I Lied My Way Into Radio.
By Brian Lord
Brian Lord spent three years in Vancouver from 1959 to 1962 and was one of the original CFUN Good Guys which included Dave McCormick, Frosty Forst, Al Jordan and Jerry Landa. In 1962 Brian joined a team of American broadcasters and together they put a Rock station on the air in Southern California. Brian's now retired and living in the Philippines. He'll tell anyone who asks that his early years in broadcasting were the best years of his life.
In 1959 I worked at an Auto supply store, Black Bros. down on Howe Street near the Granville Bridge pricing invoices: nuts and bolts and small auto parts like piston rings. If you're old enough you may remember Black Bros. It was a sickly-yellow, two-story building with street-level windows displaying all these nuts and bolts and other auto part items. I worked with a couple of guys named Rob and Phil who were old. Every day I expected one of them to die, they were so old. They didn't like me and I didn't like them, they were three generations away and the reach was too far to make the leap. I was young, had no interest in auto parts and was slow as a tree sloth pricing the invoices which we did from huge books the size of several New York telephone directories stuck together.
I was, however, interested in Hydroplanes -- the speed boats that used to run on lakes around the area -- Lake Washington in Seattle and Hatzic lake near Mission. As a side-line I did PR for the Vancouver Power Boat Association and brought the Unlimited Hydroplane Champion Bill Muncie up to race in the Hatzic Regatta. He showed up with one of his smaller Thriftway boats. The lake-front was crammed with people and there was a traffic jam two miles long on the Haney Highway. Muncie was the draw.
Pete Hildebrandt, Vancouver's top bootlegger -- who also loved hydroplanes -- and I went out the day before the race, a Saturday and stuck up posters. CFUN's Al Jordan was broadcasting at a remote in Kerrisdale and I asked him if I could plug the Hatzic Lake Regatta. Terry Garner, the PD heard me babbling away and had an operator ask me to do reports on their weekend show, live from Hatzic Lake.
Garner was impressed enough with my reports that he hired me to do the BA Weekend show cut-ins from Friday evening through late Sunday. I drove around in my beaten up 1938 Nash to all the BA Service stations and called in these reports which ran once an hour over the air. Weather, traffic, anything that was happening in Vancouver, really just a vehicle to sell The British American Oil Company on gimmick advertising. I was thrilled.
When the CFUN-Canadian Legion Salmon Derby came along in mid-summer Terry asked me if I could take Friday afternoon off work and fly around in this little Piper Cub which the station had rented. I'd report where the folks were fishing -- Howe Sound; off Southern Bowen Island -- anywhere there were big clusters of boats. We had our headquarters down at the English Bay Roundhouse and it was there I met Dave McCormick for the first time.
I told Terry I had to work Friday afternoon and he said, quote "Tell 'em you have a dentist's appointment." So I lied and told my boss at Brown Brothers that I had a dentist's appointment and flew around having a great old time talking about fish boats and where they were. I'll admit, the reasoning behind the whole airplane thing escaped me but it was just Terry's way of making CFUN sound like they were really going all out reporting. We had DJ's at the weigh-in stations and everybody was making a big deal out of the thing. I was really thrilled.
After the Derby was over Dave McCormick and I went out and got drunk and the next morning I slept in till I felt better; didn't even show up at Brown Brothers rather I went into CFUN, asked to speak to Terry Garner and told him I was fired. I said, "You told me to tell my office I had a dentist's appointment so I did but some-one heard me on CFUN talking about fish boats and I got fired". The whole thing was a rotten lie.
Terry was apoplectic. Being a nice guy he told me to stay put, went into Jack Sayers, the manager's office and told Jack what had happened. In a few minutes he came out and said "How would you like to come and work here? We'll put you in the News Department, part time and on weekends you can do your BA weekend show".
My salary was 125 dollars a month, which is a bit less than I made at Brown Brothers. I was what was then called a "Field Reporter" but call it what you will I was a radio announcer full-time and very thrilled about it all. Ego. Terry and Hal Rodd, the News Director, taught me how to say News instead of Noos and Terry phoned a buddy at CKNW and asked him to kind of help me along.
After three months of reporting, and while Terry was off on vacation somewhere, the Sales Manager, Doug Greg called me in and said "How would you like to do the all night show?" The guy who had been doing it was so boring he'd put himself to sleep one night and missed some commercials which mightily upset Doug.
I broadcast midnight to 6AM six nights a week and got a 25 dollar a month raise. CFUN, at that time was an MOR format and I played Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Dean Martin, etc LP tracks. From 5AM to 6AM I did an hour of Country Music which I took seriously and got to know (by telephone) Buck Owens and Loretta Lynn who were just breaking into the big-time. I also got to know Brian Forst who was on the same shift at CJOR 600. We'd talk on the phone to pass the time.
During my 42-year history in the radio business, 1959, my seminal year, was the only time I spent as an MOR announcer. But it wouldn't be long until I became what I really wanted to be: a Rock 'n' Roll Disk Jockey. And all that would mean.