Love it when a Plan comes Together, by Chuck McCoy
A Puget Sound Radio Exclusive…
My final on-air shift at 1050 CHUM was January, 1973. It was a winding road that took me to Canada’s number 1 Top 40 station. But I admit it was not a “long” winding road. I sampled a number of stations before my arrival at CHUM continuing to contend that I really did have a plan. I was 19 when I began this voyage so not unexpectedly I wanted to be a Top 40(CHR) jock. After a family visit to Toronto 3 years earlier, I had heard “C-H-U-M, 1050 Toronto” I told myself, “Oh, this is where I have to work, I just have to.”
OK…Top 40…Toronto….1050 CHUM. Now how do I get there? I grew up in Winnipeg listening to Canada’s Friendly Giant, CKY. I always thought this was an excellent station. To this day I still don’t believe I’ve ever heard 3 stations that were better. With a lot of luck and lies I landed my first gig on CKY. It was all nights, but it was Top 40 and fit the plan. To get a daytime shift I then took a job doing PM drive at CJME, Regina. PM drive and the station was Top 40. The pieces were falling in place. Now Regina is a long way from Toronto and Ontario and I thought hard about how I might make my way east. One of the jocks I had worked with at CKY was PD at CHLO, an amazing Top 40 station in the St. Thomas/London market. I figured that should be my next move. I called my ex-colleague, now CHLO PD J. Robert Wood and learned very quickly about some of the economics of small/medium market radio when he let me know, “Chuck I have no budget to move you to Ontario, but I hear a station in Niagara Falls is looking” The station was CJRN, Niagara Falls. They weren’t Top 40 but my shift would be, AND…they were in Ontario only 80 miles from Toronto. Besides they were willing to pay my moving expenses. I now wasn’t far from St. Thomas and CHLO and the minute an opening came up, I applied to J. Robert Wood and was hired to work with some of the greatest on-air talent anywhere; J.Robert Wood, Paul Ski, Hal Weaver to name a few.
I was criticized by some for being unstable and moving too quickly. But I preferred to say that I just didn’t want to over-stay my welcome anywhere. But to be fair I probably was impatient. If you’re old enough to remember, there was a hit record by Sandy Posey-“Born a Woman” on the national charts at that time. This song was a “Pick Hit” when I was at CKY, was climbing the chart at the time I got to CJME, reached #1 while I was in Niagara Falls and was just dropping off the chart by the time I got to St. Thomas. Yes, I made my way through 4 stations during the life span of a single record. It was all according to plan.
Everyone who knew CHLO, knows how great that station was and I learned so much in the year I was there but I still had my sights set on CHUM. The problem was, they weren’t calling. But as luck would have it CKFH, a new Toronto CHR station were giving CHUM a real run for their money and they did call. Hell, I was in Toronto working at a fun Top 40 station with people like Don Daynard, Keith Hampshire and Big G Walters. Would I ever work at CHUM?
Well, shortly after I arrived at FH, J.Robert Wood along with Broadcast Consultant Ted Randal had arrived in Toronto and they were now steering the programming on 1050 CHUM. They had just hired the amazing Jack Armstrong and it was plain to see they were going to get CHUM back on track and back on top. I petitioned Bob Wood, tried to do my best on-air work and “Success”. J. Robert Wood called and said, “Chuck, I have an opening at CHUM if you’d like to come over.” I was on his doorstep the next day and then I spent the best 7 years of my on-air life at the station of my dreams, 1050 CHUM.