Ken Baker


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The Selkirk collection. 

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Of The Pioneers of soccer communications. 

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The following interview with Ken Baker was recorded in January of 1978 by **** Ministry. 

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I’m talking this afternoon with Ken Baker, who is vice President Silker Holdings. 

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And we’re seated comfortably in his office in Toronto. 

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Ken, we’ve known each other for all of the years you’ve been with the company, I guess. And you remind me of that. That’s some 26 years. 

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That’s right. That’s right. 

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You started in Montreal with all Canada. 

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Yes, from June, June 25th, 1952. 

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At that time, Brett Hall was his manager. 

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Bert Hall was manager. 

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And actually in that office at the time there was George Gavell and Jeanette Moffett and Jerry Burrows, that was, that was the office. 

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Yeah, yes, yeah. 

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I was reminded of talking with Jerry Burrows about Bert Hall’s office. 

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Plaster for the ceiling with pictures of people that he’d met. 

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Well, Absolutely Fabulous office. 

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It was a. 

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It was a dark paneled office, if you recall, with three rows of pictures of movie stars, all autographed, and he knew each and every. 

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One of. 

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A dark desk royal blue carpet on the floor, red leathered upholstered chairs. 

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The shades drawn. 

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The drapes drawn. 

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No lights on at all except one lamp behind him, which had a black shade and he wore dark glasses. 

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Always, always. 

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And one of the things that I remember best about Bird Hall and I guess one of the things that he’s remembered best for throughout the industry. 

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Was his holding court and the package only lounge from the Mount Royal Hotel every day at 12 noon. 

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Perfectly right the the table just inside the door to the right. 

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It was reserved for him every every day, and if he didn’t show up, it wasn’t given to anybody until a certain time. 

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The same thing happened at a few other places around Montreal, by the way, and so there are always two or three places that were disappointed with his non appearance. 

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He ended up somewhere every night. 

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Tell me something about birth background. 

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Why is that? 

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Burt, Burt and I, of course. 

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Had we had a a. 

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A marvelous association together, I think. 

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He understood. 

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Me, I think I understood him as much as I can about. 

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I understand anyone having had some for some back background knowledge from close friends of his. 

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But his background really was a rather sad thing. 

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As best I can, I can put it together. 

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Burt came. 

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From England early in his career. 

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At the request of for Ziegfield to appear as a. 

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Song and dance man, if you like in the in some of Ziegfield’s shows and Broadway. 

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I didn’t know that. 

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And worked with Ziegfield for five or six years. 

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And as best I can reconstruct it. 

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They run a, they run A and a roadshow touring North America. 

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When a depression hit and Burt got stranded in in Canada, and I think Ottawa. 

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Nobody. Nobody. 

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So you get stranded in Ottawa, and the impression you’re stranded. 

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And nobody was employing anyone in those days for any reason whatsoever. 

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And through other other people I. 

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Know if you recall. 

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Cases men’s men’s shop in Saint Catherine St. 

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near Peel. 

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And the case has been there for forever and a day and. 

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Ken Case ran it and Les Dando was one of his salesman, and I used to buy clothes from him, and he used to tell me stories about birth and one of the most beautiful stories was at the height of the depression. 

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With Ken case and Les Dando and one of the salesman standing in this very, very good men’s men’s store waiting for customers to come in the front door and all of a sudden their peers in the doorway, this magnificent sight of Burke with the Panama on dark glasses came gloves, and they say, my God, we have. 

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A customer. 

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And Bert walked in and said the manager please. 

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And Ken case came forward. 

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Said yes Sir. 

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And Bert looked around and said I think I would. 

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Like to work here, Ken. 

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Ken case said. 

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I’m terribly sorry, Sir. 

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But there isn’t enough business to keep the present employees busy. 

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Bert said that doesn’t matter. 

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You don’t have to pay me a salary. 

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Just pay me a Commission on any business I bring in here. 

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And any business I do. 

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And Ken said sure. 

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And Les said within six months, Burt was making more than any of them. 

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He had so many contacts, made friends so easily in Montreal and and it was as a result of Burt, really, that many of the old time customers were still going to cases long after the depression has been on. 

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And he looked so much the part of. 

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Just Immaculate and always, always tremendous in in his attitude towards people, in their clothing and their ethnic. 

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The way they they carried themselves. 

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Marvelous, man. 

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That’s stories like that and other stories of course, while he was doing that he. 

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So was playing cards a tremendous card player? 

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He was reckoned to be and I’ve. 

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I’ve heard this from reliable sources. 

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He was reckoned to be at his time and that was during the depression of. 

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30S one of the three best bridge players in the entire Montreal area. 

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And actually made his living at it for a long time, playing cards and Jim or any card. 

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Game he won. Yes, yes. 

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Where it always gave the impression tried to give the impression that he really couldn’t care less about anything, that the menials would take care of everything. 

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But in actual fact, I’ve seen him at up rows of figures just by glancing at them and running his finger down them, and he’s magnificent mind in that respect. 

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He could put logical pieces together very quickly. 

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Very perceptive. 

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But people. 

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Realized he was a character, realized that he was kind of a legend in his. 

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Own time and as others will say in answer to the question that he’s weren’t really such a character, the answer was he he he should be. 

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He’s been rehearsing the part. 

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For 40 years. 

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And that’s that was Bert. 

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That was Bert Hall. 

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This is marvelous. 

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I I admired him greatly for reasons that had nothing to. 

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Do with the. 

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The efficiency of running a business, but. 

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His relationship to people and the people he. 

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Helped during those. 

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I don’t know if you know this stick, but places like shayer nest in in Montreal that were very well known eating places people often wondered in the Fifties, 40s and 50s. 

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Why Bert could always walk in the share anness without booking a? 

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Table and they would clear a table for him and it was because really in the bad days he he bankrolled earnest to to keep his restaurant running. 

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And many stories like that, he helped many, many people very, very and very quiet. 

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And he didn’t like the. 

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If anybody knowing anything about it, you know. 

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No, no, he. 

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He was his own man, very. 

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Much he was he had he had been married, as you probably know, to one of these singer sewing machines. 

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Heiresses had a son. 

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The marriage broke up very early, I think and. 

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The sun. 

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I used to get letters from the son who was living in Paris, but I never had more than just a passing comment from Bird on on his son. 

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Or anything in his past for that matter. 

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Lou Mittenthal, who was a very close. 

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Friend of birth. 

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And I and Bert, we used to get together every once in a while and lose sometimes would refer to the past. 

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His early friendship with with Bert. 

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Lou was a had been a gem merchant in his in his day and had traveled around the world numerous times and. 

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Was too bored now to even go three blocks from the streetcar. 

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Is it just sat and talked to people and he would go on stories about Burt? 

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Burt was the bird was a fabulous character. 

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He, of course, had a very close relationship with Harold Carson and. 

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When I was with the first manager of the Montreal office, yes. 

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Yes, but the actually the office the office got started in a rather strange way. 

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It was called something else we called United. 

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Well, United Broadcast field as I think, yes. 

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But cat sales? 

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And in those days, Bert had been freelancing at CFCF as an announcer. 

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The manager in those days had been. 

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Like George, yeah. 

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And Vic had and where it had become close friends in this funny relationship. 

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I think a quasi English British relationship, which both thick George and Bert love to to to dwell on. 

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It was marvellous and. 

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I think when the opportunity arose for Harold Carson’s firm to get involved in Montreal. 

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At that time, Vic George was involved in running an advertising agency, Whitehall advertising, which looked after all of the Imperial Tobacco advertising and had taken offices in the Dominion Square building on the 9th floor. 

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And in the past, he had developed a relationship with sorts with Harold Carson from his days at CFCF. 

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When Harold came to him about who should he have to look after sales in Montreal, I think I think George recommended Bert Hall. 

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And and also suggested that Bert could occupy some of the space in his office, which he would sublet to him. 

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And I think and I don’t mean to correct you, but were they not before that in the King’s Hall building? 

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On Saint Catherine St. 

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Where CFCF was. 

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I don’t think so. 

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I don’t. 

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I’m not. 

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Sure, if that. 

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I know they were there at one point in time I didn’t see FCF was there. 

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My, my, my, my, my, my, the background I have. 

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And I mean. 

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I could be corrected. 

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That goes back to the days when. 

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When Vic George and Whitehall, and in Dominion Square building and the first officers that. 

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Or Canada or what became all Canada radio facilities was was in the same place as Whitehall advertising and as a matter of fact, is still. 

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There to this day and. 

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Occupies not only that space, but additional space, which is kind of interesting. 

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Can you spent them the? 

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Years from. 

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You’re joining the company? 

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In the Montreal office, until you were moved to Toronto. 

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And that would be about. 

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When? Well, what? I can go back perhaps and take you through the dates I’ve been with Bert from, as I say, June of 1952 in in what was then all Canada radio facilities in Montreal. 

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It was a point and we’ve referred to as his peculiar working habits, but nevertheless it was a point at which he. 

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There really isn’t much point in both you and me being in this office. 

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You’re doing all the work. 

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So and I’m managing it, so why don’t we do? 

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It this way. 

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I’ll come in and read my mail at 10:30 and then leave and you join me at the pick at 5:30 and tell me what happened. 

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And if you have any questions and I and I said fine and I was just a young chap then in my 20s and. 

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What would it be? 

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242525 I guess. 

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And I said fine. 

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So at the end of every day I meet, I meet Bert in the Piccadilly. 

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Tell him what happened and he say well, you should have done this. 

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Or why don’t you do that? 

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And eventually of course, after a year he was completely out of touch and then it then it got to the point where. 

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If I remember. 

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Harold Carson used to come down and the three of us would have dinner meetings and find out that Harold wanted to find out what was going on. 

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Then in 1957. 

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I was appointed manager of the Montreal. 

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And Bert became a sort of elder statesman with. 

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Which he’d been anyway. 

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And and so I managed that office. 

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Through till 1964, when I was moved to Toronto as Vice President, radio of All Canada Radio and television, which writers since become. 

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So I’ve been in Toronto now since 1964. 

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Well, then over those years. 

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In Toronto, you came down. 

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I would guess essentially as a Rep. 

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Working out of the Toronto office. 

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And today your. 

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Corporately responsible for. 

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Holding together the company, his entire radio and television empire. 

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Well, actually in 19 in Operation Jazz in 1971, I think it was. 

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From an operating standpoint? 

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I moved. 

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I moved to Selkirk Holdings, which is the parent company and. 

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To replace. 

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Norm botro. 

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Norm had been vice president of operations. 

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At that point. 

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And Bill Spears had been vice president, West Coast operation and the two of them retired at the same time, or semi retired at the same time. 

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And I. 

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Moved in to take over the function. 

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And it was about that time also that the we began looking outside of Canada into the UK. 

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So I suddenly found. 

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Not only did I have the Canadian operations, but I suddenly had all of the the hassle and the involvement of developing a UK company as well. 

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So it it was more than more than I had bargained for. 

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It’s kind of an interesting. 

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We start to think of it. 

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Back in the early days when? 

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When I worked with the company, it was only for a week period of about six years. 

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The Acml group and Western Canada, which meant, as you know, all Canada mutually operated stations. 

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Is now Ken Baker. 

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Well, I I don’t know if it’s Ken Baker, because we do. 

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We do believe in each of the stations operating in a in a rather autonomous fashion. 

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Uh, so it makes it easier when you have a good set of managers operating those stations to control and the and the direction is is much easier. 

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Not only were essential. 

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And we have a very, very good relationship. 

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We’ve just changed 3 managers January 1st to three of the stations who’s all done very smoothly and these are. 

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Each of them as a man who’s come up through the company. 

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I was remarking the other day to Stuart in looking through our records that. 

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In our company there are something like 137 people have been with the company more than 25 years. 

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Bad birds. 

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Average age of experience in the. 

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The company of the managers alone is 31 years, so. So when you when you have that stability and that that involvement of by these people. 

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Then it makes life an awful lot easier when you’re running an operations. 

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Yes, indeed, the United Kingdom thing intrigues me, of course, because as you know, I had a small finger in that pie for years. 

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And of course, it would take volumes just to write the story of. 

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I was so Curt. 

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Became involved in a newly developing commercial radio world of the United Kingdom. 

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So we’ll have to capsulized it. 

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Would you like me to capsulized? 

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Capsulized it on there. 

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Well, as you know, ****, because you were involved in those early days with the change of government in the UK from labour to the Conservative, you recall a Conservative government. 

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Had as a plank in their platform that they would introduce commercial radio right since the previous government had outlawed the The Pirate radio stations that were operating. 

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Off the coast. 

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With a great deal of surprise, they won the election and suddenly had to put into effect the the commercial radio plan that they said that they would put into effect so. 

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We were looking at it here and we said, well, it seems obvious that this is the last frontier, perhaps of commercial radio in the world, in the English speaking world. 

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That is close enough to our own situation that perhaps we should take a look at it. 

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I recall I wrote a memo to Stuart suggesting that now that the government has. 

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Perhaps we should look at it. 

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He brought both Ross and myself together in a meeting and said, what do you think? 

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And the two of us said, well, based on what we know, we don’t, we won’t know anything until we find out. 

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So Ross and I flew to England. 

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See what? 

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What was going on? 

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Of course we found that nothing was going on. 

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Never it. 

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Was damn confused. 

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Anyway, through some some old friends of mine, I was able to. 

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Contact and have a meeting with Chris Chattaway, who was then with Mr. 

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Post and responsible for putting this whole thing together. 

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And we had a long chat about our background. 

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We appeared to be credible. 

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We had a successful company in Canada. 

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Uh, we. 

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Appeared to want to help him get the. 

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Show on the road. 

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Although he didn’t know how it was going to happen, but nevertheless it was that kind of a discussion we had, we told him we’d be doing a feasibility study before anything else happened, and he said he’d be putting out a white paper anyway. 

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And perhaps we could be talking to each other along the way, and basically that’s what happened. 

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We did a feasibility study with a group that we became associated with and that was then called Radio Barbican. 

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And several. 

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Whom are still among the. 

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The nucleus of the present London Broadcasting Company. 

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We put together the feasibility study that came out in 1971. 

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And we fed some parts of it to the Minister. 

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And some parts of it appeared in the White Paper as a matter of fact, the plan of action really revolved around many of the things that we. 

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Had indicated in the feasibility plan. 

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Once that happened, then obviously the show was on. 

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The road and the. 

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People were springing up all over the place. 

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As you recall developing companies. 

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The company we became involved with was the one that we had set set together with originally radio Barbican. 

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It was a terrible name and it was it was put together on that at that early time because it was felt that there would be 15 stations in London. 

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And what was required was a station in the City of London, the one square mile to report to the financial people what was going on. 

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In the business community. 

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Yes, yes. 

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And since Barbican was the newly developed apartment complex in the center of the city. 

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No, of course. 

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If it was felt that that would be a logical name anyway. 

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Once having found out that the government had changed his mind, there wouldn’t be 15 stations. 

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It would probably only be one at the most, perhaps 2. 

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Then our plan expanded from the original news information based on talking to businessmen and a financial in the financial business world to a much broader concept of news information to cover the whole country because we realized it would be a network needed for the stations as they came on air. 

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The government really was quite happy with the plan we put forward, although it was in the was in the back rooms. 

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Good concept. 

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We realized as we progressed that if we developed it, we would get the first license of course radio in the UK. 

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But the name was bad. 

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At the same time I’ve been talking with another consortium. 

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Run by a chaplain with George Cluster. 

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Yes, you recalled you and George have been very active in the BBC as a musician and and have been very active in the independent radio lobby. 

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I know. 

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Group and so. 

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Forth, but years and years ago, 10 years before had registered the name London Broadcasting Company. 

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So we became good friends and I persuaded him to join our group in Radio Barbican, which he did. 

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And then we bought the name from him. 

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And that’s how we all became London Broadcasting Company. 

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We also realized that in London Broadcasting there would have to be a name for the network which would be networking news to the whole country. 

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As the stations came on air similar to BNN in Canada. 

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We came across another consortium almost by accident. 

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Run by a man called Adrian Ball, who another 10 years before and had registered the name Independent Radio News. 

00:22:22 Speaker 3 

So we brought him into the consortium, bought his name, and that’s how we ended up with independent radio news, which became less subsidiary of London Broadcasting. 

00:22:30 Speaker 2 

You know the original concept. 

00:22:36 Speaker 2 

With which you approached your. 

00:22:39 Speaker 2 

Involvement in England was. 

00:22:41 Speaker 2 

That only of a London. 

00:22:45 Speaker 2 

Station and a london-based network. 

00:22:48 Speaker 3 

Yes. Oh yes. 

00:22:49 Speaker 2 

But of course you’ve expanded long since beyond that, into an involvement in in actual ownership and operations in several other markets. 

00:22:58 Speaker 3 

Well, that’s right, ****. 

00:22:59 Speaker 3 

Our original concept was based on the fact that here you have a city. 

00:23:03 Speaker 3 

Of eight to 12 million people. 

00:23:05 Speaker 3 

Who seem to read newspapers at the drop of a hat. 

00:23:09 Speaker 3 

Yeah, you know, all the daily newspapers in London. 

00:23:11 Speaker 3 

There seems to be a great need for news. 

00:23:13 Speaker 3 

People always seem to want to know what what’s going on. 

00:23:16 Speaker 3 

It’s an obvious place, one of the few obvious places in the world where news really would work. 

00:23:22 Speaker 3 

Both in size and the dimension and the need for news. 

00:23:26 Speaker 3 

Not too many other sources. 

00:23:28 Speaker 3 

So we went ahead on the news concept based on all of those factors and our viability study indicated that a low would be a slow starter. 

00:23:37 Speaker 3 

Because those kind of stations, as you know, don’t attract audience in large numbers quickly. 

00:23:43 Speaker 3 

That in the long run it really probably would be the most solid and influential station of its kind in the UK, if not. 

00:23:49 Speaker 3 

In the world. 

00:23:50 Speaker 3 

Because there wouldn’t be more than a couple of stations in London ever. 

00:23:54 Speaker 3 

And with this vast population. 

00:23:58 Speaker 3 

That given time, it would be a marvelous investment from the point of view of influence in the entire industry. 

00:24:07 Speaker 3 

So that was really the. 

00:24:09 Speaker 3 

Background as we as we start to get involved, right. 

00:24:13 Speaker 3 

Because we were involved in this type of thing and we did get the license, as you know, and became the first radio station commercial radio station on the air in England. 

00:24:25 Speaker 3 

October 8th. 

00:24:29 Speaker 3 


00:24:33 Speaker 3 

73, sorry. 

00:24:35 Speaker 3 

Uh, yeah. 

00:24:39 Speaker 3 

With the IBA at that time, which was a very critical time for them as well as. 

00:24:43 Speaker 3 

The industry itself. 

00:24:48 Speaker 3 

Their understanding of our philosophy was brought in to the point that they realized that when they ran into trouble, they would ask us for our opinion. 

00:25:01 Speaker 3 

We therefore were able to come forward at the appropriate times and that’s how we expanded into Edinburgh and Wolverhampton and Portsmouth with the fair sized holdings when these stations appear to be on the verge of going under. 

00:25:17 Speaker 3 

Didn’t have the expertise and without the expertise, therefore couldn’t attract the type of financing that would keep the thing afloat. 

00:25:27 Speaker 3 

The industry really was just a new industry and nobody, as you recall, gave it any chance in England have succeeded. 

00:25:35 Speaker 3 

So we ended up as the largest shareholders in Beacon Radio, Wolverhampton and Radio 4th and Edinburgh and and Portsmouth Radio victory. 

00:25:49 Speaker 3 

Along the way also, though, ****, it might be interesting to, if you recall, the government also was having some thoughts about cable television. 

00:25:59 Speaker 3 

And because the word for North America was that cable was moving ahead very rapidly. 

00:26:06 Speaker 3 

And so they decided, as you recall, to allow six small cable companies to experiment in in close circuit local channels. 

00:26:16 Speaker 2 

All right. 

00:26:18 Speaker 3 

Or channels for their subscribers. 

00:26:23 Speaker 3 

So we bought 50% of Wellingborough Cable. 

00:26:27 Speaker 3 

Television and applied for one of the experiments and we won that. 

00:26:31 Speaker 3 

And so we put together our own studios and. 

00:26:35 Speaker 3 

And we broadcast local events and so forth. 

00:26:37 Speaker 3 

For a year. 

00:26:39 Speaker 3 

To the point where we realized that it wasn’t going anywhere, and as did most of the other experiments because the government was not prepared to allow the industry to develop. 

00:26:53 Speaker 3 

So we cancelled out our local channel and apply it to bring in the two London channels. 

00:27:01 Speaker 3 

And after a lot of hassle with the local council. 

00:27:06 Speaker 3 

And and having brought the London channels in, we increased our subscription fees and and the company is very viable and they paid us our first dividend last year. 

00:27:16 Speaker 3 

So that’s so that’s. 

00:27:17 Speaker 2 

By London channels. 

00:27:18 Speaker 2 

Now do you? 

00:27:19 Speaker 2 

Mean love and radio. 

00:27:19 Speaker 3 

London no London television on the weekend. 

00:27:21 Speaker 3 

London tolbert. 

00:27:24 Speaker 3 

So people in Wellingborough actually get more television than anybody else. 

00:27:29 Speaker 3 

From Lena. 

00:27:30 Speaker 3 

So our cable enterprise is in a holding pattern until that thing develops. 

00:27:34 Speaker 3 

In the UK. 

00:27:36 Speaker 3 

We also, as you know, had in the early stages our Director of engineering, Bill Jeanes, going over to England as a matter of fact, he did all of the engineering and London broadcasting and put in McCurdy equipment. 

00:27:48 Speaker 2 

Bill was formerly at Channel 11, was the name. 

00:27:50 Speaker 3 

And he’s channel 11. 

00:27:51 Speaker 3 

He was a britisher who came to us about 19 years before, became our chief engineer at channel 11 and became our Director of Engineering for Selkirk. 

00:28:00 Speaker 3 

And he astounded the Brits by putting in McCurdy equipment in London Broadcasting. Having had it shipped over the day before and having it all put together and operating it within 24 hours absolutely astounded them because George McCartney had had it all operating in this side and just packed it all and sent it over. 

00:28:24 Speaker 3 

But Bill and his contacts with IBA engineers and post office engineers over there realized that there was a tremendous need for an awful lot more expertise and. 

00:28:34 Speaker 3 

Certainly more sophisticated equipment than was being used in the UK. 

00:28:40 Speaker 3 

Primarily because they couldn’t get delivery of any manufactured in the UK. 

00:28:45 Speaker 3 

So we set up a company called Celtec equipment in. 

00:28:50 Speaker 3 

With officers. Maidenhead. 

00:28:52 Speaker 3 

And Bill became the managing director there, and he’s living there permanently now, and the company sells equipment from McCurdy and Leach and other well known North American manufacturers and who sell equipment now to. 

00:29:05 Speaker 3 

BBC and Thames and London Weekend and Austria and Egypt and Germany and everybody. 

00:29:12 Speaker 3 

In Europe. 

00:29:13 Speaker 3 

And it should. 

00:29:14 Speaker 2 

Using spin off. 

00:29:14 Speaker 3 

It should be a very, very profitable company over the years, in the years ahead, it’s it’s getting underway now. 

00:29:19 Speaker 3 

It appears that all of. 

00:29:20 Speaker 3 

The major fairs and show places for equipment and bill, of course, is a is an interesting man, speaks something like 5 or 7 languages and gives papers in German and. 

00:29:33 Speaker 3 

Italian and it has become quite an international celebrity in terms of the engineering field and there’s a very good man for us to have there. 

00:29:38 Speaker 4 

Yeah, yeah. 

00:29:42 Speaker 3 

So the our engineering effort is equipment effort is is really beginning to take off in the UK. 

00:29:48 Speaker 3 

As well. 

00:29:49 Speaker 3 

Early in the game, we’ve made arrangements with a Canadian manufacturer of cartridges. 

00:29:56 Speaker 3 

To have European rights to the sale of those cartridges, the ARISTOCAT, which was the the best cartridge manufactured in North America, we feel we got the rights to those. 

00:30:06 Speaker 3 

So we now within the last year, DBC has standardized the cartridge that they are using and it is the aristocat. 

00:30:15 Speaker 3 

With a lot of effort on bills parts, so every cartridge that’s used in BBC, we sell them every cartridge now used in the UK, with few exceptions, is a cartridge is sold by celtec equipment. 

00:30:28 Speaker 3 

Which is very interesting it’s been. 

00:30:28 Speaker 2 

Good. Very good, very interesting. 

00:30:32 Speaker 3 

So we have a few, a few. 

00:30:33 Speaker 3 

So the the enterprise really has grown quite substantially from the early thought of why don’t we look at? 

00:30:39 Speaker 3 

Commercial radio in the UK. 

00:30:41 Speaker 3 

We’re now involved in six or seven companies and they’re all making money. 

00:30:46 Speaker 2 

Now looking at Bill Jeans, just for the for the moment as a Canadian who? 

00:30:52 Speaker 2 

Went overseas because of this involvement. 

00:30:55 Speaker 2 

There were other Canadians that went over and do fairly key operating. 

00:31:02 Speaker 2 

Positions with your new company, I think whether or not. 

00:31:04 Speaker 3 

Yes, as a matter of fact, it’s the in the well in the early stages, you recall, ****, we set up a company called Selkirk Communications which. 

00:31:06 Speaker 2 

Your news head, for example. 

00:31:14 Speaker 3 

We envisioned that as being the holding company in the UK, similar to Selkirk Holdings in Canada, and that really came about all of those UK companies are under Selkirk Communications in the UK. 

00:31:25 Speaker 3 

And I’m I’m managing director of that. 

00:31:27 Speaker 3 

Company in the. 

00:31:28 Speaker 3 

UK That’s why they travel back and forth. 

00:31:30 Speaker 3 

But in those early days when LBC was running the. 

00:31:34 Speaker 3 

They came to Selkirk and through Selkirk Communications we seconded to LBC Bill Hutton, who was our Director of News Information. 

00:31:42 Speaker 3 

To take over the managing directors job at LBC to get it out of the mess that it had got into in its. 

00:31:50 Speaker 2 

Early, yes, yes. 

00:31:50 Speaker 3 

Status I think at that point we were something like 12% to 12 1/2% shareholder. 

00:32:00 Speaker 3 

There were at least two or two two other shareholders with more equity than ourselves, but the thing had become. 

00:32:07 Speaker 3 

A terrible mess. 

00:32:09 Speaker 3 

Overstaffed costs were not under control and. 

00:32:13 Speaker 3 

So forth. 

00:32:14 Speaker 3 

So within the first two months, three months of operation of LBC. 

00:32:19 Speaker 3 

We got rid of the chairman, the Managing Director. 

00:32:22 Speaker 3 

The chief editor, the financial director. 

00:32:25 Speaker 3 

And put in blood. 

00:32:26 Speaker 3 

To fix it. 

00:32:29 Speaker 3 

Which he did over a period of he was there 2 1/2 years and when he left and was replaced by Patrick Gallagher, who was the managing director now and I’ve been. 

00:32:37 Speaker 3 

Marketing director under Bill. 

00:32:40 Speaker 3 

Bill left it in the state that it now could take off and become what we had all originally envisioned. 

00:32:47 Speaker 3 

And no doubt in our mind that it would have to be run by a britisher at some point, yeah. 

00:32:52 Speaker 3 

Sure, but only when. 

00:32:53 Speaker 3 

It was ready to to on the rail. 

00:32:55 Speaker 2 

On the rails, yeah, yeah. 

00:32:57 Speaker 3 

So there was Bill. 

00:32:58 Speaker 3 

And of course there was other people, Lord Perry, our research director, did all of the original research in in putting that station into the marketplace. 

00:33:09 Speaker 3 

Ross Mccreep set up our original sales firm, radio sales and marketing over there, which is a representative. 

00:33:20 Speaker 2 

Is it a representative company for other than or in addition to your own station involvements? 

00:33:25 Speaker 3 

It though it was originally set up on that basis, ****, but our feeling was that it would have to prove itself by making LBC successful before it could have a track record and go out and and persuade other stations to join. 

00:33:43 Speaker 3 

Join it. 

00:33:43 Speaker 2 

Right, right. 

00:33:44 Speaker 3 

It’s at that point now where its success is really acknowledged. 

00:33:50 Speaker 3 

A radio Manx has joined it. 

00:33:52 Speaker 3 

There’s a there’s a firm I think there. 

00:33:55 Speaker 3 

Might be one or two other stations will join it within the next. 

00:33:58 Speaker 3 

Six months. 

00:33:59 Speaker 3 

So it really has become what was originally hoped for and that is. 

00:34:05 Speaker 3 

A viable representative firm. 

00:34:07 Speaker 3 

It’s making money, by the way, so you know it’s not. 

00:34:09 Speaker 3 

It’s not in a loss position, but in the early years it did accumulate a. 

00:34:12 Speaker 2 

Lot of losses. 

00:34:14 Speaker 2 

Well, now with the relatively at the moment limited number of commercial radio stations in. 

00:34:19 Speaker 2 

The UK. 

00:34:23 Speaker 2 

Your sales organization is by all of them the largest sales organization in that industry in the UK. 

00:34:31 Speaker 3 

No, it isn’t actually. 

00:34:32 Speaker 3 

Funnily enough, there are two other organizations. 

00:34:35 Speaker 3 

BMS and Air Services, their 19 radio stations in. 

00:34:39 Speaker 3 

The UK right now. 

00:34:42 Speaker 3 

Radio sales and marketing, which is our company represents London broadcasting and radio banks. 

00:34:47 Speaker 3 

The other two divided between and the other 18. 

00:34:50 Speaker 2 

Oh, do that, yes. 

00:34:52 Speaker 3 

So about two years after after radio was in. 

00:35:01 Speaker 3 

That come into being in the UK standard broadcasting. 

00:35:07 Speaker 3 

I was able to invest some money in the other London station, the music station capital. 

00:35:13 Speaker 3 

When they were running into financial difficulties so standard I think, picked up the 20% interest in the music station. 

00:35:19 Speaker 3 

The music station at that time was being represented by BMS, which was owned by Terry Bate, if you recall. 

00:35:25 Speaker 2 

Ah yes, another Canadian. 

00:35:26 Speaker 3 

Another Canadian, while Englishman who’d become Canadian but within six months after that, Terry Bate had sold a controlling interest in his Rep firm to standard. 

00:35:37 Speaker 3 

So standard is now the controlling interest in BMS. 

00:35:43 Speaker 3 

The other firm Air Services. 

00:35:46 Speaker 3 

As a Rep firm is owned 85% by Associated Newspapers, which happens to be our other large shareholder to partner with us in London Broadcasting. So that’s right, because we are terribly involved. 

00:35:58 Speaker 2 

You can’t tell the players without a program. 

00:36:02 Speaker 2 

Terry beat was uh. 

00:36:05 Speaker 2 

Last I heard was the Beaver Brook Group, wasn’t it? 

00:36:09 Speaker 3 

Yes, Terry, Bate now is is trying to. 

00:36:13 Speaker 3 

Cell computerized traffic systems in the in the. 

00:36:17 Speaker 3 

UK I think the bias. 

00:36:19 Speaker 3 

I don’t think he’s being. 

00:36:22 Speaker 3 

Terribly successful, but nevertheless he’s trying hard as he usually does. 

00:36:26 Speaker 2 

While he was in Toronto, he was with. 

00:36:27 Speaker 2 

Chum, wasn’t he? 

00:36:28 Speaker 3 

He was with a Rep. 

00:36:29 Speaker 3 

For a while, he’s with a he’s with a Vancouver station where he used to sell a lot of time, and then he came down here with a Rep firm, and then I think Trump, Umm, he was a he’s a good promoter, a good salesman. 

00:36:40 Speaker 2 

Oh yeah. 

00:36:41 Speaker 3 

And I think it’s done very well for. 

00:36:44 Speaker 3 

Himself, but I wouldn’t say. 

00:36:46 Speaker 3 

In the long run. 

00:36:48 Speaker 3 

A good thing for early UK radio? 

00:36:52 Speaker 3 

You know, he was. 

00:36:55 Speaker 3 

He was a A Madison Ave. 

00:36:56 Speaker 3 

type man and they weren’t prepared for that. 

00:37:00 Speaker 2 

How do you see? 

00:37:01 Speaker 2 

The future involved and as far as the future and. 

00:37:04 Speaker 2 

It’s all clear. 

00:37:06 Speaker 2 

In the UK before Selkirk. 

00:37:09 Speaker 3 

Well, our our future really I think depends on what the Home Office now does in expanding the present commercial radio network. 

00:37:18 Speaker 2 

Originally there was contemplated some 65 stations I remember. 

00:37:22 Speaker 3 

At least that many. 

00:37:23 Speaker 3 

And then of course, when the government changed, it was frozen at 19. 

00:37:28 Speaker 3 

The Home Office is rumored now to be contemplating allowing at least 10 more, and so we’re working presently with the groups in some of the key cities that probably will be able to apply for a station. 

00:37:44 Speaker 3 

We’re working with a group in Cardiff and one in the Leeds. 

00:37:48 Speaker 3 

Coventry, Brighton those sort of places that are still open to radio. 

00:37:53 Speaker 2 


00:37:54 Speaker 3 

And as soon as the Home Office gives a date, applications will flood into ibba, and then we’ll go through the whole routine again. 

00:38:03 Speaker 3 

But I think with our track record, Nick is excuse me with our track record in success in London and Edinburgh, Portsmouth and Wolverhampton. 

00:38:11 Speaker 3 

Funnily enough, people are now coming to us rather than in the early days. 

00:38:17 Speaker 3 

We as Canadians going to them and saying we’d like to help you, they’re coming to us. 

00:38:20 Speaker 3 

They please help. 

00:38:22 Speaker 3 

Money isn’t a problem anymore in the UK because people now realize that radio is successful. 

00:38:27 Speaker 3 

So what they’re looking for now. 

00:38:28 Speaker 3 

Is expertise. 

00:38:30 Speaker 3 

And so I think it’s going to be a whole different world. 

00:38:34 Speaker 3 

And additional stations, of course, will aid us in our network operations because each of the 19 stations is a subscriber to our independent radio news network. 

00:38:39 Speaker 2 

Of course. 

00:38:45 Speaker 3 

As each station comes on on stream, it will become a subscriber and therefore the the company will become more what it should have been in the early days network for 60 some odd stations rather. 

00:38:59 Speaker 3 

Than for 90. 

00:39:00 Speaker 3 

Theme the costs are virtually the same, so it’s been a tremendously costly operation for Selkirk to run this network from day one, designed for 60 stations, but only getting the keys from 19 because that’s been one of the one. 

00:39:13 Speaker 3 

Of the drawbacks. 

00:39:14 Speaker 2 

When I program policy of London broadcasting. 

00:39:19 Speaker 2 

Daughter and its associates. 

00:39:25 Speaker 2 

Totally news and information other than some incidental news. 

00:39:29 Speaker 3 

That’s right. 

00:39:30 Speaker 3 

It’s totally. 

00:39:30 Speaker 3 

I’ll talk news information. 

00:39:32 Speaker 3 

Some open mind shows. 

00:39:33 Speaker 2 

24 hours a day. 

00:39:34 Speaker 3 

24 hours a day. It’s now doing live parliamentary broadcast. 

00:39:39 Speaker 3 

Which is a a breakthrough. 

00:39:41 Speaker 3 

BBC is doing it also, but I think we’re doing it better. 

00:39:45 Speaker 3 

We’re feeding that to all of the independent radio news stations and all of the independent television stations, the audio file. 

00:39:52 Speaker 2 

How much are you feeding to the network on a daily? 

00:39:55 Speaker 3 

Basis we feed well on an audio basis. 

00:39:58 Speaker 3 

We we do a 3 minute on the hour news to every station. 

00:40:04 Speaker 3 

And then of course, the in the printed word, it goes out continuously, continually to the entire network. 

00:40:14 Speaker 2 

The printed word. 

00:40:14 Speaker 2 

Now you’ve touched on something that I love. 

00:40:17 Speaker 2 

The printed word radio. 

00:40:17 Speaker 3 

Well, on teleprinters. 

00:40:20 Speaker 2 

Oh yeah, of course. 

00:40:21 Speaker 2 

Yes, yes, yes. 

00:40:22 Speaker 3 

So there’s a continuous 24 hour. 

00:40:24 Speaker 3 

Service from Iran. 

00:40:27 Speaker 3 

The stations pick up the three minutes on the hour at the three minute queue. 

00:40:32 Speaker 3 

They they’re out of it and into their own local news. 

00:40:36 Speaker 3 

And LBC goes on and continues the newscast with London local news. 

00:40:41 Speaker 3 

So that’s how the network open. 

00:40:44 Speaker 2 

Are the stations making more use of the network than just the on our? 

00:40:50 Speaker 3 

Yes, they are actually it’s it’s. 

00:40:52 Speaker 3 

I think it’s I think it’s I think it’s gained a lot of ground over the last year or two it. 

00:40:58 Speaker 3 

It’s a very it’s a very. 

00:41:02 Speaker 3 

Well, unlike the BBC, which has to rely on a sort of a large organization to get its news down to a point where it can be spoken on the air. 

00:41:14 Speaker 3 

Commercial radio, as you know, can move so rapidly that our independent radio news usually scoops the BBC. 

00:41:21 Speaker 3 

I mean it’s it’s it’s not unusual. 

00:41:23 Speaker 3 

It happens all the time. 

00:41:25 Speaker 3 

So users are people listening are getting more and more used to the fact that if they want. 

00:41:29 Speaker 3 

The news, fast and accurate. 

00:41:31 Speaker 3 

They listen to IRN or any of the independent local stations carrying IR. 

00:41:35 Speaker 3 

That’s really what’s happening. 

00:41:37 Speaker 2 

A BBC before our commercial radio came into the UK. 

00:41:43 Speaker 2 

Instituted a number of. 

00:41:46 Speaker 2 

What they call local radio stations and the FM band. 

00:41:50 Speaker 2 

What effect have the new commercial stations had on that activity? 

00:41:54 Speaker 2 

Do you? 

00:41:54 Speaker 3 

Think I think they’ve they’ve had two effects depending really on the management of each of the local BBC stations. 

00:42:01 Speaker 3 

In some cases it has had a positive effect where the the the local manager has seen things that the commercial stations are doing. 

00:42:10 Speaker 3 

That perhaps he should be doing, and he’s been. 

00:42:12 Speaker 3 

Doing them in other cases, the station has has died. 

00:42:17 Speaker 3 

Literally died. 

00:42:20 Speaker 3 

Waiting to be taken over so BBC hasn’t had any real policy about strengthening them and I think has left them pretty much. 

00:42:29 Speaker 3 

To their own. 

00:42:31 Speaker 3 

Their own futures, the government has looked at these BBC stations and wonders whether, in fact, they’re necessary. 

00:42:38 Speaker 3 

Whether they shouldn’t all be folded into some large commercial operation, and that is what we’re waiting for now. 

00:42:45 Speaker 3 

Whether the Home Office will react to some of the comments in the annual report, which looked at the entire subject of of broadcasting in the UK. 

00:42:55 Speaker 3 

Or whether they they will allow it to continue the way it is, nobody knows. 

00:43:00 Speaker 3 

The other big factor, of course, in the UK now is what is going to happen to the so-called 4th television channel. 

00:43:07 Speaker 3 

Everybody knows that at some point there will be 1/4 television channel at the moment. As you know there are only two BBC and one independent television. 



00:43:15 Speaker 3 

It will be 1/4. Is it going to be commercial or is it going to be sort of a BBC? 

00:43:20 Speaker 3 

Is it going to be an educational channel? 

00:43:23 Speaker 3 

Is it going to be a community access channel? 

00:43:25 Speaker 3 

Is it going to be? 

00:43:27 Speaker 3 

Our feeling is it is going to be an independent television channel. 

00:43:31 Speaker 3 

We’ve made some representations to the IBA. 

00:43:33 Speaker 3 

Certainly the Lady Plowden, who’s the chairman. 

00:43:36 Speaker 3 

She’s aware of the fact that we operate the largest independent television station in Canada. 

00:43:42 Speaker 3 

Which puts stars in her eyes. 

00:43:44 Speaker 3 

If we can do it in Canada perhaps, why can’t we do it in London? 

00:43:48 Speaker 4 

Very good, very good. 

00:43:49 Speaker 3 

So the door may be open there in. 

00:43:50 Speaker 3 

Future for us moving in that direction. 

00:43:54 Speaker 2 

Might be interesting to comment for a moment to the extent that I don’t think you’re much more of an engineer than I am, except that. 

00:44:02 Speaker 2 

You’re in the middle of it today. 

00:44:05 Speaker 2 

The so-called commercial station, our local local BBC stations in England, UK. 

00:44:13 Speaker 2 

Broadcast on what they call the UHF band, which is our FM band, right VHF. 

00:44:20 Speaker 2 

And like our AM band. 

00:44:21 Speaker 2 

But again, my understanding is that they use a different part of the. 

00:44:26 Speaker 2 

Frequency spectrum than North America does. 

00:44:29 Speaker 3 

They do, they call it. 

00:44:29 Speaker 3 

Medium wave, of course over there. 

00:44:31 Speaker 3 

Ram is called medium wave. 

00:44:34 Speaker 3 

And don’t ask me to explain it. 

00:44:36 Speaker 3 

You’re right, I know. 

00:44:37 Speaker 3 

Very little about the except. 

00:44:39 Speaker 2 

All right. 

00:44:40 Speaker 2 

It was from that. 

00:44:40 Speaker 3 

Except to say this that all 19 stations that have licenses in the UK operate a simulcast AM, FM or medium wave and VHF UHF operation now. 

00:44:52 Speaker 2 

Ah yeah, no. 

00:44:54 Speaker 3 

Down the road, what I see and what have we’ve discussed in in confidence, if you like with. 

00:45:00 Speaker 3 

The is the breaking off of the of the VHF of the UHF. 

00:45:05 Speaker 3 

Sorry the FM. 

00:45:07 Speaker 3 

Eventually, from the present operation to program a good deal of good music in London so we could end up with two stations instead. 

00:45:16 Speaker 2 

Of one and this will make sense. 

00:45:20 Speaker 3 

And they seem to be. 

00:45:22 Speaker 3 

Happy to contemplate that. 

00:45:23 Speaker 3 

So perhaps. 

00:45:24 Speaker 3 

A few years down the road will. 

00:45:26 Speaker 3 

If that’s the case. 

00:45:29 Speaker 2 

Well, Ken has been my good fortune and highly interesting. 

00:45:35 Speaker 2 

Activity to have spent the last few months. 

00:45:39 Speaker 2 

Digging into the beginnings of the company now known as sheltered. 

00:45:47 Speaker 2 

And as you know, I turned the West and talked to a lot of old timers. 

00:45:52 Speaker 2 

And I have some feel for the beginnings of the company back to the original three partners. 

00:46:00 Speaker 2 

And it’s a far cry. 

00:46:02 Speaker 2 

From those days to today, I wonder if. 

00:46:07 Speaker 2 

Of Harold Carson. 

00:46:09 Speaker 2 

As the entrepreneur of the partnership. 

00:46:14 Speaker 2 

Ever quite envisioned the extent to which the company has developed at this point, and of course. 

00:46:22 Speaker 2 

You haven’t reached your. 

00:46:25 Speaker 2 

Zenith by farmer’s Mile whole place is very much on the move. 

00:46:29 Speaker 2 

And the number of places. 

00:46:31 Speaker 2 

What is it is. 

00:46:33 Speaker 1 

This interview was recorded in 1978 by Dick Meister.