There are many reasons why CJAD Radio has repeatedly posted solid ratings and gained such a loyal following among the English-speaking community. The annual Open House which I attended at their Réne Lévesque East Boulevard headquarters is just another example of them going the extra mile. Congrats to Promotions Manager Jessica Dionne, Program Director Chris Bury and the rest of the team for pulling off another successful event, catered by Morrie Baker's mouth watering Burger Bar on Crescent.
Over the last number of years this event has been used to induct radio icons into the CJAD Wall of Fame such as the late George Balcan, Ted Blackman, Gord Sinclair, Paul Reid and recent retirees Dave Fisher and Tommy Schnurmacher. We were held in suspense this time until morning man Andrew Carter dropped some hints and it was clear former talk show host Melanie King would get the call and a special Aislin caricature. Terry Mosher was on hand for the occasion.
King left her mid-day show on CJAD 22 years ago, moving with her family to Australia. She had spent 15 years with the station and was recognized as “radio royalty.” King could really do it all and she was never shy to ask the tough questions to guests. “She was a jack of all trades, a triple threat,” commented Trudy Mason, who has been with CJAD for an incredible 32 years.
As Andrew Brennan stated in an excellent report on the induction, when King had her first child the station was so concerned about her absence they set up a broadcast line at her home. Carter was actually able to interview King live via a satellite feed on a large screen. Gone is her trademark curly hair. Her two boys are now 32 and 29, long gone from the Australian nest and she works in communications.
For any real fan of local radio, this Open House represented the type of opportunity seldom seen in media circles here. Virtually every on-air personality and their invaluable production team crew were there to chat and even give tours. There was Carter, Ken Connors (who acted as emcee), Mason, Andrew Peplowski, Brennan, Luciano Pipia, Orla Johannes, Jon Pole, Andrea Elias, Joey Elias, Dr. Laurie Betito, Natasha Hall, James Mennie, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Matt Del Vecchio, Corrie Sirota, Jay Farrar, Sarah Deshaies, Richard Deschamps, Lisa Christenson, Jon Eakes, Aaron Rand, Leslie Roberts, Terry Kilakos, Kelly Albert, Matt Guite, Matt Gilmour, Matt Ward, Benson Cook, Emily Vidal, Syd Miller, Jay Farrad, Arnold Zwaig, Mathew Wood and probably a few others I did not spot. Sidney Margles was among those representing the alumni.
Connors moderated a couple of very entertaining panels. Carter, Mason, Roberts and Joey Elias were on the first one while Rand, Hall, Pole and Dr. Laurie were on the other. It was great banter and I told Bury it should have been recorded for viewing on CTV Montreal.
Mason volunteered that Peplowski is a great cook and they often exchange recipes. “What about my newscasts?” he laughed.
When asked who their favorite interview subjects are, Carter announced that his 15 years of shows are being archived and a new show will air soon featuring some of the most popular segments. He included his recent interview with TV icon Carol Burnett on that list.
Carter also spoke glowingly about hockey legend Bobby Orr, whom he actually met at the urinal at the radio station. “Hi, I’m Bobby,” Orr told Carter as they smiled at each other awkwardly.
Rand recognized the fact that unpopular Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette is a frequent guest on his show. “There are some politicians who never want to come on,” he said. “Barrette has taken so much heat he always seems to want to go on and defend himself.”
Hats off to CJAD once again.