Where have you been Barry Bowman?



PSR recently heard from our long time radio pal Barry Bowman. Barry was very much a part of the make up of CFAX 1070 during his 28 years working for Mel Cooper as ‘The Morning Mayor‘. He was asking if any b’casters if they have any celebrity interviews they could use for ‘Boomertown,’ telling me  Partner Roger Currie has been supplying the podcast with over 100 by now and they’re getting near the bottom.  requesting they would prefer movie-TV people or nostalgia-based types, living or dead, assuring all credit would be provided.

Needless to say I thought it was about time to find out what Barry has been doing and what introduced him to Podcasting.

(Michael E Easton) so, lets start in Wadena, Saskatchewan home of how many broadcasters so far… not forgetting Pamela Wallin?

(Barry Bowman) Probably 10-12 all told, Clare Moody (CJME) Earl Page (CKOM), Andy Malowanchuck (CKY), Brian Byman CKWX), Bob Precesky (CKOM) Art Wallman (CKSW), Brian Johnston (CFSL) my mentor, the legendary Boyd Kozak (CKRC (still on QX-104-fm in Winnipeg) Bob Washington –also CKRC and the original voice of those K-Tel records commercials. I knew Pam as “Dawn” her first name. much younger than I…


(MEE) I loved the story you shared with me about after a year at being at CFAX, was it Keith Dagg, when questioned by you as to how they found you… the competition in town, what city, stations?    … tell the story….

(BB) 1967:  That winter—even by Saskatchewan’s standards— was pretty harsh. And I was just settling in to my job at CKCK when the phone rang. It was another job offer! Keith Dagg the VP at C-FAX Victoria was asking if I was interested in moving. of course I had no intention of jumping ship from ‘CK after only ten months  but Dagg suggested I should fly out and visit them before saying no. a ticket would be waiting for me at the airport that weekend. Glancing at the snowbank outside our kitchen window I paused for a second and replied “sure, why not?” I had no intention of taking the offer but a weekend in Victoria sounded just fine. The rest is history. I assumed they had heard me somehow and decided I was the guy but several years later Dagg confessed all he did was call the competing stations and ask who they’d like to see leave town and  a few mentioned my name.

(MEE) Was radio always on your plate, even as a young kid?

(BB) Not really. In 1961 I had been thinking about what I wanted to do when I graduated. I tossed around the idea of a career in radio but earlier that year I had won a best actor award in the provincial drama festival and was stricken with the acting bug. The following spring I was encouraged by my teachers to apply to the National Theatre school of Canada, a centre for classically trained theatre students. , Since enrollment was scheduled for the following September I had the whole summer to await word of my acceptance—or not. I sent off a few tapes to see if I could find something in radio while I waited. I soon got a phone call. From Grant Lawrence, program director at CFSL in Weyburn! I started the following week and in August I finally got word that I indeed had been accepted by the National Theatre School. However by then I tasted the forbidden fruit of AM radio and was hooked.  I wrote the college informing them that I had changed my mind. A questionable decision? I admit that I often still wonder where that path would have taken me…

(MEE) Lets not forget about the elevator…..

(BB) When I first came out for the interview (more like a huge piss-up) I was taken aback at the rather cramped studio space that passed for a radio station. Unlike the huge, modern, glass and steel facility in the suburbs of Regina, C-FAX perched on the seventh floor on a rooftop in the centre of downtown. The ‘penthouse” was a little rambling assortment of studios and offices accessible by a vintage manually operated elevator— with an operator! It didn’t matter. I was seduced by the balmy winter weather in this curious part of the world. I could put up with a lot, surrounded by sea, green grass, and quaint tea houses.

Clare Copeland was then the owner and president of C-FAX 1070. He had modelled the station after CHQM,an easy-listening FM station in Vancouver. Clare was a dynamic, brainy, member of the business community and a born salesman with years of radio experience and his vision had placed C-FAX very quickly in the running for first place in the city’s ratings.                      

When he finally decided to sell we were delighted to hear the buyer was Mel Cooper. It felt like Joe Namath was coming to take us to the super bowl.

(MEE)  C-FAX ruled the airwaves for 3 decades, but it was very competitive when you arrived… CJVI had or was about to change format to country… CKDA was into solid rock…. interesting times, because FM was not a factor, even though Dave Armstrongs CFMS 98.5, which was eventually bought by Rogers and turned into The Ocean…  thoughts?

(BB) I think we stood out because of the easy listening format Clare copied from Vancouver. in fact many thought we were an FM station. but Cope’s wisdom centered on community and he made sure the station reflected that, also being a master promotion guy he broke a lot of ground placing C-FAX front and centre. He was a genius and I don’t think the established stations saw us coming.

(MEE) What about the deal with Rogers… bitter feelings?

(BB) No. by 1996 I had held the morning post at C-FAX for 28 years. As was the custom, every four or five years Mel Cooper and I would renegotiate my contract. But things were changing within me. Perhaps I was bored, or worse, frustrated with a distinct decline in the talent pool around me. KenThe Dobber Dobson had died and most of my former colleagues— the good talent— had moved on. As the saying goes, if you look around and find you’re the smartest in the room, it’s time to leave the room. The format had changed radically and I didn’t feel the charge I used to feel coming in every morning.  And frankly I didn’t feel I was compensated enough for what I had brought to the station as a morning personality. {I also readily admit I’m not opposed to the suggestion that all this may have been my ego.) Coincidentally I received a call from Kim Hesketh, general manager of CJVI an Oldies station right across the street. They were sagging badly in mornings and he was curious to know if I was interested in moving over. The timing was miraculous and I was now suddenly faced with a dilemma I hadn’t expected and frankly wasn’t that interested in. CJVI was a bottom-rung AM station owned by the Rogers Corporation. When I said I didn’t think he could afford me, (this wasn’t hubris; I truly believed it) Hesketh pressed me so I threw out a very large dollar figure simply to get off the phone. He didn’t flinch. It was too good to refuse but I hesitated to say anything until I talked to Mel. I’m sure he thought I was bluffing and continued to stonewall. Nevertheless I appealed to him to consider a number of avenues where we might resolve our issues but in the end I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Eventually one Friday morning in January 1997 I signed off and walked across the street. It wasn’t a happy day — for anyone. But I have no regrets. Nobody should hang around that long anyway.

(MEE) I know you said radio wasn’t always a goal for you, but I also recall you once telling me about your radio listening habits as you were growing up. Who were your heroes during those years?

(BB) Listened to Dick Biondi  John Landecker and the rest of the legendary jocks on WLS Chicago on “skip” nights on the prairie. Used to sit in my car tuning in Minneapolis St. Paul, Oklahoma City. Came in like next door on really cold nights. Most others were from CKCK like Doug “Daddy D” Alexander, Johnny Sandison (from whom I shamelessly stole “Morning Mayor) :.J.B. ShaneLG Vancouver ,and of course Red on C-FUN , no Internet in those days but usually got my hands on air-check cassettes, soaking it all up.

(BB) Further to the Rogers move I should add I had some grand idea I would steal my C-FAX audience over to CJVI and miraculously transform the station to record heights. (See “ego” above) After only a few months spinning Oldies, management yanked that format to AM 900 Talk Radio and I was suddenly competing with C-FAX as a News/Talk station, a hideous idea since C-FAX was (then)  The News Authority and staffed their station accordingly. We were David and, contrary to the biblical tale, Goliath stomped us in the ratings. I then learned we were again switching formats to “Favorites of the 60”s, 70’s and 80’s” The stench of death was palpable. Following that brilliant gambit, Rogers finally flipped the AM side (mine) to FM and by August 2000 I, along with many others were out.

Rogers had taken out their competition the way they always do: wave money, stir in some duplicity, and wait it out. Deep pockets win every time and I was a gullible target. I blame no one since I know, as I knew then, had I stayed at C-FAX I would have been miserable so, although the move across the street ended not in the way I had wished, it wasn’t a huge surprise.

And so it goes..

(MEE) You have your own home studio doing voice over imagining and even the time you hosted your own show on our Puget Sound radio’s live stream back about five years ago before we shut it down. By the way, we’re going to resurrect the station within weeks which includes your ‘imaging’ and Baglo Production jingles featuring ‘the greatest music of all time’..

(BB) Sounds like a good idea. I wish you good luck!.

(MEE) I remember the days travelling on BC Ferries, that Barry Bowman was ‘the’ voice welcoming passengers aboard and other announcements and departures… How did you land that sweet deal? How long did it last?

(BB) For twelve years. Sweet deal indeed and one I wouldn’t mind doing again…hello?

(MEE) An actor? Tell us about the productions… I heard great reviews when you were at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM)

Barry Bowman plays the part of Captain Edward Smith the ill-fated master of the Titanic

(BB) In my retirement I found a new avenue exploring my true love of acting so I hired an agent and since have had several fun experiences as a “day player” in movies – hired for a day  or two as the lawyer or cop etc. One role I especially relished was as Captain Edward Smith the ill-fated master of the Titanic. The RMS Titanic travelling exhibit was booked for several months at the RBCM and every day I’d arrive-beard and all- as the captain. All the actors who portrayed passengers and crew were expected to develop their own back story and present it to the audience, several times throughout the day. I got pretty familiar with the captain’s story and enjoyed the daily salutes from the museum’s security detail when I “came aboard.”

(MEE) Anything currently happening in that regard?

(BB) Not at the moment, no but I am writing a lot and exploring some new ideas.

(MEE) Let’s talk about now… you and Roger Currie…. how you guys met, what you’re up to now … explain the podcast and what led up to this interview…

(BB) Well I believe podcasting is the future. It presents a whole new paradigm to broadcasting. Anyone can now run their own “talk show” from anywhere- for practically free. When I work out or walk I love to listen to podcasts that inform me and entertain. It was only a matter of time until I had an idea for one of my own. Like a lot of folks my age, I can  recall many classic movies I’ve enjoyed, the music from my era, TV shows, collectables – all that stuff -.-it’s called “Boomertown” – https://www.facebook.com/boomertalk

…Barry Bowman & Roger Currie

But I needed an “Ed McMahon” to bounce off and found him in Roger Curie, a good-natured giant of a man with a big laugh and most important a vast knowledge of the very topics we cover and a trunk full of celebrity Interviews he’s taped over many years. . However-he’s in Winnipeg where he still reads morning news on CJNU-FM and I’m here in Victoria, so we Skype. Our individual studio mics are so good one would think we were in the same room together. We just completed our 110th show and we’re still covering so much from the baby boomer years. While we’re on the Net with listeners all over the country-even in Great Britain- we can also be heard weekends on C-FAX and CJNU.

Boomertown with Barry Bowman and Roger Currie

Listen to Boomertown Interviews  HERE

Email Barry:BB*****@Bo***************.com"> bb*****@bo***************.com





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