Rock €˜n’ Radio – In the summer of 1970, my dad used to go to a lot of Montreal Expos games at Jarry Park. And every morning following the game in question, he would leave for me on his dresser a copy of the game programme magazine for my growing collection of sports programmes.
One particular morning following an Expos game that season, the magazine wasn’t there. Instead, it was a record album that my dad told me later was given out to everyone who attended the game that night. It had a burgundy cover with photos of six individuals who I never heard of before, that were surrounded by gold picture frames, such as Ralph Lockwood, Roger Scott (whose haggard-looking appearance prompted my brother to call him the vampire with a sore throat€) and Charles P. Rodney Chandler. It was called Good Guys Gold€, and was a compilation album of selected top 40 hit songs from the late 60s (such as Light My Fire€) which were played on CFOX, a popular Montreal top 40 radio station of that period, in which its studios were located in the West Island.
In a way, this was my formal introduction to the world of Montreal top 40 radio and its stable of wildly popular deejays. For the next decade, I alternated my radio listening habits between CKGM and CHOM. I was a devoted listener to Ralph Lockwood’s morning show, where I laughed out loud to many of his on air comedy shtick (and his How’s Your Bird?buttons were prized possessions amongst his fans), and Marc Mais OuiDenis’ bilingual patter as one-third of the station’s Connection Francais€; and on CHOM, got exposed to soon-to-be classic rock albums on Les Deux Faces€, and heard British-born announcer Doug Pringle interview some of the biggest names in rock music of the mid and late 70s on The Pringle Program€. I even won one of the first rock albums I ever owned thanks to a CKGM listener phone-in contest (it was Band on the Runby Paul McCartney and Wings).
However, by the mid-1980s, the glory days of top 40 radio in Montreal began to fade, with many of its deejays going to greener pastures at radio stations west and south of Montreal, and its stations succumbing to numerous format changes and corporate ownership. If you are a baby boomer, and are feeling quite nostalgic about the days when listening to commercial AM and FM radio was fun and had a great deal of personality, then you will certainly enjoy Ian Howarth’s thoroughly researched nostalgia trip of a book Rock €˜n’ Radio.
The book focuses on the three decades that made up the glory years of rock radio stations in Montreal (the 60s, 70s and 80s), and in particular, the four stations that captured the attention of teenage listeners during that golden era: CKGM, CFCF, CFOX and CHOM (as well as its pre-1971 incarnation CKGM-FM). The story is told through profiles of the personalities that made it all happen in the broadcast booth and the front office, from Dave Boxer and Buddy Gee (whose rivalry for listeners between 1964 and 1968 helped to build the popularity of top 40 radio in Montreal), to Bob Gillies (who with Lord Timothyemceed the Rolling Stones’ first Montreal concert at the Maurice Richard Arena in 1965), to Mary Anne Carpentier (the CKGM traffic reporter who became a mainstay of Ralph Lockwood’s morning show), to the late Denis Grondin (who was one of CHOM’s pioneering bilingual deejays), to Geoff Stirling, the Nova Scotia native, whose astute business acumen, laid back style @ not to mention his passion for Eastern religions @ helped to make CKGM and CHOM major forces on the Montreal radio scene. As wel