Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Third Radio Station, CKXL, Calgary AB

CKXL Calgary  1140 kcs  10.000 watts

The station was located on the second floor of a building on 17th Avenue Southwest.
We were still using manual typewriters at this point.
I don’t really remember much about the newsroom, except the teletype clacking away.
I think we had Ampex 601’s and Gates Cart machines and some homemade switchers.
The newsbooth had a beautiful old Neumann U47 hanging from the ceiling by three wires!
I think we had three cart playback units in there.
There was another U47 in Master Control.
I think the main control board was a McCurdy and we were running everything from cart, including all the music.
Rob Christie was the Morning Show Deejay.
I did morning news along with Dale O’Hara, the news director who hired me.
Wayne Bill was our Edmonton correspondent and Murray Dale and Murray Sherriffs were some of the other newscasters when I was there.
Bill Power was the sportscaster.
We used the CHUM Contemporary News Service via Broadband and had BN wire and voice.
It was a great year at CKXL.
The station won the Station of the Year award that year.
We had many parties.
Management there was generous and appreciative of the talent.
There were lots of free lunches and dinners, mostly at Caesar’s Steak House.
The staff liked to drink and smoke.
That sometimes meant I had to go through the morning news shift alone, as O’Hara often was missing in action.
This was the station where I learned to lie to wives and girlfriends over the phone.
One of the best tricks we pulled at ‘XL was when the provincial government of the day decided each radio, TV station and newspaper in the province needed its own government propaganda machine.
It shipped a teletype to each newsroom that constantly spewed government crap.
When ours arrived in a wood crate, we opened one side of it, filled it with as many large rocks as would fit, and shipped it back to Edmonton Air Priority Express Collect.
I think the government got the message, at least from our newsroom.
George Davies was the consultant at that time for both Moffat and CHUM.
George heard me in Calgary and recommended to Dick Smyth that I’d be perfect for Toronto.
A couple of weeks later, Smyth called and invited me to Toronto for the weekend.
First Class air tickets on Air Canada, a limo at the airport, a suite at the Inn on the Park with stocked bar were a part of the come on to move to the big city.
As I was preparing to leave for the Toronto trip, I received a call from Byron McGregor at CKLW.
He said as long as CHUM was paying to fly me to Ontario, why didn’t I stop in to see him at the same time because he’d like me to work at the Big 8, where Jim Jackson was working.
Jackson and I had worked together in Lethbridge.
I told McGregor I thought that was pretty cheap of him, trying to hire me on Smyth’s nickel.
Needless to say, I didn’t drive to Windsor.
When I arrived in Toronto, a limo took me to the hotel.
The next morning, Smyth arrived in a limousine to pick me up.
I had a look at the station, did a short audition, had lunch with Smyth and then met some of the staff at the local station watering hole, the Red Rooster or Crimson Cock as it was sometimes known.
That evening, Smyth took me to dinner at the swanky restaurant the top of the TD Centre.
I’d been told by Dale O’Hara that they’d offer only a certain sum of money to move to Toronto, so he told me to go and enjoy the weekend and then come back to Calgary to work.
So when Smyth asked me how much I wanted to come to work in Toronto, I doubled what O’Hara told me they’d offer.
Much to my surprise, Smyth said OK!
I went back to the hotel after that, called my father in Vancouver and told him what I’d been offered.
He told me to take it, it was more than he was making as a Manager at Canada Manpower.
So I flew back to Calgary, resigned, sold my car, packed up and headed to Toronto.
That was in August of 1972.

CKXL Rainbow Sticker

Original Sun Sticker

Main Control

Bill Powers (Sports) in front of the Newsbooth's magnificent Neumann U47.

The Studios on 16 Avenue SW.

Another Control Room shot.

View of the Production Studio.

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