I knew him asRick
Murray, a CHUM board operator (and a damned good one too). Radio
listeners in Kingston, Toronto, Los Angeles, Lansing Michigan,
Detroit and Tampa knew him as DJRick
Hunter. After 'honkin' out the hits' for the various CHUM jocks,
Rick left his behind-the-scenes job at CHUM for on-air positions at
various radio stations in Canada and the U.S. (including a stint at
CHUM's toughest Top 40 rival CFTR).
These are Rick Murray
Hunter's memories of being 'Inside 1331 Yonge Street".
It’s early April of 1969.
I’d just turned 20 and had worked in radio as a board
operator for only two years - mostly part-time - in my
hometown of Kitchener. I knew I wanted to pursue a
career in broadcasting but had no real plan at that
point, other than maybe enrolling in the
radio-television course at Toronto’s (then called)
Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. So my getting a job at
1050 CHUM was completely spontaneous, unexpected and
sudden. It was strictly right place, right time.
One day I was invited byRoger
at the time both jocks at CKOC/Hamilton - to join them
for a late Sunday evening trip to Toronto to visit
Weaver, who’d be doing the all-night show on CHUM.
So there we were in CHUM’s
main control room chatting with Hal when I offhandedly
asked him if he knew of any board operator openings at
the station. Surprisingly, he said - “Actually, I think
they’re hiring right now.” I eagerly asked him - “Oh?!
Who do I contact?!” His reply - “J. Robert Wood.”
Since I’d been a long-time CHUM listener and follower, I
certainly knew who he was, plus I’d previously listened
to him on-air at CHLO/St.Thomas.
I returned home to
Kitchener around 5am with a plan - grab a few hours of
sleep, skip all Grade 13 classes at Waterloo Collegiate
on Monday and instead call Mr. Wood. That afternoon I
nervously dialled the CHUM switchboard and asked for JRW.
After being connected, he came on the line and I
introduced myself - “Hello, my name is Rick Murray. I
work in Kitchener radio as a board op and I’m wondering
if there are any openings for operators.” His reply,
which I will forever remember, was - “Well, we’re always
looking for good people.”
He invited me to come in the very next day for an
interview - the entirety of which I still have no
it must have went well. He called me two days later and
hired me. I would be starting a training shift that
Sunday at 6am - less than one week after being merely a
visitor at 1331 Yonge St.
I was the only board op
ever hired by JRW. Several months later, to replace an
Thompson, Bob brought inWarren
Cosford from Winnipeg as Production Manager, which
included supervising the ops and conduct all future
hirings. It all happened so quickly for me. I’d quit
Grade 13, left my home and family and moved to Toronto
in one fell swoop.
In early 1969, CHUM only
had board ops during the morning and afternoon drive
music shows -Jay
Michael Wilson, respectively.
had a call screener-op.But
Bob Wood wanted to expand that to include mid-days and
evenings, so that’s why I was hired. The new operator
lineup would be:George
who was doubling as CHUM’s music librarian - 11am-5pm (Bob
Mike Wilson) and me 5-11pm with Mike and Chuck McCoy.
Chuck had succeeded the recently departed Jackson
new all-night jock,Terry
had just replacedBrian
ran his own board from 11pm-5am.Eventually,
operators were employed 24/7.
From April 1969 to April
1974 I worked with a staff of incredible on-air talent
that was assembled by J. Robert Wood and I recently put
together a complete list of them, found at the end of
this. There are 22 jocks in all.
I did every shift at CHUM
during all seven days, except a full morning drive shift
with Jay. But there were times during my last six months
working all-nights when his board op (name withheld) was
late, so I stayed and worked with Nelson until he
I soon learned that a
board op's job description went beyond being technically
skilled. It also involved being part psychologist and
part visual laugh track on the other side of the glass.
The idea was to keep the jock ‘up,’ so letting him see
the whites of your teeth after he delivered a joke was
always a good thing!
There are many, many
memories from my ﬁve years at CHUM, most of which are
centered around the jocks and board operators with whom
I worked closely on a daily basis. Here are a few 'Best
JOCKS (In random order)
McCoy: My initial shift at CHUM was on Sunday, April
13th from 6-11am. It was an on-the-job training session
purposely set up to be with Chuck because he was
extremely easy to work with. That morning I trained withMike
For the ﬁrst couple of
weeks I stayed at the downtown Toronto YMCA on College
St. and obviously I had not slept well that Saturday
night. Besides being very nervous and the ﬁrst song I
played on CHUM being 'Morning Girl' by Neon
Philharmonic, one other thing clearly sticks out from
that ﬁrst day.
Chuck had received a
private-line (aka ‘bat phone’) call from JRW about an
important package being delivered to the station that
morning. Through his U.S. music industry connections,
Bob Wood often scored new 45 releases from the States
for CHUM to debut, not only in Toronto, but often
Canada-wide. And one such single would be arriving.
We aired the new record
once an hour and I’d been directed to insert a
pre-recorded cart (tape) during the song 3-4 times per
airplay - a voice whispering "CHUM Canadian Exclusive.”
This was done to prevent any station within CHUM’s
signal range from recording the song as it played and
unscrupulously airing it themselves - thus negating the
So I can proudly say that
Chuck and I were the ﬁrst in the country that morning to
play 'Get Back' by the Beatles. Of course, it would hit
#1 on the CHUM Chart, become the band's 17th U.S.
chart-topper and match Elvis Presley's previous record
of 17 number ones on Billboard. Nice ﬁrst shift for a
kid from Kitchener!
Chuck was one of the
nicest jocks with whom I worked. He helped me a lot with
the adjustment to CHUM and to Toronto life in general.
J. Michael Wilson:
So here I was in April of 1969, with but 2 years of
board op-ing experience at CKKW/CFCA-FM in
Kitchener-Waterloo under my belt and now being thrust
right into the PM drive shift on Canada's largest Top 40
station. Fortunately, Mike Wilson was a very easy jock
to work with, but one element of his show could be
pretty challenging for a rookie board op - executing his
famous side-kick 'Rodney Rodent.'
To achieve the bit, Mike
used a small, cylindrical metal sleeve that was
custom-made to ﬁt over the capstan of an Ampex tape
deck. He called it a ‘doofer.’ When the altered capstan
came into contact with the recorder’s pinch roller
during playback, the tape would be sped up to create the
Over the course of
Wilson’s show, the ‘Rodney’ drop-ins (not to be confused
with ‘droppings’) were always recorded off-air during
music sweeps - except for the occasional quick one
during a spot break when Mike had a last-minute idea. So
I had to be ready. He always interacted live with the
pre-recorded ‘Rodney’ and had an uncanny ability to
alter his normal speaking voice to a much slower tempo;
just the right amount to create the character on the
sped-up tape. During the recording Mike would also
skillfully time the silent pauses between which he would
interact live with the rodent.
Well, one time I didn’t
fully secure the ‘doofer’ onto the capstan. During
playback the pinch roller caused it to gradually slide
off, with Rodney beginning to talk slower and slower,
until the rat was speaking at Mike’s recorded speed.
Oops!! I had to prematurely dump out of it and go to a
commercial. Subsequently, each and every time we did the
bit, Mike would double and triple check with me just
before playback - “Doofer on?” Also, “Volume up?” Yes,
occasionally Rodney’s ‘pot’ (volume control knob on the
board) was inadvertently left down at the start - then
had to be quickly faded up. That was big no-no for a
Rode: A very intelligent man, and that constantly
came through in his presentation - one often laced with
clever, off-the-wall humour. One example occurred during
Hanukkah season with his introduction to the song
'Israelites,' a 1969 reggae hit by Desmond Dekker & The
Aces. Said JR - "Here's Desmond Dekker and something to
decorate your Hanukkah bush with this season…Israel
Another gem came during
his intro to 'Woodstock' by Matthew's Southern Comfort -
“And now, the story of a renowned tree surgeon. Yes…a
woods’ doc!” Only John could think of these things.
At the time I worked with
JR on afternoon drive, he resided in the heart of the
Yorkville area of Toronto and ran an occult book shop
from the house and evidently held seances there. John
was one of a kind.
Tom Rivers: I was
Tom’s ﬁrst op, and he was one of the most purely
talented jocks with whom I worked. Rivers was super up
most of the time and his Friday evening shows that
kicked off CHUM’s ‘Million-Dollar Weekend’ were
particularly high octane.
Tom occasionally used the
line "here at the house of the hits" as a CHUM
euphemism. I later used that to name my Facebook music
page and all-music website, HouseoftheHits.com. Thanks
Steele: A true ‘gentle giant.’ I was Terry’s ﬁrst op
when he arrived at CHUM in 1972. He was very focused and
consistently maintained it for an entire show, every
show. ‘The Bear’ was all-business, but also fun to work
with. He was always very appreciative of my tight board
And Steele was the only
person I knew who owned the ﬁrst high tech (for its
time) digital wristwatch - the expensive red LED Pulsar.
I badly wanted one, but that was no-go on a board op’s
Carpenter: ‘The Boogie Man’ was one of the tightest
jocks I’d worked with and he taught me the technique of
running high music levels (high volume) during his
intros. He felt that keeping the levels hot effectively
covered up a jock’s mistakes during song intros. It
worked well, so I adopted it for all the air staff -
with no objections. Eventually he gave me the moniker
‘Lead Levels’ aka ‘Heavy Levels.’
In addition to being
Carpenter’s ﬁrst op, I was the initial producer and
sidekick for his popular ‘Grease Dance’ sock hops at
Toronto and area high schools.
Scott would later provide
invaluable support to me during the immigration process
to the U.S. - for which I’m forever grateful - and we’ve
remained good friends.
Ashby: Frankly, if it wasn't for Roger, I very
likely would never have pursued a career in radio. I met
RA in 10th grade when he was a new student at Waterloo
Collegiate. With mutual interests like buying the latest
45s, closely following the pop music charts and
listening to CHUM, plus U.S. radio stations such as WABC/New
York, WBZ/Boston, CKLW/Detroit, and Chicago's WLS and
WCFL, we quickly became good friends.
But his interest in radio
went beyond listening. His dad had built a rudimentary
radio studio set-up in their basement from which Roger
would do daily ‘broadcasts’ throughout the house. He
also assembled an entire ﬁcticious radio station (the
call letters were CJRA) complete with a 24/7 program
schedule and announcer line-up with actual names;
depending on the time of day of a broadcast, he’d be
that jock. He’d already done this for a number of years
before we met and soon after I became part of the
‘station’ by doing news and sportscasts. One time we did
a ‘remote’ from ‘Simpson-Sears.’ While he did the
announcing outside in the driveway (near an opened
window so I could pick up his cues) I op-ed and did the
news nearby in the basement. Obviously, this wasn’t done
in the middle of January.
We both got into radio for
real at the same Kitchener station, after which he went
on to CKOC/Hamilton in 1968 and I came to CHUM a year
Roger arrived at 1050 in
August of 1969. But, because he ran his own board
overnight and my shifts were during the daytime or
evening, unfortunately we rarely worked together -
perhaps 2 or 3 times total. But it was pretty special.
One other note - his
evening ‘jock’ on CJRA was 'Ric Hunter.' Years later,
with the added ‘k’, it became my career-long
professional air name.
Roberts: I worked with ‘The Duker' during both of
his tenures at CHUM - ﬁrst asGary
as Duke Roberts. Without a doubt, he was CHUM's
pre-eminent 'blue-eyed soul' jock. No one loved R&B and
soul music more than he did; Aretha, Al Green, Sam &
Dave, Chairmen Of The Board, R.B. Greaves and anything
from Motown or Stax Records. He would have turned his
entire show into an all-black music presentation had he
And he had some great
one-liners: ”Aretha from the house of Franklin," "All
souled out with the Duker" and my favorite - “It’s old,
it's gold, from the one that beats the others cold.”
(More on him later).
John was another one of my favorite CHUM jocks to work
with during his relatively brief stint doing mid-days.
He had a humorous side that couldn’t completely come
through on the air due to format restrictions. But
off-air between sets John liked to do comedic
impersonations. Groucho Marx was his best. So it's not
surprising that after his ‘jock’ days in the U.S. (as
Sonny Fox) ended years later, he developed America’s ﬁrst
syndicated stand-up comedy show. He also became program
director and morning host on XM Satellite Radio’s Comedy
and Laugh USA channels. I understand that John has now
left Sirius-XM but still does a Florida-based weekend
comedy show for the network. By using his studio
equipped mobile home, he can broadcast while travelling.
What a cool way to do a show!
Being a former musician,
John had gotten to know the president of Arc Records
(Canada), once the label home of the Abbey Tavern
Singers, Terry Black, Ronnie Hawkins, Anne Murray,
Stitch In Tyme and the Ugly Ducklings. Eventually
Mitchell became involved with the recording of the Gene
MacLellan-written song 'Put Your Hand In The Hand' by
the company’s newest artist, the Toronto gospel-rock
quintet Ocean. So, while doing mid-days on CHUM, John
was spending his evenings in the recording studio with
the group and had a 'hand' in the record's ﬁnal mix.
Among other things, he suggested prominently boosting
the level of both the bass guitar riff and highly
compressed drums heard during the song's intro. In March
of 1971 the record hit #1 on the CHUM Chart for Arc's
subsidiary Yorkville Records label and then became a
U.S. million-seller on Kama Sutra.
Reagan: Dr. Don was a weekend jock who also helped
out in programming, and he taught me a couple of very
important lessons I tried to follow throughout my
subsequent on-air career. He pointed out that during a
show the jock must repeatedly say the obvious ‘basics'
i.e. the station's call letters, its positioning slogan,
jock’s name, time, temperature, song title, artist, etc.
The Doc said to deliver that seemingly mundane
information as if saying it for the very FIRST time,
EACH and EVERY time i.e. instead of inﬂecting them with
the attitude "I know that I tell you this over and over,
but I'm saying this yet again because it’s required.”
Reagan also offered
another tip - that during shows when your presentation
is a bit short on creative content (which all jocks
inevitably have) if you’ve mastered the basics i.e.
re-arranging their placement or order of presentation,
etc., your show will always sound full.
He used a CKLW jock named
Ed Mitchell as a great example of both of the above.
Mitchell did afternoon drive, and later, as Mark
Elliott, was the primary voice-over talent for Walt
Disney Entertainment movies trailers and promos for many
years. His voice was magic.
J. Robert Wood: My
favourite story involving Bob Wood and myself occurred
in 1970 when CKLW’s Production Director,Hugh
me a board-op gig at the Big 8. It came at the urging of
none other than Duke Roberts, who by that time was ‘CK's
afternoon drive jock who I guess wanted to work with his
old CHUM op again. CKLW was a 50,000 watt blowtorch of a
radio station; its signal boomed into as many as 28
states and 6 Canadian provinces, and I'd long admired
and respected them. In fact, I’d tried to get a job
there in 1968 before CHUM came along. But, despite being
offered more money by Turnbull, I really wanted to stay
at 1050. So, thinking that I'd use the Big 8 job offer
as leverage for a salary increase, I cockily walked into
Bob's ofﬁce, sat down and proclaimed - “I've got a job
offer from CKLW." And without missing a beat, he turned
in his chair toward the wall calendar and asked - “What
day will you be leaving?" Needless to say, I remained at
CHUM - and he gave me a modest salary increase. But,
lesson learned. I never tried to outsmart Bob Wood
Prior to starting my
on-air career, the station and I mutually agreed that I
would switch to op-ing the all-night show withMike
Cooper. This would allow me to come in a few hours
early before each shift to use one of the available
production studios for recording my own mock jock shows.
Bob Wood had offered to critique my tapes and I'll
always remember his response to that ﬁrst ‘aircheck’ -
“One GOOD thing is you don't have any affectations to
your voice." Interpretation: Ostensibly I was off to a
good start because I wasn't what the industry called a ‘puker.’
When starting out, many young jocks make the mistake of
altering their natural speaking voice to ﬁt their own
misguided perception of how a ‘deejay’ - one badly in
need of K-basin - should sound.
worked with two outstanding commercial producers - Doug
Thompson and Warren Cosford - as well as with many great
board operators like BillAnderson,Rick
‘Just Plain George’),Dan
on him in a minute),Ken
Zdebiak. Having the most experience on the staff, I
usually trained all the board ops after they were
I even orientatedJimmy
Waters, a son of CHUM ownerAllan
Waters. Waters, Sr. wanted Jimmy - who eventually
succeeded his dad as President of CHUM, Ltd. - to learn
various other aspects of the business from the ground
up. So, Jim was maybe 18 years old when he ran the board
during a few evening shifts for Tom Rivers.
Okay, about Dan Plouffe.
In addition to being an excellent board operator, then a
syndications producer, and later involved in radio
promotions and programming, Dan was hilarious, and we
became good friends away from the station as well.
Undoubtedly, the most
notorious tale involving DP happened on a Saturday
afternoon. Chuck McCoy and I were just ﬁnishing our
shifts - to be replaced by Duke Roberts and ’The
Plouffer.' At that time, 'Duker' owned a black male
Doberman dog - not surprisingly named 'Little Duker’ -
which he sometimes brought with him to work during his
weekend shifts. Just before his show started, 'Big Duker'
left the broom closet-sized jock booth to use the
bathroom, leaving 'Little Duker' calmly and obediently
sitting on the ﬂoor to Chuck's right. The spacious CHUM
master control room where the board ops worked was
situated to the jock's left and separated from his booth
by thick, double-paned glass. Now, Plouffe had the
uncanny ability to quickly size up situations and had a
keen sense of opportunity. After Dan opened the control
room door to take over from me he noticed the docile
Doberman in the jock booth with Chuck. He proceeded to
loudly and repeatedly pound on the glass window
partition! 'Duker' the Doberman bolted from the ﬂoor,
vaulted OVER McCoy's lap and chest, leapt onto a counter
beneath the glass partition and was now nose to nose
with Dan, loudly barking and snarling. Dan and I started
laughing our butts off. But Chuck was terriﬁed; the look
on his face was priceless. He was pissed! Before leaving
the station, I'm sure 'The Chucker' ﬁrst visited the
men's room and then wore a jacket tied around his waist
for the drive home.
Dan later referred me to
his hometown radio station, CKWS/Kingston, which led to
that ﬁrst on-air job in 1974. And he was the one who
brought my work to the attention of CFTR/Toronto program
director Chuck Camroux, who hired me for their all night
show in 1976.
* In 1969, the jocks still
cued the board ops manually i.e. by hand, but eventually
Bob Wood installed a buzzer-red light system.
* Also at that time, there
was no auto-reset digital LED clock to assist the jocks
with talking-up song intros. Instead, an analog GraLab
photo darkroom timer (vintage model 300) was used.
* The turntables were the
relatively old McCurdy 18” diameter models with massive
tonearms; ones made to accommodate the same-sized vinyl
‘transcription’ discs on which most commercials were
contained in the pre-cartridge tape era. Imagine cueing
up 7-inch 45 RPM records on those monstrosities!
However, the heavy steel adaptors used to weigh down and
centre the dwarfed discs actually worked well, and the
huge turntable mats provided plenty of space for the
one-handed ‘slip-starting’ of the records.
one is difﬁcult to explain and contains techno-babble
likely of interest only to radio types. The ‘layover’
was a technique performed by the board op in which
various audio elements were mixed together, and, if
skillfully executed, would result in a few seconds of
dynamic production excellence. A simple example would be
‘laying over’ - or, more correctly, laying ‘under’ - the
opening 4.5 seconds drum roll intro of ‘War’ by Edwin
Starr. While a station jingle was playing, ‘War’ would
be started up early, so at the point where the jingle
singers ended, the ﬁrst words of the vocals began. It
made for a very seamless, slick-sounding transition from
one audio element to the next - what stations called
‘added production value.’ Believe me, it took some
practice, and, if not performed properly, would result
in a massive audio train wreck. So if the op was smart,
he would practice a potential ‘layover’ off-air by using
an internal studio cue speaker to mix the elements while
other records or commercials (aka spots) were airing.
The advent of tape cartridges made practicing and
executing layovers more difﬁcult; carts couldn’t be
quickly cued up to the beginning. However, a back-up 45
copy of each current hit was always kept in the control
room and be used to practice layovers.
Many outstanding layovers
were performed by CHUM’s staff of highly-skilled
professional board ops. And some became quite complex
with the blending of miltiple audio elements, such as
spot end-jingle-song intro, song extro-jingle-song
intro, spot end- next spot intro, etc. An outstanding
layover could really get the jock ‘up’ and he’d perform
even better. Just ask any one of them.
LAST SHIFT: It’s
April of 1974 and I was about to move on to my ﬁrst
on-air gig - evenings at CKWS/ Kington. So during that
early morning of Friday the 19th, it was hard to believe
it would be my last shift at CHUM. The ﬁve years had
gone by in the proverbial ‘blink of an eye.’
For the ﬁnal day, I had
the pleasure of working with another one of my favorite
Van Horne. Jim and I had always gotten along well;
we both were huge sports fans, so we’d always talk
hockey or baseball during our shifts. Of course, Jim
went on to a great career in television sports, and I
still hear his voice-over work on TV here in the
He sounded great that
night; VERY up - perhaps even more than usual, given the
occasion. During the ﬁnal hour we deviated slightly from
the music format to play a couple of my all-time
favourite hits - ‘Denise’ by Randy & The Rainbows and
the ending song I played on CHUM, the Byrds’ ’Turn!
The strange thing is, that
when I got into radio I had no aspirations of becoming
an air personality. But after ﬁve years as a CHUM board
operator I’d reached the top of the pay scale for the
job and the station wanted me to transition to producing
commercials in-house. But my true love for working in
radio was being as close as possible to the end-point of
the collaborative chain - what came out of that small
radio speaker. So I decided to switch to the other side
of the glass. On one hand, it meant sadly leaving the
great 1050, but pursuing a career as an music air
personality would be an exciting new challenge.
I feel proud and
privileged to have been a part of that great 1050 CHUM
team during such an exciting time in the station’s
history while at the peek of its second golden era.
LIST: (In alphabetical order) Here’s the incredible
air staff with whom I worked for various tenures. Six
days a week for ﬁve years I observed some of the very
best disc jockeys on the planet executing their high-end
talents. Seeing how they did the little things ﬁrst hand
was invaluable. It was like having a ‘scholarship’ to
the 'University of CHUM’ - a paid education in the
degree of skill required of major market air
During my on-air career in
Kingston (Ontario), Toronto, Los Angeles, Lansing
(Michigan), Detroit and Tampa, I admittedly “borrowed" a
number of the best lines I’d heard while working with
them. Rather than plagiarism, I view it as paying