Edge 102 ~ CFNY
The camper's enemy is mosquitoes. Luckily for me, I'm protected by CFNY's High Frequency Anti-Mosquito Tone.
You can hear all about CFNY's High Frequency Anti-Mosquito Tone in the ad below. It's making the summer of '85 the best ever.
In the Globe's Ballad of Martin Streek, Program Director Ross Winters claimed CFNY's limit for song repetition was now 7 times in 24 hours. I actually believe that limit to be much higher. In January, during one 12-hour random spot check, a song had already been played 6 times.
CFNY used to be known for its wide playlist and rarely playing the same track in the same day. In fact, I've got the old station promos to prove it.
Here's their "Catch Us If You Can" contest that promises $102 to anyone who catches CFNY playing the same song twice in one day.
Here's a promo for CFNY's No-Repeat Workday. Dan Duran will tell you that you could win $5000 if you catch them playing any song twice between 9 and 5.
Things are rather different at 102.1 these days. I repeat, things are rather different at 102.1 these days.
David Haydu a.k.a. Geets Romo and Pete Griffin were the Pete and Geets morning show on CFNY from 1982-1987. I must confess, I was a little young for Pete and Geets, preferring to listen to Tom Rivers and the Rivers Air Force on CFTR, but I've heard great things about Pete and Geets.
Because I now have the Spirit Reunion CD, I have a tonne of great audio to share with fans of the old CFNY. Let's start with a clip from the Pete and Geets show.
It's a great bit about the old CFNY "One of the world's two great radio stations" promo. Have a listen.
Back in May, when CFNY / Edge 102 showed Martin Streek and Barry Taylor the door, I reported that Fearless Fred from The Bear in Edmonton had been hired as a replacement.
The Twittersphere has exploded the past 24 hours with news Fearless Fred has aired his last show on The Bear and is now on his way to the centre of the universe.
I kid, of course. About the explosion of Fearless Fred chatter in the Twittersphere, not about him leaving his Edmonton gig for a spot at CFNY / Edge 102. Three tweets does not a trending topic make.
There's still no official announcement from CFNY / Edge 102 that Fearless Fred is on his way or where he'll appear in the lineup. My hunch is they'll move Bookie and put Fearless Fred in the afternoon drive spot. Fearless Fred is far more Dean Blundell Show-ish than Bookie and more in line with the kind of radio Program Director Ross Winters seems to crave for this Corus-owned station.
How many final nails in the coffin does one station get?
Steve Macaulay was nice enough to send me a Spirit Reunion 2003 souvenir CD. This thing is awesome. It's 46 stellar clips from CFNY 102.1 that aired between 1977 and 1989. I promise to share some very soon.
In the words of Don Berns:
The audio tracks on this CD are meant as a time capsule of the Spirit of Radio as it was heard during the period of 1977 - '89. I have attempted to give full representation of that era and the special nature of CFNY. However, reducing thousands of hours of entertaining radio to a fleeting few minutes has been a difficult task. Many of my choices of program segments are included because the air talents are talking about signposts from that era: classic radio station promotions, artists, events and of course the music that defined our lives. I only wish we could have included all the magnificent radio performances that defined the Spirit. The personalities who are not represented on this CD are omitted simply because I wasn't able to obtain tapes of their programs. Many of the shows that are represented can be heard extensively at www.spiritofradio.ca, without whose co-operation and enthusiasm this CD would not be possible.
And, in David Marsden's own words:
1977 - '89 seemed like a wonderful radio roller coaster ride. During those eleven years we put together one of the greatest radio teams in history. While those on the air are most often the names so often repeated, we all must celebrate those who worked behind the scenes. The team it took to put it all together was large and every person contributed a particular discipline to the entertainment that came out of your radio. Too numerous to mention in this small space, each name deserves a standing ovation.
Here's the cover. I will share some of this awesome audio over the coming weeks.
Following his death, Martin Streek's official site, MartinStreek.com, was chillingly frozen in time. It alluded to his current DJ gig of 25 years, a gig he lost two months before his death. It was a painful visit.
MartinStreek.com has finally been updated and is actually hosting the 3-hour tribute to Streek that aired on CFNY / Edge 102.1. That's the tribute that led to this collection of thoughts. Download the three MP3s below and throw them on the iPod.
Remember, you can still download all five hours of David Marsden's tribute to Martin Streek that aired on 94.9 The Rock.
Thanks to whomever cracked the code and finally updated MartinStreek.com.
I swear this isn't meant to be a CFNY / Edge 102 blog or Corus blog, it's just a collection of things I'm personally interested in, and this past month that seems to be dominated by a certain local alt rock station.
A few Sundays ago, I wrote about the absence of The Strombo Show on CFNY / Edge 102. I wondered aloud if he had quit Corus. You can click through to read how I strung that thought together.
Then, 102.1 didn't air The Strombo Show again. It was more smoke, but no fire... yet. Now, there's more smoke, thanks to this message from a source I won't reveal.
Don't know if you have heard yet, but a friend at corus said strombo show I cancelled effective immediately. Bullshit about him not being able to find the time to do the show like he wanted to. I know he doesn't have a lot of time but he just built an entire studio in his basement a couple months ago in order to be able to have more time to himself and still be able to put a show together. Rumour has it the ratings were down, but the timing seems a bit fishy if you ask me.
Has The Strombo Show been cancelled?
On 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.
Over the past week or so, I've been communicating with Bert Archer who's been writing an article for the Globe and Mail on CFNY / Edge 102. Bert and I had a nice phone conversation and exchanged several emails and Gtalk messages. He was interested in where CFNY was going following the dismissal and subsequent death of Martin Streek.
I got involved because I broke both Martin's firing and his suicide. CFNY is also one of my favourite blog topics, as it's been my go-to radio station for over 20 years. Even today, as I analyze their song repetition habits and question their playlist, it's the closest match to my musical tastes on Toronto terrestrial radio.
Today, Bert's article about CFNY and Martin Streek was published. You can read it online on the Globe site, or peruse it below. As you'll read, I'm mentioned several times and even quoted.
The Ballad of Martin Streek by Bert Archer, Special to The Globe and Mail
The night 102.1 The Edge fired DJ Martin Streek, he showed up for a birthday party at Andy Poolhall on College Street. Amid a swarm of guests, he bumped into David Marsden, the Toronto radio veteran who'd hired him almost exactly 25 years earlier when he ran the station known as CFNY. According to his former boss, Mr. Streek came over and hugged him, whispering in his ear, "I've just been fired."
Outside the world of sports, personnel decisions rarely make the news. And it's very likely that program director Ross Winters's decision on May 12 and 13 to fire two disgruntled DJs, Mr. Streek and Barry Taylor, wouldn't have either.
Though several Facebook groups sprang up in support of the jockeys - one of them reaching a membership as high as 950 - news of the firings did not go mainstream until July 6. That's when the stunning news of Mr. Streek's death broke in the form of a comment from a friend of Mr. Streek's on torontomike.com. Its proprietor, long-time Edge fan Mike Boon, also added that that Mr. Streek had killed himself.
Soon, the news and comments started popping up on other sites, often in the form of direct attacks on the station whose call letters Mr. Streek had tattooed on his right glute. "The Edge killed Martin," said one torontomike.com commenter.
The Edge is hardly the only radio station in flux, but Mr. Streek's unrelenting enthusiasm for new music made him a symbol of the old, raucous days of radio, a channel of nostalgia unto himself.
"There's something about the 'Spirit of Radio' and what it once was," says Mr. Boon, referring to the old CFNY tagline that inspired a Rush song, "and there's a collective sadness about how radio's devolving in recent years. Martin was a guy who was always there, always solid, extremely likable. When he was let go a couple of months ago, it seemed like a final nail in the coffin."
Yet as Alan Cross sees it, habits have changed as well as taste. A renowned alternative-music historian who preceded Mr. Winters as program director at The Edge, he says, "It was just easier to leave the dial on your favourite station. Now you've got 24 pre-sets."
Mr. Cross, who still works for Edge's owners, Corus Entertainment, was a long-time friend of Mr. Streek's, but rather than casting him as a martyr, he sees the dismissal in practical terms. "A radio station is a business like any other," he says. "People get hired, and sometimes people are let go."
Adapt or die: That's the bitter, and, in Mr. Streek's case, chillingly literal truth. "Our vision is to serve the young adult audience of the GTA," Mr. Winters said in a recent interview, his first since Mr. Streek's death. "We target 18-to-40-year-olds, though mostly the 18-to-34s, and we lean that towards the men."
Though he refuses to comment on the dismissals, he does say that Mr. Cross "had put together a great radio station, but it had its challenges. And when I say challenges, I mean ratings problems."
According to broadcast research company BBM, The Edge is seventh in the Toronto market by number of listeners, with 507,500 people who tune in for at least 15 minutes a week. That's roughly half CHUM-FM's numbers, and 180,000 fewer than its classic-rock brother station, Q107.
Though The Edge might lack listeners, it still enjoys a mythological aura. Originally run out of a little yellow brick house on Main Street in Brampton, the rebellious clarion of alternative music had such a weak signal that fans in Toronto often had to improvise coat-hanger antennas to be able to pick it up. It's the sort of image only a serious lack of money can buy.
But by 1992, star DJs Chris Sheppard, Lee Carter, and Dani Elwell all resigned - Ms. Elwell read out her résumé on air in lieu of notice - because the new program director, Stewart Meyers, was reducing the play lists. But it was still different enough from the rest to attract the current generation of Edge purists, including both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Boon, who only started listening to it after the shift.
Mr. Streek had started out in his last year at high school lugging equipment for the CFNY Road Show - essentially an off-air roving party DJ gig. The '92 shakeup was his big break: he got Mr. Sheppard's old job. From there, he went through a variety of shows, outlasting Mr. Marsden, Steve Anthony, Dan Duran, Live Earl Jive, Kim Hughes, Humble and Fred and Mr. Cross to become the only staff link the station had to its CFNY days.
But as soon as Mr. Winters took over from Mr. Cross last September, Mr. Taylor says both he and Mr. Streek started feeling marginalized.
"Originally, when Alan was program director, Martin and I were participants in the music meetings," he says. "When Ross came in, he just sort of switched the time of the music meetings and made it closed door and didn't let Martin or I know."
The tenor of those meetings had changed, too. According to Mr. Winters, "Our music is not picked by the disc jockeys, it's not picked by me." It's picked by listeners. The station now does three types of audience research every two weeks, and bases its play lists on the results. "If the 18-to-40-year-olds want to hear Foo Fighters and Guns n' Roses, then that's what we'll play."
Mr. Taylor says that he and Mr. Streek made it clear around the office and on the air that they were not happy with the decreasing diversity of the music they were being asked to play. It was a long way from the mid-eighties, when, under Mr. Marsden, listeners were promised $1,002 if they noticed the same song being played more than once in 24 hours. The official limit now is 7 times in 24 hours.
"Martin and I, we both had opinions and would share them on the radio," said Mr. Taylor. "I was told never to talk about anything to do with politics, and that I talked too much about the music." Ditto, he says, for Mr. Streek.
In the last couple of months before they were fired, according to Mr. Taylor, rumours started that the two were on the chopping block. Mr. Streek's own burden got heavier when his long-time romantic relationship dissolved. (Sources would divulge neither her name nor the circumstances of the breakup.)
Then, on May 12, Mr. Taylor got called into a meeting just before his shift. "Ross had an envelope, and he said, 'Ratings at The Edge aren't doing well,' " Mr. Taylor recalls, " 'so we're going to have to make some changes,' and he gave me the envelope, and that was it." The envelope contained his letter of dismissal. According to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Streek was called in for a similar meeting the next day, when he got his own envelope. The last link to the Spirit of Radio days had been severed.
It was that night Mr. Streek showed up to the party on College Street and ran into Mr. Marsden. After a couple of pleasantries, Mr. Streek, who had turned 45 three weeks earlier, leaned in to Mr. Marsden. "You're the only person who ever interviewed me for a job," he said. "I don't know how to interview for a job."
This was not unfamiliar territory for Mr. Marsden, who'd been through several firings, a name change, and now works a 10-hours-a-week jockey gig at Oshawa's 94.9 The Rock. "What we are on the radio is what we is," Mr. Marsden says, remembering the last time he saw his old protégé. "When your job disappears, you ask, 'Who am I,' and too often the answer comes back, 'Nobody.' "
It's a good article that answers some questions we've had these past few weeks. In my quote, I suggested the firing of Martin Streek was the final nail in the spirit of radio's coffin. In actuality, the final nail might be this disturbing fact from the above article.
According to Mr. Winters, "Our music is not picked by the disc jockeys, it's not picked by me." It's picked by listeners. The station now does three types of audience research every two weeks, and bases its play lists on the results. "If the 18-to-40-year-olds want to hear Foo Fighters and Guns n' Roses, then that's what we'll play."
Determining CFNY's playlist is simply too important to be left to the masses.
I just listened to the 3-hour tribute to Martin Streek aired on CFNY / Edge 102. Actually, I missed the first 10 minutes, because I wasn't planning to tune in, but then curiosity got the better of me.
Tomorrow night marks two weeks since Martin Streek took his own life. Yesterday marked two months since I wrote about his firing. Corus' firing of Streek ticked me off, Streek's suicide has followed me around like a black cloud for the past 13 days. The purpose of this entry is to throw down some thoughts on tonight's Corus tribute, accept a few realities and find some closure.
I had trouble getting passed the hypocrisy. The following sentiments were expressed over and over again:
- Martin Streek was my favourite DJ.
- Martin Streek was passionate about music.
- Martin Streek was an ideal colleague.
- Martin Streek was the consummate host.
- I love Martin Streek.
- I'll miss Martin Streek.
- There is no other Martin Streek.
- Martin was one of my heroes.
- Martin Streek was one of the best radio hosts.
I'm sure all of the above is true. CFNY / Edge 102 certainly celebrated Streek, but there was no reference that I heard to the fact they dismissed him in May. This is where the rock meets the hard place. Corus fired Streek, and Corus knows 99% of the listeners tonight are oblivious to this fact. Anyone reading this right now is in the 1% minority. If Martin was so exceptional, with musical passion and a way of connecting with listeners like no other rock DJ in this city, why fire him?
Streek's firing received not a word of exposure on the air. He was deleted from the corporate website and never again referred to on the air until he was found dead in his apartment. Tonight, it was a Streek love-in, with creepiness that only sets in when you've been mourning his absence for two months.
The music tonight was fantastic. A great collection of excellent tunes without commercial interruption. I was pleased with the playlist.
The Separation of Management and Colleagues
Potential hypocrisy aside, those who worked with Martin loved him, and those who worked with him aren't necessarily supportive of his dismissal in May. A chance to honour Streek at CFNY, the call letters Streek had tattooed on his body, was likely important to many at that station. If we separate those in management who discounted Streek's connection to us fans and deemed him expendable from those who sincerely liked him and miss him, tonight's tribute becomes far more palatable.
We also got to hear from some old friends, like Freddie P., Kneale Mann, Brother Bill and Maie Pauts. That was pretty cool.
The Thoughts of Others
I try not to live in a silo. Sometimes, I miss the mark. Via Twitter and this blog, I was able to get thoughts from some of you listening to the tribute, and I was able to read these thoughts in real-time.
Here's what some of you thought of tonight's tribute. In the comments, I'd love to hear from the rest of you.
If they missed him so much why did they fire him? I think its too little too late. - Buffalo Boy
Edge is dead to me. - @Sinnacledotcom
Maybe I'm just bitter, but it's really too bad that Streek's unfortunate death prompted Corus to properly acknowledge him. - @bkblades
Fired or not, I think it's a good move for the Edge to provide a tribute. There are years of history there. - @chadtweets
Last night at The Phoenix was a tad creepy and by far the best 102.1 live-to-air music played in a while. We have to remember that there are a lot of friends of Martin still at 102.1. They didn't fire him, management did. - @CraigMarketer
Choosing to think the tribute is coming from staff, rather than the machine. And the song choices so far seem to support that. - @CarrieGee
Cynic in me thinks they felt like they had to do something or they'd look bad. But there's genuine desire to pay tribute too. - @snosk
It's taken them THIS long to come up with a tribute? Waiting this long is just as bad as not having one at all. - @mike_cluett
I was disgusted to hear that CFNY was doing this tribute today. Firstly because, yes, indeed - they did fire the man 2 months ago and secondly because it took them 2 effing weeks to put it together. If the tribute was truly genuine it would have happened last Tuesday. As for Marsden's tribute - that was awesome - listened to and loved every minute. - Sarah
The other issue I am having with CFNY is that they are still running Martin's promo spots. Not cool CFNY - not cool. It seems to me like they are now trying to capitalize off of his death, given that they did not even acknowledge back in May that he was 'leaving' the station and did no tribute to his work at that time. This late in the game, a tribute seems like a ploy to cover up that they had fired him or a gimmick to get back in the public's good graces for having canned Streek in the first place given the recent negative backlash online for their poor handling of the situation. - Sarah
I was listening to it driving from the city... a few of the people are a little too bubbly if you ask me. - @Noeleen1
I'm listening now.....the music is good and they are saying some nice things, but they are making sound like he never left. They talk about how important he was to the Edge and music. What a bunch of hypocritical crap! - Hector
There's a great article in the Star this weekend about Billy from 99.9 only taking 6 weeks for mat leave because she didn't want to be away from her 'audience' for too long. It's a good article about what radio people mean to their listener's. I'm not so sure radio today is like it was a while ago - with that connection, but, as someone who knew Martin for a long time (I'm an old employee) he had a rabid and loyal following and the tribute Marsden played two weeks ago was outstanding. I can't bear to listen to what's on right now. - Andrew
Marsden's tribute was like a raw wake, while the Edge one is a "memorial" with more time to consider. The family is the family. - @valerieinto
I keep having dreams about Martin Streek - BNL did a lot of remotes, etc with him in the early days. So fucking sad. - @stevenpage
The Shitty Facts
Radio is a business. Corus is a corporation seeking to maximize returns. A friend of mine in the biz once told me, "it's a business run by douche bags who never did the thing that the talent they control do, and that's relate to the audience".
Program directors fire people all the time. If you like the personality getting the boot, you hate this. When you dislike the personality getting the boot, you like this. I liked Martin Streek, so his firing understandably pissed me off.
Martin Streek felt he had no other option than to take his own life. It's easy for us to scream at the top of our lungs that he had so many other options, but that's irrelevant. His state of mind had him convinced he'd be better off dead. At the end of the day, this is the shittiest fact of all.
To Martin's mother, his girlfriend and those who loved him in the "real world", my sincere condolences. If I've been feeling this weight for two weeks, I can only imagine what you've been feeling. Just know that he made an impact and won't soon be forgotten.
To fellow fans like myself, we need to move on. I suggest we download the five hour tribute to Martin hosted by David Marsden on The Rock. The MP3s are waiting for us at https://www.torontomike.com/2009/07/martin_streek_tribute_with_dav.html.
We'll always have the memories and we'll always have the music. Martin Streek, rest in peace.
Discuss "Thoughts on 102.1 Tribute to Martin Streek, Shitty Facts, Closure Sought" (22 comments so far)
Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ... 23 Next
Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.