A monthly column by Doug Thompson
Issue #1 - June 2017
“This is Speak Your Mind, hello.” “Turn your radio down please!” (Larry Solway on CHUM circa 1965)
I can’t tell you how many times I heard Larry Solway utter those phrases on CHUM, but it would have to be in the hundreds, possibly thousands. I was Larry’s board operator/producer/phone screener for close to two years in the mid-1960’s.
I started at CHUM on Monday, February 1st 1965. I had been hired by Chief Operator Fred Snyder, who had been on air at CHUM as country personality Moose Latreck a few years earlier. I sat in Fred’s production studio, which was directly beside the CHUM AM control room for an hour while he outlined my duties and responsibilities.
My shift, pretty much for the next eighteen months was 6PM to midnight which meant that I worked the last hour of Bob McAdorey’s show, then three hours with Dave Johnson (and later that fall when Dave left, Brian Skinner), as well as CHUM’s two-hour phone-in show, “Speak your Mind” hosted by Larry Solway.
Larry Solway was CHUM’s Creative Director. He was one hell of a writer.
He was also one hell of an actor.
Larry could muster up an irate response to a caller’s comment without breaking a sweat. One night, a particular caller really got under his skin (that happened at least once a week) and Larry starting ranting while tearing the listener apart verbally…up one side and down the other. After he’d hung up on the caller and while he was still talking about it on the air, he looked over at me in the control room, gave me a sly smile and winked.
Larry Solway was that good.
Larry actually was a bona fide actor having appeared in quite a few television programs and movies, including several Wayne & Shuster TV shows in the 1950’s. In 1957, he played an Indian named “White Eagle” in the Canadian TV series “Hawkeye and The Last of the Mohicans”. You might remember seeing him as a TV interviewer with Bill Murray in the 1979 classic “Meatballs.” Larry’s final credit was in 1997 as ‘Rabbi # 1’ in the Daniel Petrie-directed film “The Assistant”.
In 1967, I was promoted into the production department and Larry and I shifted into a different relationship. I recorded and produced many of his testimonials for Steinberg’s and Bad Boy. If he was recording comedy commercials with his writing partner Garry Ferrier, Larry would often joke around in the studio, but if he was on his own, it was usually, “Let’s get this done quickly Dougie” (only a very few select CHUM people ever called me Dougie and most of them are dead now).
When J. Robert Wood became CHUM’s Program Director in 1968, he moved Solway’s night-time show to daytime (9 to 11AM).
In 1969, Larry wrote the 28-hour “History of Rock and Roll”. Larry wasn’t really a fan of rock and roll, but he made the script interesting. As I recall, I had all of two weeks to produce all 28 hours.
After Larry resigned from CHUM for a series of programs on sex, which today wouldn’t even make a nun blush, he wrote the book “The Day I Invented Sex”, which while quite an interesting read, was not a New York Times best seller.
The greatest advice Larry ever gave me was in 1967 when CHUM was going public. CHUM staff could buy shares for pre-release price of $10.50 apiece. The week before the stock hit the market, Larry was in my production studio and said to me, “borrow as much money as you can and buy, buy, buy.”
CHUM stock opened on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $18.00 a share.
Larry was right…once again!
Larry Solway passed away on January 9th, 2012.
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