Eric Samuels: From Astounding Radio to Astonishing Acts
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Eric Samuels hired me to do evenings at 100.3 the Bear in Edmonton in 1994. Although Eric would move on to Vancouver a few years later, the two years I worked under him set the tone for how I would broadcast and program radio for years to follow. The best way I could describe his approach is that it is okay to broadcast outside the lines of the unwritten rules of radio. (And by that, I don't mean vulgarity or profanity - those are the written rules of radio)
A few months ago, Eric reached out to me and asked about doing a series about life after radio. That theme comes up often on this podcast with Todd Hancock, John "Milkman" Milke, Humble & Fred and others. (All of who are actually doing radio; just not for radio stations) The Sound Off Podcast is an audio record of radio stories told by the people who were there. In last week's episode, TJ Connors spoke of his dad Scruff and his return to 97.7 HTZ-FM in St. Catherines, Ontario; those two elements return again and serve as a continuation of sorts. Eric was program director from the station's inception through to 1992, then he and Scruff and a cast of characters went to Edmonton and started 100.3 The Bear.
In the years that ensued, we spoke about being at the forefront of ratings success at Z95 in Vancouver and becoming the head of programming for Standard Radio nationally - and knowing when it was time to step away. His next act is what will truly amaze you.
Eric appeared on Penn and Teller's Fool Us. It went well.
This episode acts as a companion episode to our previous one with TJ Connors as there are even more Scruff Connors stories to listen to hear. Access that here.
Other people mentioned in this episode. Access their episode but clicking on them.
My thanks to Jeff Woods for reading a passage from his book, Radio Records & Rockstars which you can buy just by clicking on the book image.
George McCord who is the current Afternoon Drive host at the Bear, found an old picture from 1995, posted it on Facebook and wondered what exactly was going on. A few of us responded but Eric has the full story on the Bear Butt.
(Lifted without permission from a Facebook post from 100.3 The Bear):
For the record, here's the full and accurate history on The Bear Butt. I led the team that launched The Bear in the early 90s. I was the Program Director (and original Afternoon Drive host). Shortly after launch,, I was attending a Radio & Records (industry publication) conference in Los Angeles where one of the big parties was at Santa Monica Beach. It was there that I saw a huge inflatable butt, floating, about 50 meters offshore, as a promotion for Sir-Mix-A-Lot ("Baby's Got Back" had just been released). I laughed my ass off (figuratively,. not literally). When I got back to Edmonton, it took about 20 phone calls before I was finally able to reach the guy who made the inflatable. He did this for a living and most of his products were mass produced - but he was certain that this would be a one-off. So he was quite surprised when I asked if he would make another one. We made a deal and the 50-foot high inflatable butt was shipped to Edmonton. The "Nothing Butt Rock" busback ad campaign followed. Needless to say, both the Bear Butt and the bus campaign received a lot of attention. First, the bus company tried to pull the campaign because of complaints. We won that round. Next, we were playing "The Longest Day of Ball" (an annual Food Bank fundraiser where we played softball from dawn to dusk on the first day of Summer). I forget what the ballpark was called, back then (it's the one just outside of downtown by the river). The Bear Butt was inflated in centerfield for several hours when the police arrived telling me that they had received a complaint from a woman who lived in one of the adjacent a buildings. It apparently "offended her." Perhaps because it wasn't to scale? They insisted that we take t down. We delayed until the press arrived and the resulting photograph made the front page of the next morning's paper. The Bear Butt was used occasionally after that, but we had made our point by the time (and had exhausted most of the bear butt jokes). So, it was retired from active service and sent out to a retirement community to rest on it's .... end of story.