Just a thought… Basically, radio hasn’t changed over the years. Despite all the technical improvements, it still boils down to a man or a woman and a microphone, playing music, sharing stories, talking about issues – communicating with an audience. [Casey Kasem]
Do you remember where you were 30 years ago today? How about 13? In both cases, I can tell you exactly where I was: shaking like a leaf, starting at CHFI. First in 1988 and then again in 2005. This date is a very special one in our lives.
In 1988, I was a 25-year-old to Don Daynard’s 54, the perfect screenshot of our target demographic, adults 25-54! Meant to be, right? Well, it almost wasn’t. In the summer of that year, I’d left all-news station CKO to catch my breath and do something that was a little more fun. So I found myself doing fill-in shifts on Easy 97.3, where I even had the opportunity to do mornings – solo – and although I wasn’t sure who was listening, it turns out a couple of managers were.
One week in August of that year, I got phone calls from ratings giants CFRB and from CHFI. Both were offering me morning news jobs – the first with the legendary Wally Crouter and the second with the affable and popular Don Daynard. Uh-oh. I had a decision to make and, as a waffling Libra, I knew this was going to be tough. No one could make it for me, so I thought I’d let finances tilt the scales.
Nope: both were offering the exact same money, with neither willing to go up even a cent. (I later heard a story that CFRB’s parent company Standard Broadcasting had a rule at that time that no woman could make more than $40,000 – a ceiling that CHFI’s own Maureen Holloway would go on to break when she was there, I am told. Good on her!) So money wasn’t going to be the deciding factor. Besides, at that point in my career, I was always just trying to “earn my age.” I was very happy to be getting beyond my years, as it were.
So I had to listen to my heart and decide what I wanted. I remembered the reason for leaving the angst and pressure of CKO and that I wanted to have some fun. I was tired of the revolving door of morning co-hosts, all sure they were in the big chair and I was the one to do the fluff interviews. I even partnered with one man whose wife was one of our producers and I sat idly by, my stomach churning, while he’d literally scream at her. (How I wish I’d stepped in, but a husband/wife dynamic like that is impossible to crack.)
I wanted to listen to music while I typed away on my IBM or sat in the studio awaiting the moment I was next welcomed in. I needed to laugh. I could have gone to CFRB and made my dad happy, or chosen the station where I could experience more of what I wanted to attract to my life.
Did I have an eye on a co-host position? Oh, no. Even though I’d done that already in my career both at CKLW and CKO, the offer at CHFI from John Hinnen was to do news and perhaps occasionally drop in on bits, just as I had done with legendary Detroit morning host Dick Purtan back in 1982-84. At 19, I was learning from the best and had confidence I could hold my own – or at least try – in any conversations with “legends.”
Maybe it was that confidence (founded or not) that led people to believe I was much older than I actually was; I remember when we announced from that chilly Bay window in November 1990 that I was expecting, it was seen by some as a kind of medical miracle. I mean, wasn’t I Don’s age?
Once things started going well with the show and I was promoted to co-host instead of newscaster (a necessity when I did three months of the show from home) I started to hope that I might one day get a chance to do what male broadcasters had done all along: retire when they wanted, at whatever age they wanted. Those plans were derailed, but at least my final departure was my choice. I didn’t age out as so many women in broadcasting do.
At first, when I left in 2003 to make way for a younger, hipper morning show, I thought I was done at the microphone for good. I was ready to move closer to my family in Kelowna and my beloved mountains and start a brand new life. Fortunately, fate had bigger plans and I was back on the air, on this day in 2005. So part two began at age 42…which also happens to be my favourite number. And here we are.
I hope you don’t mind me passing along some memories of this day (times two) in a pretty wonderful radio life! There are lots of behind the scenes stories and insights that I delve into a bit more deeply in my upcoming book Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy. Due out February 26th of next year, soon to become another of my very favourite dates.
Have a great day and thanks for all of the mornings – both on the radio and here – that you’ve allowed me to share with you. I’m just grateful to have so very many happy memories to look back on.