Joe Leary’s ‘Air Traffic’ – Danger

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Danger with Phillip Phillips

His name is Darren Grieve and on air he’s known as ‘Danger’.

His radio journey begins in small market BC, where not only the pay is less than adequate, often times so are the facilities, the equipment and even the odd employee.

“I started in Port Hardy back in1988 doing evenings, six days a week for $800 a month,” he says.

“The Program Director was also the sales rep and would do sales calls every day after his mid-day show; come back by five reeking of booze – every day.

Easy guy to work for but his wife – who REALLY ran the show – was not. I quit after ten months and landed mid-days and Music Director in Merritt for a whopping $1100 a month.”

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Darren behind the mic at NL Merritt

Following a two year stint in that south-central interior town, Grieve left and was out of the business before renting a studio to make a current demo tape; dropped it off at the late, great CHRX in Vancouver, where his career really started to fly.

“From RX, I went to Mountain-FM in Squamish which began a ten year run with Rogers,” adds Danger, who then went on that company’s then KISS-FM.

“I did evenings at KISS where I was fortunate enough to work with a couple of the greats, Fred Latremouille and Tom Jefferies.
Both were very cool and I learned a lot from them, including how to always make time for younger talent when asked for your help – both of them class acts.”

The White Rock –raised Semiahmoo Grad has had occasion to patrol the airwaves of some very cool radio stations; including what

I regard as being the best ever in Vancouver.

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“Rogers launched X-fm on New Year’s Eve 1999 and I was given mid-days which eventually led to afternoon drive.

I was with the station for the entire duration of its existence; even got to help design the control room – kind of a once per career thing.”

“Getting blasted from XFM was a bummer,” says Danger.

“I really loved the time I spent there. I’ll never forget driving home from receiving my walking papers and listening to the station on my way back to White Rock. As I enter the Deas Tunnel, they’re playing the usual Modern Rock and when I came out of the tunnel, BOOOM…Xmas music – it kinda softened the blow a little. I Couldn’t have timed the drive any better!
Danger then reappeared on his ‘dream radio station’ where he would stay for the next nine years.

“When Xfm folded I landed at the mighty CFOX a few weeks later – the station that inspired me to pursue radio and I was thrilled. I got to do some amazing things and interviewed most of my child hood heroes”.

One in particular stands out.

“Ace Frehley from Kiss was pretty surreal,” recalls Danger.

“So I’m waiting for the big phone call in the edit suite, headphones on, mic on, a full 20 minutes before the call was scheduled to happen. I’m nervous as hell to speak with the man whose posters had been slapped all over my bedroom growing up… all of a sudden my damn cell phone rings…I drop a curse word or two, turn the mic off, set the headphones down and angrily answer my cell.

“Hi, it’s Ace calling (in a very thick Bronx accent) I’m looking for Danger”.

I had forgotten that I gave his road manager my cell as a backup and Ace being the wasted rock ranger he is, called that number instead of the studio line. I called him back from the studio phone and the interview went off very well.

Later I realized that he had called me from his personal cell, so, of course, I have that saved in my address book….cooler than an autograph and No, I have never called him.”

In addition to building hot rods around his fill-in duties at Shore-FM these days, Grieve reflects on a business that he’s seen make radical changes from those good old early days.

“What is disappointing about radio today is the lack of options for up n’ comers to learn the craft the way it should be learned,” he says.

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“When I was in Port Hardy – about as small a market as you will find – we were live all day parts except overnights.

Now you are hard pressed to find a medium market station that even has a live evening show.

I really respect anyone who gives it a shot these days because as cut throat and tough as it was for me, it’s a near impossible task now.

I would love to see a real investment in nurturing young talent before we eat ourselves. It’s one of the reasons I do so many air-checks for younger talent when they ask. I feel we have an obligation to give back.”

Joe Leary

Email Joe: [email protected]

Twitter: @reallyjoeleary

 

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