Friends remember the mouse that roared. Well, not exactly a mouse but Nevin was special in that he stood up to his big corporate competitors and competed head-to-head. His love of music and the top 40 format (later oldies radio) made him a formidable competitor, and a respected one too. Below, a few friends share stories that say so much about Nevin Grant who died Wednesday at age 80.
From: J. ROBERT WOOD
This is a letter I wrote in October 2018 to the Governor General’s Office in support of Nevin Grant’s appointment to the Order of Canada. As you know, The Order of Canada was never bestowed on Nevin. No matter. Neill Dixon confirmed a year later that Nevin had been selected as the winner of the Allan Waters Lifetime Achievement Award and would be inducted into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame at Canadian Music Week in 2020 (Now postponed to 2021). Given the choice, I’m sure Nevin – a true beacon in Canadian broadcasting – would have preferred this award anyway.
Dear Ms. Hilali,
Further to your letter of yesterday, I am delighted to respond to your request for comments regarding Nevin Grant’s possible appointment to the Order of Canada.
I don’t believe any radio broadcaster has ever done more to advance the exposure of Canadian music than Nevin Grant. Both before and after the Canadian Content regulations were introduced, Nevin was unwavering in his efforts to provide airplay support for new Canadian music. It made no difference to him whether the artists were unknown, whether the acceptance of new releases could be backed up by consumer research or airplay on other stations in other markets, or whether the songs lacked the financial, promotion and distribution support of a major record company (since many artists over the years released their own music, did their own promotion, and relied on what meagre funds they had to press their own records, distribute them to radio, and do their best to promote them to music and program directors across the country).
In the absence of any data showing that the new Canadian records released each week would be popular with listeners, Nevin never flinched – he played them despite the fact that if the music he played resulted in a decline in CKOC’s ratings, his job would be at risk.
It didn’t take long before CKOC became the first stop that artists and record companies would make when seeking exposure for a new Canadian release. Nor did it take long for radio stations in other markets to start looking to CKOC to see what new Canadian records Nevin had added in any given week.
In summary, through the 60s, 70s and beyond, Nevin was the program director who could be counted upon to provide the initial exposure needed to launch Canadian records, Canadian artists and yes, the Canadian music industry. Today, Canadian music routinely appears on Canadian and international trade charts, significant numbers of Canadian artists have become popular the world over, and the once-fledgling Canadian music industry has become a global force in entertainment.
All because of the early beginnings Nevin cultivated at CKOC.
I know. I was the program director at CHUM in Toronto and National program director for CHUM Group stations across Canada in the 1970s. We always looked closely at Nevin’s new “adds,” and followed their progress on his chart to help inform our decision on new records added on CHUM Group stations.
In closing, I whole heartedly support this nomination.
J. Robert Wood
From: CHUCK McCOY
I hope you might find my contribution to the memory of Kevin Grant helpful.
I knew Nevin of course but I never actually worked with him. I was Music Director at CHUM back in the 70s, when Nevin was responsible for the music on CKOC. I recall very plainly carefully scanning the new music Nevin had selected every week before finalizing the new CHUM adds. He truly had a magic ear. But more than that, CKOC competed right in the middle of an extended market that included 1050 CHUM, CFTR and some amazing Buffalo stations. Nevin's CKOC did not take a back seat to any of them. Nevin was not a "one-trick pony", CKOC was a very well programmed station that delivered some outstanding on-air talent. His programming skills should rightly be considered part of Nevin Grant's legacy.
From: WARREN COSFORD
Here's My Note. It outlines the only real contact I had with Nevin Grant. But it says all anyone needs to know about Nevin's Character, Integrity and Generosity.
In 1966 I was working at CJOB Winnipeg with D.J. Ronald J. Morey. He was from the 6 Nations Reserve in Brantford but dreamed of being a Freelance Voice Over Announcer. Good luck! He had a good voice, but it needed a lot of work.
Ron left to D.J. in Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver. Then I heard that he had come home with a bleeding ulcer. Vancouver had not worked out.
Amazingly, Nevin Grant picked him up, dusted him off, and put him on CKOC.
I was now at CHUM Toronto. J. Robert Wood told me that we needed a ‘Cluster Buster’ Freelance Voice Over Announcer to read Promos. I could hire Charlie Van Dyke in L.A., Gary Gears in Chicago or Chuck Riley in Indianapolis. Fax them The Copy. They’d courier us a tape. But it would take a lot of time and money. I suggested we try Ron Morey, just down the road in Hamilton.
One Sunday Afternoon Ron came to CHUM and auditioned. Monday morning Bob Wood agreed. But would Nevin Grant agree to let Ron work at both CKOC and CHUM?
Nevin Grant agreed to what few other Program Directors would agree to.
Kathy English in The Toronto Star wrote Ron Morey’s freelance announcing career took off in 1971. 1050 CHUM, had him voice a promotion. Morey uttered just eight words; ‘Don’t Say Hello, Say I Listen to CHUM’. But they were eight words that were to change his life. It would lead him to New York Advertising where he would become a multi-millionaire.
Sometimes it’s not the people who hire you when you’re ‘Up’, it’s the people who give you a break when you’re ‘Down’.
Today, wherever Ronald J. Morey is counting his money, I hope he is ‘Paying It Forward’ in The Spirt of Nevin Grant.
From: DAVE CHARLES (as it appeared in Warren's Network newsletter on Thursday, pm)
Thanks for the many many notes of love on Nevin’s passing from your list members. All of those who have contacted me had nothing but glowing comments for him.
We miss him dearly.
Thanks also to David Farrell of FYI for publishing our story on Nevin today. Social media is alive with more tributes for Nevin Grant.
I think its time to put all my cards on the table.
A few years ago, a number of industry legends all got together and offered Nevin Grants amazing credentials as one of the most deserving Canadians who should receive an Order of Canada.
We did all the paperwork, knocked on all the right political doors and were coached in the process that one goes through to get this O of C. Jim MacLeod helped me write the application. It was solid…or so we thought.
We believe that Nevin should be recognized for his amazing work in developing Canadian Music talent in his 38-year career well before Cancon was the law of the land.
The one criteria we might have missed in our O of C application was ‘charity work’. What the hell does that have to do with one's accomplishments? Does this mean the O of C is given to those who raise the most for charity? That seems drastically unfair. The O of C should be based on what you ‘accomplished for Canada’ not on how much money you raised!
I’m going to re-submit Nevin Grant's name again for an Order of Canada. He most certainly deserves this honour. I want Nevin Grant's achievements for Canada to be acknowledged with the proper respect it deserves.
If you want to get your name on this new O of C applications send me a note via my email (email@example.com) Please mention why you think Nevin Grant deserves to be honoured with the Order of Canada.
Be well and thanks!