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Part 8 of My Good Old Days In Radio

Bob Salter; the Consultant; Dave & Frosty: Vacation in Hawaii

By Brian Lord

There was this DJ in Seattle -- Bob Salter. He was on one of the rock radio stations, I don't remember which one, it might have been KOL but it wasn't KJR, Pat O'Day's cooker that was probably one of the best Top 40 stations anywhere. O'Day is a legend and anybody reading this will remember his name and likely his voice, Afternoon Drive on Kaaay Jaaay R- Seaaalle. He was the only jock I ever heard who slurred his words and made them sound better. I met him once. Dropped into the station not far off Highway 99 and asked him for a job. He didn't have one and told me I'd have to be awfully good to get one because his line-up was pretty spectacular… except this isn't about KJR it's about this guy Bob Salter.

Bob Salter and his Music Makers somehow attracted the attention of Frosty, Dave and I at CFUN and we called him on the telephone. The reason: we wanted to get US record releases because when a vocalist -- let's say Del Shannon -- released a song, the US always got it days ahead of Canada. We heard it on KJR and became frustrated so Dave, who as I have said before was the Music Man, asked Frost and I to go down and meet Salter and make a deal to get records. I say "Music Man" because we didn't use terms like Music Director or Program Director, not in the formative years. The only boss was Jack Sayers and he was more interested in Sales than Del Shannon.

Frosty drove a hot little two-seater Sports car, an Austin Healey, and one day he and I drove the three hour trip to Seattle to meet up with Bob Salter who turned out to be a hell of a nice guy; somewhere in his mid-forties he had a wife and a couple of kids who we met. Salter had invited us to his home where he had a machine hooked up to a telephone and people called in and recorded their favourite song on an early version of an answering machine. Bob claimed he was ahead of the curve with this gimmick and for all we knew he might have been but we were interested in getting singles and Bob claimed that he had a good ear for hits. (Actually all Frosty and I heard on his machine was some guy swearing)

We worked out a deal where Bob would send us one of his DJ copies -- he'd get five advance copies -- and he'd just mail a package to us as "45 RPM records, Radio Station Use only, Not for Sale". We paid Bob postage and a small handling cost. We were dead intent on avoiding any embarrassing coups by letting our rival CKWX get the drop on us with a new Platters release or Chubby Checker, Fats Domino, Frankie Avalon -- or God forbid: Elvis. Of course the Salter thing was mainly for established artists. We also played new up and comers which became hits because we played them.

One such record was by a local boy named Les Vogt. Les released a song called "The Blamers" which became a Vancouver hit. He had a back-up group of girls who recorded a song called "The Sock" about one of Elvis Presley's socks which had a hole in the left toe. It made our charts as well, if you can believe it. But back to Salter. I think the only hit he ever sent us out of maybe a hundred records was something by Garnett Mimms. Anyway the point of this tale is known to all of us in the business. The constant problem of getting new, hot material. It got even tougher a few years later when the British Invasion happened and we had to crack their system and get new releases by the Beatles and the Stones etc. from England.

An overweight, poorly dressed, un-shined shoes type slob spent a few days at CFUN after somehow managing to talk Sayers and maybe Al Jordan into making us sound better. A consultant. I have never met a more useless individual in my life and he was at CFUN for about three days until the DJ's pleaded with Jack to cut the guy loose. He'd started on the News department to make them sound better. News wasn't our strongest suit but they tried. Ken Chang had gone from DJ on the old MOR format to the Newsroom. Believe me, Ken, who has since passed on after running a small station over on Vancouver Island: Duncan as I recall, was no Chuck Brass and he had this 'consultant' pounding away at him about his delivery along with the rest of our newsmen and the DJ's were having none of it.

It is my firm belief that radio stations don't need consultants. If the jocks are bad, clean 'em up or can 'em. No slob who'd blown a career in Northern Saskatchewan and had worked up a good con was gonna make anybody sound any better. Sayers axed him.

CFUN was coasting along pretty well, we were having a lot of fun, loved our jobs and then Big Daddy Dave McCormick took a vacation to Hawaii. This is before his first marriage to a friend of my first wife ... make outa that what you wish. (When "The Twist" by Chubby Checker made its second run up Billboard and Cashbox, one of very few records that became a hit twice, the local distributor threw a party in one of the suites in the Vancouver Hotel, the object of which was to teach us all how to do "The Twist". Dave's future wife attracted attention because she was attractive but for this party she'd put a green rinse on her hair. Maybe she'd seen Jerry Landa on St. Patrick's Day and liked the affect).

When he arrived in Hawaii, Dave tuned around the dial and heard this full-on Rocker with the appropriate call-letters K-POI. It was driven by a guy who became another legend in the west-coast radio biz, Ron Jacobs. Dave called K-POI, got in touch with Jacobs who conned Dave into doing a couple of spots and station breaks (for free) and Dave had the joy of lying on the beach listening to himself thousands of miles from home on a Hawaiian radio station populated by insane DJ's who thrived on wild promotions. He brought this story home and not long afterwards, Frosty took a trip to Hawaii and befriended Jacobs as well.

Frost actually taped a full hour conversation with Jacobs and brought it home to play for those of us who hadn't met the guy. On the tape Jacobs mentioned that K-POI was expanding to California and he was in the market for DJ's. It wasn't long before there was no more McCormick or Lord on CFUN. Forst stayed put but Dave and I opened the door for Red Robinson who had returned to CKWX and jumped ship to CFUN. The second wave began to flow in, Tom Peacock and Fred Latremouille, Cam Bell left the newsroom and became a jock and Dave and I embarked on an adventure in the Golden State where we saw and did things and met people I just can't wait to tell you about.

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