When radio is in your blood, it’s a transmission and not a transfusion that offers salvation.
Bobby Gale, who has spent the majority of his career working directly, or indirectly, with radio, including stints with CHOM-FM Montréal, CJOM Windsor, W4 Detroit, Q107 Toronto and Q94 Winnipeg, knows that infection well. These days, Gale is producing and hosting the weekly, three-hour live show Sunday Glide on 99.3 County FM, the relatively new English-language community radio station located at Picton in Prince Edward County, which sits between Toronto and Kingston in Ontario, and you won’t find a happier broadcaster anywhere in North America.
Gale, an 11-year resident of the County, characterizes his current on-air gig as a career high. “Having complete creative control, utilizing social media like a wiz and, most importantly, being the first to introduce some of the best new music from around the world, as well as domestically, who wouldn’t have had a voice on radio period, is terribly gratifying,” he enthuses. “And, to see the audience growing now for Glide, is also deeply rewarding. I knew if that all clicked, I would feel empowered – which I do now – and would consider a return to commercial format radio at the direction of a hotshot PD. I’m now exploring all of that too. But I’m still developing Glide so that it could potentially be reconfigured and dropped into another market, or perhaps find a 24/7 home via satellite. It’s all possible.”
His first contact at County FM was with Jim (J.J.) Johnston, a nine-time recipient of Canada’s Program Director of the Year award, who has held executive programming positions with Moffat Communications, WIC Communications, Standard Broadcasting and Corus Entertainment, and who joined Country FM as interim GM in December of 2013. He was recently replaced by the station’s first permanent GM Deb Simpson, though Johnston, who a couple of years ago established the radio consultancy company JJ International Media and Management Solutions (JJIMS Inc.), is still on the Board of Directors.
“After the first couple of weeks on air, J.J. came back and said, ‘So, what do you think?’” recalls Gale.“I told him I was not really enjoying it the way I thought I would. ‘I can’t be playing all these records that I don’t feel passionate about. Let me have carte blanche and I promise you a great radio show. I’ve got a concept; you’ll just have to trust me. It’ll be great.’ He told me he would talk to Deb, who was just joining the station as GM, and within a couple of days he came back and said, ‘We’re going to treat your show as foreground; it’s all yours. Give it a name, go with it and have some fun!"
Gale named the show Sunday Glide – “I love that word ‘glide’!” he says – and then tracked down Marc Carpentier, a Canadian broadcast specialist currently based in Tokyo, to do his imaging. Carpentier, who has worked at major radio and television networks across Canada including the CBC, MusiquePlus and MuchMusic and who had done the imaging for Gale’s specialty show at CHOM-FM in Montréal more than three decades ago, was happy to oblige. Veteran radio production director and imaging producer John Masecar, who is currently on Canada’s west coast and, according to Gale, is helping Don Shafer do the imaging for Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM in Vancouver, also lent some of his branding/imaging skills to Sunday Glide as part of the opening of the show.
“When I started reaching out for interviews after deciding I wanted that as a weekly component, one of the first artists I approached was Canadian singer/songwriter Hayden [Desser] and he said he’d love to chat,” states Gale, whose career outside of broadcasting includes stints as PolyGram Regional Promo Manager in Toronto and as head of his own national indie radio promo company, Plug (MUSIC) Inc. “I know so many people and I have so many resources from my time in the industry, this can only succeed.”
The programming itself, which Gale characterizes as a unique Triple A blend of his own creation, is billed as “left of centre faves by leading edge artists” like Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Birdy, Death Cab for Cutie and FFS. Sunday Glide’s focus is current-based with lots of compatible (adult friendly) emerging artists, both domestic and international, like Etiquette, Del Bel, Hannah in the Wars, Steph Copeland, K.I.D., Georgia, Munroe, Fine, It’s Pink, Mieke, Chromatics, Dralms, Idyll, Jeen, Cairo and SC Mira. It also offers some AA (gold) nuggets from the past 5-20 years (ie Beach House, Massive Attack, Hooverphonic, EBTG, Hayden, Air, Fauxliage, Esthero and Flunk) while occasionally going retro with some of the progenitors of Alternative (ie David Bowie, Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music, Magazine, OMD, Simple Minds, BeBop Deluxe, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Frank Zappa and Sparks). When we spoke, Gale was enthusing over Hazel Wilde of the five-piece indie rock band Lanterns On the Lake from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England – who had been his first live interview for 2016 – and Elena Tonra of the English indie folk band, Daughter.
Gale notes, “One of the greatest compliments I’ve received since Sunday Glide began airing was, ‘It sounds syndicated!’ I’ll accept that… and with a proud smile.”