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CKEY Radio Memories

January 15, 2015

It is with much regret and sadness that I announce that the website will be closing on February 25th, 2015.

When I opened ckeyradio.com on October 22nd, 2009, I said that "This will be a labour of love for me..." and, believe me, it has been that and a whole lot more.

I had hoped to hear from a few of the survivors of the "old days" but was overwhelmed with the response. From my on-air cohorts, through the newsroom and down the hall to the offices where the real folk toiled to make us look good, I have been able to renew aquaintances from across the country and down through the States. If it wasn't one of my peers it was members of their families all with their own memory of one of the greatest radio stations that ever existed.

Unfortunatley time has taken its toll and the obituary lists are showing too many names of people that we all knew through CKEY. Many were on-air while others were never in the spotlight. All were crucial to the success of the station.

And now it's my time to say goodbye.

I was going to list the names of all the people I wanted to thank that played a part in my radio life from 1957 to the present but (a) I would be afraid I left someone out and, (b) there isn't enough bandwidth on my server to accommodate every name in the list.

Before the site disappears I invite those of you that want to save any of the material on the site by whatever means your browser will allow. I am pleased to tell you that my boxes of original memorabilia, most of which was previously owned by Harvey Clarke, will soon find their way to the trusted hands of Doug Thompson and Duff Roman who have requested it as part of the new AIREUM Canadian Broadcast Museum. I encourage you to visit their website at aireum.ca and support this most important project.

Over the past five years it has been my pleasure to share some of the correspondence I have received and I thought it was only fitting that I close out with an email from the person most responsible for my going to CKEY in the first place.

I was working at CKFH as a board operator (now called a producer) when I was asked by John Graham at CJRH in Richmond Hill, where I began my career at the age of 14, if I would consider coming back. It seems they had hired some hot shot morning man from London and he required an op who could keep up with him and all his sound effects and other nonsense. Something told me to 'go for it' and that is when I met Bill Brady.

It didn't take long for Bill to get noticed by Toronto radio and....

I'll let him give you the full story:

"After having been in radio for just a few years including doing mornings in several Ontario markets, I achieved what I thought was the big time. I was hired away from CKPC in Brantford, to do mornings at CKSL in London working for the late Keith Dancy. It was an uphill fight since the big winner in town was the only other AM station, CFPL.

Doug Trowell was the manager there, Ward Cornell was sort of second in command and was to succeed Trowell when he left for Toronto and CKEY. He loved talk radio having enjoyed success in London with the morning show doing a talk format and that obsession was to change my life in radio.

I left CKSL to do mornings in of all places Richmond Hill, I think the money was the attraction, little as that was back then. CJRH was over a pharmacy and the sound proofing was less than adequate. In fact cables between the booth and the control room passed through a large hole in the wall. I did a phone show and it was here I met and worked with Bob Rice who was of great help. I was on the air there for only a few months when the call came from Doug Trowell who asked me to do the morning show on 'EY. He had to pay off the owners of CJRH to reimburse them for the costs of the promotions about me and the show.

CKEY opened a whole new world to me and yet another case of being on the air opposite established and highly rated competition; then Al Boliska at CHUM and the ubiquitous Wally Crouter at 'RB. I was delighted when Bob Rice also moved to 'EY.

There was Hal Kelly and Brad Crandall, who was to become a big success in New York where he made a major impact on that market as host of Monitor on NBC. I was greatly impressed by the team of Woodman and Rich who did a refreshing afternoon show at 'EY. Both are now gone as is J. P. Finnegan. WE were dubbed “The Good Guys” and the station spent generously on promoting us.

I survived the pressure of doing mornings at 'EY and taping at CFTO for a late night show that ran nationally on the newly minted CTV; that lasted a whole year.

Then one day I was descending the stairs at the old CKEY on Davenport when I literally bumped into Al Boliska; he was on his way upstairs and I just knew en route to Trowell's office. Boliska showing up at 'EY was an ominous sign for me. Seems he had threatened to leave CHUM one time too often for Al Slaight who said goodbye and I got the feeling that would not turn out to be good news for me. An embarrassed Boliska mumbled something as we passed and an hour or so later I was in the boss's office being told about the brilliant idea that he and Mean Gene (Kirby) had conceived.. a new CKEY format. I was off mornings and Boliska of course was it and I was moved to the exciting nine to noon slot. I still can remember after all these years hearing about the great coupe, “What a team – Boliska and Brady, it will be a winner!” It wasn't; a few months later I left for London and CFPL where I spent several years on the air then moved into management.

My CKEY days were important ones. I think I became a better broadcaster in spite of ownership and format changes. I worked with people who are still remembered as legends in the industry. Nostalgia hits and I look at those 50 year old photos of the Good Guys and copies of the 'EY charts and remember fondly the days of our youth when my hair was black and there was more of it. Radio as we knew it is long gone but the memories are worth holding on to."

Bil Brady's autographed Good Guys poster

Bill originally sent that email to me back in June but much of 2014 was not kind to me and, as a result, when I decided to close the site I thought it fitting that my mentor should have the last say.

Not really.

I want to thank each and every visitor to the website, those of you from 'EY and, especially, those of you who listened to the station. Without listeners there is no radio.

Bless you all.

'Captain' Bob Rice

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