Montreal - May. 10, 2011 - Ten years ago this week I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn't be getting up at 4:00 AM. U2 played the Bell Centre and I couldn't go straight home as wired as I was. Needed to unwind a little. Finally made it home by two, dragging my ass into The Team 990 studio wondering if my previously strong recuperative powers had suddenly left me in my early 40's. Then I looked across the table at Ted Blackman who was nearly 60. He had also been at the concert. But Ted would be gone in less than a year and a half.
I think of Ted Blackman a lot these days. And Lee Hambleton, our first GM who died in 2005. And George Balcan and Danny Gallivan and so many other broadcasting greats who inspired me to join their wacky world. What a treat it was to meet and work alongside so many of them, especially Ted & Lee & George & Danny who were always so supportive and helpful. I remember thinking many times that their words of encouragement meant so much more to me than any ratings point. I was blessed.
I have a great deal of respect for almost anybody who works morning radio. Personally I tried but couldn't do it. Even napping didn't help my state of perpetual fatigue. So when a radio consultant - and a good one - named Rick Scott told me that he thought the station would be better off if I moved to the drive home slot because "that's where the most successful sports radio stations have their top guy" I was beyond relieved (after initially feeling that I was being demoted). Almost born again, you might say.
I honestly don't remember the exact date I changed shifts - Shaun Starr probably does because that's when we split and he stayed in the AM - but I did feel a seismic shift at the station. We had survived the toughest parts-the initial launch, the attacks of 9/11 one week into out first major Fall ratings period and the deaths of Ted and Lee. Cathy Newton fled as far away from me as possible (3,000 miles west to Kelowna) leaving me woman-less (professionally; if I had a dime for every damn rumour spread about me and the wonderful women who helped me out I'd have quit the station years ago) for the first time since the late 1980's. And then along came Andie.
Denis Casavant coming on board to join Elliott Price and Starr in the morning was a pivotal moment. So was Tony Marinaro getting his own show. Our sales department, led by Wayne Bews, never wavered. We have, by a country mile, the best radio spots in the country, thanks to our creative department named Scott Saxon.
But what I'm most proud of in 10 years on the air is the number of young (and not so young) broadcasters we've developed at The Team 990 including Tony, Andie Bennett, PJ Stock, Rod Francis, Noel Butler, Conor McKenna, Sean Campbell, Marco Campagna, Mitch Gallo, Ben Raby (now in Washington), Gabriel Morency, Matthew Ross, Dwight Walton, Moe Khan, Jessica Ruzniak, Amanda Stein and several others. If you're not sending young people out into the work force then you've become stagnant and stale. We've had our share of rough moments but we've been anything but stagnant or stale.
I've had a very good time at The Team 990. Most of it's been a lot of fun. Don't know if I enjoyed anything more than the first of two seasons in the broadcast booth working alongside Elliott on Expos broadcasts. That was a blast. Kind of a flashback to the couple of years we shared a living space (Pickwick Arms at 5010 Sherbrooke W.) and would provide a running commentary on games we'd watch. Now we were actually getting paid to do it (at least he was).
The Alouettes first Grey Cup since the 1970s was fun to cover, especially the parade in the bitter cold on McGill College Avenue. Last spring's run by the Habs had, it seemed, the entire city listening. Our commitment to community has been especially strong over the last five years including our participation in Hockey for the Homeless and our first foray into large scale event planning that was our SPOY Awards (Sports Personality of the Year) at Place D'Armes & Nelligan Hotels in Old Montreal.
Most of all we owe a great deal of thanks to our clients, some of whom have been around since May 2001, and especially our listeners, many of whom have also been around since Day One. You're the best.
I havent seen U2 since that week in May 10 years ago. Lord knows I heard enough with Ray Lalonde in charge of the "in-game experience" at the Bell Centre. But it's time. I purchased some tickets for their highly anticipated show at the Hippodrome originally set for last July. I've been sitting on them for over a year. I know Shaun Starr will be next to me. Might even keep a seat empty for Ted.