Where I’ve Worked

My Radio Career

How I Got Started

CHQM AM & FM – Vancouver

June 1971 – April 1972
(…and on-call ever since)

I had long given up on a summer job in Radio after First Year UBC ended in April 1971, when my phone rang on June 15th, on a day off from my part-time job making artificial ice for my father’s small company. On the other end of the phone was Bob Brooks, the Assistant Program Director of CHQM AM & FM in Vancouver, expressing interest in having me try out for a part-time Board Operator position with the stations.

But there was one big catch. I would be in competition with another new Operator during my first two weeks of unpaid training, where I would get hands-on training under the watchful eye of Dave Horne, their most senior of the part-time Operators. The successful candidate would then get another two weeks of training, at full pay, before continuing to work solo.

Of course, there was no other Trainee Operator, just me. It was assumed that, within two weeks, a new Operator would prove themselves one way or the other, without another two weeks severance pay if they did not work out.

The difficulty that I faced was that my father insisted I continue working for him until I started getting paid at CHQM, so those first two weeks were really hard, working 24 hours per week for my father and 40 hours a week at CHQM. Especially the days when I worked eight hours during the day for my father, and 6:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. at CHQM. Admittedly, it would have been worse had I worked for my father the next morning after getting home by bus from CHQM at 2:00 a.m.

Addendum: it was not until October 18, 2019, nearly 50 years after the fact, that I realized that my majoring in Computer Science at UBC really helped me get my job at CHQM. Their first-generation IGM automation machine had apparently baffled some of their previous Operators.

CJAT AM & FM – Trail (B.C.)

May-June 1972

A friend working as a DJ at CJAT-AM let me know that there was a summer announcing job available at CJAT-FM. I was not sure I was ready to leave home, even for the summer, but I wrote a nice letter and resume, and was hired by the FM Program Director, Dave Glover. My first paid day of work was Monday, May 1st, but arrived in town the previous Saturday, dropped by the station after lunch, and Dave put me on the air immediately.

Only problem was that I quickly ran out of music to play. Rather than the CHQM format of music in sets of three tracks, a pair of LPs was supposed to last a full quarter hour on CJAT-FM. Which should have told me that, though they claimed to have hired me to make CJAT-FM sound like CHQM, they really meant the way CHQM sounded when it first signed on in 1959.

CFPR – Prince Rupert (B.C.)

July-August 1972

I had not intended to leave home a second time that summer, so had applied to all the local Vancouver stations after arriving home in mid-June from CJAT. Fortunately, my letter and resume to the CBC ended up on Uncle Tom’s desk, and he thought I might be just what CFPR’s Station Manager, Gerry Bavington might be looking for. Fortunately, Gerry had a lay-over in Vancouver on his return trip from CBC Toronto to Prince Rupert, and I had a face-to-face interview.

The interview went very well. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that Gerry and I spent as much time talking about Canadian radio stations, as we did with the usual interview discussion.

As the interview drew to a close, I asked about what I assumed was the next step: live audition or aircheck tape. He liked what he heard in our conversation, and my resume showed I was competent to announce/operate, which was required in Prince Rupert.

CFYK – Yellowknife (NWT)

September-December 1974

From my arrival in Yellowknife at the beginning of May through to the Labour Day long weekend, having fun outdoors and my computer programming job with the NWT Government were more than enough to keep me happy and fully occupied. The arrival of snow that stayed on the ground came soon after suddenly made Outdoors much less appealing.

With no access to a tape recorder, I dropped off a radio-oriented resume and cover letter to CFYK, the only radio station in town. A phone call came quickly, for an interview with the Station Manager that afternoon, and an Newscast audition with 2-3 staff.

The next weekend, at signon on Saturday, I was shadowing an announcer on his last shift before a transfer to Inuvik. Sunday morning was to be my second and last day of training, with one of the part-time announcers.

Five minutes before the top of the hour of scheduled signon, and I was still all alone in the radio station. 30 seconds before the hour, it finally dawned on me that the part-timer was not going to show up, which left me no time to do the required National Anthem or even the supplied script.

CKUA & Access Television – Edmonton

August 1982 – May 1985