Donovan’s Aircheck Corner: A trip across Western Canada: This week, Michael W. Morgan, Sean Rosvold, Dan Williams and Len Thuesen
By Donovan Tildesley
Tuesday January the 26th, 2016
Eleven years, four cities, five jocks. From Winnipeg at night, to Edmonton in the morning. From the small-market PD who made it to NYC, to the large market PD who idolized LA, but never got there. This week, we take a radio journey across Western Canada, starting in 1977 and ending in 1988.
Michael W. Morgan, CKLG Vancouver, 1977
The man has done it all, from boss jock at CFUN and CKLG in the heyday of Top 40 radio, to hot talk at CFUN in the late ’90s and early 2000s, including a year and a half stint as the station’s morning host. You may disagree with his politics, but there is no question he had one hell of a set of pipes!
Shawn Rosvold, JC55 Kamloops, 1979
I first became aware of Shawn’s work while vacationing in Naramata in the summer of 1992. At the time he was hosting AM drive (and likely PD?) on OR-Radio. Several months later, I heard him call into Tom Lucas’ syndicated Goldline show live from a block of ice, where he had agreed to spend over 24 hours buried for charity. After listening to this aircheck, it is not surprising that the former JC55 PD made it to bigger and better things, including stints as a morning show co-host and news anchor in both San Francisco, and at New York City’s Classic Rocker Q104. Oddly enough, the last time I heard Rosvold live on-air was when Bro Jake had him on his Rock101 morning show the day after 9/11. A quick Google shows that Shawn is now hosting The Morning Addition at KCCR in Colorado Springs.
Dan Williams on CFRW & Chuck Morgan on KY58 Winnipeg, 1980
This appears to be a scope of Winnipeg’s two dominant Top 40 stations of the time. Dan Williams is now Doc Halen on Ottawa’s Chez 106. Chuck Morgan (later Chuck “More Memories” Morgan) was at KY58 on and off into the early 2000s. Listening to Chuck’s top hour break is reminiscent of how jocks at CISL Vancouver would execute the same break in the early 2000s. A Gary Russell formatic staple, perhaps?
4. Len Thuesen, 96/K-Lite FM, March 1988
I have heard two different stories of how PD Len Thuesen came to do the morning show at Edmonton’s K-Lite. In one account, Mike Lynch, who had been doing mornings since the station’s inception, crossed the street to CKXM (CFRN’s sister FM) for a bigger paycheque. Thuesen, who had been doing afternoons, asked the listeners who they thought should be the new morning man. As a result of overwhelming support, he decided to take on the challenge himself. I tend to believe the second story, which I heard several years back from an unnamed K-Lite alumnus. Apparently, the station’s then consultant told Len that his afternoon program sounded too much like a morning show. Rather than tone it down, he decided to move himself onto the morning show. Thuesen was a big fan of Rick Dees’ shtick, and decided to copy it, even lifting some of Dees’ bits and character voices. The change did not prove to be a successful one for the station as a whole. Check out the unique jingles on this ‘check, including Len’s personal weather doughnut.
If you have any suggestions for future selections, please email me!
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I worked with Dan Williams when he was just a wee part-time sprout at CKOK AM in Penticton in the early 70s. Last time heard from, he had sent me a tape (yeah,that long ago) of some production and character bits he and another jock were teaming up to do in the Peg. Dan loved the theatre of radio, and I’m so glad he has had a long and successful career.
Well, thank you for including me with a bunch of people I have always admired and respected. I worked with Dan Williams at JC55 in Kamloops. I may have hired him, but I don’t remember because I’m really old now. I loved Dan on the air, and I encouraged him to get the hell out of Kamloops as soon as he could, because I knew he was destined for bigger and better things. I didn’t get to work with any of the others, but I certainly knew who they were. Thanks again!
I can’t believe I’m on here. So, cool. And Ken McKim! Shut the Front Door! I hope you are well my friend. Ken put me on the air in Penticton to read the news one night when I was 17 years old. I didn’t have a job he just did it. It was the most thrilling 2 minutes of my life. I got the bug and applied for a gig at CKOK and got it a few weeks later. Thank YOU Ken for getting me started in the most awesome career a guy could have. And Shawn Rosvold. What a class act. Great to see you are both still around.
Great time. Nice memories.l love radio as we all did. K-Lite was a fantastic team of promo news on air and sales . My my a great time. Len Thuesen
You’re right, Len….K-Lite had a great team of people…I spent seven years there, right from the beginning, and it had a fascinating history: launching in November 1979 as FM 96 “Album Rock in Stereo” and “The Sound of Our Edmonton”. Quite an eclectic music format in the early days (almost like Sirius XM’s Deep Tracks channel!), with a significant amount of foreground programming. Eventually, our main competitor, CIRK – K97 complained that we were playing too much rock music. The CRTC looked into it, assessed our music mix and it became a real case study in the challenging nature of music categories and their interpretation. Eventually, it was determined that our Promise of Performance should have been adult-contemporary and not adult rock. Owner Hal Yerxa feared losing the broadcast licence, so we made the format change to K-Lite, certainly a good move in the long run, because it boosted female numbers, and the all-important listen at work demo. Hal’s son John Yerxa became the architect of the new format.
Overall, some great memories of my first seven years in radio, in the city of Edmonton, which
had plenty of excitement in those years with the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup, the Fringe Theatre Festival, a world-class Folk Music Festival, and of course West Edmonton Mall!
And despite Alberta’s devastating economic crash in 1982, I don’t recall any personnel
getting let go by the radio station; a full complement of people in every department, and every daypart.
What a pleasure to have had the opportunity to work on the same team as Len Thuesen at 96 K-Lite. 1994 was my second try at convincing Lenny to hire me, and he finally did, after turning me down for an airshift in 1990! It took returning to the drawing board and getting more Edmonton radio experience at 630 CHED before Len (a former CHED Good Guy himself) was convinced I was ready to join his winning team at 96 K-Lite (CKRA) Edmonton! I learned plenty while working with Len and look back at that time with fondness……