of programming a few years ago. And B.T. was the best personality on there, by far!!!

Does anyone know where he is working now??

November 6, 2009 @ 12:05 AM

Scotty A.

Also,

Fearless Fred is absolutely BRUTAL! B.T. and Martin Streak (R.I.P.) forever!!!!!!!!

November 6, 2009 @ 12:07 AM

sEaN

It's sad day in TO when the small station turned big is turned into a a trend following pathetic version of itself. Listening to David Mardsen on the Rock is what a truly edgy station would play. There is tons of great alternative music out there new and old that has a following yet 102.1 see's only the watered down crap.

Stop screwing with something that worked and put you where you are Now! Apple stuck to it's guns and remained as the alternative and is now on top and getting bigger by the second. Unique is what makes you Popular. Long Live the 4:20!

December 24, 2009 @ 4:03 PM

tim

dont miss you. I'll bet it was the no stop eco-car crap.....that's what made me turn 102 off......you....... own it!

January 19, 2010 @ 7:20 PM

colslaw

My opinion on the edge..

Most of the Dean Blundell show kills me.. however i refuse to say I like it because theyre the definition of 'deuch-bag-hockey-players' im not so crazy about.

Can the 'nooner' please seize to exist..

Fearless Fred, although getting easier to stomach and seems nice, has worlds worst sense of humor.

Can't really rip bookie, although +15 minutes of his voice kills me!

And now for our dear radio host Barry.. the pace you talked at was great; the music you talked about was good; 420 thought was humrous; as was the baseball highlights with your dad.

all in all.. fck 'em

January 21, 2010 @ 8:39 PM

Bloge Salming

Can someone tell me if this Barry Taylor went to cub scouts in Hamilton around the mid 1980s???

I totally remember a Barry Taylor back then...

March 30, 2010 @ 8:29 AM

dude

the only good firing would be spencer the cripple

July 18, 2012 @ 10:48 PM

Brad

Its a very tough business and Barry makes some good points. They have been making changes slowly at Corus in Vancouver. Some good, some bad.

Neil Morrison is the best dj/announcer they have here, but now there is no room for his wit,sense of humour, and insight. So much is on tape and there is virtually no listener interaction.

August 27, 2013 @ 4:05 PM

Tanya

It's years later, but we miss you man.

December 13, 2013 @ 11:26 AM

Adam

Tanya it is years later but RIP Martin and long live the Spirit of Radio.

January 8, 2014 @ 1:16 PM

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