I've been blogging here since 2002 with almost 10,000 entries under my belt. During that time, I've broken a few stories, usually local radio hirings and firings. Last night, I broke a story here that still has me dazed.
The comments in my entry about Martin Streek's death, from dozens of people who knew him and loved him, confirm what I always suspected. Martin was a genuine good guy who loved what he did and treated everyone he encountered with class, good humour and respect. So many Torontonians felt a connection with Martin, and the 148 comments (and counting) prove he struck a chord with this city in a personal way few media personalities can equal.
The mainstream media coverage of Martin Streek's death, especially from our local newspapers, was abysmal. Martin deserved so much better for what he gave this city. I'm going to address the coverage from the Toronto Sun, National Post, Toronto Star and Globe & Mail.
Get used to this picture of Martin. It was his Facebook profile picture, and the same one I used last night. You'll be seeing a lot of it in this local MSM analysis.
I'm leading with the Sun's coverage because their factual errors really hit home with me. "The news broke on an Internet message board post by David Marden". When I clicked through, I did find a comment by Marsden on someone else's post, but the post was published over an hour after my entry about Streek's death. Clearly, a little Googling is too much fact checking to expect from the Sun.
The remainder of the article could have been written by anyone with a web browser.
National Post 1
There's that picture again. You have to admit, it's a great shot. I don't think Martin would mind one bit if the media failed to find another.
This first entry from the National Post really infuriates me with their ignorance. "One blogger named Marsden (luvradio) posted the following today." Are you kidding me, National Post? Calling Marsden "one blogger" is inexcusable. David Marsden was the driving force behind CFNY in the 1980s and a local radio legend. How does the Post not recognize that?
National Post 2
Again, the National Post's coverage of Martin Streek's suicide could have been thrown together by any teen with wifi. It's his final Facebook status message, a mini-bio, and that picture we all know and love.
The National Post did, however, give me credit as a source alongside the CBC, which is almost enough for me to forgive their inabilty to scratch beneath the surface. A popular local DJ who was on the air for over two decades before his inexplicable firing at the hands of Corus Entertainment kills himself at the age of 45 and we're once again fed lazy jounalism from one of our many dailies.
I'm most disappointed in the Toronto Star for their coverage of this tragic event. The Toronto Star is my paper, the one I read daily and the one I've been reading daily ever since I discovered Blue Jays box scores and For Better of For Worse comics in the early 80s.
The Toronto Star should be ashamed for this reprint of the Canadian Press release. Couldn't the Star find a reporter to dig around, give us some insight, try and give this appearingly senseless act some context? The Canadian Press coverage is a paint-by-numbers statement that Streek lived, worked at 102.1, was fired and died. For shame.
Globe & Mail
I saved the Globe & Mail's article for last, because it's so offensive I couldn't get past the headline. It was very late in the day when I took this screen cap, and they were still misspelling Martin's name. It reminds me of that old axiom there's no such thing as bad publicity so long as they spell your name right. Poor Martin didn't get that honour.
Toronto is a huge city with a glut of media stationed here and many, many passionate citizens who are deeply feeling this loss. The service we've received from our newspapers is truly disgusting, especially when contrasted with the coverage given to a memorial service held in Los Angeles this afternoon.
We deserve so much better.
I'm not sure how to write this one, so I'm just going to tell you what I know.
As a long time fan of CFNY / Edge 102, I was sad to learn recently that Martin Streek had been fired after over 20 years of service. As of this writing, that entry had 88 comments from others who wanted to wish Martin well. Soon enough, Martin Streek himself chimed in to say thanks.
Thank to those of you who made comments, both good and bad...either way, it's proof that you listened and/or cared about the scene I/we were part of...
Earlier today, Martin Streek updated his Facebook status message with words that sound so ominous now. This, it turns out, is Martin's farewell to the world.
So...I guess that's it...thanks everyone...I'm sorry to those I should be sorry to, I love you to those that I love, and I will see you all again soon (not too soon though)... Let the stories begin.
My entry about Martin Streek leaving CFNY / Edge102 is #1 when you Google his name, and Steve did just that an hour ago.
I just heard that Martin has passed away... very sad to hear.... (I was a cfny staffer back in the 80s and just heard this from Earl J.)
At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Martin Streek seemed so vibrant, so full of life. But after chatting with Steve, and seeing the Facebook status message, I'm afraid it's true.
Martin Streek has taken his own life.
Norm Rumack has been with THE FAN since its inception in September 1992, but you won't hear him on THE FAN 590 any longer. Stormin' Norm Rumack has been fired as Rogers-owned stations axed four ad reps, Rumack and an unidentified behind-the-scenes employee.
Back in the 90s, when I listened to quite a bit more of THE FAN, Norm was known for:
- An unapologetic, unfazed appreciation for "God's Team", the Toronto Maple Leafs
- A belief Wendel Clark was the greatest player in the history of the game
- An absolute hate-on for the Muder City Dead Things
- A HammerHead Alert he would sound if you disagreed with any of the above
It was fun late-night radio back in the day. I haven't heard him in years, but you don't soon forget a guy who tells you Wendel Clark is better than Mario Lemieux and believes every syllable.
The late-night vampire shall haunt us no longer. Hammerhead Alert! Hammerhead Alert!
I got an interesting email from Race Coach the other day. He had a couple of neat stories as to how he won prizes from CFNY / Edge 102. Here's his email.
I was thinking it might be interesting to blog about prizes people have won at CFNY, err The Edge. I don't bother trying to win prizes from the radio any more, but there was a time ....
1) I was washing my car out on the front lawn, listening to CFNY. The Live Earl Jive was on, and he just mentioned something between songs: "If you see a CFNY cruiser with a wind surfer on top, stop and ask how to win it". I didn't pay much attention. But, later that day, I was heading to work at Ontario Place, along Lakeshore Blvd, and saw the cruiser parked in a gas station. I pulled a U-ee and rolled down my window. "How do you win that think?", I said. "You just did", was the reply. That was the start of my windsurfing career.
2) The next one is a little vague. I remember going to a sporting event, in a box that was sponsored by CFNY. I imagine I must have won something, just to get there. Then, during the event, they drew names. The winners got to go to Winnipeg for a CFL game with Humble and Fred. Low and behold, I won (along with a bunch of other people). So, on a frigid, grey weekend a bunch of us flew to Winnipeg, sat outside on aluminum seats, froze out nuts off and watched a bad game of football. It was AWESOME! Humble and Fred were great hosts, and made the event particularly fun.
I've never won a radio contest, but I've never called in to win, which may explain my futility. I did win Jays tickets and an invitation to 680 CFTR's Pizza Pizza pre-game party, but that wasn't through the radio. That's a neat story you can read here.I'm interested to know who out there has won anything interesting from a radio contest and how it all went down. Share in the comments!
It seems the most popular entries around these parts lately have been about Toronto radio. It started when Martin Streek and Barry Taylor were fired at Edge 102, continued when I wrote about the problem with Jack FM and culminated in the birth of Kiss 92 where Jack once broadcast. All three entries seemed to bring out the commenters.
I've mentioned I actually liked the music mix at Jack. I also really like the music mix at Edge 102. I listened to a lot of Edge 102 today, in the shower, in the car running a few errands and even on the ol' home stereo. I was digging the playlist, pleased with just about every tune I heard during this Double Shot weekend.
For the heck of it, here are the artists played on 102.1 the Edge between noon and 7pm today. Beside each band / artist, I'm putting a YES to indicate I really like the choice, a NO to indicate I really don't like the selection and an OK if I can take them or leave them.
|NINE INCH NAILS||YES|
|KINGS OF LEON||YES|
|RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS||YES|
|STONE TEMPLE PILOTS||YES|
|THE TRAGICALLY HIP||YES|
|RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS||YES|
|EAGLES OF DEATH METAL||YES|
|OUR LADY PEACE||YES|
|YEAH YEAH YEAHS||YES|
|CITY AND COLOUR||YES|
|RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS||YES|
I gave a YES to a resounding 95.5% of the bands I heard. Only 2% of the bands got a NO. That's pretty awesome, so what's the problem? The problem, according to this 7 hour snapshot, is repetition.
Only 30 of these bands are unique, or 66.7%. In fact, Billy Talent, Franz Ferdinand and Red Hot Chili Peppers each appeared in three different sets during this seven hour span. Considering every band is played back-to-back during Double Shot weekend, that's six songs from each band, which seems highly unnecessary.
102.1 the Edge is playing songs I want to hear, they're just repeating themselves more often than I'd like. But considering the current state of radio in this city, I'm just glad they haven't gone country... yet.
When it comes to getting my news, I turn to the CBC first. It's straight up, solid information, and it doesn't appear tainted by glitz, glamour or bias. I like CBC Newsworld for my television news and CBC Radio One for my radio news.
A tremendous resource when it comes to news and current affairs in this country is the vast assortment of CBC Podcasts available online. One gem, which you might not know about but will thank me for pointing it out, is the CBC Radio Hourly newscast that's always current and always available at the same url. This is awfully convenient. Download it, or listen to the < 5 minute broadcast at http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/hourlynews.mp3.
If you're looking for Toronto info, Metro Morning with Andy Barrie makes several segments available for download at http://www.cbc.ca/toronto/features/podcast/.
Less than a week ago, I wrote about the problem with 92.5 Jack FM. The ratings were abysmal, and I predicted there would be a format change by Labour Day. Jack didn't make it a week into June.
Jack FM is now KISS 92.5 FM, being billed by Rogers as "the only ALL HITS radio station in the city of Toronto".
Available on-air at 92.5 FM in Toronto and online at kiss925.ca, the station kicked off its broadcast Friday at 3 o'clock with a promise to play 10,000 songs in a row with no commercial interruption, featuring artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Nickelback, Katy Perry, T.I., Justin Timberlake, Kardinal Offishall, Britney Spears, Ne-Yo, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna among others. The launch was simulcast on Rogers All-News outlet, 680News.
KISS92.5 will engage its listeners both on the air and online by taking advantage of all the possibilities that present themselves in the new digital world. As the station evolves, the audience will be "plugged in" through instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and several other social networking sites as well as wirelessly via texting.
On-air talent for KISS92.5 will be announced in the coming weeks, along with details on concerts and events that will feature today's biggest hit makers.
If Kiss sounds familiar, it should. Before Jack, 92.5 was known as KISS FM, playing top 40 hits before delving into more hip hop and R&B in the early 2000s.
Kiss is back, playing all hits once more. And I've just lost my shower radio station that provided me with uninterrupted rock from 7:30 to 7:48 each morning.
My shower radio is tuned to 92.5. That's Jack-FM, "Toronto's Best Rock Variety", and I listen to it in the shower because it just so happens my shower is perfectly timed with an ad-free block of old and new rock tunes on Jack. It's just a series of tunes, anything from Honeymoon Suite to Coldplay to Bruce Springsteen, and it starts my day nicely.
I don't expect Jack-FM to last much longer in its current incarnation. Nobody's listening, it seems. The recent BBM results give Jack-FM a 1.8 market share, which supposedly and unscientifically translates into 180,000 listeners. Q107, if you're looking for a comparison, scored a 6.3. 1.8 is brutal, which means I expect changes by Labour Day.
How did Jack fail so miserably? Why can't a station playing a great mix of rock n' roll gain any traction? As Jules Winnfield says in Pulp Fiction, personality goes a long way. And Jack doesn't have personality.
Their bland morning duo seems to double as their afternoon hosts. A station that once threatened to go without djs has instead decided to employ djs that fail to hold a listener's interest. There's certainly no compelling reason to tune in again to hear what he or she will say next. It's really all about the music, but if you're betting all your money on the shuffle, how can you possibly expect to win against iPods? Five years ago, when the Jack PD at the time said the station was just like listening to your iPod on shuffle, I asked whose iPod he was talking about? Radio can never, ever be the same experience as listening to your own iPod on shuffle. That's why you've gotta have personality.
In my recent interview with long time local radio duo Humble and Fred, I closed by asking the guys a simple question that was on my mind. Why the heck aren't Humble and Fred, as a duo, still on Toronto radio? Humble's answer hits Jack's nail on the head.
No idea... why not ask the PD at Jack FM, who's also the afternoon drive guy and janitor.
Things could have been different for Jack, but instead the sounds of Aerosmith and White Stripes have drifted well below the radar to a dismal 1.8 share. I'll bet nobody reads this closing sentence because I'll bet nobody cares.
Things were better before I figured out they were businesses. Specifically, I'm thinking of sports and radio.
I remember a time when I knew every player on the Blue Jays roster and I didn't have a clue what any of them made. It didn't make a difference what the terms were for Dave Collins vs. George Bell. I knew Collins had lightning speed and Bell had power, and that was enough. Baseball, and sports in general, is best before you realize it's a business.
Radio is the same. As a kid, I'd surf the dial on my transistor radio and tune in stations from as far away as Cleveland. I loved radio, but at some point I figured out it too was a business. That's when radio lost a great deal of its charm.
This last realization ties in nicely with some of the sentiment expressed in the comments of my Martin Streek Out At Edge 102 / CFNY entry. Stations, like sports teams, are out to make a buck. The value of "winning", "integrity", "loyalty" and such is only existent when tied to economic metrics. Edge 102 doesn't care that there are 20 or so of us hankering for a return to the good 'ol days. Edge 102 wants as many ears in their targeted demo listening as possible so they can extract more money from advertisers. That's their bottom line.
Sports and radio were better before I figured that out.
Back on May 2, 2009, a bunch of us old time Humble and Fred fans got together at a Toronto pub to witness the recording of the 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories.
And lo and behold, here it is! It's a couple of hours long, and over 100MB, so be gentle. The home page for this podcast, should you want to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or stream the MP3, is https://www.torontomike.com/humbleandfred/.
If you have any questions or issues playing this audio, leave a comment below and I'll get on it.
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