Friends are like walls. Sometimes you lean on them, and sometimes it's good just knowing they are there. [Author Unknown]
And...we're back. I can't even add up how many hours of sleep I logged from Thursday night until this morning; I have simply lost track. Suffice it to say – even though my FitBit thinks I'm dead – the rest did me a world of good. Of course, so did the two prescriptions I got from the doc Thursday after he and I had a very lively ten-minute discussion over why I should or should not go into work on Friday. In the end, he won, you undoubtedly got a very entertaining show from Mike, Gord, Ian and Steve and the world didn't stop turning just because I missed a day's work.
Today I want to shine a spotlight on a guy who is one of the main building blocks of our radio show. His name isn't sung in the jingles, you may have trouble picking out his voice among our Greek chorus of awesome guys on the show, but you should know a little bit about him and what he does.
His name is Gord Rennie and today's his birthday. If you've been on an Erin & Mike on the Beach broadcast, you've either spent a week in the company of Ian MacArthur or Gord Rennie. Ian is our senior producer: he's been working at 98.1 CHFI since the days of Don Daynard and continues right up to today. While Ian's responsibilities have shifted and morphed as we've moved into the Internet age, Gord is now the man pushing the buttons, making sure callers get on the air, jingles get played, songs and commercials are in the right order and so, so much more.
When you hear a little clip of a TV show that gives our stories context, that's Gord's work. When you hear a bit of a Jimmy Fallon joke at the top of the hour, that's Gord's work. He gets in before any of us, finds the best bits from the previous night's TV and makes them available to us. (As much as we try to, we just can't watch and be up on everything). When you hear a bit of music that exemplifies how one song might just sound like another, that's Gord's work. When you hear magic like Christmas Eve at Erin's and the amazing elements such as Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, those master classes in production are Gord's work.
His deft magic isn't always evident – you have to be listening for it and knowing what you're hearing in order to appreciate it. Winners on our trips are always a little in awe of how the whole live show comes together and they certainly “get” what a producer does, even though they're not even seeing the work being done on the board back at home!
The greatest thing about Gord is this: he's solid. And in a live show that is made up of constantly moving parts, solid is a luxury few of us are afforded. But that's what we get in Gord. I only have to say, “Gord, can we get a bit of that Elizabeth Hurley interview we did so I can talk about Royals?” and in thirty seconds he'll find the chat and the clip I'm looking for, even though we recorded it last September. He takes a four-minute interview that one of our hosts did, and edits it down to whatever length we need; he finds the meat of a piece of tape and cuts away what he knows we won't use and you won't care about.
That's another trait of a great technical producer: knowing what your hosts will want, often before they do. We trust him, he knows us. When we have just one hour before a major showbiz feature like the one we do daily at 5:50 am, and maybe eight clips of the Oscars speeches the night before, it's like a four-handed piano duet how we get it all put together. I could bore you with the details but let me just put it this way: the show wouldn't sound at all the way it does without the quiet, solid, fast and steady work of Gord Rennie.
His sharp wit cuts through on the air when it needs to; being the youngest in a family of many sons no doubt helped him learn the fine art of jumping in when the double dutch ropes are swinging swiftly, without doing himself or the game any harm.
But it's the man he is when the show ends, that really tells you about Gord Rennie. After a series of health issues including strokes, his mom has been rendered bedridden. For the past year (at least) Gord has been her primary caregiver. That includes changing her, making sure she's nourished, watching over her even when he's at work, checking the remote cameras at home. Soon his mother will have a place in a nursing home. We're not sure when that's coming, but for now, Gord's life and that of his longtime partner Dawn, have revolved around taking care of his mom. That is the kind of man he is. A good son, a good partner, a good producer and a good friend.
Happy Birthday, Gord. We're lucky to have you and luckier to know you.