By David Farrell
Warren Cosford recently wrote a column in his e-letter about the glory days of rock radio in Toronto, inspired by an article authored by John Parikhal published in FYI. Cosford's editorial is reprinted with permission, with Parikhal's response to it in the lower part of this lengthy written exchange.
In 1977 I thought of Radio as an Art. John Parikhal saw it as a Science.
With Research leading the way, it was about to become Both.
CHUM had just finished producing The Evolution of Rock (the music that made the world turn round).
It was 64 hours and would be broadcast throughout much of the English-Speaking World.
It was also one hell of a challenge.
But, as Canadians, we were proud to take what America had, essentially, invented……
And take it all to The Next Level.
NOW what do we do?
Program Director J. Robert Wood called me into his Office.
Warren, we need you to become The Program Director of CHUM-FM.
(Was he kidding? I've never been a Program Director).
Why me Bob?
He told me that CHUM was about to encounter what would likely be the most challenging Competitors we had ever encountered. Yes, we had defeated all The U.S. Consultants who thought that Canada would be easy.
But this was different.
The Challenging Competitors were Local. They knew us from The Inside Out.
You like Challenges Warren. This is going to make The Evolution of Rock look like Child's Play.
J. Robert Wood was right. But I didn't yet know just how right he would be.
Through the 1950s into The '60s, Allan Slaight had been CHUM's First Program Director. He was the man many said had 'Made' CHUM. Now, after a 'stint' with Britain's Pirate Radio Stations, Allan Slaight was awarded an FM Frequency in Toronto. He was joined by former CHUM Jock Dave Charles as PD. Both On the Air and Behind The Scenes were five other former CHUMers.
They were interesting choices.
John Rode. A Creative Top 40 D.J. on 1050 CHUM (would he finally succeed in Mornings?)
Maryanne aka Zuma. Great Sidekick Traffic/Weather for Nelson and Rivers. (she’s not an Evening D.J.)
Mark Daily. Great Newsman. They can’t go wrong with him
John Donabie. A Mainstay on CHUM-FM. Great Interviewer. John Lennon loved him.
Bill Anderson. A Mystery Man. Former CHUM Op. Could he be JRW’s Spy?
Oh...and By The Way Warren,
America's 'Flavour of The Year' Programming Consultant will also be involved.
I learned later that Lee Abrams' Superstar Format was beating Heritage FMs throughout The U.S.
Would CHUM-FM be A Radio Consultant's First Scalp in Canada?
BUT WAIT. JRW had a Wild Card for me.
Warren: He is John Parikhal. He was Schooled by Marshall McLuhan at The University of Toronto.
He has a Master's Degree and a B.A. in Economics and Business.
They haven't hired him to find Hit Records.
Bob didn't say it in this way but, I thought,
CHUM’s Art was about to be challenged by MarshallMcLuhan’s Science.
Parikhal, Abrams and their Scientific Research Studies were Weapons CHUM hadn’t encountered before.
But WAIT. JRW was not finished. All that was not enough
Former CHUM-FM Announcer David Marsden had convinced the owners of an FM in Toronto's Suburb of Brampton to apply for an increase in power. This would allow them to put a new Antenna on a hill overlooking Toronto. Guess which Format they were going to do? And did I think more Ex-CHUMers would be hired?
Of course they would. CHUM-FM All Night Jock Legend David Pritchard emerged from hiding.
Long Story Short, CHUM-FM surprised many by becoming Canada's #1 FM Radio Station.
Believe it or not CHUM Limited was not happy.
CHUM expected the three of us, collectively, might beat all the other FMs in Toronto. After all, for the first time, we were bringing AM Rock Music to FM Radios and Listeners. BUT they didn't expect that the three of us, together would, so quickly, inspire The Launch of Rock FMs throughout Canada.
That wasn't In the Plan.
They knew that Music FMs would eventually beat Music AMs and AM would be virtually All Talk.
However, it wasn't supposed to happen this quickly.
CRTC Regulations were supposed to ‘save the day for AM Radio.
FM Radio was allowed to broadcast a limited number of Commercials.
AM Radio could run as many as it liked.
Ownership of AMs rarely lost money.
Further, due to Music Rotation Limitations, FM couldn't be Top 40. With Limitations on both Commercials and Music in a Rock Music Environment, AM Radio still had The Advantage.
That was important to CHUM because Top 40 1050 CHUM-AM was CHUM's 'Bank'.
The Best News, for Toronto, was that The Competition between CHUM-FM/Q-107/CFNY made Toronto The #1 Rock Music Market in North America. Meat Loaf, The Police, The Cure, U2, INXS, REM and more had often been, mostly, ignored by The Mainstream Music Industry. THAT inspired Music Promoters David Bluestein at The Horseshoe and The Garys at The Edge to set an example for a host of Clubs in Toronto and around Canada to Book Baby Bands. Once again…Advantage Rock FM.
Perhaps the ‘Killer Move’ by CHUM was the purchase of City-TV. The CHUM-FM/City-TV Concert Simulcasts virtually invented Stereo TV and Launched the Music Video Revolution in North America.
Meanwhile, Concert Productions International was taking Bands TO The World
Ed Mirvish took Broadway Shows FROM New York to Toronto.
The Annual Toronto International Film Festival BROUGHT The Movie Stars to Toronto.
Toronto was now The Pop Culture Capital of Canada and soon, perhaps, even, of North America.
Hell, Canada's Concert Production International was taking The Rolling Stones on a World Tour. even as Toronto's El Mocambo Tavern was where The Stones recorded The Club Side of their Love You Live Boxed Set.
When The Smoke Cleared Radio was The Big Winner.
Radio was At The Centre of it All.
Thanks to the CRTC, in effect, from a Staffing and Programming Standpoint, The CHUM Influence had three Album Rock Radio Stations each with its own distinctive ‘Flavour.’ Merging The Art of Music Radio with The Science of Research and Technology, together with over 100 hours of Music Documentaries……
Rock & Roll Radio and TV in Toronto was 'Taking It to The World.'
Q-107's John Parikhal & Dave Charles were Living The Dream
They could now meld The Art with The Science and launch Radio Winners everywhere.
In The Spirit of The Times, they called their Media Consulting Company 'Joint Communications'.
John Parikhal with The Science.
Dave Charles with The Art.
From Canada to The World
John and Dave’s Canadian Roots would Take them to Australia. The Middle East and Beyond.
But more than Radio was Launched.
...And John Parikhal Responds
Just saw Part Two of the Q107 story.
The Q launch itself, it was interesting in your Part 1 to get the inside scoop on what was going on at CHUM while a ragtag bunch of pirates were trying to board the reigning rock ship. We had no idea what was happening up the hill. Only what we heard on-air.
Regarding CanCon, I agree with you. Failure gussied up to look like success.
Having said that, we managed to hit our 30% CanCon commitment at Q (when all other FMs only had to do 10-15%) with ingenuity, creative block programming, and a willingness to climb on a limb to play any material that was good enough to fit. It’s amazing what heights we could reach when pushed.
One of the secret weapons was Mark Dailey, an actual news genius, with the voice, the brains, the experience and the perfectly twisted, devious mind of an anarchist to lead our tiny news department. THE
We outmaneuvered everyone on Elvis’s death by creating and airing a documentary (voiced by John Donabie) within 5 hours of his death by being untraditional again. Mark called the Sheriff’s office in Memphis as soon as we heard - NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD HAD CALLED HIM DIRECT because they were waiting for “official” audio - while Mark rolled tape for over 20 minutes getting the most up-to-date information before the news trucks pulled up and the Sheriff said he had to go. The audio went a long way to giving us the most timely and original production anywhere that night.
We all had a good laugh when Allan Slaight complained to Tony Viner about the long-distance charges the next month after the phone bill came in. Of course, those guys ended up being zillionaires, so they had the last laugh.
To be fair, Tony had a tough job trying to be the high school principal to a bunch of delinquents. He turned out to be the perfect guy for the job with just the right amount of corporate heft combined with a risk-taking profile that let the gang do what needed to be done.
Q was so much fun because none of us knew that it was impossible to do what we were doing - even as we did it. And, as you mentioned in Part 1, the competition was heating up all round - at CFNY and across the pond in Buffalo.
Both Dave and I were gone just over a year after going on air so the evolution of that magic was then up to Gary Slaight and those who followed.