Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat: April 01, 2019

The Iceman in redux

Warren Cosford this past weekend recalled one of his magic moments at 1331 Yonge Street, the address for CHUM Radio under the ownership of the Waters family. In this particular reminisce, republished in full from Warren’s List, his self-published newsletter sent to interested parties across North America (and beyond), he recalls the magic of Bob Segarini as he made the transition from band leader and pop prodigy to radio star. In Warren’s inimitable style, the essay doesn’t follow in linear fashion but wanders wondrously all over the track to encapsulate moments in time about Warren, Toronto, radio, its personalities and the magic of a bygone time.

 What follows is in Warren’s own words.

THE ICEMAN COMETH

It was 1981.  The Morning Shows on both CHUM and CHUM-FM sucked.  Q-107 was The Hot Rocker in town.  CFNY was The Hip Rocker.   The CHUMs were living on Heritage.   We needed to shake things up.

My Boss….J. Robert Wood….asked me to conduct “the most extensive Talent Search in The History of Radio”. 

You think I’m joking?

We put a kid from The CHUM Newsroom into a CHUM news cruiser sent him off to tape every Pop Music Station in North America from Boston in the East, to Minneapolis in the West and Nashville in the South.  He was gone for three months.  And came back with many miles of aircheck tapes.

While he was doing that, I got on the phone and called Everywhere Else. A Simple Ploy.  I asked the PD of Radio Station A who they would like to get out of town.  Then I called Radio Station B and asked the same question.  Both sent me airchecks.

But might there be Someone Local?  I already had some success recruiting Kelly Jay of Crowbar fame for all nights and Jim McKenny of Maple Leafs Hockey fame for sports.  Who else?

And then I thought of Segarini.

Bob Segarini was an American from California who had adopted Canada.  (Although I always suspected he was “wanted” back in Stockton).  Over the years he had been in bands that always had a “buzz” but rarely any hits.  As a solo act, we had produced a CHUM-FM/City-TV Simulcast with him which was one of my favourites because it contained the First Music Video any of us at CHUM/City had seen. 

“Don’t Believe a Word I Say” was a single from his “Gotta Have Pop” album.  It is a hilarious song about picking up girls.   In the Video Bob is standing at a bar singing pickup lines to an attractive woman.  And then he turns to The Camera and says what he’s really thinking.

I thought…..Toronto Radio needs someone with that kind of creativity.  So Bob and I had a drink.  In fact, we had many drinks.  I seem to recall it became a Scotch Tasting Party.

At The End of The Night, we had The Plan.

Using the name, The Iceman, Bob would send audition tapes to CHUM-FM hoping to become an announcer.  Of course, we would send letters of rejection.  I would tell people at the station about “this crazy kid from Scarboro” who won’t take “no” for an answer.   Bob would then call The Control Room and pester the evening announcer….Larry Wilson.   In fact “pester” enough so that Wilson would remember him.

Then one weeknight at midnight following a suitable amount of static interference, Larry Wilson’s Show on CHUM-FM would be “interrupted” by a voice claiming to be “broadcasting” from Scarboro and technically able to intercept CHUM-FM’s signal from studio to transmitter and replace it with his own.

The Iceman Cometh.

“Ice” would then explain that this was his way of “auditioning” for a job at CHUM-FM despite having been rejected many times because he had “no experience”.   Unfortunately, he was only capable of “intercepting” CHUM-FM’s signal for an hour at a time, but he planned to continue to “audition” each night at midnight until he had “the experience” he needed to be hired.

The next morning, CHUM-FM Chief Engineer Bruce Carnegie would be interviewed on The Morning Show explaining that what had happened was “technically impossible” and “without precedent” and that he would be personally standing by at the CHUM-FM transmitter to make sure that The Iceman would not be successful again.

Of course “Ice” would continue to Cometh.

After that, The Plan was to play things by ear and take our cues from The Audience.  We had lots of ideas.  For example, Ice could take requests by calling various phone booths throughout Toronto which he would identify beforehand on the air.

The key to The Stunt was that only Allen Waters, J. Robert Wood, Bruce Carnegie, Segarini and I would know what was REALLY going on.  Everything would be pre-taped outside the station earlier in the day and played back from a tape machine at the CHUM-FM transmitter.

Would The Audience have bought it?  I think so.  A few years earlier I produced a Jay Nelson character on the 1050 CHUM Morning show named Shredney Vashtar jumping over The Niagara Gorge on a 10 Speed Bicycle on a Sunday Morning.  Much to our surprise, a few hundred people showed up in Niagara.

The Iceman Stunt was far more believable.

Alas, management wouldn’t go for it.  But we did hire Bob Segarini as The Iceman.  Later in The '80s, he would work at Q-107.  And as I write this The Iceman is Back on the air at Q twenty-two years later.

Warren Cosford

May 2003

Well….we may not have been able to convince them to let us do The Iceman Stunt Bob……but just dreaming it up was a great way to launch you into Radio.

You and Kelly J confirmed to me that a Great Lead Singer would likely be a Great Radio Personality. That you guys launched your Radio Careers in Toronto Radio was no mean feat.

Beginning in The ’70s thru most of The ’80s I would argue that The CHUMs/CFTR/Q-107/CFNY/City/MUCH were the most powerful Pop Culture Media Phenomenon in North America.

In The ’60s Paul White showed that you could “do it” from Canada when he “heard” The Beatles before most of us, but it really got “legs” with Supertramp thru Genesis, Meatloaf, Elvis Costello, The Police and all The Canadians from Gordon Lightfoot through The Guess Who and Anne Murray.

And then there were The Clubs. The El Mocambo. The Edge. Did you know that CHUM-FM broadcast 63 concerts in 1978 alone? And then there were the Radio/TV Simulcasts.

Yet…before there was MTV…..there was Moses Znaimer’s City-TV with John Majhor in his bare feet evolving to John Martin’s MUCH.

It wasn’t just Radio/TV. It was The Record Guys too. The Saucy Independent ATTIC and The Internationals WEA, A&M, Capital, CBS were more than just Branch Plants…. with Walt & Stan at RPM and David Farrell and The Record sensing The Next Big Thing no matter where it was born.

Walt & Stan’s Junos encouraging Canadians with Awards? Not enough. David Marsden invented The UKnows for everyone else.

And then, of course, there was Michael Cohl’s CPI….Concert Productions International….who took Concert Promotion to The World much in the same way J. Robert Wood’s CHUM put over 100 hours of Rock Radio Documentaries on Radio Stations everywhere!

Can you feel The Energy Bob?! It was AWESOME!!!

We were lucky. The Sun, The Moon, The Stars came together….and for a relatively brief moment in time and……

WE WERE IT!

Ford acolyte Mark Towhey lands top post at Sun News

Former Rob Ford chief of staff Mark Towhey will be replacing James Wallace, who left to become deputy chief of staff for Doug Ford.

His post at Sun News gives him considerable sway over the Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary Sun news tabloids.

Towhey was hired by Toronto City Councillor Rob Ford to help on his mayoral campaign. When Ford was elected in October 2010, Towhey was appointed his Director of Strategy & Policy, a role in which he was widely referred to by city councilors as the mayor’s "Rasputin”, according to one source. In August 2012, he was promoted to Chief of Staff until he was fired by Ford in May 2013, for reportedly telling Ford to go to rehab for his drug addiction. When CFRB cancelled Ford’s Sunday afternoon radio program in November 2013, they hired Towhey as his permanent replacement in that time slot.

In October 2015, he co-published published Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable, co-written with Globe and Mail journalist Johanna Schneller. The book was briefly a best seller in Canada.

A frequent and often humorous Twitter scribbler, his opinion pieces have regularly appeared in the Toronto Sun, the Huffington Post and Maclean’s magazine.

Towhey is currently a weekend personality and political/military commentator on CFRB Newstalk 1010 and says he plans to continue hosting his Sunday afternoon show on the Toronto radio station.

Fagstein’s latest Media News Digest

The federal government's 2019-20 budget gives a bit more detail on its plans to subsidize the news (and particularly newspaper) industry, putting a total figure of $595 million on it. The budget introduces the concept of a Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization, whose exact criteria will be established by a panel of experts […]

Got something to say, get in the podcaster line

Analytics firm Chartable reports that there are now 729,499 podcasts out there scrapping for audiences. The top 5 in Canada, as published by Spotify, are My Favorite Murder, The Joe Budden Podcast, Spittin Chiclets, Views, and The Misfits.

And Apple Canada’s all-podcasts countdown, as follows – The Dropout, Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad, Root of Evil, and Call Her Daddy.

Zuckerberg asks governments to help control internet content

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Facebook’s chief says he believes governments and regulators need to do more to regulate content on the Internet.

“By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

“From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability.” – Continue reading the Washington Post by clicking on the headline above.

RIP

Michael G. Wilmot, a London, ON playwright and former CFPL 980 announcer, died Saturday, March 1, from cancer. Age not given.

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