Ari Daniel: Be Cool Or Be Cast Out
Updated: May 31
I know what you are thinking; with a title like that, the episode involves Rush. It does not. But given all the discussion of Ari's upbringing in the Suburbs of Toronto, and his affinity for playing the bass, this lyric from the song Subdivisions came to my head.
Ari Daniel now lives in Vancouver after working at great radio stations like Virgin Radio 94.5, Sun FM 99.9 in Kelowna, and EZ Rock 97.3 in Toronto. There are lots of legendary names that get mentioned in this episode; all contributors and inspirations to Ari's radio career which started at the age of 15 before he got to Ryerson. (Now Toronto Metropolitan University)
In this episode you will hear how Ari wound up inside the building of 2 St. Clair as a teenager, how he loved moving across Canada to work in Kelowna, British Columbia, (who wouldn't) and how he arrived in Vancouver to work at the Beat 94.5 and then Virgin 94.5.
Ari also hosts a podcast. You can link to it here. One hour, one anonymous caller, one story about addiction. I remember hearing about the podcast called Beautiful Anonymous a number of years ago and saying - I wish I had thought of that. Turns out Ari found a way to repurpose a great idea and help others at the same time.
Ari is a goalie as well. We talked a little bit about how that is different but what all goalies really want to say is.... be kind when warming me up.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
Ari Daniel 13 years, five radio stations, three markets, including two of Canada's biggest. And he also has a number of extra curriculars that you'll find interesting, like being a hockey goalie, playing the bass, and podcasting a passion. We are going to take a trip from his hometown of Toronto to Colonial and end in the city where he joins me from now Vancouver. Okay, so you've been in the radio business for 13 years, yet I can see some of your degrees sort of transpired. Around 2013, I have you starting your first radio job at the age of 15. I know there's a story there. What's the story?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:00:48
Well, I always knew I wanted to get into it. I grew up as a hockey player, like a lot of kids in Canada, and if you asked anybody in my dressing room, on my hockey teams growing up, when we're like six or seven years old, if you ask those kids what they want it to be when they were younger or when they were older, rather, they'd say, I want to be a hockey player. I guess I wanted to be a hockey player. But I can tell you, back then, I knew I wanted to be in radio more, and I would be the kid saying, I want to be in radio. And just like, maybe being a hockey player would seem like a pipe dream, I felt as though maybe being a radio host would be a pipe dream in a way, because even back then, people would tell me, my parents, my friends, family members, they'd say, great, you want to be in radio. That's awesome. It's going to be tough to get into. And I think that's why I was inclined to start as young as possible. The reason why I fell in love with radio in the first place was when I was a kid, I didn't have a TV in my room, just a radio. And naturally at night, while I was trying to fall asleep, I turn on the radio. And I was in Toronto at the time, born and raised in Toronto, and it's like the late 90s, early two thousand s. And there was some good, tight radio back in that era, in Toronto especially. And I would listen to everything, man, CF and Y at the time, I believe, already was the edge at the time. Barry Taylor at night, martin Streak in the late night. I flipped to top 40. Then I flipped to sports, especially when the Jays were out west. Games are on late. And then I listened to the highlight pack at the top and bottom of the hour, over and over and over. And then I'd wake up in the morning and my dad would still be listening. He'd listen to it all day when he wake up, get ready for work while he worked. My mom, too. She was always listening to the oldest stations. And what I noticed about radio is we've talked about it, or you've talked about it a couple of times in this podcast in different shapes and forms. But radio is extremely intimate. Obviously, it happens without any visual cues. And the presenter has to be really articulate. They have to be as articulate as possible, not only by what they're saying, but how they're saying it. They can't see you. So you have to get them to feel you and get them to feel in a different way. And likewise, the listener has to pick up on those things that the creator is doing and create their own, what we call feeder of the mind. And I guess that doesn't really answer your question. Does it matter? Yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:59
What's the moment when you get into it at the age of 15 and you wind up on the radio?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:03:03
So I'm 15 years old. My older sister, she's put it this way, I was 15 when she was getting married, and I had known I wanted to be on radio. And there was somebody at the wedding who was the partner of a guest, and she was a traffic reporter. It was Jessica Baker at the time, and she's Jessica something or other now, but she was, like I said, growing up in Toronto. I mean, she was at what is now Bell. She was at Ashwell stations at the time. She was doing traffic for pretty much all the morning shows that were astral owned at the time. So mix 99 nine later virgin 99 CFRB 1010 easy Rock 973 easy Rock nail boom 97 three. She was doing that whole cluster in the morning. She was on all three stations. And I had known her voice, I knew who she was. And we got talking, thankfully. Actually, my oldest sister had mentioned, like, hey, my brother wants to be on the radio. So I have heard of thanks for that, and introduced myself. And before I knew it, her wedding was on a Saturday night. The next Tuesday, I'm having an interview to be an intern at 97.3 Easy Rock for the morning show, which at the time was humble. Howard Kim stockwood, Colleen Rush home, and Rick Hodge would make his way from the CFRB desk to do his sports updates once an hour. And when I say that out loud, like, four people on them, four people plus a producer and an intern on a morning show. And like I mentioned earlier, because of all the intimacy involved in radio, the more voices you get, the more intimate it is. So to me, Mornings was as much connection as you could possibly get on the radio. And here I am standing in a studio with four people that to me, at the time, as a 15 year old, were legendary because they were simply on a radio. And from there, 15 years old, 15, 1314 years later, I guess if we include the internship. And 14 years later, I had still been at bell until just recently.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:52
Yeah, it's really amazing that whenever anybody works with humble, howard, and fred, and you get into that ecosystem, that you essentially wind up doing this for life. There's something about being around those guys that just sort of vaults people into turning it into a career. Bingo bob is a great example of that and so many others. So, I mean, it's just wonderful that you got to go and hang around them right at the beginning, because I think it really does sort of lend itself to a nice, long career in the business. Not sure what it is. Must be something in their coffee.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:05:24
It's funny you bring up bingo because he was one of the many, I believe he started as an intern and then became a producer and followed them for a couple of morning shows before he went and did his own thing. And I remember and there's a long line of those guys like bingo andy wilson, I believe a couple of guys who stayed at the edge, who did mornings there, they kind of set the tone for those guys. And the jobs that we were doing, or at least I was doing at the time, did set me up for a very broadbased understanding of the business, being a morning show intern. I think there's a huge difference between being a morning show intern and being a radio station intern, because you're dead center in the middle of the action on that morning show. Things slow down right after the morning show midday job comes in, and they're doing their own thing. But when you have a big show like that, you learn a lot, and you learn it really quick.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:11
Yeah, there's something like, you might think that you're an intern with those guys, but you're actually doing real work and real contributions and held accountable for it, which is, I think, part of the reason that people continue working in the business after you leave humble and fred.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:06:24
It's funny, like, back then, you tell someone you're right, because you tell somebody, I'm 15 years old. I'm an intern on the morning show with humble, kim, kalin, and rick like, oh, that's cute. So you're getting their coffee. I was getting their coffee at some point, but if there was a day where I wasn't coming in, there were adjustments made because less stuff could be done, basically. And to your point, it was more than just an internship. I was working for free, but I was working, and that set me up for a long career.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:49
Tell me about your hockey career. When was the moment when you said, yeah, I'm going to stop playing hockey? What's the pinnacle, what's the peak of your hockey career? And I should point out, by the way, that you're a goalie.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:07:00
Yeah, which explains a lot. I don't think I ever at any point, stop playing hockey. Believe it or not, I'm still playing. I haven't gotten any better, that's for sure. But, you know, I played rep hockey for a very long time. And that's the type of level where there's a lot of formalities involved, there's a lot of politics involved, and there's a lot of hockey involved. And I got to play a lot of hockey. And I'm incredibly grateful for that because as an adult, I was actually saying this. I was back home in Ontario a couple of weeks ago and I said to my mom, the best gift that my parents ever gave me was the ability to play hockey. Because as a 31 year old now, I'm still showing up to the rink and still meeting new people, and I still have something that keeps me from being a couch potato. But to answer your question, I mean, rep hockey was as high as I played. I love hockey. I never loved it as much as Radio itself. I knew right away, like I said, when I was six years old, I knew hockey is a hobby. Radio is hopefully going to be a career. So I always knew it was Radio. I'm lucky I had hockey around too, though.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:55
Do you play hockey for free now because you're a goalie at the age of 31? Because it seems like every team is looking for a goalie, even if it's just to fill in.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:08:02
Yeah, with hockey, you don't do something. You're even mediocre app for free. So like you said, there's no goalies. So believe it or not, Matt, there's an app, a rent a goalie app, and you basically sign in. And teams players, they sign in as well. It's like the Uber of rented goalies. You order a goalie, goalie shows up, I play, they pay. It's awesome.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:22
I can't remember where that started. I think back in the 90s, even before we had iPhones and apps, there was a website called Goldie 911. I want to say I was in Edmonton when this happened.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:08:33
There is plenty of the apps now. Goalie 911 was one of them. I think the first place people heard about Rentagoli was on an HBO or showcase show, which was called Rent A Goalie. And believe it or not, yeah, it does exist and there's plenty of the apps. And in fact, the app that you mentioned right now I'm pretty sure was bought out by the one that I use. If I go to Edmonton, I just sign in and say I'm in Edmonton. And then all the Edmonton guys are looking for Gold.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:54
You nothing like dragging your equipment around.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:08:56
The country wet and sweaty.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:59
Tell me about your time at Two St. Clair.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:09:02
When I mentioned Rick Hodge before running down the hallway to 97.3 to do news and sports updates, I remember thinking like you're running down the hall from the famous CFRB Canada's famous Rogers battery list. I remember when I went to Ryerson and they gave us a lot of background on the industry and its history in Canada. And I'm 15, so I hadn't even gone to Ryerson yet, but I knew how influential that radio station was. I know that originally it wasn't at Two St. Claire Avenue West, but again, this is 2000 and whatever, and this was a big building with lots of people, lots of important people doing important things. And it was surreal to me. Not just in the station I was in or CFRB, but I remember at the time, Mix 99, I love rock music like you, Matt. And they weren't playing rock music, they're playing Top 40, which they still are. And down the hallway, Mad Dog and Billy were doing their morning show. And Mad Dog, to me, like I said, I wasn't listening to Top 40, but I would flip to Top 40 sometimes just to hear that morning show. So to be just down the hall from a guy who essentially, in a lot of ways I idolized, was incredibly surreal. To be around him, around the others, in a place that has so much history, both in radio and with regards to all the talent that I moved through there through the years, I had to pinch myself at times. I still pinch myself. I was really lucky to have that experience. I also think the thing was having that experience at Two St. Clair was that not everybody would agree with this. But I think that that's what allowed me to maybe skip over the really small market stuff a little bit later on in my career, because I had gotten such a broad based understanding of the industry and radio itself and all the formats at Tucson Claire, I still love that place.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:44
So what's the moment when you go to Ryerson, you had already engulfed yourself into Toronto radio?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:10:49
Yeah, my last year at Virgin Radio Vancouver, during evenings when I interviewed for it, they're looking at my resume. James Stewart is looking at my resume. He's like, So did you actually graduate from Ryerson because it shows your work? If you did, why did you even bother going? Good question. When I was 15 years old, I had taken some extra courses away from school, like night courses, so that way I'd have time to intern in the morning. So I'd wake up at four in the morning, go intern on the morning show. In high school, I had that first period spare so I could get to class in time for 11:00 A.m. Or whatever for second period. And I would take a course outside of school to give myself time to be an intern. And the reason why I was taking that extra course was to obviously complete my diploma so that way I could get into Ryerson. And I'm pretty sure that the school is pretty selective still. But back then, man, they were accepting 145 people, and I was always nervous about getting in fact, I didn't originally get in. I'd been working at a major market radio station as an intern. I went to Von Secondary School, it was called at the time, which actually is the home of the first ever FM radio station license to a high school in Canada. I've done all this other stuff to kind of cut my teeth, and I got to maybe we'll accept you later letter. But then eventually, a couple of months later, I got in, thanks to, I guess, a bunch of people who dropped out. And then I started I did all four years there. I graduated, and throughout that time, I was working on the radio. And just like I did in high school, I would kind of shuffle around my schedule to make sure I had mornings open. So I continue to intern on that morning show, and then later I was actually hired as a regular employee, I think, right. A couple of months into Ryerson as a board operator, a morning show board operator, late night board operator, and all that time. I'm still tired from going through those four years because I was shuffling work in school. But I had the time of my life. And again, that experience, that four years of that balance act, I think really excelled my career.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:47
You picked up an award for first year there in 2010. I didn't even know this existed. The 98 One CHFI Radio Broadcasting Award, which I believe is given to the first year student who has shown special proficiency in FM broadcasting during the first year of the program. So the question is, who did you beat?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:13:07
You know what? I didn't even know that the award existed either. I have no idea. Actually, it was one of those scholarships that you don't typically you sign up for scholarships, like, if it's an academic scholarship and they're giving you a pile of money or something, you sign up for it. I think I just got a letter and opened it and was like, that's awesome. And so Ryerson is interesting because it's called the RTA School of Media. It stands for Radio and television. Arts School of Media. And although the names radio and television are in the school name, by the time I got there, it was more of an all encompassing program. We were doing everything from digital media to regular, traditional broadcast, to the business stuff, to the ethics, history, comm, theory, marketing, branding, direction, all that. We are doing everything, but in the first year of the program, everyone has to apply themselves to a beginnerintermediate level of everything I just mentioned. And then you go on through the program, and then you become advanced or expert level at one or two of the elements that I just mentioned. So that was in the first year of the program. So to answer your question, I wasn't really competing with anybody else because we were all kind of starting from square one other than myself, obviously. So when we were taking these beginner level radio courses, we were all just trying to learn the ropes. And I guess my previous experience helped me out a little bit.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:26
Harry, you're just being very kind. Who did you graduate with?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:14:29
Coulter Bouchard. He's got a set of pipes on him. He's at the edge in Toronto. Coulter Bouchard, Sam East Virgin Radio, Toronto. And you know what? We're going to finish this and I'm going to get up and then name five other people in my head. But a lot of people, a lot of them went to law school, a lot of them got into marketing, branding. Some of them are doing field television work. Because of the type of education we had, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of people who ended up in radio. They went on to do even cooler things.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:56
I think that's quite common, though, for people who are graduating from any form of broadcast school these days. They're coming up with all these tools that are applicable for businesses who want to create content.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:15:07
Yeah. And that's why when I got to Ryerson, I realized that's why I wasn't the first selection, because a lot of people came in with a lot of new media skills, and a lot of them, obviously, and radio, they grew up with those new media skills. And I remember thinking, I'm worried about what comes out of the speakers, for better or for worse, I'm worried about what comes out of the speakers. As I made my way through the industry and saw some younger people coming in, they don't need to go to school to learn new media. It's in their bones, you know, it's in your phone. Yeah, exactly.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:38
I'm not remiss to the fact that Ryerson is no longer called Ryerson. I think it's called Toronto Metropolitan University now. Well, at some point, we all have to update our LinkedIn profiles, right?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:15:49
I think TMU is a way cooler name. I was saying to somebody, like when they changed the name down the street from Iran, they have U of T. I don't know if you've ever been to the campus, but U of T is like a city inside of a campus. Myerson toronto Metropolitan University is a city in and of itself. So the name works. It makes it feel like this is a university city. This is a city university, rather. You walk around, you're not confined by university walls. It's a university that is sitting inside Toronto. And I don't know, that branding just really works. It makes you feel like this is Toronto's University rather than that is the University of Toronto, if that makes any sense.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:32
Is that what we're going to call it? That we're going to call it TMU? Because that's pretty cool.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:16:35
I'm out here in DC and they call it SFU. Simon Fraser University. SFU sounds way cooler than Simon Fraser University. I think TMU. That sounds like it's got a vibe to it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:46
Yeah, definitely. Lol in just a second, we head to Kelowna. I think Colona is one of the greatest places in Canada to get competitive radio experience and be in a really hip place. We'll find out about that experience, his time in Vancouver at the Beat, and his podcast. And trust me, the podcast is unlike anything he's ever done on the radio.
Sarah Burke (Voiceover) 00:17:09
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Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:17:09
the Sound Off podcast. With Matt Cundill.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:22
Okay, I know you tried to downplay it by saying that, oh, I didn't really do the small market thing. But you did at some point. You did escape Toronto, right?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:17:31
I went to Colonial to really cut my teeth. I was so green. I've been doing working my way up through the ranks at Astro. I've been doing overnight at Virgin. It was like 02:00 am. To 06:00 am. On weekends. I was doing other stuff, too, at the time at Virgin. Traffic reporting, morning show producing, board oping. But going to Colonial within Astral or Bell, that's another one. I know to a lot of people you'd say, like, oh, it's just Colonial evenings in Cologne. I even had to pinch myself there. Cologne is a very unique market.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:03
I think we should just be clear here that if you're going to Cologne for smaller market radio experience, you're going first class. This is the deluxe place to go if you're going to be doing radio anywhere in Canada.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:18:15
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:16
I mean, we've already heard the stories about Rosetown, Saskatchewan, and Grand Prairie enough not to knock those places, but there are different challenges. You're in Kelowna, you're in wine country and surrounded by some of the best food in the world.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:18:29
That's the thing, man. Aside from Kelowna being Kelowna. So you know all about what makes Kelowna as a Toronto boy, nor Toronto boy, basically, our winters aren't awful, but getting to the mild winter of Kelowna, getting to that kind of I feel like people in Kelowna there, we live to work. A lot of us. Unfortunately, they're working just to live, and you really feel that they're just so chill there. And it wasn't only the people, but it was a great radio station staffed by great people. I remember getting there to the physical radio station and knowing that at the time, the city is like, 200,000 people, probably goes closer to 300,000 in the summer. I knew it's like a ten radio station market, maybe. So I knew it was competitive, but I also knew it wasn't Toronto. And I get in, and there's three floors to this building. There's a sales floor, there's a programming floor with all the radio station, with all the stations. There's full promo department, full copy department, full traffic department, music directors, APDs. And I was surprised. This is 2014, so it wasn't that long ago. But at the same time, this was a time when you wouldn't walk into a mediumsmallmarketrade station and see it staffed like that. We have the resources and we have the people and the perfect city to do it as I got to know Kelowna, and I got to know the people in Kelowna. This is 99 Nine Sun FM flagship radio station. People grew up listening to it. You still listen to it. They know all the personalities. And that's one of those situations where I'm still pinching myself because I had a great time in a great place, in a great situation. There's plenty of places the size of Kelowna as competitive as Kelowna, but from an industry standpoint, not as unique and or as significant as Kelowna. And at the time I was doing evenings, it was a network show. Kelowna, Pentaton, Vernon 14, John Dawson Creek, which was a whole other learning experience, doing a network show and having like three traffic reports playing at once. There's different time zone in parts of northern BC. And by the time I finished two, two and a half years of doing evenings, I felt like a completely different person and more so, completely different an answer.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:37
Let me ask you, this is going to be a tougher question, too. What did you learn in Kelowna that you would have never learned had you just stayed in Toronto the whole time?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:20:47
I think one of the biggest things about being in a market like that, I guess, as radio hosts, whether it's attention from the audience or it's attention from our coworkers or our bosses, I think we all need it in some way to feel validated. And I got a lot of that in Kelowna because I was surrounded by such great people, in particular my program director, Mark Burley. If I had not gone and been able to work with Mark Burley and a number of other bosses that I had after that being a small fish in a big pond in Toronto, I simply don't think I would have gotten the amount of air checks, critiques, inspiration that I needed to become the jock that I was wanting to become. So I feel like I excelled light years the minute I got to Kelowna, because I had the opportunity to develop rather than just exist, if that makes any sense.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:38
What it does. And Mark has been on the podcast before and we had a chance to talk to him, and I think he had his finger on the pulse of the community, but he also really understood talent. So how was working with Mark different than other people that you worked with along the way?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:21:54
To use a hockey analogy, like, if you needed to improve Wayne Gretzky's slap shot, you have two guys on your team, wayne Gretzky and Marty McSorley, who needed to improve their slap shot. You're not going to teach wayne Gretzky to improve his snapshot the same way you're going to teach Marty McSorley to improve his snapshot. They might be having to do the same things, but the way you approach them has to be different, the way you approach a superstar, way you approach guy. And his lying going to have to do it differently because we're people, and we all need to be treated differently to listen and to learn. And Mark was really good at that. He's really good at getting to know us and getting to feel us out, our emotions, our personalities. And that allowed him to be a really good coach. Like I said, when I got to Colonial, barely had any air checks, and I told some coworkers that I was having an air check with Mark, my first air check with Mark, and they're like, oh, no, I hope you're going to be okay. Here's some tissue just in case. And I really didn't know what to expect. And I walk in, he's standing at his window, and he's looking outside. He's like, all right, just in time. Come over here. Come here. Look out the window with me. It's like my second week in Cologne. We're looking up on Bernard Street and he's like, what do you see? Tell me, what do you see? I see people. I see the sidewalk. See cars. Look up. What do you see? I see clouds. I see the sky. The sky. How many skies do you see, Art? I see one sky. One sky. So why do you keep saying two skies? And it was like, why do I keep saying that there are clear skies outside? He's like, that's it. That's it. Get out of here. You're doing a great job. And then he'd call me back in two weeks and he'd bring up one thing. He'd bring up one thing every time. And then I'd leave his office with one thing to work on. So I never felt overwhelmed. I never felt upset. I never felt inadequate. And I'm pretty sure he didn't do like I said, he didn't do the same thing with every person. He knew what I needed in order to get better. And one of those things was to not have to come out of an air check thinking about twelve different, like, oh, now I have to do my entire show differently. Mark was really good about that. And actually, somebody who Mark, I guess, coached into being a program director, his former APD, Jeff Winskill, used to do pretty much the exact same thing with me. Play one clip and say, see that? That's great. You see that? Try this a little differently. Or just don't do it because you're not good at it. And those two really allowed me to do my thing while improving on the things that they needed me to. Because the worst possible thing is when you go in there and you come out feeling handcuffed, you can't do. Your show, you have to do their show, and you start wondering, Why am I here? If you want this, this is what somebody else does. And Mark and Jeff are really good with allowing me to do what I was good at and what I wanted to do and what was working well. Also practicing and gaining the tools that I needed to become a better overall announcer.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:44
And they gave you so many tools that you found your way to Vancouver after doing some afternoons in Colonial, now you're off to Vancouver.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:24:50
Yeah, same type of format. I talked earlier about a really tight radio in Toronto in the late 90s, early two thousand s. And this was the type of radio it was kind of old school Top 40. It was so tight and so good, and the momentum was always moving forward. You don't find that often right now. I remember in Toronto, at Virgin in Toronto, we used to play Cold IDs over top of music, and when I say play them, we would manually play them. If you're smoking, you have to really pick a good time to hack a dark real quick, because you have to get up there just to change the song and hit the ID. And not that we were doing that in Vancouver, but the radio station sounded the same way. It was always moving forward. And because it was a major market, because there was a Ppm system and so on, I did have to do things a lot differently in Vancouver than I did in Colonial. But I enjoyed being part of a really good, tight radio station, a successful radio station, and I've been doing Top 40 my entire life. And although, like I told you, I'm more of a rock music fan, I've always appreciated Top 40 and obviously was prone to listening to it because of Mad Dog when I was younger, and I had a great time there. It was really my first on air major market gig, where I was on the air five times a week, no production duties and so on, so I could really focus on my show. And I did have to adjust the way in which I performed my craft, and it was a lot different than it was in Colonial, but I had a good time there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:18
So you obviously had to be coached into doing your brakes a little bit shorter so it would fit the Ppm meter and the measurement at the time. How did you feel about that?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:26:28
Well, like I said, I understood why we wanted to do it that way. I understood why it sounded good, and it did sound good. And it wasn't only the shorter breaks. I was always trying to do short breaks in Top 40, but some of the mechanics were different than anything I'd ever heard. As an example, if there's a cold stop on a song, you don't use that second or 2 seconds after the song ends to start talking and then fire the song. You're firing the song first. You hear that music established, then you start talking. So, I mean, to a listener, that just sounds like a playlist, just changing songs. But to us, as presenters, you're really trying to feel things out. What's my momentum going to be like in comparison to the music that's happening before? What's my momentum going to be like in comparison to the music that I'm firing next? How long do I have? Because I have to establish the music first. So to me, it sounded great. It sounded different than anything I'd ever done. I was there for a while and there were times where we weren't talking over a fading out song. So many times I turn on the mic and realize that I can't talk because there's a fade, right? So it did take some adjustments and there were some jocks around me. I was lucky because there were some jocks around me that were really good at it. Amy Spencer, who is still there doing Drive to Me, she is one of the best top 40 jobs in the country right now and she doesn't even know it because she's so good at these mechanical things that I'm talking about and she's so good at making it good that I was able to hear and learn some of the best in the country around me. Do it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:54
You also play the bass, and I wish my son was here because I could get him to ask all sorts of questions to you about playing the bass. But why are bass players not respected in a rock band? I mean, it's one step up from drummer.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:28:08
It's also quite fitting them a bass player and goalie. Weird, quiet ones. I don't think anybody realizes how much the bass does until the base stops playing. So in a rock band, they're just kind of standing there, driven to the beat that both they're creating along with the drummer. I don't know, they're just mysterious and they don't come out like they stand backstage a little bit, and if they're not standing backstage, they're polar opposite and they're going nuts. But you still can't really make out exactly what they're doing unless you're really trying to pay attention to what they're doing, so they don't get a lot of spotlight. But when something goes wrong with the bass player, everyone knows that something went wrong. Just like drums. If the drum screws up, all the guitars stop. Same with bass. Just like goalie and hockey. They only notice them when they make a really good save or letting a really bad goal. Other than that, they're just chilling in the background, which I think I like. I used to play in a band, I still play bass, too, but I kind of liked not being front stage.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:02
It kind of reminds me of the first day of baseball season and everybody shows up and they want to play first base, second base, shortstop, catcher, pitcher. But nobody says they want to play in the outfield other than, you know.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:29:15
What, when I was a kid, back to hockey, there was nobody who wanted to play goal. I was really young, I was playing like left wing or something like that. And nobody was crazy enough to take pucks in the head. I'm crazy stupid enough.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:27
Listen, parents, by the way, don't want their kids to be goalies because it's expensive. The equipment costs way more. There's the pucks in the head thing, because there's always a coach who says, let's start with some shooting drills, and the Bucks are coming in high and fast early. You get blamed for every goal. So I remember, like, if the puck would go in, I didn't have a kid who played goalie, but I saw this going on in the stands, is that if it was an early morning game and a kid gave up a goal early, all the parents would turn and look at the goalie parents and say, did you feed them breakfast? What's wrong with your kid?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:29:58
Yeah. And I remember that I would finish the game letting like, twelve bag goals come out. I would feel bad for my parents, like, oh God, that must have been embarrassing for you. Even I see my mom now when I was home in Ontario, I was watching the Stanley Cup Final with her, and Goldie lets in just a regular goal guy, goes top shelf. Stephen Stanco, one of the best players in the world, and she feels awful for the goalie, awful still, even though he got sniped on something he should have got sniped on. So I hear you.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:27
So you spent three years at Virgin in Vancouver and then sadly, they let you go.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:30:33
Yeah. I mean, I'm sure this has been said on your podcast before, but we all haven't really made it until we got laid off. And I was there since I was 15 years old at that company, and I was lucky enough to have like seven different jobs over the span of 14 years. I was lucky enough to have a whole bunch of great program directors, meet a whole bunch of great people. I've been laid off now for three months, and these people are still my friends, and I plan on getting back into the business in some shape or form, and I'm looking forward to having all those people around me. When I was driving across the country recently, and I'd stop in a town, I'd be like, oh, so and so from midday here, lives here, and this person who does overnight is here and can meet up for coffee and go for beers, whatever. So getting laid off from that job, it wasn't really getting when I had a chance to take in getting laid off, it was the end of an era. Not at Virgin Radio in Vancouver, it was the end of an era for now at Bell. And 14 years is a long time, man. 14 years, including the internship. It's a long time, a lot of growing. And if you just consider the fact that I was 15, I essentially grew up within the radio you brought up to St. Clair. When I drive by, there still now it still feels, in a way, not even inside the building outside the building, in the corner. Just feels like home. Radio still feels like home. So getting laid off, it doesn't feel like everybody calls it. Sitting on the beach when you're waiting for a new gig. It still feels like I'm in the business. I'm here talking to you. I'm talking about radio all the time. I'm still just as passionate about it as I was. So I lost the job, but I haven't lost radio.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:02
And it has been noted that you drove all the way across Canada and did not stop. Pour a cup of coffee with me in Winnipeg. That's okay. Noted.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:32:10
Is that where it was? Winnipeg? Hey, I felt embarrassed to ask exactly where you are because I've forgotten. Okay, noted. Next time where I did stop. Not that it's in Winnipeg, but I was thinking about it earlier. Have you heard of flood? Rutgers?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:22
Yeah, it's some sort of restaurant.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:32:25
Restaurant? I stopped in Brandon. It's somewhere in Saskatchewan. Anyway, people are like, oh, it's in Saskatchewan. A FUD rockers is in Saskatchewan. FUD rockers, they basically give you a burger and you can do whatever you want to it, anything you want. That's what fun Rutgers is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:40
By the way, I should point out you are adept at Pro Tools, which is an incredible skill. So how did you keep up on Pro Tools?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:32:48
I think when I was in high school, I was using Adobe. And when I got to Ryerson, it was Pro Tools and Pro Tools only. Pro Tools and Pro Tools. Accessories. And other than the fact that it mixes down in real time and there's no, quote unquote edit view, it's a lot like Adobe. Small adjustments that you make in terms of how you're viewing your session. But over the years and I guess the other thing that makes it different is you have to have a hardware set up in some shape or form. But to me, it was a lot like Adobe. So if there's anybody who's like, oh, we use Pro Tools at this radio station, I'm an Adobe guy or girl, don't feel afraid to switch to Pro Tools because it will be much easier adjustment than you think it will be. And once you know Pro Tools and Adobe, it's an easy adjustment to anything. And I think the thing that people forget because a lot of us say, like, oh, why do I have to use Pro Tools? And I think other than because the plugins are a lot stronger, it mixes down in real time. And that makes a huge difference. Even if you're mixing down into MP3, it's sample rate is really high and it's great quality. And on the radio we're still worried about what comes out of the speakers and we want to make it as good as possible. So we're using Pro Tools and I'm still using Pro Tools today.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:55
These are some excellent skills. Should you want to start a podcast of which you have started a podcast?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:34:01
Yes, I have a podcast and you won't find it under my name. I actually use an alias and it's not like I haven't told people that I do the podcast, but merely Daniel. The podcast isn't about me. The podcast is called Addicts in the Dark and it's very raw, it's uncut, it's real. And what happens is a stranger I don't know who they are. All I know is they're about to call. I don't know their name, I don't know where they're from. And they call me and they tell me their story about addiction. There's no script, there's no direction. We don't know where it's going to go. It's kind of like what we're doing here, Matt. And the person has a maximum of an hour to tell me their story about addiction. They don't say their name, they don't say where they're from. They can be vague because sometimes the particulars of the story call for them, revealing a proximity as to where they are. And on the podcast I use an alias, Nick. Nick and I basically lead them through their conversation about addiction. I'm no doctor, obviously, so I can't give advice, but it's just like the radio, it's about connection. And in my journey, I've realized that the opposite of having an addiction problem is not being sober, because recovery means something different to everyone. But I think the commonality with people who are in addiction recovery is they need connection. And the idea of the podcast is that they get to connect with me or the listeners and myself, but they get to put up some barriers. And those barriers are the fact that they're not going to tell me exactly who they are, where they're from, so on and so forth. The postal code box, number, address, whatever the case may be, just the conversation is real and it's uncut and it's unfiltered. So you can find it. Addicts in the Dark.com. Addicts in the dark on instagram. Addicts in the dark on TikTok. Addicts in the Dark. Wherever you get your podcast, how do.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:39
You recruit your guests for the show?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:35:41
Addicts in the Dark.com. There's a button at the bottom of the website or at the top of the website. There's a button somewhere on the website that basically allows you to apply and vague email that you leave, basically that you like to be on the show, your availability, your phone number. And we set up a time. And once that phone call comes in, I hit record. Then we're good. To go. I don't know anything about the person's background beforehand. So, like I said, that's what makes it real and raw and uncut.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:09
Very cool. What's your connection to addiction?
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:36:12
Well, I don't think it's any secret, but I definitely am not going to be the first radio person to have gone through this. But, you know, I think whether we're on radio or not, we all have our vices, and I definitely had my fair share of them long before radio. And it's something that bogged me down mentally throughout my career. It was something that was a monkey on my back for 14 years that I was in this industry. And I did have to take some time off while I was still at Virgin Vancouver to go deal with my stuff. And it was then when I realized that what's helping me right now is not the fact that I just haven't been indulging in my substance of choice. And by the way, the podcast, you can be addicted to raw meat. It's not just illicit substances. But I'd realize that for me, I needed connection more than anything. I needed a place where I could feel safe to talk about my issues. And because addiction is addiction and it involves illicit substances, it's not always the easiest to find those spaces. And I felt like this space, we're creating a space for people to talk about addiction, was what people like myself needed. And that's what I got when I was off dealing with my stuff. And I'm feeling better than ever. In fact, if I didn't take time off, who knows where I would be? And I realized that being on the air, it's tough to go to your boss and say, I need time to be a way to deal with my stuff. That's tough when you're doing any job. But when you're on the air in a major market, when you're on the air anywhere. But for me, I was on the air in a major market. I had gotten to where I wanted to be and I was saying to my boss, I need time, and they were nothing but accommodating. So kudos to Jasmine Koga and the team at Bell for really giving me the space and the time that I needed to go deal with my stuff. And it really helped. And that was a really long winded way of saying, Matt, that I struggled and I'm feeling good, though.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:08
I love it. And I love this podcast idea because it reminds me of a podcast that I connected with a few years ago called Beautiful Anonymous, where the person doing the interviewing doesn't know the guests and the way they go on a journey. I think it's incredible. And by the way, anybody who wants to connect with that podcast, it is in the show notes of this episode.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:38:28
I have listened to that podcast before, and that's kind of where the idea came from. There are differences in our shows. One is that there are no breaks. It's completely raw and uncut. I mean, if the podcast gets big, then I might have no choice but to take breaks. But now it's straight through. There's no stop, and that means that there's no reflection midway through. The reflection of the podcast that comes from myself is at the end. So that way we have a chance to get the full scope of the person's story before we dissect everything they said. But, yeah, great podcast. I forget the what's his name, the comedian?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:02
Sarah Burke (Voiceover) 00:39:04
Hello. You the one out there who's listening in your ears. My name is Chris Cathard. I have a new show coming out. It's called Beautiful stories from anonymous people. Every week, I open the phone line to one anonymous caller, and I can't hang up first no matter what. Hey, how's it going? This is Chris Catherine.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:19
Hey, Chris Etherid. I'm Anonymous.
Sarah Burke (Voiceover) 00:39:21
To show where I want to hear stories, you can call in anybody in the world. Call in, talk to me. Just don't tell me who you are. You can have up to an hour of my time. We recorded it. We have a real honest interaction because I don't think there's enough of those in my life, at least, and I bet other people feel that way. Everything's interactive now, but it's not real interaction. I wanted to have a show here where we interact for real, one on one human interaction, me and you. That's it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:45
Ari, thanks a lot for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you telling your story and taking the time today.
Ari Daniel (Guest) 00:39:50
Thanks for having me on. Sorry about the raspy voice. It's a long weekend.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:39:53
The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill produced by Evan Surminski social media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another their great creation from the soundoff media company. There's always email@example.com.