JJ 365 Salutes Brad Dryden
May 8, 2018
Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Brad Dryden.
Around 1986 a woman by the name of Cathy Dryden booked an appointment with me at CITI-FM in Winnipeg. She was there on behalf of her son to inquire about how he might find his way into radio. This was obviously a very proud mom who professionally stepped me through her young son Brad’s already impressive history. He started as a teen host of a CBC Kids Radio program and left that to star on CTV’s Let’s Go (a nationally televised kids TV show filmed out of Winnipeg). He remembers, even at that age, being star struck when they would record their songs at Century 21 studios, the same place where all the great Winnipeg bands like Streetheart and the Queen City Kids were making their records!
At an early age he was bitten by the radio bug playing DJ in his bedroom. He grew up listening to CITI-FM legends like Bro Jake Edwards, Bob Robert Mcbride, Terry DiMonte, Terry Klassen, Tim Bradley, and Howard Mandshein, etc.
We had an opening at CITI-FM for a weekend board operator at the time and I thought why not? He was such a keener, knew the station inside out and we gave him the gig. That got a lot of things started.
He remembers the overnights in his early days at CITI. Lamont Hollywood would kick open the door for his morning show at 5:45, literally carrying his stacks of carts filled with SFX and character drops for that day’s show. He totally wanted to be these guys.
He worked his way up the ranks and eventually to on-air at 92 CITI FM with Danny Kingsbury and later Ross Winters as his Program Directors.
He says: “I’m still amazed they didn’t fire me in those early on-air days. The bits and these characters I developed were….well….awful…(Fortunately those were the days of live overnight shifts so schmucks like me could only get better!) BTW…Having a couch in the control room while playing Supertramp’s ‘Even in The Quietest Moments’ on the 3 am Classic Album Side is a very BAD combination! I can confirm on a couple of occasions I woke up in pure horror at 4:30am with the album finished for at least an hour and the sound of the needle scratching across blank vinyl.”
I remember being the youngest in many stations and always being stereotyped at “the kid”. In 1992 Brad felt the same way and left the nest to get away from “the rookie kid” perception, also leaving behind a band he was getting quite serious about. He became the morning guy and music director at CHXL (now CJPT or “BOB-FM) in Brockville. Greg Diamond was his PD and after him, the late and great Greg Hinton. He enjoyed hanging with Greg and sometimes messing with him as he was so meticulous with EVERYTHING in his office. All the pens had to be straight on his desk, the chair, the pads of paper, NOTHING out of place!!! They’d break in to his office on the weekends’ and purposely mess it all up. He says: “it drove Greg nuts (Sorry about that, Greg. Lol!)”
We’ve been talking a lot about the WOLF in the past few 365 posts and we are at it again. So many great people came through there. In 1994 Brad moved up in market size when Malcolm Sinclair (365-er), known for bringing young talent along, hired him as morning guy at THE WOLF in Peterborough. Brad says he loved working with Malcom and GM Mike Ferguson and being in the “Patch” provided some amazing life changing moments, including meeting his wife Kirstin who, at the time, was working for the WOLF’s marketing department.
In 1996 Bob Harris, a former WOLF PD, and now in the same position at CJAY wanted to bring Brad into Calgary to do evenings and swing at CJAY 92. Bob knew him from his days in Peterborough and as VP of Programming for Standard Radio, I totally endorsed this move having known Brad from day one. Now Brad was finally in a MAJOR market and could learn from one of the best in Ger Forbsie! Gerry Forbes convinced him to write and perform song parodies for him. He says “the Ger” was the same down to earth guy on AND off the air and treated everyone he knew well. Brad learned how to work a market when hanging with Gerry. They couldn’t walk more than 5 yards in Calgary without someone stopping him or wanting to buy him a beer. Brad says it was great for a broke young jock who, when tagging along, got a lot of free drinks!
In 1999 he was hired by Steve Jones, now NEWCAP Radio’s long-time VP of Programming and award-winning author, to host afternoons at K97 (then K-ROCK) in Edmonton. About Steve he says: “He is one of the guys I respect the most. So smart. The absolute best! He’s always been there for me and a true mentor of mine.” He tells a great story of the first time their paths crossed (sort of):
From Steve…”Brad stole a job from me that I’ll never forgive him for. We both interviewed with Malcolm Sinclair for the morning show at The WOLF. I had an interview the next day for a PD job in Thunder Bay. At the time I was on-air and APD and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be on-air or in programming. So, I decided that the job I got would dictate where my career went. If I got Peterborough, I was going to be a morning guy. And if I got Thunder Bay I was going to be a PD. Brad got Ptbo and I got TBay. So in a way, I am all Brad’s fault!”
In 2001 he was approached by Eric Stafford to finally host a morning show in a major market, THE BEAR in Ottawa! Brad, Steph and Stuntman Stu Schwartz had a very successful run on the BEARS BREAKFAST. Brad’s kids were born in Ottawa, and his wife Kristin grew up there, so it was a great place for them both personally and professionally.
In 2007 the east coast came calling when he was hired by another guy he wanted to work for in Mr. Terry Williams. Terry says Brad was always his secret weapon to replace Kelly Latremouille. They family made the trek to Halifax where Brad had an amazing 8 year run hosting the C100 BREAKFAST CLUB with Peter and Moya. As a brekkie team they had 16 consecutive #1 books with Women 25-54.
Brad learned early from the likes of Lamont Hollywood (Tod Fryfogle) and the Gerry Forbes on how important being a part of the community is to a shows’ success. They were out there non-stop and during their run created the “Pledge to End Bullying” where they personally visited and spoke to 1000’s of kids in over 30 schools. They also started the IWK Radiothon raising over 2.5 million in 7 years.
Brad comments on a pretty unusual team experience:” I still remember our week-long broadcast in Iceland, where they converted a studio for us and we broadcast back home. We brought a bunch of listeners with us who made day trips to Europe as part of this AMAZING RACE themed promotion we put together. While they were travelling, we would stay back at the hotel and day drink (it was too bloody expensive to go anywhere in Iceland!) We ate adorable puffin, and drank this disgusting 80 proof schnapps that tasted like licorice called Black Death. People in Iceland actually use this stuff to help mask the taste of fermented shark flesh during their midwinter feast called Porrablot. It’s never really found it’s way to North America. Consider yourself lucky.”
In 2015, he was (“to put it mildly”) stunned and saddened as BELL gave him his walking papers, but he wasn’t out for long. Eric Stafford hired him again, this time to host mornings at KOOL-FM in Calgary.
In 2017 Jeff Murray and Steve Jones came calling and he rejoined NEWCAP as morning guy, along with Tony Sowan, at ZED 98.9 in Red Deer. He says it was great to be back in rock radio at a heritage station like the ZED but it was short-lived though as Dan Barton and Steve Jones convinced him to make a return to Halifax with NEWCAP’s MIX 965. It wasn’t a tough sell as Halifax has always felt like home to him and his family and they missed it terribly. They happily returned to Canada’s east coast where Brad is now having a blast hosting MIX MORNINGS with the talented Natalie Fournier.
Wife Kirstin (who’s a group fitness instructor at Goodlife) and their 2 boys Mac (13) and Jamie (11) are finishing the school year in Alberta and then will come out to join him. He’s a good dad who can’t wait to be reunited with his family in June.
It was interesting that his mom came to see me that day. At first, I thought “why isn’t Brad coming to see me?” I had a few chats with him after that, I was impressed by him, decided that Cathy was a super mom and I hired him. Cathy is now happily retired in Winnipeg.
Brad has proven himself over and over again to be a strong broadcaster who is creative and resourceful, puts in the work, and is a solid teammate. Keep it going Brad. Very happy to see you all grown up and doing well!
Thank you, Brad Dryden, the legend, and one of the “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Brad’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? Stay tuned!
Jim Jj Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries worldwide.
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