Sunday, 27 September 2009

OT: Rock radio

Freddy Vette, born in the 1970s, is a student of 1950s and '60s rock & roll who was recently hired by CJBQ in Belleville to host an afternoon radio requests show.

When hired a few weeks ago, his 50s and 60s hits show was from 4 to 6 p.m. and his deejay style took us back to the days of Dave Mickie and the stable of CHUM deejays.

In a sea of talk show banality, Freddy Vette, who is also the leader of a travelling rock and roll band, is a refreshing breath of fresh air on AM radio.

CJBQ is so impressed by Vette's instant following it has boosted the show by an hour, making it 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. starting this Monday.

That is a radio station that listens to its listeners. Good on them. There are stations that play 50s and 60s hits, but Vette's deejay format is also nostalgic.

He is playing a lot of obscure hits the other rock radio programs aren't playing. If you can't pick up 800 on the AM dial, he's also online.

We caught his live and energetic Freddy Vette and The Flames rock & roll show at the Regent Theatre in Picton recently and it took us back to the 1950s.

Last week, the Toronto Sun had a story about CFRB reinventing itself with a name change, but much of the talk show format remains the same - hosts with terminal I-itis.

Other talk shows are experimenting with multiple hosts, which is irritating as hell.

Vette's new show and Danny Marks' blues show Saturday nights from 8 to midnight on 91.1, are two diamonds in the rough on radio.

CFRB. much like the Toronto Sun, are losing longtime fans through consumer neglect.

Mike Strobel's Moonlight Lady spreads in recent weeks are among the few spurts of Sun originality in recent years.

Devoting 10 pages of Friday's Sun to David Miller's announcement that he won't seek re-election as mayor more than a year from now shows how out of touch the "tabloid" is with its readers.

The broadsheet boys have squeezed most of the "tabloid" and the fun out of the Sun and the results were reflected in this week's NADbank readership figures.

The Toronto Sun chose to ignore the depressing NADbank figures in print.

Par for the course, these days.

The Sun needs to go after that loving feeling of the 1970s, as Freddy Vette has, with a passion, done for the music of the '50s and '60s.

Give readers some of that deja vu all over again.


  1. Dave Mickie -- AKA Dave Marsden -- has never gone away. Many in Toronto will remember him from the early (and far superior) days of CFNY 102, and he can now be heard on Oshawa's The Rock 94.9 on Thursday and Friday nights.

  2. Endless wonderful clips from radio past here:
    You can hear Dave Mickie at CKEY in 1963 and in Hamilton in 1964 and his Dave Marsden incarnation in later years (CHUM-FM, CFNY). Great site for hours of fun!

  3. The mayor announces he won't be seeking re-election and you say devoting 10 pages to that is "out of touch"?

    That's a huge story. Whether it takes place in a year from now or not, the announcement is news and the impact it has on the city is immediate. If you can't see that, then who exactly is out of touch?

  4. I know this is off topic but, I just checked the other Sun papers, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg online and they all have the same front page sad.....

  5. Actually Anonymous #3, you are the one out of touch. Devoting 10 pages IS too much, huge story or not. Was there not other things to put in the paper that day? Nothing else have an "immediate impact" on the city?

  6. The Sun lost its way many years ago as to what drives someone to actually stop and buy the paper. What sells, if you will. And the front page IS the selling point for single copy sales. A big part of the problem was the fact that senior editors that put out the paper every night were denied access to weekly circulation figures that used to be handed out to a select few. Quebecor put an end to this practice after the tail-spinning numbers became a not-so-secret shame.

    These exact figures often proved something that many in the building (shurly not editorial board types, publishers and former city hall/Queen's Park typists) refused to believe: POLITICS DOES NOT SELL NEWSPAPERS. It never has. It never will. Despite that fact, politics was often pushed hard by the types that had to face other executroids outside the walls of 333 King.

    Other than political sex/cash scandals and election night coverage, readers could not give a rat's about political machinations. Was Miller's announcement worth the front? Absolutely. Did it deserve 10 pages ... maybe not so much. Did it sell any more papers on a comparitive basis? I tend to doubt it.

    What the circulation sheet showed week in, week out, was what any good tab editor knew sold: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Crime. Better yet, celebrity crime. Celebrity death. Politicians caught with their pants down or their hands out (sometimes both!). Beautiful women. (One weather picture of a bikini-clad woman under a fountain jacked circulation by 30K one day and caught the eye of The Donald who we then set up with for a meeting and spun it into another great front). Even, oh my god, the SunShine Girl (that franchise now sadly relegated to the back page smaller than many of the celebrity head shots despite it being the Top-10 hits of every web chart for SunMedia.)

    These were the staples of The Sun and what reader's of The Sun always wanted. Water cooler stories. Hey Martha stories, as the late-great Lloyd Kemp used to call them.

    Just a few random thoughts ...