Canadian Premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal

I attended the Canadian premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal last night. You might recall me writing about this documentary. It features Meg Griffin, Charles Laquidara, Pat O'Day and our very own David Marsden.

Marsden was at the premiere, and we chatted before the curtains went up. A number of old CFNY staffers were there, as well as radio fan Erin Davis who gave me a big hug. It was a great atmosphere.


And for this longtime fan of radio, it was a great doc. Aside from Marsden, i was only slightly familiar with Meg Griffin from her appearances on Howard Stern. The others, Charles Laquidara in particular, were great story tellers.

And that's what makes Marsden so great. The man is an excellent storyteller, with fantastic stories to tell. It's why his appearance in episode 106 of my podcast is one my personal favourites. I Am What I Play features plenty of great Marsden tales with old audio, video and photos I had never seen. I've finally heard what Dave Mickie sounds like!

If you love radio, you'll adore this doc. It's also got a great soundtrack and closes the only way a good radio story should.

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Dean Blundell Improves, but Below Rogers's Expectations

Demographics are everything to a station. Performances in a targeted demo determine a station's revenue generation potential. Dave Shoalts writes in today's Globe and Mail about Dean Blundell's rating improvement in The Fan's targeted demo of men aged 18-34. I have it on good authority that The Fan is actually targeting men aged 25-54, a subtle but significant difference.

Looking at that M25-54 demo, Blundell & Co. rose to 6.4 in April. That's great when compared to the competition on TSN Radio 1050, but not-so-great when compared to how Brady and Walker fared in that same time slot last April. In April 2014, Brady and Walker got a 9.8. Blundell lost a 3.4 share and Rogers executives expected the opposite.

Let's talk about TSN Radio 1050 for a moment... That station has had terrible ratings for over four years, and Mike Richards slipped to 1.1 last month. How long does Bell prop this station up?

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The Effect of Morning Show Changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 on Toronto Radio Ratings

Toronto radio ratings came out yesterday, and I was interested in what effect recent changes at The Fan 590 and Virgin 999 have had. The Fan 590 recently moved Brady and Walker to 1pm and brought in long-time Edge 102 morning man Dean Blundell to host their morning show. Virgin 999 recently fired Jay "Maddog" Michaels and replaced him with someone named Tucker.

First, let's take a look at the numbers for The Fan 590. Keep in mind, Dean Blundell debuted on March 2 after a great deal of promotion.

Males, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 4.9
Feb 2015: 4.4
Mar 2015: 4.4

Males, ages 18 - 49
590 Mornings

Feb 2015: 4.5
Mar 2015: 4.2

Males and Females, ages 25 - 54
590 Mornings

Jan 2015: 2.6
Feb 2015: 2.4
Mar 2015: 2.3

The needle barely moved. I'm certain Rogers executives expected a much bigger bump, or at least a bump. Instead, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. And remember, Blundell is a controversial figure in this town. You've got to assume many would tune in during his first month to see how he sounds in the new format. Curiosity alone should have resulted in an increased share. The numbers will likely only go down from here.

The 4.4 share Dean Blundell got in The Fan's key demo is particularly devastating for Rogers when you consider Brady and Walker earned an 8.5 share last March.

Now, let's look at the numbers for Virgin 999. Maddog was fired on March 4, so he's responsible for February.

Females, ages 25 - 54
Virgin Mornings

Feb 2015: 6.6
Mar 2015: 4.3

All Females, all ages
Virgin Overall

Feb 2015: 6.4
Mar 2015: 3.4

That's a significant drop in their targeted female audience gone in 30 days. Ladies seem to love Maddog. It's important to note, however, that Tucker didn't start until very late March.

I reached out to Maddog, who appeared in episode 92 of my podcast, and here's what he had to say.

The listener response has been overwhelming and completely humbling. You always hope your connecting with people but I had no idea how much and how many. Between the petition, Facebook and Twitter, WOW. Blown away daily by the support. And the fact that they say they'll follow me wherever I go next? That's proof that Radio personalities are still a huge part of people's lives in Toronto. I Can't thank everyone enough... but I sure plan on trying.

What are your thoughts on these numbers for The Fan 590 and Virgin Radio's morning shows? Were the big changes worth it?

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Who Is Mason Reese And Why Is He Crying?

I love compelling audio. I love a good story and learning new things. Yesterday, while driving the family home from my son's hockey game, I tuned into CBC Radio One and heard Jonathan Goldstein on Wiretap airing an episode he originally recorded for the Gimlet Media podcast Reply All.

Goldstein was talking about falling down a rabbit hole of YouTube nostalgia and staring down a figure from from his early childhood. Mason Reese was that figure.​

Goldstein's memories of Mason Reese date back to the early 70s, just before my time. I completely missed the Mason Reese era, and was fascinated to learn he was an advertising phenomenon who appeared in dozens of commercials for everything from Dunkin' Donuts to Raisin Bran. He built his career on this Underwood Chicken Spread ad, which included the adorable spoonerism, “Borgasmord.”

Then, Goldstein happened upon this clip of Mason Reese crying on the Mike Douglas Show. It was uploaded by Mason Reese himself. You've got to see this.

Why was Mason Reese crying because Harry Chapin was going to play Cat's in the Cradle? There was only one way to find out. Goldstein needed to track Mason Reese down and ask him. The result is precisely what I love about good podcasts and documentary-style radio shows like this: a compelling story in which I learn something new.

Here's the full episode:

And the Mike Douglas Show, which I had never seen, has an awesome logo I could totally steal.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.45.22 PM

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Amber Gero Shares Frustration Over "Rampant Racism and Sexism" at Newstalk 1010

Reporter Amber Gero was let go by Newstalk 1010 last summer. She, along with morning anchor Evelyn Macko and Queen’s Park reporter Katie Franzios, were dismissed due to what Bell Media calls "synergies".

Gero had spent 14 years at Newstalk 1010, and now she's letting loose on Twitter about what she calls "rampant racism and sexism" in radio.

She even took a shot at Bell's Let's Talk initiative. Bell owns Newstalk 1010.

Is Toronto radio too white and too male dominated? Does it fairly represent the city?

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Alternative Radio Fans Rise Against CFNY Switch

With the passing of Don Berns earlier this week, it seems like an appropriate time to jump in the time machine back to 1989 when CFNY 102.1 had changed its progressive and alternative new music format to something more mainstream. How mainstream? Think Janet Jackson and Bryan Adams.

CFNY fans rebelled, as you'll read in these old clipping from newspapers and magazines at the time. The passion and loyalty is an awesome sight to behold.

I received these clippings from a reader of this blog named Frank who got them from Larry Bates, who is often cited and/or quoted in these pieces.








Larry was ready to go again in '92, but it was a false alarm.

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Jay "Maddog" Michaels Fired

I'm very sorry to learn Jay "Maddog" Michaels has been let go from Virgin Radio 99.9 FM. He had been there since August 2006. Former partner Bilie Holiday was let go back in 2011.

If you haven't yet heard Maddog on episode 92 of my podcast, give it a listen. He was extremely candid and refreshing and it was a pleasure having him on.

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Don Berns Dead

Don Berns He was the longtime Toronto radio personality best known for his seven years at CFNY from 1985 to 1992 and his many years as Dr. Trance, Godfather of the Toronto rave scene.

I was hoping to have Don Berns on my podcast, and when he came in, I was going to play him this vintage CFNY clip.

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Bring Back the Spirit of Radio Part 2???

This little relic from Toronto's radio history was sent to me by Frank. It was circulated back in '92 when there were rumours CFNY was returning to top 40, as it did briefly in the late 80s.


These types of campaigns remind me of David Marsden's original call to arms which I played for him in episode 106 of my podcast. It literally brought him to tears.

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I Am What I Play

I didn't know I Am What I Play existed until David Marsden told me about it in episode 106. It's a documentary about rock radio DJ's featuring Meg Griffin, Charles Laquidara, Pat O'Day and our very own David Marsden, best known as the driving force behind CFNY in the 1980s.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the rock radio DJ played an unprecedented creative role in the rock music world. I Am What I Play profiles four DJs in major markets during this period: their programming, their politics, and their deep connections with musicians and fans in the heyday of rock radio. Where are they now — and how did they reinvent themselves as the medium changed?

Watch this trailer and tell me you're not interested in seeing more. I can't wait to see this doc!

By the way, when Scot Turner's Spirit of Radio Sunday was cancelled by 102.1 the Edge a couple of weeks ago, I heard from many people looking for music from that era. You might want to check out showcases the distinctive quality of all the amazing music we remember. We deliver an audio stream we hope, will permit you to dream, to imagine the world as we know it and to see things differently through music.

It's only $5.99/month.

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