professional radio can be bush league

so, we have an article named ‘Axed U.S. talk jock mystified by MOJO’s motive‘ by David Carrigg.
and we have another article, this one named ‘The Tom Leykis Fiasco and the Canadian Free Speech Fallacy‘ by Rachel Marsden.
besides the allegations that he was a wifebeater at home, there is little reason for any of this to be understandable. and that’s all there is, allegations. he was challenged, and then mysteriously taken off the air. does it matter to him? obviously. what matters to me is the rather strange process which happened that ended up with anyone in canada needing to tune in to an AMERICAN station to listen to mr. leykis. he had the number one rating on mojo radio, a vancouver station which unquestionably used his presence and content to bolster their profile in the vancouver radio world. MOJO program director Tom Plasteras had this to say about the departure of their flagship show:

“the show was pulled because of the time it took to edit it to meet Canadian broadcasting standards and codes.”

come on, too much time to edit a 3 hour show that give you 6 hours of air-time per day? 6 hours? give us a break. Tom Plasteras may think his target market is as dumb as a post, but he oughta give a bit more credit to the people who pay his bills than this. i know how long it takes to edit out 30 seconds of banter. and when you’re editing out banter, you insert commercial space. get real — this is radio. there is no dead air on mojo radio. commercial space means more money.
so he’s trading #1 ratings and even more commercial space than i have ever heard of in for what? what is mojo getting out of this? why? who did this? what? is this an old-boys club manouever?
last year when my show on Extreme 107.3 FM was cancelled, i was far more diplomatic than i needed to be.
when i had heard that there was a new station manager, i was excited for the change. the last station manager had not meshed with the rest of the team (i didn’t have any problems with him personally — and the show enjoyed his full support) and station functionality had grinded to a hault because of lack of teamwork.
i had invited the new station manager (Brad Edwards) several times to come check out the show. it was saturday nights and was the only show in town that effectively featured local DJ’s and international electronic music, constantly on the cutting edge and setting the trend for DJ’s all over the world who listened on our streaming audio feed. our connections were solid with record labels and artists, and it was a well-oiled machine which churned out 4 hours of quality music every saturday evening from 10 pm – 2 am. Brad Edwards approached us and said that the alternative rock format was a brilliant format, and that he really believed it could work.
he never came to check the show out was. he barely understood what alternative rock was. he used the term in quotes. and everyone knew — if jim scanlon was on the way out, then so was alternative rock and the whole format.
i got a call from the times colonist and let mike devlin know what was on my mind, off the record. what was on the record was that Brad Edwards took the show off the air without even a chance to say good bye to our listener base that we had accumulated over the couple years on their station. what, were we going to tell everyone to stop listening? Brad wouldn’t admit that there was a format change on the way but everyone, i mean everyone, knew there was. who was he trying to fool?
as someone who had a top rated show on a station that was sinking, i can imagine how leykis feels about this. granted, it’s just another syndication licence for tom, but the process (?) that saw the tom leykis show disappear from a station with some serious potential is rather disturbing indeed. i am not going to even touch any of the phantom issues that are suggested by some of the media. this is business, and if the dollar isn’t speaking, then really — who is?
and so it is now happily that i do a show called resonance on 101.9 fm with nickgurns, far away from mainstream business decisions and mysterious political effects. i enjoyed the sheer power of commercial radio broadcasting, but now i am having the fun i wanted when i first got into radio. i wont say no to a commercial radio station if their offer is good, but last year i put more work into the proposal with The Zone than it was worth. Al Ford, the program director at the station misplaced my 30 page show proposal (complete with market research, an estimated $15,000 worth) and then decided to syndicate another show for cheaper directly in the proposed slot that we had been talking about. do i believe him? doesn’t matter. that’s business. he verbally agreed to the NDA that was sitting on the front of the report — that is business.
the short and the long of this is that the radio business feels like rockclimbing with clown shoes on, and it appears to be that way too. from some points of view, i may be telling more than they would have themselves, but i operate with honesty and integrity in the business world, and i expect the same of others. if anyone mentioned in this post is ashamed of their described conduct, they only have themselves to blame.
folks, this is the short version.

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  1. Dude. That was a good rant. I used to be roommates with Hayden Thomas, who used to be a newscaster and commentator at CJVI. He said that radio was just no damn fun anymore, and that the people who got into it beacuse they wanted to get paid to do cool shit were all bailing because the focus suddenly became profit margin — and the informal censorship that went on as a result was just too depressing for them. It’s interesting to hear you say exactly the same thing. Scary world. It’s good you’re having fun at CFUV, but it’s such a damn shame that even radio — the last bastion of content-driven (rather than image driven) media — has become just another ‘managed’ business, with no room for creativity or risks.

  2. nice post davin!
    in my opinion, your radio show at extreme really put extreme on the map. and how were you thanked? with a slap in the face.
    i’m glad you’ve again found your way to a mic. what i’ve heard of resonance so far has been impressive. top quality, local programming. everything you’d hope a community-based station like 101.9 to carry. i didn’t know it was possible to do so much in a one-hour slot. but you, nickgurns and the whole resonance crew make it look easy.
    here’s to many successful years to come!

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