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The career of Al Brooks, president of Front Knight Broadcasting Company Limited, has grown with the maturing of broadcasting itself.
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His broadcast learning and his many contributions to the development of broadcasting span more than 42 years and are part of the industry in Peterborough, Hamilton, Edmonton, Toronto, Kingston, Jamaica in the Caribbean.
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And in Aridia, where it all began, Frontenac Broadcasting in Kingston, perhaps we can say, has had the greatest benefit of Alps.
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Varied experience and leadership in this challenging business, Sir, how did did Bud cast awareness in your mind get sparked?
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What? What made you think?
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That this was going to be your career.
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Well, I left college to join the Air Force.
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Floyd in 1943 and I I was one of the lucky ones, I guess in some respects I served overseas, but it was during the latter part.
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Of the war, when I came back, like thousands of other young air crew members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I really felt hesitant about going back to school.
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I I guess I felt I.
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Pretty well knew it all at that time.
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Wanted to branch out.
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And face the real world, as it were.
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But I certainly had very few qualifications in those days.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs had a counseling service, although it wasn’t called.
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That was just for information.
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And they they felt that I had a penchant for advertising.
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Don’t ask me how.
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I didn’t know how to spell advertising, let alone do it.
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And so they set me up with a job at Tandy advertising agency on Richmond.
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And a lot of people will still remember Tandy because it’s still going.
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I also remembered going into that job, and the President, Mr.
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Hamilton, took one look at my rather.
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Flamboyant clothes that I had bought with small allowance from the Air Force had promptly sent me over to Eatons with $27.00 to buy my very first suit.
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And it was good counselling.
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It really was.
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It was a green suit and I’ve hated green ever since.
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But from from that evolved my interest, I guess not.
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Just in the advertising agency business, because I was almost literally what would be turned in this day and age.
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Gopher I I went for sandwiches.
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I went for hamburgers.
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I went for to fill the ink wells.
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I was trying to learn the advertising business, but I was not qualified in any way, shape or form.
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But a lot of our dear friends of the early radio days will remember a guy by the name of Al Savage and another guy by the name of Ray Purdy.
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And they had programs such as share the wealth and Treasure trail and things of that nature which were handled by Tandy.
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I was promoted to carrying the silver dollars for Treasure Trail at CFRB. This program was a live quiz program similar to Hollywood Squares or the Wheel of Fortune in 1980 is as popular but without television. Of course, this was a live.
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Quiz shell, where they handed out silver dollars to the winners of the answers to the question.
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So I had the delightful job of going around behind the host and the emcee, and as they said.
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You’re the winner.
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Here’s 1 silver dollar.
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Yes, it was my job as a an ex Air Force person.
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These silver dollars though.
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I became extremely aware of how important this job was because I lived in North Toronto and CFRB was in the middle of the city on Bloor St.
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When I took a trolley from my house to 7:30 meeting at the studio for one particular program, except that I’d left all the silver dollars back at my house and right there, there was pandemonium, panic, and we finally were able to.
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To find another a bag full of silver dollars to pay the.
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It’s a funny thing.
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My next question was at the end of your first week or two.
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How much did they pay you?
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I I’m wondering if they needed to.
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If you’re gonna keep all the silver.
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Dollars at home. That’s right.
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Well, my mother said, why don’t you leave the bag every night, though? There you are. This was A1A week program and a chap by the name of Wes McKnight.
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Now deceased, but who was a guiding light as far as a lot of people at the in the CFRB environment were was concerned, finally exceeded to my entreaties, to give a voice test, because I really felt that I wanted to be an announcer.
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No qualifications, except that all of a sudden, from deep down inside of me came this incredible urge to be not the little kid carrying around the silver dollar.
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But to be the guy behind.
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The mic. How old?
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Were you, al when you went to Mr.
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Let me see.
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I’d be about 20 years of age, I guess.
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Closer to 21, I suppose, but he was kind enough to allow me to use one of the big studios.
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And of course, we had those old ribbon microphones. They were called the 77D’s, and one always stood up in those days by 1.
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In a huge studio with one’s hand cupped behind one’s ear and in stentorian voice, gave the very best that they possibly could. I was. I remember then that I felt quite at home.
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Of course, the FRB couldn’t give me a job. I continued with Tandy until the parting of the ways. And when I felt that I wanted then to get back, get into radio as a full time profession, went back to DVA and asked if they could give any help.
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And in those days, there were radio stations, as there probably are today even.
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That were living literally from hand to mouth, fighting it very, very difficult to to receive enough revenues to be able to cover their operating expenses.
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And the government then was placed in a position of placing people such as myself in various jobs across the country as a thank you for whatever.
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War service was donated and I remember that the government then suggested that I go to cfor in Armenia.
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They were going to pay the owner, then George Smith, the delightful gentleman $17.00, a week.
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To pay me to do an announcing job, and in the meantime he would train me as A and it was a one year contract.
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That’s how I got sliding.
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So you walked in and presented yourself, even though they had money from the government to help the hiring of you.
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You must have had to meet somebody, an official in the company and present yourself the first day.
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Well, I think so.
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What was it like?
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I mean, what did this person think of you?
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What did you think he thought of you?
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Were well, I I was hired.
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I think he probably had the jurisdiction over whether I would actually work or not.
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Work for the station, notwithstanding the fact that the government was granting the salary on a yearly basis.
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How many people?
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Were working there AL at that time.
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If I remember rightly, there were five of us and we did everything.
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It was Mr.
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Smith and his wife.
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I’m sorry, but I can’t remember her first name.
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And then we did just about everything we were located on the Main Street of Orillia and we were up over the Loblaws building.
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If I remember rightly, in in those days, and we clambered up and we have one main studio, we had a little control room and we did.
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So just about everything in those days from signing on the transmitter in the morning to doing the morning show to going out and selling and come back and creating the commercials, writing them up and airing them and then sweeping out the studio and going home, if we have time you.
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Know talk about learning the business say, and learning it the first year.
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And you learn it literally from the ground up.
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And things were so bad in a lot of radio stations in those days, including the Thompson organization and various others that are now have tremendous reputations and are very successful broadcasters, both in television and radio that very often.
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You were asked to hold back on your paycheck because it had to be covered by some sort of cash flow, and cash was very hard to come by in those days because at $0.25 and $0.50 of commerce.
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You had to sell a lot of them to cover the expenses $0.25 for 30 seconds on the air.
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No, we didn’t know about 30 seconds.
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In those days.
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We knew from 60 and perhaps even longer.
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Very often there it wasn’t.
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As structured as it is today, very often an announcer might just be given a simple point form commercial.
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Information and this ramble on about a a local commercial.
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In those days there weren’t the regulations either.
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Al, you must have thought of a broadcast personality at the time that you kind of revered, you know, we all have these role model.
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When we were young and starting out in a career, whatever kind of a work career it is, we think of somebody else we’d like to emulate.
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Do you remember any names of that sort?
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Well, I guess there were lots of names around a little bit later on in Toronto with people like Keith Sandy, you know, and there were people like Lyman Potts.
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Who was one of my mentors, and I owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude, and I want to do that publicly and whenever I can.
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I guess that Wally Crowder, for instance, who was and he won’t remember this, but he and I worked together in Peterborough.
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I’ve always thought that Wally was a great person.
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To emulate simply because he did what he wanted to do.
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And I remember him coming back to Peterborough.
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With if I.
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At one time and how successful he appeared to be to the rest of us and how he then gave us that incentive to carry.
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On in 1988.
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He’s still going and you’re still going, as I say, something about this business and its power to entice people into successful careers.
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Sir, at that time.
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What years are we talking about?
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When you finally were working at Aridia and thinking about moving on to somewhere else?
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Did they have any notion about what television was going to turn out to be then?
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Did they even hear of the word TV?
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No, not to my knowledge at that time.
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I think TV, really.
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Became a household word in the.
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Early part of the 50s.
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Although there was television around, we were all quite aware of it.
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I suppose in the back of our minds, but I don’t recall anybody discussing anything up to.
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Almost the 50s, I suppose, other than radio and radio, was the the impact medium.
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It was the glamour medium.
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It was the star medium.
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And and we were treated as such.
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It was quite surprising regardless of the stature of the station or the.
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Like you’re only getting 17 bucks a week or whatever.
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It was you.
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Were really revered as a person with some special abilities saying.
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Well, I think so because we used to be able to go in and charge everything, it’s tastes.
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And that was before.
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Now their problem was to collect it, you know, but they say ohh here he is from the radio station, so he’s gotta be earning.
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Lots of money.
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They didn’t, really.
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Maybe we treat him nicely.
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A free commercial next week.
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Yeah, I must say at this point too, that I’ve only been.
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Let go or terminated from anyone job in my whole life and that was at cfor really.
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And it’s simply and.
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And this is a common business practice in those days, simply that my contract was up.
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And then Mr.
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Smith would go on to another person that was brought to, you know, through the the government auspices and that.
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Sort of thing.
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Brooks, what about the attitude of private broadcasters of the day?
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Well, of announcers such as yourself or program directors of the day towards the newspaper business and also towards the public network, the CBC.
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Of course, it was in its embryo days too, wasn’t it?
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I’m not sure it was even embryonic.
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We had two networks then as opposed to one network.
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Now we had the Trans Canada network and the Dominion Network, so it was really a force to be reckoned with, and CBC programming was very well liked and just about every station for obvious reasons, most of them financial would carry either one or the other network.
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And I worked at stations that carried either either network.
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I don’t believe we carried both at the same time.
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No, we didn’t.
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But it was.
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In those days, known as the CBC and the CBC, in the in the early days too, was also directly responsible for regulation.
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The Board of Broadcast Governors, I’m not exactly sure when that came into being, but that was after CBC was the regulatory.
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So it had a lot of clout.
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In those days, so they told you what program periods from the network would be carried on the local station and you had to make sure that when you gave the time at the top of the hour that you didn’t take any of their time.
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At 1:00 o’clock, for instance.
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You’d always come in with the CBC time check, which would count itself.
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Down and then it goes and then it was.
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And here’s the happy game you see would come in and that that was was something I think everybody used to look forward to.
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I remember in those days, of course we used to do block program.
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Where you would buy programs on what they call 33 and a third thesaurus, discs which were.
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Big Huge records in effect and you could buy programs, for instance, swinging sway with Sammy Kay or Wayne King, the Waltz King, or perhaps Lawrence Welk.
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And these programs would be self-contained as a regular program is today under syndication only it was actually a record and you would start on the outside and let it play.
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Through to the inside, we did that quite often with certain religious programs too, if I recall.
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Apart from your own station interests in the industry generally, what kinds of programs were catching the public interest most you hear a lot about Amos and and the and the Jack Benny Show.
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And every time people remember early broadcasting, they often bring up these American program names.
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That’s right, the luck radio theater.
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But it’s a prime example and I think Kraft radio theater in those days, craft still carries on as all my does today.
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Most of our program.
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Quite frankly, that was of.
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A higher caliber production that would reach out and bring in the largest listening audience as it is today in television, unfortunately was not Canadian in content so much as it was American because they had the facilities, they had the money, they had the production.
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They had the people, they had the talent, they had everything.
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So sure, Amos and Andy and the Green Hornet and the shadow.
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What’s his name?
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The Bergen and Jack.
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Benny and Bob Hope show Red Scout and all of the old guys and all of the old girls and that.
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But I think the important thing was that we had things like the Happy gang and who was that chap in Halifax that?
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Ferguson Messer, Don Messer, Messer and his Islanders.
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And of course, they went on for 1111 numbers of years and and committed television.
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And continued to be as successful as Tommy Hunter.
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Is today, Canadian Broadcasting has had its great programming institutions, hasn’t it?
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But there’s always been that challenge from the very first from the other side of the border, our friendly neighbor.
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On the entertainment side.
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It it’s probably unfair, but I think a lot of listeners and viewers, even today, feel that it’s an elitist type programming and and as.
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Canadian Canadian programming.
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Yeah, yeah, it seems to be more culturally oriented than to the mass.
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We don’t have as many cops and robbers or real funny comedians in Canada.
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If we have them, then we’re not.
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We’re not exploiting them.
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What we do here are some of the great Canadian dramas and in those days we used to hear the same things, you know, that dealt with our history, with our culture and.
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A lot of people I think in those days even felt well.
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This is pretty dry stuff and it’s pretty pretty cultural.
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And it’s it’s still that.
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What were some of the interesting dos and don’ts that you had to pay attention to when you first went on the?
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Well I I guess was to watch if you were operating yourself.
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Perhaps that’s still the same thing that your microphone was on when it should be on and off when it should be off.
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I I know on more than one occasion that there’s been some Expedia was not deleted on the air where?
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Something has happened and you say something that you didn’t expect to be simply because type technical error or one of your own errors, and so this would happen.
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I guess the other thing was that everything was live.
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Pretty well live because we didn’t have tape recorders or cassette players and all that sort of thing.
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In those days, we had old wire quarters which half the time didn’t work and besides they were bulky, they were heavy and they were expensive to operate.
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So they’re the ones that you had?
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To wind up.
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So most of everything that we did was all live.
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And certainly reading news was the same thing when a lot of operations was rip and read because we couldn’t afford reporters or analysts or investigations or anything of that nature, you know?
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But it it was.
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Funny, I think the most important aspect of early radio.
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And I don’t want to appear like one of those persons that continually refers to the good old days.
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But we had more time to enjoy ourselves and one of the great attributes of every radio station was to have a practical Joker, and he usually ended up being one on the announced staff or in writing or commercial creative or whatever.
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And invariably, throughout the entire day.
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His job was to try to throw announcers.
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And he did it in many and varied ways.
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Some of them you could talk about.
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Tell us some of that.
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Well, it’s difficult, for instance.
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I remember one time in Kirkland Lake sitting in a little small announcement.
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In those days we had we had operators of course and most of the time if you were doing a reasonably long or prestigious show, you dressed up for the occasion.
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You stood in the largest studio that one had, and usually there were at least 2 studios in the average.
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Radio station one large with a grand piano in so that you could have the soloist or.
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Somebody else in to do a live program and the other a smaller one where you might have the amenities of being able to sit down in front of an old microphone and read the news or do the sports or an interview or something of that nature.
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But I remember distinctly one of our practical jokers sneaking in while I’m on the air.
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The operator had left for a little break of some sort.
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And I was totally on my own and no opportunity to cut mics or anything else because this was being done from the control room and having torn off about 15 or 20 feet of news to read during that particular time period.
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Part of it was lying on the floor and he lit.
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Fire to it and.
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I started to read very, very quickly at that point to get as much news in as I possibly could.
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Before I did a step dance on what was left of it.
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Near the Smokey that’s right.
00:20:41 Speaker 1
They they didn’t provide any complimentary gas masks in the studio where you were working for those kinds of problems.
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You had to be, you know, on your, on your own.
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And I remember reading the stock market reports, which you had to read with extreme.
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Quickness and alacrity because we used to do the entire stock market report on the air and to do it in a 5 minute period and you used to have to read extremely fast.
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I remember having trying to.
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To to receive a little sustenance prior to going on the air with a soda pop and a bag of peanuts.
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So unfortunately A1 peanut got caught in my throat halfway through the stock market. By the time I was finished, they weren’t really sure whether they were listening to Al Brooks or Mrs. Al Brooks, you know, because my voice.
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Higher and higher and higher and things of.
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That name, Sir.
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You moved in your career quite a lot.
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And you moved to sort of promote yourself to a a different level to get more experience.
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This is the way one is able to interpret your career and its progress.
00:21:50 Speaker 1
You went through broadcasting like a person goes through to his PhD in college.
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You always went for more experience.
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How did you do that?
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You left cfor.
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And where did the educational trail the experienced trail go from there?
00:22:06 Speaker 2
Well, I have to say this because it lasted for about 6 years and then I was gone for about 7 years and then I came back and I’ve been with them ever since, and that was Uncle Roy Thompson took a chance on Al Brooks in Peterborough.
00:22:24 Speaker 2
His reputation had preceded him, of course, and there were good reasons why, but he then owned Peterborough.
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Kingston Kirkland, Lake Timmins and North Bay.
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So that I I felt rather pleased that I was with a group of stations that were well known.
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They were the Northern broadcasting stations.
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If I remember rightly in.
00:22:48 Speaker 2
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So I started in Peterborough for Lord Thompson of Fleet and I really felt that that was the true start of my career.
00:22:56 Speaker 2
Up till then, I might have been just fooling around with it.
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I wasn’t really sure where I was or anything, and but it certainly being in a really had whetted my appetite.
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So from Aurilia to Kirkland Lake.
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And Kirkland Lake, then to Hamilton, which was really I think to my way of thinking the the so-called.
00:23:19 Speaker 2
But I did come back with the Thompson organization because I found that there the opportunities were rampant for progress, for promotion, for education, for the opportunity to follow a true career.
00:23:35 Speaker 2
In a specific area and.
00:23:37 Speaker 1
But you didn’t stay in the specific area.
00:23:40 Speaker 1
You know what I mean?
00:23:42 Speaker 1
I I’ve met a lot of people in the business who like to specialize if they are going to be on the entertainment side and be announcers, they don’t want to do anything else.
00:23:50 Speaker 1
But in a magazine profile Kingston, there’s a mention in there.
00:23:57 Speaker 1
You were a program director.
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Before you were a sales manager for 9 years before being a program director, you’d been a news reporter, so you went from the news and public affairs side into advertising.
00:24:11 Speaker 1
And then eventually became a manager of three broadcast stations at one point.
00:24:17 Speaker 2
That’s a nice first reading.
00:24:17 Speaker 1
Now, why did you want to keep fishing around for new experiences?
00:24:23 Speaker 1
You’re not built that way.
00:24:25 Speaker 1
00:24:25 Speaker 1
You’re built that way and not built in the in the specs.
00:24:28 Speaker 1
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The thought is that.
00:24:31 Speaker 2
It well, in those days there were lots of opportunities and I suppose the best promotion one would get in the 40s and 50s, which was when I was moving around most actively in, in broadcasting.
00:24:44 Speaker 2
I think I had went to at least six stations in 13 years or something.
00:24:49 Speaker 2
Was the increase in your take home pay?
00:24:54 Speaker 2
Very often, if you didn’t apply for a job, somebody coming through your particular area might hear you and offer you a job with a few dollars more per week.
00:25:03 Speaker 2
And in those days, we really look to that as.
00:25:07 Speaker 2
A promotion from the standpoint of the learning experience and the education of being at various stations across the country and gaining that kind of experience as well as earning more money.
00:25:20 Speaker 2
In every station there was always the opportunity.
00:25:23 Speaker 2
If you showed enough ambition, I guess, to go from announcing, which in my case worked out very nicely to chief announcer.
00:25:33 Speaker 2
And then from chief announcer, the program director.
00:25:36 Speaker 2
And then, of course, and along the way, you would probably do the sports.
00:25:40 Speaker 2
And I did play by play, like a lot of old time announcers.
00:25:44 Speaker 2
We half the time didn’t know what we were doing, but we sure did a good.
00:25:48 Speaker 2
Job of it.
00:25:48 Speaker 2
I think one of the first lacrosse games in Canada.
00:25:53 Speaker 2
And hockey play by play baseball.
00:25:56 Speaker 2
In those days, you see radio did all the things that you now see on your television screen where an awful great percentage of any sports.
00:26:05 Speaker 1
It’s kind of hard to leave that glamour for some people to leave that public involvement for some people and to enclose himself in the administrative walls of an organization.
00:26:15 Speaker 1
I mean, that takes a certain amount of discipline, but that’s that’s what you’ve been through.
00:26:19 Speaker 2
Well, I think television came on the scene and that probably prompted me more than anything to learn another facet of broadcasting. And this was in 195556.
00:26:37 Speaker 2
When I became interested in television, I yes, we again.
00:26:43 Speaker 2
This was the glamour medium and those of us who were in it were well known because of the.
00:26:50 Speaker 2
Not just the audio quality, but the video quality.
00:26:53 Speaker 1
So what did you do there then?
00:26:55 Speaker 1
In television the 1st?
00:26:56 Speaker 2
Days television announcer weathercaster and newscaster.
00:27:00 Speaker 2
There was very little to do in those days.
00:27:02 Speaker 2
We signed on probably at noon.
00:27:06 Speaker 2
Under normal circumstances and signed off at 12:00 or 12:30 in the summer time, we’d sign off at 4:00 or sign on at 4:30 and sign off at 12:30.
00:27:17 Speaker 2
So there was very little to do other than whatever had to be done in the way of commercials and all commercials were live.
00:27:24 Speaker 2
Live commercials in living black and white with the old pie cameras.
00:27:29 Speaker 2
But quite frankly, as much as I was enamored of the glamour of television announcing and weather casting and newscasting the company in its wisdom that is fortnight broadcasting.
00:27:43 Speaker 2
Because that’s where I finally dug my very deep roots some 30 years ago.
00:27:49 Speaker 2
Felt that I could be more valuable to them in the sales department.
00:27:56 Speaker 2
It took them a long time to convince me of that.
00:27:59 Speaker 2
And a couple of old friends, Roy Hoffstetter and Wally Bewegen, were very instrumental.
00:28:05 Speaker 2
Both of them retired now from broadcasting Wally as a lot of people will recognize was the the head honcho at our Peterborough operation at Kawartha and Hoffstetter, the previous manager of the stations in Kingston.
00:28:19 Speaker 2
They both said no.
00:28:20 Speaker 2
You’ve got a great future if you want to go ahead and make money, which is the magic word, I guess, to a lot of.
00:28:27 Speaker 2
And to advance yourself in the station to get into sales.
00:28:32 Speaker 2
And so I did in television sales, I can mention now that I tried radio sales in the early days in Kirkland Lake when Don Lowry, who is a very dear friend of mine and has been for.
00:28:47 Speaker 2
00:28:49 Speaker 2
And a colleague was the sales manager of our CJL in Kirkland Lake.
00:28:54 Speaker 2
It was a one station market behind what they called the wall because when you left North Bay, you couldn’t listen to hardly any other radio stations except a couple or one in Ruan Noranda and I.
00:29:07 Speaker 2
Really didn’t do very well.
00:29:09 Speaker 2
I didn’t feel that I was a salesman, that I was an air salesman and not a time salesman, but it worked out entirely.
00:29:14 Speaker 1
There, but you were willing to always experiment with your talent to see what could be what could come out.
00:29:20 Speaker 1
00:29:20 Speaker 1
I think so, yeah.
00:29:22 Speaker 2
And my advice, even today in dealing with people in community colleges and certain communication courses, and that is, you know, Floyd is just recommend that they do experimentation too.
00:29:33 Speaker 1
You you had something to do, by the way, Speaking of community colleges, with helping to establish the broadcast program at one of the community colleges in Ontario, didn’t you?
00:29:42 Speaker 2
Yeah, I suppose I was one of the founding members of the communication course at Saint Lawrence College.
00:29:47 Speaker 2
And remember session with Bob Short in the early days, and I don’t think the cement was even dry and the the walls at the time and we kind of SAT and talked about many things.
00:29:57 Speaker 2
And of course one of them was the establishment.
00:30:01 Speaker 2
Of a curriculum in the community colleges of Arts and technology, then for broadcasters and broadcasting.
00:30:11 Speaker 2
And of course, that’s spread like wildfire.
00:30:13 Speaker 2
And right now I should imagine that most stations have anywhere up to 30% of their staff are graduates of these Community College.
00:30:22 Speaker 1
In the magazine article that brought out the fact that you got involved in a lot of community activity, it seemed to grow out of the broadcast interest and the broadcast job just sort of automatically.
00:30:34 Speaker 1
And you didn’t want to turn turn your back on that because that.
00:30:39 Speaker 2
00:30:39 Speaker 2
You can’t, absolutely.
00:30:41 Speaker 2
You’re part of the community in broadcasting.
00:30:44 Speaker 2
If you have a radio or a television station, or if you happen to work in one of.
00:30:48 Speaker 2
Them where it envelops you rather than the other way around.
00:30:52 Speaker 2
But simply because it’s used as a catalyst, everybody comes to the broadcaster and says if they need help.
00:30:59 Speaker 2
Hmm, whether it’s a non charitable organization or the police.
00:31:03 Speaker 2
Or whomever the hospitals and they always gravitate towards broadcasters simply because we’re disseminators of information.
00:31:12 Speaker 2
So they can say, do you mind putting?
00:31:14 Speaker 2
This on the air.
00:31:16 Speaker 1
But but you did other things.
00:31:17 Speaker 1
I saw a black and white photograph.
00:31:20 Speaker 1
The I don’t know.
00:31:21 Speaker 1
Maybe it’s about 20 years old now, showing you half asleep on the set of a radio marathon that was going on raising.
00:31:30 Speaker 1
And you were on the air all night and you were supposed to broadcast for two hours and then have a bit of a break.
00:31:36 Speaker 1
You were on the break in the photograph and somebody else was doing the announcing, but I guess you were expected to wake up and get on Mike again and start asking for people.
00:31:44 Speaker 2
To contribute, yeah, that’s that’s going back a good many years now.
00:31:50 Speaker 2
I suppose it’s closer to 25 years from this particular day, and if I remember rightly, it was one of the first marathon broadcasts ever.
00:31:59 Speaker 2
Committed in in Canada simply because there there was a I’m not sure whether it was a written regulation, but certainly the then board of Broadcast governors who superseded the the the present C RTC found on that.
00:32:19 Speaker 2
00:32:22 Speaker 2
00:32:22 Speaker 2
What would you call it?
00:32:25 Speaker 2
Headline grabbing, broadcasting.
00:32:27 Speaker 2
They wanted most of us to be, you know, a little more refined in our approach to broadcasting.
00:32:34 Speaker 2
But we we took over an area in the then newly.
00:32:40 Speaker 2
Built Kingston Shopping center.
00:32:43 Speaker 2
It was a store that hadn’t been rent.
00:32:45 Speaker 2
We went in there and actually it was not.
00:32:48 Speaker 2
It wasn’t me.
00:32:48 Speaker 2
It was Brian only who was the marathoner.
00:32:51 Speaker 2
I was the program director at the time and you were with us.
00:32:54 Speaker 2
I think Floyd in.
00:32:55 Speaker 1
Those days I was in the news site following what was going on.
00:32:57 Speaker 2
00:32:59 Speaker 2
Yeah, that’s right.
00:33:00 Speaker 2
And this was one of the really true long term marathons, I can’t remember.
00:33:05 Speaker 2
In 78 hours or.
00:33:06 Speaker 1
Something like that.
00:33:07 Speaker 1
But there were a lot of other interesting program features that you helped promote and one of them was the open line show.
00:33:12 Speaker 1
Yeah, there were other kinds of.
00:33:14 Speaker 1
There were many kinds of community involvement programs.
00:33:17 Speaker 1
I remember as a program director, you sent me down to the park to do the announcing at, for instance, at the Remembrance Day program.
00:33:22 Speaker 1
It was being originated.
00:33:25 Speaker 1
And that type of thing.
00:33:25 Speaker 1
But the open line was something you had a strong role in promoting in Kingston?
00:33:31 Speaker 2
Yeah, it was the first open mind program in Kingston.
00:33:34 Speaker 2
It wasn’t the 1st in Canada by any strategy, you know.
00:33:36 Speaker 2
But there weren’t very many, and I’m trying to think now when that that was probably in it was before 1960 anyhow.
00:33:45 Speaker 2
It was probably 1958 or 57 somewhere around there and we called it the helping hand program.
00:33:52 Speaker 3
00:33:52 Speaker 2
Your program that was my program and it was well received.
00:33:56 Speaker 2
It was one of the 1st and it really worked quite well for us.
00:34:00 Speaker 1
What did you talk about on the helping hand program?
00:34:03 Speaker 2
Well, I think in those days we didn’t get into some of the really pedantic discussions or the controversial issues that they do on open line programs now.
00:34:11 Speaker 2
And we certainly didn’t go out of our way to bait the listener, which, as you well know, it happens most that’s right.
00:34:18 Speaker 1
A lot of the stuff was done.
00:34:21 Speaker 2
We weren’t rude or intolerant or insulting what we just did was open the lines up and as the title seems to suggest, it really was a helping.
00:34:32 Speaker 2
And I had received on the air when I was doing an announced shift, quite a few inquiries about because again people gravitate towards the, the, the radio entity and the radio personality for instance on more than one occasion you’ll have a lady in the early days.
00:34:52 Speaker 2
It just hung over the wash.
00:34:53 Speaker 2
It starts to rain, she’ll fall in and say, can you tell me when it’s going to stop raining?
00:34:57 Speaker 2
Well, I would have.
00:34:58 Speaker 2
My name was, you know who, but I can’t do that to see so that we just opened the lines.
00:35:04 Speaker 2
And said, look, there’s a lot of interest in communicating with the radio station and maybe the radio station also.
00:35:15 Speaker 2
Putting out that kind of information to those people out there who may have answers.
00:35:19 Speaker 2
So the questions would come on the air and then we would ask people to answer the question.
00:35:26 Speaker 2
One of the very first I remember was from an old guy and he phoned me, said I got a real big problem here, he says.
00:35:34 Speaker 2
You know, he says I’m living all by myself and he says I’m out here in the country and he says I gotta do my own washing, my own cleaning up, looking after everything since my wife’s gone.
00:35:45 Speaker 2
I’m gone now and he says I’m having a terrible time here, he says.
00:35:49 Speaker 2
Oh, where dollars long Johns.
00:35:51 Speaker 2
And he says whenever I watch them put them on, they it’s like hell.
00:35:55 Speaker 2
Could somebody help me?
00:35:57 Speaker 2
And I I’m gonna tell you, Floyd, I had the the place.
00:36:00 Speaker 2
00:36:02 Speaker 2
With ladies who had ideas of how this man could get around itchy under.
00:36:06 Speaker 1
Of the poor man do his laundering here.
00:36:09 Speaker 2
And it was things like that.
00:36:11 Speaker 2
So that it it had an aspect to it.
00:36:13 Speaker 2
I think that was very human that they talk about different fads and trends in broadcasting that the broadcasting would pick up on whether it was radio earlier or television.
00:36:24 Speaker 2
Now, what were some of the biggest trends that you remember?
00:36:27 Speaker 1
Broadcasting getting involved with they they talk about 60s and 70s being the the knowledge explosion.
00:36:34 Speaker 1
Were there any other times in broadcasting where the the business had its own flavor because of the way people responded to it, to the business, to broadcasting.
00:36:47 Speaker 2
I I can’t recall any.
00:36:49 Speaker 2
I know that in the 60s, you know.
00:36:50 Speaker 2
With the Fab era, people were sitting up on telephone poles.
00:36:55 Speaker 2
If you remember rightly, you know, and they they in bedsteads and they’d have tents over them and they’d have a telephone line into the radio station.
00:37:03 Speaker 2
I’m not sure.
00:37:03 Speaker 2
What they were up there.
00:37:04 Speaker 1
To raise money for a worthy cause, stunts of one kind.
00:37:05 Speaker 2
Usually race hundred, yeah.
00:37:07 Speaker 3
00:37:08 Speaker 2
And in those days, we had long distance swims across the lake.
00:37:11 Speaker 2
I remember they were starting in around that time.
00:37:14 Speaker 2
And of course, every radio station tried to outdo their competitor by, you know, being part of that action.
00:37:20 Speaker 2
I think news and information then became a very big part of our broadcast schedule.
00:37:27 Speaker 2
Up till then it was kind of.
00:37:28 Speaker 2
Just a filler and you had to put it on.
00:37:30 Speaker 2
As I said before off the.
00:37:32 Speaker 2
Type all of a sudden we found an interest in an emerging of news reporting facilities and the people and equipment.
00:37:41 Speaker 1
People, one of the media to help them solve their problems, they seem to have a lot more problems to.
00:37:46 Speaker 2
And the 60s then of course, were just an exciting time.
00:37:52 Speaker 2
I’m not sure that they were any more exciting than they are now, but we had the Fowler people, we had the hippies, we had the.
00:38:00 Speaker 2
The incursion of pot and marijuana, those sort of things, and we had the woodstocks and we had a different type of music that was knitting an incredible audience together out there.
00:38:12 Speaker 2
And of course that happened to be around The Beatles and Elvis Presley time.
00:38:18 Speaker 1
Have you had a chance to?
00:38:22 Speaker 1
Go through some of the interesting aspects of your broadcast career.
00:38:26 Speaker 1
What would you be happy to to live over again?
00:38:29 Speaker 1
What gave you the biggest satisfaction in everything you’ve done in broadcasting?
00:38:35 Speaker 2
I think having people like you around Floyd, who have been here for a long time, who I remember distinctly working with me, who, for instance, we have just now had a luncheon, a 25th anniversary luncheon where a gold.
00:38:55 Speaker 2
Arch, suitably engraved, was given to six of our employees, all six of which have worked with me, and for me, and we’ve worked together for all those types of years.
00:39:07 Speaker 2
So it’s nice to see that we have longevity sometimes in broadcasting and we’ve touched on it.
00:39:15 Speaker 2
People come in and they go, they leave.
00:39:16 Speaker 2
Now a lot of people still do that.
00:39:19 Speaker 2
But more and more I’m finding looking around at very familiar faces for a good many years.
00:39:24 Speaker 2
I think that that’s what’s happening to broadcasting now.
00:39:27 Speaker 2
I think we’ve reached a plateau where people are looking at it for a long term career, not just for the glamour or for the money or for the opportunity to travel or whatever.
00:39:38 Speaker 2
00:39:39 Speaker 2
They’re entrenching themselves in a specific market, which is very important to the individual radio or television station because.
00:39:46 Speaker 2
People reach out and they’re they’re trustworthy in that respect.
00:39:50 Speaker 2
The other thing.
00:39:52 Speaker 2
There’s so many things I I think the contribution that I made to the Elvis Presley story, for instance, is one that I will never ever forget.
00:40:01 Speaker 2
And that was the fact that while all other program directors refused to play Elvis’s Christmas album in early 1960, I put it on the air and we played it. And it was magnificent and everybody.
00:40:13 Speaker 2
Loved it, and eventually, of course, the whole world was playing it and it sold millions of records now.
00:40:20 Speaker 2
The opportunity to do something different for an individual has been one of the.
00:40:27 Speaker 2
Real great things that.
00:40:30 Speaker 2
Broadcasting has allowed me to do.
00:40:32 Speaker 2
And that is to have fun at a career that changes every minute, let alone every day or every week, you know.
00:40:40 Speaker 2
The other thing is again getting back to the youth of today still being involved with Loyalist College as I am and as you are and some of the rest of us on that committee and that sort of thing is to look at the young people coming up today and being able to tell them well, hey, broadcasting is just a great career.
00:40:59 Speaker 1
And also sometimes you you just feel kind of sad because to try to give them all the chapters of the early part of this business would take a year.
00:41:10 Speaker 1
You don’t have that time and but but you feel they’re missing something.
00:41:15 Speaker 1
Well, I you feel that more than I would, Sir, that you feel that they’re missing.
00:41:20 Speaker 1
The Great Pioneer Days, the business that you helped formulate.
00:41:24 Speaker 1
00:41:25 Speaker 2
Yeah, I guess we’ve really digressed.
00:41:27 Speaker 2
We’re talking about the history of broadcasting and if you say 40 plus years is history, well, I’m history.
00:41:36 Speaker 1
Thank you very much, Mr.
00:41:38 Speaker 3
We have been speaking with Alan Brooks, the President of Frontenac Broadcasting Company Limited, about his interesting career in broadcasting.
00:41:45 Speaker 3
I’m Floyd Patterson at CFX am Cfmi and CCWS TV in Kingston ON.
00:41:53 Speaker 3
Technical production market caps.