Jack ‘Red’ Alix


00:00:02 Speaker 2 

This is Peter Warren of CJOB radio in Winnipeg. It is may the 19th, 1988. The interviewee is Jack Red Alex of CJOB. 

00:00:14 Speaker 2 

Jack Alex, better known as Red Alex to broadcasters from coast to coast, particularly in Western Canada. 

00:00:22 Speaker 2 

He started with a guitar when he walked into a radio station. 

00:00:27 Speaker 2 

I believe in Saskatchewan, right? 

00:00:29 Speaker 1 

Right Saskatoon. SK CF QC. 

00:00:33 Speaker 1 

Was the name of the place. 

00:00:34 Speaker 2 

What happened? 

00:00:35 Speaker 2 

How old were you? 

00:00:36 Speaker 1 

And well, it was around. 

00:00:38 Speaker 1 

It was 40 years ago, so it would put me at about 20. 

00:00:41 Speaker 1 

One years old. 

00:00:42 Speaker 1 

And I had been living on the farm and working on the farm and there. 

00:00:46 Speaker 1 

Was no money there so. 

00:00:49 Speaker 1 

While I decided I had to do something for the winter, so I went in and took my guitar and applied for job singing with Vern Dalen of. 

00:00:57 Speaker 1 

Cfec when he did list to me very long, but he gave me the job immediately. 

00:01:02 Speaker 1 

And I was. 

00:01:03 Speaker 1 

Quite flattered by that until he I heard him saying to Wilf Gilby. 

00:01:08 Speaker 1 

It doesn’t matter if the singer or not, no one’s going to hear what he’s doing. 

00:01:10 Speaker 1 

Anyway, because I’m going to put him on so early in the morning. 

00:01:13 Speaker 2 

What time did you go on in the morning? 

00:01:13 Speaker 1 

6:00 o’clock and we had to. 

00:01:16 Speaker 1 

They had to have a certain amount of Canadian content. 

00:01:19 Speaker 1 

That’s when they started the Canadian content thing. 

00:01:21 Speaker 1 

So they had to have a singer. So they grabbed me for 85 bucks a month and away it went. 

00:01:26 Speaker 2 

85 a month was that good money? 

00:01:27 Speaker 1 

Well, it was 85 more than I was making at the time, so. 

00:01:32 Speaker 1 

And then I used to go over and work in the Massey Harris and the Parts department after that. 

00:01:37 Speaker 1 

The rest of the day, so I used to leave home quite early and. 

00:01:40 Speaker 1 

Get home quite late, but that was my start in the radio business as a singer. 

00:01:45 Speaker 1 

Singing Hank Williams songs. 

00:01:47 Speaker 2 

When did you get into the actual announcing of it all? 

00:01:50 Speaker 1 

Well, that was. 

00:01:52 Speaker 1 

That would be in 1950, I guess, when. 

00:01:55 Speaker 1 

Ckom first one on the air, but I wanted to tell you about this. 

00:02:00 Speaker 1 

Of this first day I went down to sing because I was very nervous. 

00:02:03 Speaker 1 

I just off the farm. 

00:02:05 Speaker 1 

And it was 40 below 0 and I stayed at the hotel just around the corner from the CFC. 

00:02:09 Speaker 1 

And in those days the. 

00:02:10 Speaker 1 

The studios they had were just like Hollywood, you know that that’s CFC building was just awesome. 

00:02:15 Speaker 1 

They were so glamorous, you know, and big studios. 

00:02:18 Speaker 1 

And they had studios for audiences and everything. 

00:02:21 Speaker 1 

It was just a. 

00:02:22 Speaker 1 

Glamorous place to be and I was scared to death when I got there. 

00:02:26 Speaker 1 

I got there on time. 

00:02:27 Speaker 1 

The doors open at 6, but I got there at 5. 

00:02:29 Speaker 1 

O’clock it was 50. 

00:02:30 Speaker 1 

Below 0 and I knew they announced it would be along soon to let me. 

00:02:34 Speaker 1 

In and I didn’t realize that announcer went to work 5 minutes before they were supposed to go on the air, and Ted Benoit showed up at 5:00 to 6:00. 

00:02:41 Speaker 1 

But before he got there, a big, burly. 

00:02:44 Speaker 1 

A policeman came down the street and he asked me what I was doing and so I told him I was going to start singing and I had my guitar and it’s 40 below and all the strings are gone, warped out of sight, you know. 

00:02:53 Speaker 1 

With the. 

00:02:54 Speaker 1 

So anyway he. 

00:02:55 Speaker 1 

Started pounding on this glass door with his. 

00:02:57 Speaker 1 

Gun with his gun. 

00:03:00 Speaker 1 

But we never got any attention from anybody. 

00:03:02 Speaker 1 

And then finally, Benoit showed up, I think he. 

00:03:04 Speaker 1 

Had a hangover. 

00:03:06 Speaker 1 

And no shave. 

00:03:06 Speaker 1 

And I thought, boy, this is your glamorous business I’m getting into. 

00:03:10 Speaker 1 

But time we got on the air, my guitar had all gone out of tune. 

00:03:14 Speaker 1 

It was completely out of tune, but that was my first. 

00:03:17 Speaker 1 

It was a very scary moment. 

00:03:19 Speaker 2 

Was there any particular time, any date, any incident within those early years where you really turn around to yourself and said, well, this is radio and this is it for me? 

00:03:30 Speaker 1 

Ah yes, I think. 

00:03:32 Speaker 1 

I think once I met a couple of people in there and got talking to them and I I certainly got interested in because I didn’t have any desire to go into the radio business and listening from the other end. 

00:03:42 Speaker 1 

And once I got into it and saw what it was all about and. 

00:03:46 Speaker 1 

Talked with people and met some some very interesting broadcasters I could talk about Bob Freeland. 

00:03:53 Speaker 1 

He was my announcer, too. 

00:03:54 Speaker 1 

After about six months there, and Bob Freeland did. 

00:03:59 Speaker 1 

Well, he’d run the gamut. 

00:04:00 Speaker 1 

I guess he was one of the best broadcasters in Canada and he was the fellow that really taught me the business. 

00:04:05 Speaker 1 

And taught me you. 

00:04:06 Speaker 1 

Know the INS and outs of the business, he. 

00:04:08 Speaker 1 

Was a. 

00:04:08 Speaker 1 

He was his own worst enemy. 

00:04:10 Speaker 1 

He was an alcoholic, but he he would make Loren Green sound like a Boy Scout. 

00:04:14 Speaker 1 

He really had a voice and he and he. 

00:04:15 Speaker 2 

Knew how to use it. 

00:04:16 Speaker 2 

You said when you got in there and you realized what it was all about, that’s something that many, many Canadian broadcasters don’t know into this day tell. 

00:04:25 Speaker 2 

Us what? 

00:04:26 Speaker 2 

It’s what is it? 

00:04:26 Speaker 2 

All about. 

00:04:29 Speaker 1 

Well, it’s it’s certainly a faster moving business on the inside than it is on the outside. 

00:04:34 Speaker 1 

And and when you listen to the radio, you’re supposed to make it sound like like it’s just a big, happy family down there and everybody’s having a wonderful time and there’s no effort to anything you do so. 

00:04:42 Speaker 2 

Smooth and. 

00:04:45 Speaker 1 

It really didn’t sound that impressing to me, but after you get into it and see all the. 

00:04:50 Speaker 1 

The behind the scenes things that happened, it it certainly does take on a different context. 

00:04:55 Speaker 2 

Where did you go from there? 

00:04:56 Speaker 1 

Well, I I signed CQM on the air the day it went on. 

00:04:59 Speaker 1 

Bob Hosey owned it and he. 

00:05:02 Speaker 1 

Freeland went over there as as the manager, Bob Freeland, and he said, now you’re going to be an announcer. 

00:05:06 Speaker 1 

So I was really thrilled because then my salary went up to 175 a month when I started and I signed the station on the first day it went on the air. 

00:05:15 Speaker 1 

I was terrified, but I was the only green. 

00:05:18 Speaker 1 

Announcer because Murphy’s had controlled the. 

00:05:22 Speaker 1 

The broadcasting business in Saskatchewan for many years and finally Bob Hose got a license and when he got this license, instead of just using. 

00:05:30 Speaker 1 

Run-of-the-mill broadcasters, he brought in a lot of. 

00:05:33 Speaker 1 

Good broadcasters, you know he had. 

00:05:35 Speaker 1 

Bart Brown, Fred, Seer, and oh, there’s so many good announcers he brought in and they really set the little town like Saskatoons here, so it was just to get the people’s attention. And he certainly did do a good job of that. But, you know, within a year. 

00:05:52 Speaker 1 

A year and. 

00:05:52 Speaker 1 

1/2 all of those guys were gone. I was the only one left. 

00:05:56 Speaker 1 

And I lasted there till 55. I left. I left in 55 to come to Cjob. 

00:06:02 Speaker 2 

How were the? 

00:06:02 Speaker 2 

Ratings taken in those early years, you know, we live and die by ratings. 

00:06:06 Speaker 2 

They’re they’re very. 

00:06:07 Speaker 2 

Mechanical neuron. 

00:06:08 Speaker 1 

Now every month they were taken every month they were Elliott Haynes, I believe, is the name of the organization that did them and they were taken by random and phone calls and things like that. 

00:06:19 Speaker 1 

They were pretty accurate in those days too. 

00:06:21 Speaker 1 

I think as accurate as you can get and you never will be able to measure the. 

00:06:26 Speaker 1 

The car audience. 

00:06:27 Speaker 1 

But they were they. 

00:06:28 Speaker 1 

Were pretty close. 

00:06:30 Speaker 2 

You mentioned the ornate studios of the days when you trotted in with groups and orchestras and all the rest of it. 

00:06:36 Speaker 2 

Well, any idea what the equipment was like? 

00:06:38 Speaker 2 

Was it good? 

00:06:39 Speaker 2 

Equipment. Was it? 

00:06:39 Speaker 1 

No, it was terrible equipment. 

00:06:41 Speaker 1 

As a matter of fact, in in my control room in Saskatoon. 

00:06:44 Speaker 1 

I had a. 

00:06:45 Speaker 1 

Had one Ampex tape recorder and it weighed about. 

00:06:49 Speaker 1 

Ohh I’d say. 

00:06:49 Speaker 1 

That they they were the size of two good sized suitcases and they would weigh about £30 each. 

00:06:55 Speaker 1 

And so after you’d set up this Ampex tape recorder to you’d set a tape up in the control room. 

00:07:02 Speaker 1 

Now all of a sudden I would have to go out and do meet me at Safeway or something. 

00:07:06 Speaker 1 

I’d have to undo all this stuff because that’s the only machine we had and I’d have to leave the poor guy in the in the control room. 

00:07:12 Speaker 1 

And the way I go down to Safeway, lugging these two big suitcases. 

00:07:16 Speaker 1 

Then you hook them up. 

00:07:18 Speaker 1 

And sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, or they were off speed. 

00:07:22 Speaker 1 

It was a very adequate it well, it wasn’t adequate. 

00:07:25 Speaker 1 

It’s like your calculators nowadays. 

00:07:26 Speaker 1 

The first one was the size of room. 

00:07:28 Speaker 1 

Now a cigarette pack. 



00:07:30 Speaker 1 

So they’ve really come a long way. 

00:07:32 Speaker 2 

Where you, you know, you walk out today in the 1980s and people recognize you in safe way. Your neighbors know who you are. You go in the golf course and they. 

00:07:42 Speaker 2 

You all point. 

00:07:43 Speaker 2 

There’s Red, Alex, and little old ladies, and even cute young things come for your autograph and all the rest of it was that star status was that. 

00:07:52 Speaker 2 

Did that go back to? 

00:07:53 Speaker 2 

Those days as. 

00:07:54 Speaker 1 

It sure did. 

00:07:54 Speaker 2 

Well it. 

00:07:55 Speaker 1 

Yeah, it really did. 

00:07:57 Speaker 1 

Although I think not only has, it did even in Saskatoon, it was great. 

00:08:01 Speaker 1 

We used to have barn. 

00:08:02 Speaker 1 

Dances there and we had a great response, but I think Winnipeg really is the best Radio City. 

00:08:07 Speaker 1 

I’ve ever run into. 

00:08:09 Speaker 1 

In in all my years, you know, like the people everybody in the city knows, everyone on the air, don’t they have any? 

00:08:16 Speaker 1 

It’s it’s a good town. 

00:08:19 Speaker 1 

We used to have turntables like we had three turntables and we had to pull all our all our commercials are on transcription. 

00:08:25 Speaker 1 

These great big discs. 

00:08:27 Speaker 1 

And you had to queue them up like it would be side 2 cut 12 and you have to queue that up and you play for for a minute and then you gotta queue up another one. 

00:08:33 Speaker 1 

So it it kept pretty busy, but now they have these tape decks. 

00:08:37 Speaker 1 

It’s really nothing to it. 

00:08:38 Speaker 1 

Now I feel I feel like I’m stealing from the company now because it’s so easy to do. 

00:08:44 Speaker 1 

It’s so simple. 

00:08:44 Speaker 1 

I remember 1 fellow. 

00:08:46 Speaker 1 

We started John scrimshaw. 

00:08:48 Speaker 1 

And he he really had a set of pipes on him. 

00:08:50 Speaker 1 

He had the deepest voice I ever saw. 

00:08:53 Speaker 1 

And he was starting as a green announcer. 

00:08:56 Speaker 1 

Bob Freeland asked me to explain to him all the things he had to do and there was quite a, you know, there’s quite a thing. 

00:09:02 Speaker 1 

Few things you have to do and. 

00:09:05 Speaker 1 

Certain you know you have to get this turntable ready, queue up that record. 

00:09:11 Speaker 1 

Turn on this, turn off the new switch, turn on your own microphone, give the station brake, turn off your microphone, clink in the the turntable, and get the record going. 

00:09:22 Speaker 1 

You had to make this all sound smooth, so I I explained it to him. 

00:09:24 Speaker 1 

Several times. 

00:09:25 Speaker 1 

Then I went home. 

00:09:27 Speaker 1 

And the news? 

00:09:28 Speaker 1 

It was a 10 minute newscast, so I had gotten home and I had a big one of those big old radios. 

00:09:33 Speaker 1 

And it was just a. 

00:09:34 Speaker 1 

Boomer, you know, a big speaker sign so. 

00:09:37 Speaker 1 

I hear John after the news. 

00:09:39 Speaker 1 

He signs off the news and then I hear his clunk. 

00:09:42 Speaker 1 

He’s clicking in the the turntable and then I hear another switch. 

00:09:47 Speaker 1 

And I can hear all the movements he’s making because he’s forgotten to turn. 

00:09:49 Speaker 1 

Off his microphone. 

00:09:51 Speaker 1 

So then I phoned them into the control room. 

00:09:55 Speaker 1 

And he says hello. 

00:09:56 Speaker 1 

And this Halo comes over the radio just as loud as a bell. 

00:10:01 Speaker 1 

And I said, John, you you’ve forgotten. 

00:10:03 Speaker 1 

To shut off. 

00:10:03 Speaker 1 

Your microphone. 

00:10:05 Speaker 1 

There’s a long pause. 

00:10:07 Speaker 1 

Ah, ****. 

00:10:11 Speaker 1 

So that was his introduction to the radio business. 

00:10:14 Speaker 1 

We had a lot of good laughs about that for a long time. 

00:10:17 Speaker 1 

We had another guy we used to. 

00:10:19 Speaker 1 

He used to be very fussy newscaster. 

00:10:22 Speaker 1 

And he was so articulate and he would get his newscast ready and rehearse it for half an hour. 

00:10:28 Speaker 1 

Then he’d have it all stapled together and place it in front of his microphone, like, where you and I are sitting now from The Newsroom. 

00:10:33 Speaker 1 

Then he’d go back out for 15 minutes, sit in the news and getting ready to go on. 

00:10:37 Speaker 1 

So one time we switched the newscast on and we put every four letter word in this newscast you could ever imagine. 

00:10:44 Speaker 1 

Now he’s all set to go and we put on the news intro, put him on. 

00:10:47 Speaker 1 

Program two had an Fred Sear over in the other studio and he did the newscast, but the guy couldn’t hear it because he all he could hear was what he’s doing. 

00:10:55 Speaker 1 

Well, he started off and he was. 

00:10:57 Speaker 1 

Really thrown. 

00:10:58 Speaker 1 

He stopped in the middle. 

00:10:59 Speaker 1 

He just about had a heart attack it. 

00:11:00 Speaker 2 

Was it was a lot of fun. 

00:11:02 Speaker 2 

Sounds like less nessman of. 

00:11:04 Speaker 2 

WKRP in Cincinnati. 

00:11:05 Speaker 1 

If it’s just along the same line. 

00:11:07 Speaker 2 

All right. 

00:11:07 Speaker 2 

Where does this bring us then? 

00:11:09 Speaker 2 

In your career well. 

00:11:11 Speaker 1 

In my career, do you mean now or? 

00:11:14 Speaker 1 

I think that are these. 

00:11:14 Speaker 2 

We’re up to the 50s. 

00:11:15 Speaker 1 

Are these people? 

00:11:16 Speaker 1 

Well, when I came to Winnipeg, it was a it was a big move for me because. 

00:11:21 Speaker 1 

I just come out of Saskatoon and I’m still, you know, a little of the farm boy in me. 

00:11:27 Speaker 1 

But Jack Black was certainly a great, great guy to hook. 

00:11:31 Speaker 1 

Up with and he was one of the. 

00:11:33 Speaker 1 

Still, as far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest radio men that ever walked in in this country. 

00:11:37 Speaker 1 

So there was. 

00:11:38 Speaker 1 

It was a great compliment to be able to go to. 

00:11:41 Speaker 2 

Work for him. 

00:11:41 Speaker 2 

And what did you start with at? 

00:11:43 Speaker 2 

CJOB what did? 

00:11:44 Speaker 1 

I start with. 

00:11:45 Speaker 2 

Yeah. What? What shift? 

00:11:47 Speaker 1 

I did the morning show. 

00:11:48 Speaker 1 

I always did the morning show. 

00:11:49 Speaker 1 

I was going to tell you about the hours we used to work. 

00:11:52 Speaker 1 

We used to work. 

00:11:54 Speaker 1 

Six days a week, people nowadays really don’t know what work is, but we we used to work six days a week. 

00:12:00 Speaker 1 

We put in an 8 hour shift. 

00:12:02 Speaker 1 

On Saturdays I would get up. 

00:12:04 Speaker 1 

At 4:00 o’clock in the morning. 

00:12:06 Speaker 1 

I had a longer morning show because there was a lot of people. 

00:12:08 Speaker 1 

Off on Saturdays so. 

00:12:11 Speaker 1 

I would be at the station at 4:30 on Saturday morning. I would go on the air at 6 because I had to pull all my transcriptions and my own music and get everything ready. 

00:12:19 Speaker 1 

And then I would be on the air till noon. 

00:12:22 Speaker 1 

And then at noon I went and had lunch down at Linda’s lunch and. 

00:12:27 Speaker 1 

At 1:00 o’clock I had to beat the Dominion Theatre where we ran the A live Western hour, so I would emcee that till 2:00 o’clock. 

00:12:34 Speaker 1 

Then I would come back. 

00:12:36 Speaker 1 

And we’d stop at the Saint Charles and have a beer and the associated Canadian travellers would pick me up on the bus. 

00:12:43 Speaker 1 

At 3:00 o’clock. 

00:12:44 Speaker 1 

And then we would head out to all the different towns, every town in Manitoba we hit. 

00:12:48 Speaker 1 

And I would get back home about two or three o’clock usually on Sunday morning. 

00:12:54 Speaker 1 

And I got 15 bucks for that. 

00:12:56 Speaker 2 

Did you broadcast live from those small towns? 

00:12:59 Speaker 1 

We had a line and. 

00:13:02 Speaker 1 

So every Sunday morning and I came out at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, I would say to my wife. 

00:13:06 Speaker 1 

Well, here’s my 15 bucks. 

00:13:07 Speaker 1 

And now I’m going to bed. 

00:13:09 Speaker 1 

And I was out for the day, and then we used to do traffic in the summer. 

00:13:12 Speaker 1 

We we put in a lot of seven day weeks and we. 

00:13:14 Speaker 1 

Didn’t get any extra pay for it either. 

00:13:17 Speaker 1 

We had to go out and do traffic reports and the cruiser. 

00:13:20 Speaker 1 

I don’t know you. 

00:13:20 Speaker 1 

Saw the picture of that. 

00:13:21 Speaker 2 

Yeah, the old throws. 

00:13:22 Speaker 1 

Yeah, the bubble on it, we’d go and do our shift on a Sunday night, you know, we’d see the traffic coming. 

00:13:28 Speaker 1 

So we did put in some hectic hours. It was like a sweatshop the first few years. The 1st 25 or 30. 

00:13:35 Speaker 2 

Had you packed in singing by this stage? 

00:13:37 Speaker 1 

No, no, no, no. 

00:13:37 Speaker 2 

Publicly or you? 

00:13:39 Speaker 1 

I did a lot of singing around and Oh yeah. 


Did you? 

00:13:41 Speaker 1 

And I enjoyed it very much too, so I still enjoyed the scene, but. 

00:13:45 Speaker 2 

So who were some of the other on air personalities at the time or in those early years? 

00:13:48 Speaker 1 

One here, Jim Gibson. 

00:13:52 Speaker 1 

Ray isley. 

00:13:54 Speaker 1 

Doc Stein. 

00:13:57 Speaker 1 

Who else now Bill Trebilco started with us then. 

00:14:01 Speaker 1 

And he was Dudley. 

00:14:02 Speaker 1 

Patterson was on the air. 

00:14:03 Speaker 1 

Alan Brady. 

00:14:07 Speaker 1 

George Mccloy, of course, George is still around, but he’s retired now, and I guess he’ll. 

00:14:11 Speaker 1 

Be doing an interview with. 

00:14:12 Speaker 1 

You too. 

00:14:13 Speaker 1 

You didn’t know you’re going to have another one. 

00:14:16 Speaker 2 


00:14:17 Speaker 2 

One thing you’re known about and it’s billed, and I wonder if it’s correct. 

00:14:21 Speaker 2 

Although the station seems to think it is, you had the first open line radio program in the country. 

00:14:29 Speaker 1 

I’ll stress this a little more and get it straight right. It was Bob Hosey’s idea and Bob Freeland started with it. 

00:14:36 Speaker 1 

And he only lasted about two months because he couldn’t take the guff from the blister. 

00:14:40 Speaker 1 

So then I took it over and it was not the first phone call program in the countries the 1st. 

00:14:47 Speaker 1 

Call in show in the world. 

00:14:49 Speaker 1 

As far as I know, yeah, because we sent tapes all over the world and the first year that I did that program, the phone calls came in to me. 

00:14:58 Speaker 1 

But they didn’t go on the air. 

00:15:00 Speaker 1 

Because they didn’t have the equipment to put it on the air in those days. 

00:15:04 Speaker 1 

So I would say yes ma’am. 

00:15:06 Speaker 1 

You’re mad about the. 

00:15:08 Speaker 1 

The everything they said you don’t like the way the buses are running. 

00:15:08 Speaker 2 

Oh, you’d have to paraphrase them. 

00:15:12 Speaker 1 

OK, ma’am. 


That must have been. 

00:15:16 Speaker 1 

Well, we didn’t. 

00:15:16 Speaker 1 

Have any lawsuits? 

00:15:18 Speaker 1 

And we went. 

00:15:20 Speaker 1 

After we did get the phone calls on the air, we only had, I think I was on 25 years before we got a delay and I only had one time. 

00:15:29 Speaker 1 

In my life that. 

00:15:32 Speaker 1 

A guy? 

00:15:32 Speaker 1 

Well, maybe two times, but one guy really got me on on Bifocals 1 morning. 

00:15:37 Speaker 1 

He he was. 

00:15:37 Speaker 1 

Sounded like such a nice guy because I had to be very leery of everybody that call. 

00:15:43 Speaker 1 

So he phoned up and he said good morning, red. 

00:15:45 Speaker 1 

Nice morning. 

00:15:47 Speaker 1 

Lovely day, red. 

00:15:48 Speaker 1 

Lovely day if you read. 

00:15:52 Speaker 1 

Not a good listening there. 

00:15:53 Speaker 1 

The next couple of days after that, the whole city was listening, see. 

00:15:56 Speaker 1 

What was going to happen? 

00:15:57 Speaker 1 

Do you have a lawsuit? 

00:15:59 Speaker 1 

We had one close one time we had a. 

00:16:02 Speaker 1 

Call with a big bouquet to the the foreman out at the CPR yard. 

00:16:08 Speaker 1 

And I thought, well, this is nice. 

00:16:09 Speaker 1 

And he says, yeah, he’s selling stolen watches to. 

00:16:12 Speaker 1 

All of his friends. 

00:16:13 Speaker 1 

So he gave his name too, so I did, you know, with a bouquet. 

00:16:17 Speaker 1 

It’s all right. 

00:16:18 Speaker 1 

But after a while, it did turn out that the guy was selling. 

00:16:21 Speaker 2 

Stolen watches TV must have been coming in in these. 

00:16:24 Speaker 1 

It was. 

00:16:25 Speaker 2 

What kind of impact? 

00:16:26 Speaker 1 

It had a tremendous impact and it threw the fear of God into a lot of radio management and a lot of radio broadcasters too, because everybody thought that was the end of the road and it certainly didn’t turn out that way. 

00:16:38 Speaker 1 

It’s actually radio has never done so well as since TV came in, but we weren’t allowed to mention. 

00:16:44 Speaker 1 

Any shows that we ever watched, we weren’t allowed to say. 

00:16:47 Speaker 1 

We watched TV. 

00:16:48 Speaker 1 

We were supposed to say we didn’t own a TV. 

00:16:50 Speaker 1 

That was it. 

00:16:51 Speaker 1 

The way they told don’t say you own a TV if somebody phones and says, well, I’d rather listen to the radio. 

00:16:57 Speaker 1 

That’s what you’re supposed to say. 

00:16:59 Speaker 2 

So, but the impact wasn’t there. 

00:17:03 Speaker 1 

Oh it it. 

00:17:04 Speaker 2 

As far as business would be went. 

00:17:05 Speaker 1 

It was for I, I think for a little while. 

00:17:08 Speaker 1 

I know Jay O Black thought the end of the world had come. 

00:17:11 Speaker 1 

That’s when he got out of the business, he. 

00:17:13 Speaker 1 

He sold out to Frank Griffiths and that was it. 

00:17:15 Speaker 1 

He just gave up. 

00:17:16 Speaker 2 

What are the differences in the commercials then compared to today? 

00:17:24 Speaker 1 

They were very straightforward commercials. 

00:17:26 Speaker 1 

In those days. 

00:17:26 Speaker 1 

They never they never ran down the the competition like they do nowadays. 

00:17:32 Speaker 1 

They weren’t very interesting to listen to. 

00:17:34 Speaker 1 

I didn’t think there was not much imagination. 

00:17:36 Speaker 1 

They were all the very same. 

00:17:38 Speaker 1 

But uh. 

00:17:39 Speaker 1 

They sold for a well. 

00:17:41 Speaker 1 

I know when I first came to. 

00:17:44 Speaker 1 

Do wake up Winnipeg. 

00:17:45 Speaker 1 

Hargrave Furniture had a 5 minute segment there. 

00:17:48 Speaker 1 

They used to pay about. 

00:17:49 Speaker 1 

$9 a day for it on wake up, Winnipeg at 20 after 8. 

00:17:54 Speaker 1 

And I finally pointed out to Jack Blick that he could put two national commercials in there for about he was getting about 25 or $30.00 for those he never thought of that, but. 

00:18:03 Speaker 1 

Prices where they did vary. 

00:18:06 Speaker 2 

Reg I, if memory serves me correctly, you being a little modest here because in the middle of all this obese stuff and your career with CJOB in Winnipeg. 

00:18:16 Speaker 2 

You took a short break and blew up a radio station, didn’t you? 

00:18:20 Speaker 1 

Blew up a radio station. 

00:18:21 Speaker 1 

Oh, are you talking about the one in Fargo? 

00:18:24 Speaker 1 

Well, I went down to Fargo to put a radio station on the air for. 

00:18:29 Speaker 1 

A year, and on the day we went on, I was sitting in front of the board and this was a big moment for us too, because we’re all very excited and I was. 

00:18:37 Speaker 1 

Doing the announcing and one of the main tubes exploded and just blew the top right off off the console. 

00:18:42 Speaker 2 

Do you remember the? 

00:18:43 Speaker 1 

Call letters Cutie KU T. 

00:18:46 Speaker 2 


00:18:46 Speaker 2 

T yeah. 

00:18:47 Speaker 2 

Was that the first and only day or did it prosper after that? 

00:18:50 Speaker 1 

No, it’s still going. 

00:18:52 Speaker 1 

I was there for. 

00:18:54 Speaker 1 

And then I found out there was some shaky management there and a few things going under the table. 

00:18:58 Speaker 1 

So I I left and. 

00:18:59 Speaker 2 

Came back here and returned back to CGLIB. 

00:19:02 Speaker 1 

Oh, I came back to CRC for a year and then I went to CBC for. 

00:19:05 Speaker 1 

Two months you went. 

00:19:06 Speaker 1 

Where CBC the shortest. 

00:19:08 Speaker 1 

That was. 

00:19:11 Speaker 1 

I guess the shortest in history. 

00:19:13 Speaker 1 

What happened there? 

00:19:14 Speaker 1 

Well, John Diefenbaker had his austerity program, so they laid off the last two. 

00:19:18 Speaker 1 

Broadcasters across Canada that were hired in each market so that they would show the people of Canada how they were saving their money. 

00:19:26 Speaker 1 

And they knew if they used announcers, they would at least get some ink on it. 

00:19:29 Speaker 1 

So this is what happened. 

00:19:31 Speaker 1 

And they told me don’t worry about it. 

00:19:33 Speaker 1 

You’ll have your job back in a month or two anyway. 

00:19:35 Speaker 1 

So when they did call me back, I told him I. 

00:19:37 Speaker 1 

Didn’t think I. 

00:19:37 Speaker 1 

Wanted it so I came. 

00:19:39 Speaker 2 

Back here, he came back here. 

00:19:41 Speaker 2 

There was one other break, wasn’t there when you. 

00:19:43 Speaker 2 

Decided to. 

00:19:43 Speaker 1 

Well, that was at the same time I. 

00:19:45 Speaker 1 

Went into the. 

00:19:45 Speaker 2 

To the hardware business, why did you go into the hardware business? 

00:19:46 Speaker 1 

For a little while, yeah. 

00:19:49 Speaker 1 

I always wanted to own a hardware store. 

00:19:52 Speaker 2 

Was it any was? 

00:19:52 Speaker 1 

That’s worse in the radio business. 

00:19:54 Speaker 2 

Was there anything in your psyche that you wanted were you getting pressure from your wife or that you wanted to get out of the radio business and give it a break for a time? 

00:20:04 Speaker 2 

It was just you. 

00:20:04 Speaker 1 

Know I never got any pressure from my wife or my family. Whatever I whatever I said I was going to do, they were right behind me 100% which? 

00:20:12 Speaker 1 

It always means a great. 

00:20:13 Speaker 2 

Deal. What special qualities? 

00:20:17 Speaker 2 

Does Red Alex possess going back to his days on the farm, did the farm give you certain qualities that you were able to push through the microphone to people? 

00:20:27 Speaker 1 

Yeah, I think there were two qualities that it gave you. 

00:20:32 Speaker 1 

You were coming from nowhere, so you had nothing to lose. 

00:20:35 Speaker 2 


00:20:36 Speaker 1 

And so that’s why I could put in those long hours I put in long hours in the farm and I never got even $85 a month for it. 

00:20:43 Speaker 1 

So at least I was ahead of the game there, and as I was used to long hours and I was not. 

00:20:48 Speaker 1 

Used to being pampered or spoiled nowadays. Uh, I think when people come to it, I don’t think they get near the broadcasters nowadays, either in smaller markets because they all can go down and make $10.00 an hour working for the city, digging ditches or something where they can’t do that in a radio station. 

00:21:04 Speaker 1 

I don’t think they pay that much yet for young people when they start, it’s a tough business to. 

00:21:08 Speaker 1 

Start in, but once you’re. 

00:21:10 Speaker 1 

Into it, and if you are gung ho enough that it’s certainly is a good business to be in. 

00:21:15 Speaker 2 

There are any times during your career you said to yourself when you crawled home at night after 12 hours, then that you tore 15 or even more that you’ve told us about that you thought I’m getting out of this, but not at all. 

00:21:28 Speaker 2 

What’s the Red Alex School of Broadcasting that most people across Western Canada refer to when they are sitting around talking the business and they’ve had a couple of drinks? 

00:21:37 Speaker 1 

Well, I think, Peter, you’re the guy that brought up that. 

00:21:40 Speaker 1 

Maybe you could say what you think it was. 

00:21:42 Speaker 2 

Well, the Red Alex School of Broadcasting very simply was told to me by you 20 years ago. And you said when you come to work in the morning in this town, when you open the door to come in to see JOB, there is only 1 radio station. 

00:21:58 Speaker 1 

Right. That’s one of the. 

00:22:00 Speaker 2 

What are the others? 

00:22:01 Speaker 1 

Well, that’s one of them and. 

00:22:05 Speaker 1 

One of the thing that I always say to young people when they’re young announcer, I try to tell them they think they can get off. 

00:22:11 Speaker 1 

Like if the boss is out of town or. 

00:22:13 Speaker 1 

Or there’s it’s a, say, 3:00 o’clock in the morning, they say, well, nobody’s listening anyway, but there’s always somebody listening. 

00:22:20 Speaker 1 

Could be the King of England going through or the queen? 

00:22:23 Speaker 1 

And ABS or get up for a cup of tea. 

00:22:26 Speaker 1 

She turns on the radio. 

00:22:27 Speaker 1 

You never know who’s listening, but there always is. 

00:22:30 Speaker 1 

And anybody that’s listening is important because. 

00:22:33 Speaker 1 

They are human beings and you always have to talk like the whole throng is out there. 

00:22:39 Speaker 2 

What about some of the characters on Beats and bouquets and some of the other callers, because what many people probably don’t realize many listeners is that you have down through the years during commercials and during some of the music you talk to people. 

00:22:54 Speaker 2 

Is that important to you? 

00:22:55 Speaker 2 

Has that been important to you? 

00:22:56 Speaker 1 

Oh yeah, yeah. 

00:22:59 Speaker 1 

As you say, there have been many characters. 

00:23:01 Speaker 1 

The first, the first person that called me on beef bouquets when I started in Winnipeg. 

00:23:06 Speaker 1 

Was Bertha Rand and you know Bertha because she’s known across Canada. 

00:23:09 Speaker 2 

The cat lady, she was. 

00:23:10 Speaker 1 

The first one to call and. 

00:23:13 Speaker 1 

Within 3/4 of an hour, she was standing out at the front desk. 

00:23:17 Speaker 1 

Wanting to meet me and she had. 

00:23:18 Speaker 1 

A shopping bag and she had. 

00:23:21 Speaker 1 

She had two hockey stockings on. 

00:23:24 Speaker 1 

One was Montreal Canadiens. 

00:23:25 Speaker 1 

The other was Toronto Maple. 

00:23:27 Speaker 1 

So I wondered what? 

00:23:29 Speaker 1 

What I was getting into there, but she was quite an interesting old gal, wasn’t she? 

00:23:33 Speaker 1 

Well, you had her on the air too. 

00:23:34 Speaker 1 

Peter, so she was. 

00:23:36 Speaker 1 

And then I had the flag man Jeff. 

00:23:37 Speaker 2 

Who is the flag member? 

00:23:38 Speaker 1 

Well, he phoned for years and he wanted a Canadian flag and for years and years he phoned every other day we called him the flag man. 

00:23:46 Speaker 1 

So there are people like that that never. 

00:23:49 Speaker 1 

I’ve got one lady. 

00:23:52 Speaker 1 

Has been phoning me since 1955 and and she was Ray Isley’s landlady. 

00:23:58 Speaker 1 

And she used the phone even about Ray. 

00:24:00 Speaker 1 

If he didn’t get his rent up to date, but she still phones. 

00:24:03 Speaker 1 

Her name is Mary. 

00:24:04 Speaker 1 

It’s one of them. 

00:24:07 Speaker 2 

Have you ever, outside of them coming to the station made a point of being intrigued, curiosity or otherwise, of finding out who any of these people are, or are they just voices out there? 

00:24:17 Speaker 1 

No, you do get to know them. 

00:24:19 Speaker 1 

You get to meet a lot of them. 

00:24:21 Speaker 1 

Because they come down to meet you at the station and they tell you their story and there are some very interesting people out there, it’s. 

00:24:28 Speaker 1 

It gives you a little. 

00:24:31 Speaker 1 

Diversification away from your regular life from the normal people that you think they’re normal people that you’re living with every day and you meet these different types of people and it puts a new edge. 

00:24:41 Speaker 2 

In life has radio humbled you at all? 

00:24:45 Speaker 1 

Yes it does. 

00:24:46 Speaker 1 

It has the first time I was humbled was. 

00:24:50 Speaker 1 

In Ckom and I was really humbled because I knew that everybody in the city knew me by then. 

00:24:55 Speaker 1 

I’d been there about 3 years. 

00:24:58 Speaker 1 

And I had a tremendous rating and I was really rolling. 

00:25:01 Speaker 1 

And one of the Alderman came down to the station to do an interview, and that John McManus was the news editor. 

00:25:08 Speaker 1 

He introduced me to this alter. 

00:25:10 Speaker 1 

And I said hi, you know, it’s your hands, he said, what do you do? 

00:25:15 Speaker 1 

And from that day on, I’ll never forget that. 

00:25:17 Speaker 1 

So you can always get. 

00:25:19 Speaker 1 

That moment when somebody say, what do you? 

00:25:20 Speaker 2 

Do a lot of broadcasters have let it go to their heads? 

00:25:24 Speaker 2 

These stars status symbol and have made a fatal mistake in the case of some of them. 

00:25:30 Speaker 2 

For some of them who’ve been successful, it’s not been a mistake, but usually it’s been a fatal mistake. 

00:25:35 Speaker 2 

They’ve let it go to their heads and thought they were a shoo in for political office. 

00:25:39 Speaker 2 

You ever been asked to did you ever seriously consider? 

00:25:43 Speaker 1 

No, I have been asked to and I don’t think it’s fair for any person in the broadcasting business. 

00:25:47 Speaker 1 

To go into the politics. 

00:25:48 Speaker 1 

Because, well, they already have their name established and the average voter doesn’t even know who he’s voting for, he goes. 

00:25:55 Speaker 1 

So if he sees a name, he recognizes he’s going to vote for that fellow, and I don’t think many broadcasters are qualified to. 

00:26:04 Speaker 1 

To be true politicians and I don’t think any politicians are truly qualified to be broadcasters. 

00:26:11 Speaker 2 

Read a lot of your ideas for programming changes or for innovative ideas of come out over the golf course on a Sunday morning or what have you. 

00:26:21 Speaker 2 

Some have been picked up, some have been most successful, others have been dumped. 

00:26:25 Speaker 2 

Is there any secret in your heart of hearts if you owned? 

00:26:31 Speaker 2 

This chain of radio stations, or this particular radio station, a kind of program, a new program, an innovative idea that you would like to money aside, see introduced and you know would go on radio. 

00:26:45 Speaker 1 

Well, I think that there there really is no such thing as a new idea in radio anymore. 

00:26:50 Speaker 1 

They’ve they’ve all been pretty well dug around and used up and all they’re doing is on a different theme. 

00:26:56 Speaker 1 

Most of the things they’re doing nowadays, I know Laurie or Dell will come to me all excited about something. 

00:27:02 Speaker 1 

I’ll say. 

00:27:02 Speaker 1 

Well, we did that. 

00:27:03 Speaker 1 

25 years ago it didn’t work. 

00:27:03 Speaker 2 

Yeah, yeah. 

00:27:05 Speaker 1 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to work now. 

00:27:06 Speaker 1 

So they they go ahead and try it anyway, and sometimes it does work and sometimes it doesn’t, but. 

00:27:12 Speaker 1 

There are really no new ideas and I think now they’re more sophisticated and in what they do and everything’s planned more, there’s there’s no spontaneity anymore in the business. 

00:27:23 Speaker 1 

Like you don’t just get up and say I think I’ll do. 

00:27:25 Speaker 1 

This today because everything’s laid out what you’re going to do and and every everybody’s in a bigger market especially. 

00:27:25 Speaker 2 


00:27:32 Speaker 1 

Has to pretty well stay with that. 

00:27:33 Speaker 1 

Line so. 

00:27:34 Speaker 2 

Would you like to go back to the days? 

00:27:36 Speaker 2 

When it was no, no. 

00:27:38 Speaker 1 

No, I I don’t think so. 

00:27:40 Speaker 1 

I think they do a better job with a lot. 

00:27:42 Speaker 1 

You know a lot more planning. 

00:27:43 Speaker 1 

I think a lot of the things we used to do years. 

00:27:46 Speaker 1 

Ago really got a lot of. 

00:27:48 Speaker 1 

Attention and there wasn’t all good attention. 

00:27:50 Speaker 1 

So you know you never. 

00:27:52 Speaker 1 

We’re flying by the seat of. 

00:27:53 Speaker 1 

Our pants. What? 

00:27:54 Speaker 2 

Do you mean give me an example? 


What’s the time? 

00:27:56 Speaker 1 

Well, if you thought you could pull a prank or something and you know, say, April fools jokes or something, you just think of this in the top of your head. 

00:28:06 Speaker 1 

It’s like Orson Welles when he when he pulled that stunt to his or what, like when Chuck Cook through the money, the monopoly money out of the window. 

00:28:15 Speaker 1 

Many years ago in the Lindsay Building, he he said he was going to throw $5000 out the window, so he did. 

00:28:20 Speaker 1 

He threw $5000, but he had the biggest traffic jam in in history in Winnipeg, so he was really, you know, it caught a lot of attention from the listening audience but. 

00:28:30 Speaker 1 

The the police chief, the Fire Chief, all of those people were very upset with Jay O and Chuck Cook, but he did that on his own. 

00:28:37 Speaker 1 

Nobody knew he was going to do. 

00:28:38 Speaker 1 

It and he just threw it out the window. 

00:28:40 Speaker 2 

Which brings us around to the next question and a one I’ve heard you and other veterans discuss down through the years and it always gets thrown around the cocktail lounge when you’re discussing the business that. 

00:28:52 Speaker 2 

When all said and done, isn’t it only a? 

00:28:55 Speaker 1 

Game it’s only a game, Peter. 

00:28:58 Speaker 1 

I think that sums it up pretty well. 

00:29:02 Speaker 2 

But isn’t there a serious side to? 

00:29:03 Speaker 2 

It as well. 

00:29:04 Speaker 1 

All very serious. 

00:29:05 Speaker 1 

You’ve got a great responsibility in the community. 

00:29:08 Speaker 1 

Because you’ve got to. 

00:29:09 Speaker 1 

You’ve got a voice to every home in the city. 

00:29:12 Speaker 1 

If you want to have it. 

00:29:14 Speaker 1 

And that’s more than a politician has really. 

00:29:17 Speaker 2 

Has the. 

00:29:17 Speaker 2 

Have you ever gone home at night? 

00:29:21 Speaker 2 

High on what’s been happening on the air and worried or got a little scared about the power that Red Alex had in his hand for the next morning? 

00:29:35 Speaker 1 

No, I never was afraid of that. 

00:29:36 Speaker 1 

No, no, because I always. 

00:29:39 Speaker 1 

I think I always used it with a lot of common sense and realized that it wasn’t the power that Alex had. 

00:29:44 Speaker 1 

It was the power that the microphone. 

00:29:46 Speaker 1 

And so they can fill that seat with anybody, not anybody. 

00:29:50 Speaker 1 

But there’s always somebody can take your place. 

00:29:52 Speaker 2 

You’ve been described as a rather special, very ordinary man. 

00:29:57 Speaker 2 

Do you agree with that description? 

00:29:59 Speaker 1 

I think so, I think so. 

00:30:02 Speaker 2 

But after all said and done, it’s only a. 

00:30:04 Speaker 1 

Game it’s only a game. 

00:30:05 Speaker 2 

Red, thanks so much. 

00:30:06 Speaker 1 

Thank you.