Today, Jim Jj Johnston Salutes Perry Goldberg
Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”.
By Jim Jj Johnston
Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Perry Goldberg.
I first met Perry at my apartment in Toronto when I was yellin' and tellin' on 680 CFTR. John Keogh who was 365'er Reg Johns's right-hand man there was coming over to have a bite, shoot the breeze on radio and hang out. I was reading the Toronto Sun and had it open to the news story that GRT Records had just gone down. There was a knock on the door, I put the paper down, open at the story, and let John in. With him was a fellow I had heard about named Perry Goldberg from GRT Records promo. In they came with Perry immediately seeing the paper open to that story (wondering I think if I had done that on purpose) and after getting over that started sharing his woes of that all the great things they had done were gone and wondering what was next? As I got to know him better in time, I knew this was just a minor bump in his life and there is no stopping this guy!
His lifelong love affair with radio began with a Superman comic book. There he was sitting on his bed at the age of 10 reading the latest Superman comic, inhaling every word, picture, nuance and bubble, He knew that his life would change forever. Not because of the content, but on the back cover was an ad for the Radio College of Canada. Of course, he was too young to enroll, but he never gave up on that dream.
Before he got to University, at 16 he created a high school radio station at Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ontario. The radio station provided a vehicle to meet with Toronto record company and radio execs while he sourced donations of used broadcast equipment and a healthy supply of recorded music. It was a great networking experience leading him to his first intern job at CHUM-FM working in Benji Karsh’s music library by the time he was 18.
Focusing on the centerline of the road to radio, he enrolled at Ryerson in the Radio and Television Arts Program. During his first year, Ted Rogers extended an unexpected invitation to meet with him and awarded him the CHFI FM 'Proficiency in Broadcasting Award' for his work with Ryerson’s campus radio station CRFM. CRFM, through various incarnations, has since evolved into Central Ontario Broadcasting’s Indie 88.1.
His first job was at GRT Records, and he got a front row seat to the music biz.
In 1976 through his work at Ryerson Radio’s CRFM, he crossed paths with the legendary Music Manager Bernie Finkelstein (a pal who is now a resident of Prince Edward County). These days he is managing Bruce Cockburn who continues to be uber-successful. Bernie's former assistant Liz Braun was leaving her post at GRT, and she suggested to Jeff Burns that Perry would be a suitable replacement. It was at GRT where he worked as Ontario Promotion Manager on the careers of The Ramones, Dead Boys, Dan Hill, Prism, Ian Thomas, Jimmy Buffet, BB King and Al Stewart, among many other giants of the North American music scene.
After GRT folded, Perry was asked by Tom Berry of SRO/Anthem Records to become their new National Promotion Manager, working with Rush, Max Webster, Kim Mitchell, BB Gabor and Ian Thomas. Ian had just released his album Glider, and a cross-Canada promo tour was mounted. On that same tour, Ian introduced Perry to his brother Dave, who was in Edmonton doing the crazy successful SCTV show with Kathleen O’Hara, Joe Flaherty, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and other maniacs at ITV Studios. When Perry entered the building, he heard his name being called out by Rick, his old public-school buddy! They arrived at the studio together, and Perry was introduced to the hilarious McKenzie Brothers. He couldn’t get back to Toronto fast enough and set up a meeting with Ray Danniels and Tom Berry. After some time, he finally convinced them to make room on the Anthem label for Bob and Doug McKenzie. It became the fastest-selling Canadian album and achieved triple platinum status in Canada and platinum status in the U.S.
Hoser Mania became a Canadian cultural phenomenon. Perry describes this highlight: “Ken Taylor, Canadian Consul-General to New York City, the diplomat who helped save American lives during the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran, generously granted permission for us to use the Consulate General of Canada in New York as the launch pad for Bob and Doug’s record launch to the American market. Talk about intimidating!”
In the midst of Anthem’s success, he received an offer from Maze Records to work with their Juno Award-winning artist Saga, then recently signed to CBS Records in the U.S. He worked with the band on three album releases and then got the call to re-enter the radio world. Peter Shurman, then President of Standard Broadcasting asked him to become CFRB’s First Marketing and Promotion Manager, and it was this job that helped lay out a career path back into radio. These were the Wally Crouter days, giving him the opportunity to work with a great team of execs and radio personalities -- Peter Shurman, Ralph Lucas, Crouter, Bob Bratina, Andy Barrie, Ed Needham, 365’3er John M Donabie, and so many others. One of his highlights there was planning and executing the iconic station’s 60th Anniversary.
Meanwhile, longtime friend Tony Zwig had just purchased a group of radio stations from Middlesex Broadcasting and asked Perry to help him reposition the London stations. Together with the hard work of CJBK’s Buster Beau Dean, a 365’er, Steve Garrison and BX93’s Dave Collins, they grew the stations into major marketplace competitors. When the stations were able to sustain their momentum, Perry was given the opportunity to work with Middlesex on a CRTC application for a Toronto country music station.
We saluted Don Shafer last week, and there were record ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ for the Shafe. Perry first met him when he was CHUM-FM’s “Shafe in the Box”. They had often crossed paths over the years until Don tapped him as the new Marketing & Promotion Manager for Toronto’s Q107 and AM640. The talent roster at these powerhouse stations was amazing: Chris Grossman with his next-to-perfect sales team, Bill Carroll, Debbie Dixon, Tarzan Dan Freeman, John John FK Gallagher, Elsie Xynos, 'The Hitman' Kenny Caughlin, Jesse Dylan, Rory Rory O'Shea, Joey Vendetta, Dave Barker, Gary Whidden, and 365’ers Shirley McQueen, Don Shafer, Gary Gary Aubé, Jake Edwards, John Derringer, Donna Saker, and Gene Valaitis.
This was a place where there were no creative boundaries, Shafer, Grossman and Aubé simply wanted great radio and pushed their staff to think like there was no ‘box’. The voluminous stories from these productive days at Q keep Perry laughing hard to this day. Let’s hear a few:
- “While on a Q promotion in Dunedin FL, I received a call from the lead Producer of ABC TV’s Good Morning Tampa. They heard a Canadian high-profile radio personality was in town. They asked if Scruff Connors would be a guest on GMT to speak about Canada and share some stories of his Toronto Morning Radio Show. I convinced Scruff it would be fun and we should do it. The next morning, we fell into a cab and drove 20 odd miles to the middle of nowhere to do the interview. Once there, I asked for the GMT Producer, and moments later he appeared. Shaking hands, he welcomed us to Tampa, and asked: “WHO ARE YOU GUYS?" He had no clue who we were. OMG! Where can I hide? But then it dawned on Scruff and I what happened. Barker! He and Tony Daniels (known for his many different voices) punk’d us. Trying to save face, I pulled the Producer aside and explained we were from a Major Market Radio station in Toronto, Canada and seemed to have been punk’d by our head writer. The Producer looked at me, looked at Scruff and left the room. Scruff was pissed, and I was in category 5 defense mode. Moments later he ushered Scruff to makeup and set him up as the 'feel good' interview capping off the morning show. I asked the GMT Producer if he would call Barker and thank him for the interview. To this day, Dave Barker is still sharing the story of how he got Scruff on TV.”
- Then there was the Hollywood ‘A’ List: “Liza Fromer drove the Q Van through the streets of Toronto as a goodwill reporter. After about two years or so she left for the lights of Hollywood to eventually become a highly sought-after stringer for CBS TV. While in Los Angeles on Playboy business, I called Liza to invite her to a Playboy Playmate of The Year Party at the Mondrian Hotel’s Sky Bar. She wasn’t sure she should go to this exclusive event without an invite. I told her Dave Barker and I would pick her up around 8 pm. We arrived a little late at the hotel and Playboy’s PR department had left the ‘door' to the club’s security. Well, there we were at one of the hippest hotels on the strip at an A-List party without a printed invite. Yikes! I again was in Category 5 defense mode. Looking to the security team, I said ‘you can’t not let in Miss March. This is April, August don’t you recognize her?’ The Hollywood door opened, and there we were.”
Perry says he has loved all the promotions he’s done, but this one has a special place in his heart, Q107’s 15th Anniversary with The Black Crowes. The free concert attracted over 70,000 fans to a Toronto public park, made news throughout North America, and raised over 2 tons of food for the Toronto Food Bank.
At that time, it was the most food raised - ever - by the food bank in one day. And, there were no casualties, unless you count that one Q fan falling out of a tree while rockin’ to the tunes!
In 1991 feeling emboldened by so many successful promotions under his belt, Perry decided to put out his shingle and create his own radio branding and promotion company – Adrenalin.la, working in both Canada and the U.S.
His very first clients were the Canadian Press, the Ontario Lottery, CBS-TV and Toronto’s The Fan 590. For the last 27 years, he has used his skill set to initiate integrated advertising and promotional programs for major radio and TV stations from coast-to-coast. These include WLS-FM Chicago, 100.3 Los Angeles, WNEW-FM New York, WGMS-FM Washington, DC, WBCN Boston, CBS Television Network, CORUS Radio, ROGERS Radio, Clear Channel Communications, Radio One, the largest broadcasting company in the U.S. that targets African-American and urban listeners, William Shatner's "The Captains" (a dream come true for this big Star Trek fan) on EPIX HD and TMN.
His highlight so far has been working with brilliant promotional project partner Doug Harris to create and launch the Playboy Playmate Radio Team. With the support of Hugh Hefner and radio wizard Dave Barker, they have built a fantasy dream team of Playboy cover Playmates to provide a unique element of radio excitement throughout the U.S. The promotion spawned the development of the Playboy Channel on SiriusXM Radio. In addition to the day-to-day running of Adrenalin.la, Perry is currently working on a project with the Jamaican government that is set to launch in the Fall of 2019.
Perry sums up: “Here’s what I would tell my younger self; Creative people are a sensitive bunch. Be resilient. Follow your passion and as hard as it might be at times, be true to your creative thoughts. As David Marsden reminded me: ‘Stay Curious’. We are as good as we let ourselves be.
If you ask me who helped make my world a better place, I would say it takes a team to make a great promotion, and I have always been surrounded by the best. As well as all the people who kept me laughing, all the people who brought inspiring creativity to the world and all the people who made me say: ‘I wish I did that’. And especially, Peter Shurman, Nick Michaels, Beau Phillips, Doug Harris, Ray Danniels, Jeff Burns, Benji Karsh, Bill Carroll, Dave Barker and 365’ers John Parikhal, and Don Shafer.”
Perry is a creative genius. He is so friendly, smart, resilient and resourceful, full of energy and ideas and sticks to his guns. He's also a great storyteller, has a quick laugh and always a source of fun. Happy to count him as a pal throughout all these years! Keep it going Perry and atta be!
Thank you, Perry Goldberg, for being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share JM’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.
– Jim JJ Johnston is the multi-award-winning CEO, President and Chief Talent/Content Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries.