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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Erin Davis: Very Very Grateful

Updated: Jan 9

I am crossing a name off every radio aficionado's interview bucket list: Erin Davis. Erin hosted radio in Toronto for more than 30 years, from the 80's all the way to 2016. Most of that time was spent at the venerable CHFI.


There's a lot to talk about when it comes to Erin's career, and she's happy to share. Stories of personal and career growth, and how she developed her hosting skills. The mistakes she made along the way. The co-hosts she had the best and worst chemistry with, what she found so special about radio, the decline she's seen since the turn of the century, and of course, the devastating change that prompted her to leave radio behind.


Since 2016, Erin has expanded her resume in a number of ways. Most notable, though, are her book Mourning Has Broken, and her two podcasts- Drift with Erin Davis and the G and F Podcast. G and F is co-hosted by Erin and her longtime friend and fellow voice talent, Lisa Brandt. Drift, on the other hand, is a show meant to help you drift off peacefully to sleep.

To get in touch with Erin, learn more about her, or read her weekly blog posts, check out her website here.


 

It feels like yesterday that we had Valerie Geller on the show to talk about radio podcast and performance. I have found myself quoting her often in the last few days with the influx of people looking to start new podcasts. Erin and I spoke extensively about Valerie Geller's book Beyond Powerful Radio which you can find here. in paper format and on Audible.


 

TRANSCRIPTION


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  00:02

The Sound Off Podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast starts now.


Matt Cundill  00:13

If you have a podcast that involves broadcast, Erin Davis would be a bucket list interview, no matter where you are on the planet. She hosted and co hosted radio in Toronto from the 80's through to 2016, when her life took a dramatic turn. Erin has added author and podcaster to her media CV to go alongside television and radio. Erin Davis joins me from her home in North Saanich, British Columbia. I don't know why I've never met you. It was probably too many years out West, and cheap budgets from Gary Slade, who wouldn't permit me to go to Canadian Music Week to go and, you know, meet superstars like you.


Erin Davis  00:48

Oh, thank you. He made people pay for photocopies. So I mean, yeah, you're absolutely right. And that was a big change when I moved over from Rogers for that one year, from '03 to '04. It's like, you guys have no swag, we've moved to number one, and you got nothing to give out that has our callsign on it. It's just- egh. Coming from the big blue machine, you know, Rogers and CHFI, and then saying, come on. Let's- let's do this. But yeah.


Matt Cundill  01:16

I do my research. This is my show prep, it looks exactly the same way that I used to do show prep.


Erin Davis  01:22

I love it. There's something so- well, literally cerebral about putting your pen in your hand and writing it down. It just commits it to the brain so much better, I think.


Matt Cundill  01:31

What made you decide to go to Loyalist?


Erin Davis  01:34

Proximity, and just sheer luck. I was in grade 13. Yes, we had extra grades there. I don't know if it helped. But I was in April of grade 13. Not an exceptional student. I did well in theater and in English and French, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. So I signed up- remember these career days people- schools used to have? You go and listen to a bunch of people talk. And I got there, and the two guys I had signed up to listen to were already full. So I ended up hearing this Brian Olny guy from Loyalist College, talk about radio. And I was sitting in that class, and it was one of three times in my life. I felt like I was hit by lightning. Right away, I thought this- this is great. I didn't know I could do this. You know, women on the radio at that time in 1980, Matt, were doing things like recipes or the stork report, where they talked about what babies had been born and stuff, you know, CJBQ in Belleville. And all of a sudden I knew. So I contacted the college and they said oh, we're full up. And then I did a demo, and they found a spot. So I was on the air being paid by November of that year, like two months later. So it was like, off I went.


Matt Cundill  02:48

And you did the two years at Loyalist, and then you got your first taste of radio shortly after? I want to say CIGL.


Erin Davis  02:55

Well, it was during. Because in November, like two months after starting the course, I was hired at CIGL. It was a station for my parents and it was, you know, like, orchestra versions of songs that, you know, were already 30 years old. Muzak, basically. And so it was running reel to reel tapes with an LP cut at the end of each quarter, the Kala music system, it was called, out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. So I'm not technically minded. So there were times that that reel got put on backwards at six in the morning when I wasn't awake. But yeah, I was doing weekends the first year, and then the second year, I went college in the morning, CIGL from two till eight in the afternoon, evening, and a few evenings I would run across the street to the French restaurant and play piano to make $17 an hour in 1982, which was amazing money for a kid. I wasn't old enough to drink, but that didn't stop me, because I was 17 when I started college. So it was a- it was a very busy time. But getting my big step was into radio in Ottawa at CFRA. And the Christmas of 1981, I had a week off, so I volunteered to go and work there. And of course, you know, every radio station at Christmas is dying for warm bodies to come and do anything. So I just jumped in, got my feet wet. And then when I graduated four months later, they had a job for me.


Matt Cundill  04:23

Wow. So I didn't know about the CFRA part.


Erin Davis  04:25

Yes.


Matt Cundill  04:26

And that's one of the stations of my youth.


Erin Davis  04:28

You're kidding. Listening or working?


Matt Cundill  04:30

Listening. I was 11 years old, and people like Dave 50,000 Watts and-


Erin Davis  04:35

Oh yeah. Ken "The General" Grant?


Matt Cundill  04:37

Who just recently passed away, that's- forward ho with the marching bands every morning. What a place to start.


Erin Davis  04:44

It was, and you know what? I got spoiled. I was only there six months before CKLW wined and dined me to go to Windsor, but I was there for six months and I thought, number one station, huge market. This is fun. I think I'll do this the rest of my life, not knowing that number one station is like a kiss from the gods and it doesn't happen very often.


Matt Cundill  05:07

And both stations are owned by CHUM, I believe. Correct?


Erin Davis  05:11

It wasn't then. CFRA wasn't part of CHUM then. CFGO in Ottawa was at that time, of course you've listened to them. The AM rocker. But no, I forget who they were owned by. But it was, I think local. I never worked for CHUM.


Matt Cundill  05:28

I don't know whether or not to say that's good or bad.


Erin Davis  05:30

I wished. Man, when I was doing all news in Toronto, eventually, I would have given my right arm to go to CHUM. But of course, they were just starting up their sort of Roger and Marilyn kind of era then. And so I was always pestering Gary Slate, and almost got my foot in a few times, but never did. So- I'm really jumping ahead here, because I was four years, three and a half years at CKO after CKLW, The Big Eight, decided to go music of your ex-wife and just kind of give up on rock. And then they closed the doors. They shuttered their Southfield, Michigan offices, they shut down most of the staff on CKLW. So I felt okay, great. Take the 401, go to Toronto, stay with your sister, find a job. And I did, at the All News Network, CKO.


Matt Cundill  06:20

Which we're going to have to explain to everybody. Because CKO was a news network across the country. That's a signal that I could pick up out of Ottawa, but they also had stations in Vancouver and elsewhere. So why'd it fail?


Erin Davis  06:36

Because it didn't have the money. They were owned by Agra Industries, I think it was, famous for potato chips or something. I don't know. But- and we didn't have CBC money. We just didn't have the resources. People at CKO- and I say this with the greatest respect, and for some disdain, because they were either on their way up or on their way down. And there was just a ton of misogyny and pettiness and that sort of thing. But it was the place where I was given the co-host- Morning Show co-host position. And there was like- it was a wheel of co-hosts all the time there. They'll try this guy, they'll try that guy, and they all came in thinking, okay, I'm gonna save the show, little lady, sit back, I'll do all the interviews. And it was just- it was a real learning experience. But Matt, the best thing I got out of it was a husband I'm still with- 1986, yeah, you do the math. I don't know. 37 years later? So it worked out for the best for us.


Matt Cundill  07:36

Was that a national show, or was it local?


Erin Davis  07:39

Local, it was local Toronto. You got to listen to talk. You gotta listen to talk. CKO! They had jingles. But they- they didn't listen.


Matt Cundill  07:50

News, though, has never been anything that companies could monetize. It's never been profitable.


Erin Davis  07:57

They did talk shows. Yhey had like John Gilbert, who was a real somebody on CHUM back in the day. And they had a few other syndicated shows across the country. So yeah, they did- they did national shows. But yeah, they just- they couldn't monetize. And there was some really good talent there too. I- you know, you talked about Taylor Parnaby, who ran NewsRadio I think, and then came to CKO and then ended up his career with Standard/Slate and all of that at CFRB. He was exceptional. And there were a few other people. Bob Holliday, who also came from- I want to say CHUM, it might have been CFTR. But he had a storied career as well. There were people who had real talent and- and- and a lot of experience, and I learned so much from them, but I didn't get to work closely enough with them to really kind of take it all in, but it was Hat Parnaby who hired me there.


Matt Cundill  08:55

I remember the demise of the station because somebody had finished their newscast, and then announced, "And the CKO network will cease to exist as of now." It was-


Erin Davis  09:03

Wow.


Matt Cundill  09:04

And then the static hit the air, and I was like, did that really happen?


Erin Davis  09:07

Well, we were 99.1 on the dial, which of course now is CBC. And I remember somebody telling me- I had left at this time, I left- Rob and I both left a year earlier. I got a phone call in August of 1988, the same year Rob and I married, so it was a big year for us, and I got a phone call from CFRB to come and do news on the Wally Crowder show, and CHFI to come and do news on the Don Daynard show. And so I had this decision to make. They were both going to pay exactly $40,000. And you know what, I later learned that Slate had a rule: no woman wants to be paid more than $40,000, and Maureen Holloway broke that ceiling. But I had to decide, which one did I want? Did I want to go to the station where my dad would be really thrilled, or go to a station where I'd have fun? And so I chose CHFI. And I'm really glad that I did. But you're right. A year later the plug got pulled. Somebody messaged me and said, I had sent my car away for servicing, and when I got it back, it was just this static and I thought, what did they do to the radio stations? There were people who had no idea.


Matt Cundill  10:19

Tell me about the late 80s, working with Don, what was your role on the show? Was it just news, or did it- did it morph into something over time?


Erin Davis  10:28

Oh, it totally morphed. For the first three years, I guess, I along with Ben Steinfeld, who had come from CFTR- we sat in the newsroom together smoking away. I can't even believe that there were ashtrays next to our IBM Selectrics, but there were. And doing- writing news, he did the top hours, I went in and did the bottom hours, but I would stick around to- to do a bit or two with Daynard. And eventually, it got to the point where it was really clicking. And what's funny is when I started there, we were the station's demographic. I was 25, he was 54. So we covered it all, right? And some of the stuff he talked about, I had no idea. I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandparents. So I knew a lot of stuff about the 30s and the 40s and that, but he was in a whole different realm. He was in his world of serial dramas in the theaters on the weekends, and cowboy movies, and all of these things. And of course, oldies. Don was steeped in oldies, that was really his brand, but I brought in the younger. The moms, the- the- the females, basically, because he didn't really care about that side of the audience. And so we just we just gelled. And then eventually I just kind of asked him one day, is it okay if I have co-host printed on my business card? And he was in a good mood that day, and he said, yes, sure. I don't care. So I went ahead and did it. And then in 1991, when we were expecting our baby, my husband suggested, let's do it from home. He had come from a network where Charles Templeton and Pierre Burton had done their things on CKEY from home every morning, their commentary, and he knew this could be done. So I did my part of the show from home for three months. And some people didn't know that I wasn't in the studio, the quality was just that good. And then- but then they thought, well, she can't be doing the news from home, that's stupid. So I moved out of news then, they brought somebody else in, and away we went.


Matt Cundill  12:34

What was the technology?


Erin Davis  12:36

Bell lines, buried under the front lawn. And Lauren came three weeks early, so they hadn't had the lines put in yet. And I had said to John Hennen, the news director at the time, we got to do this. Let's get this going. Come on, let's go. But you know, budgets and giving money to Bell was just, argh, they couldn't stand it. But that was the technology, Matt. And now of course, anybody can do shows from anywhere. I'm in a converted wine room in our house. So the alcohol that would have cost me my career is now giving it back to me here in a whole different form. Yeah, it's amazing the technology, huh?


Matt Cundill  13:14

I can't believe how far we've come.


Erin Davis  13:16

Yeah.


Matt Cundill  13:16

I mean, those ISDN lines that you're talking about were the gold standard for sound for so long. And for a brief time, we had some other computer type stuff. And then eventually, the internet has caught up with everything else. And oh, look, it's now Wi Fi.


Erin Davis  13:32

Yeah, it's amazing.


Matt Cundill  13:33

What did you learn from Don as a communicator? Because Don Daynard was to- you know, I- it was just sort of a given that that's number one, and established, but I didn't get to listen to him. So what did he have as a communicator that you picked up on?


Erin Davis  13:52

He had such a gift. It was incredible, because the things I learned from him was (a) not to take myself so damn seriously. And I always thought as a news person- and I took my news very seriously too. But I took my sports more seriously, I would write that sports cast first because I wasn't going to be that girl on the radio who made the mistakes. I did, still. But I always wrote the sports first. I learned from him not to take myself so seriously, to laugh more, to let yourself just get lost in- in the moment of the absolute absurdity. And he was so good at that and people just loved when he went off the rails and was wheezing that he was laughing so hard. And I never did that. I couldn't do that. I didn't do it until Cooper, Mike Cooper years later, but I was always so, you know, stick up my butt, because I felt like I was carrying all of femininity on my shoulders. And I'll give you an example. He used to do this bit with Jean Taylor, who came from years on City TV. And it was called Taylor's Trivia, and Jean would ask Don a question, and Don would come up with his answer and it would usually be absurd and wrong. And it'd be very funny. It was a funny bit. 7:20 every morning, benchmarks were everything then. And when Don was a bit away, eventually I earned the- the right, the privilege, to do Taylor's Trivia. And the program director at the time, himself just a real misogynist as well, he said listen, wanted to play along more with Taylor? Why don't you- why don't you get some of them wrong? And I said, I can't, I can't do that. I couldn't play the dumb co-host. And I just couldn't, but Don sort of taught me it was okay to play a role, to be the goof. And to let people kind of take the piss, as you will, as the Brits say, to have fun at your expense. And and just kind of go with it. Now he was the most real person I'd ever experienced on the radio. When Don wasn't in a good mood, everybody in the room knew it. And quite often the listeners did too. So my job, and I later found out he would call me Miss Perky Pants, or Perky Panties, I think it was, was to lighten it up and to go, "Oh, Don..." and then kind of change directions. And of course, he hated that. But that was my job, was to keep listeners and to make them not turn away from the cranky guy. Because as endearing as it was, he got unhappier as years went on. And either it was, you know, me having this constantly perky presence, or, you know, losing his son as he did, and came out publicly about it. And you know, just- you know, divorces and all of the crap that life threw at him. And I would come in some mornings, and he would just have his face buried in the newspaper and, you know, our newscaster at the time, my dear friend and podcast partner now Lisa Brandt would say, I just knew that was a time not to talk to Don. So other people saw it too. Thank God, it wasn't just me.


Matt Cundill  16:57

Who else in the Toronto market could you hear on the radio? Females who are also, you know, being elevated or elevating themselves and having to work through the system that you can hear, and going good, there's more females coming on air?


Erin Davis  17:10

I never really got a chance to listen to people like Sheila Rogers, she was doing the co-host thing at the same time I was, and of course, Marilyn Denis. I only ever heard her once or twice. And the one time I heard her- and I heard her talk to a listener on the phone and say okay, hon, so blah, blah, blah. And I went, wait a second. She just talked to that caller like they were her friend. You can do that. And so it opened my eyes that, you know, again, another thing broken down, like stop with the walls, stop trying to be this person and just be yourself. And that- just that one break that I heard Marilyn do taught me that. So I learned more from the wisdom of Valerie Geller, who is still a tremendous- what's the word- consultant, I- consultant has such a dirty, c-word kind of a- an air to it. But in Valerie's case, she was that other time- I talked about three. But another time that I was hit by lightning was the first time I heard Valerie Geller talk. So she taught me how to just be myself, and allow myself to be human. And you know, that- that's a hard thing, especially now when people come at you so hard if you make a mistake while you're being human. And it happens, because it's part of the being human mess.


Matt Cundill  18:35

I'm so glad you mentioned her, because she has referenced you on a number of occasions, I think in the podcasts that- that I did with her. And right now I'm just going to put you to the test. What are her three big rules?


Erin Davis  18:47

Never be boring is the last one, tell the truth...


Matt Cundill  18:51

Make it matter.


Erin Davis  18:52

Make it matter. And although those three rules didn't come to the top of my mind, what she says comes to me all the time, always, what's in it for the listener, but to turn it around and not to say I was in the supermarket, or I was in the store today, and this woman, you know, sneezed all over me. What you do is you say, has this ever happened to you? Or what would you have done? And right away you're pulling in the listener because they're going, oh, I should think about this, right? It's not just I, me, this is what happened to me, and let's go to a commercial. She is so good. God, she's good. When was the first time you met her? They brought her in, in I think about 1994 or five, I want to say. Don and I ended up our time together in '99. So we were together for 11 years. And it was in the middle of that. And, you know, Don was one of these guys, you know, sitting back arms folded. You can't teach me anything, lady, but I was just soaking it all in, because she saw me, she heard me, she got me, and it was the first time anyone in my career had ever gotten me or saw what I could do, or the potential, and boy oh boy, is that ever an amazing feeling if you ever get that. It's just- what was your dealing with her, Matt? Did you have her in a consultant form as well?


Matt Cundill  20:14

Actually, Standard flew her in and spoke with a number of us. So I got to fly to Toronto. And it was, I think, as talent at the time, and discuss some breaks with her that I was doing. And I brought 'em on cassette. And she'd already listened to the show anyway. And I think she wanted me to land on the answer in the end about why a certain break didn't work. And I think she had to looked me square in the eyes and ask, were you boring? And it wasn't just the break was boring, it's just that, could you have made it a little bit more? And were you boring in this particular instance? And I thought, yeah, maybe I could have done it better, and what's in it for the listener, and reshaped it. And we just reshaped the break into something that was very, very mediocre, into something that popped. Snd how simple it was just to use the word you to make it about the listener. To not, you know, bring it- make it a little bit about myself, and to really include the listener. And by just changing a few words, we took something from mediocre and bland to great.


Erin Davis  21:16

She is so gifted, and how lucky we've been. And this is a woman now who's schooling people in podcasting, because being a good communicator, it doesn't matter whether you're making announcements somewhere, or you know, you're on the air, or you're doing a podcast, it's all that connection that people I think will always crave. And this is part of what radio has just thrown away by doing syndicated morning shows, and you know, all of this putting television people on radio, and people who don't get that one to one, like a hey, everybody, or good morning, everybody, or how are you? How are you all doing? No, no, no. That was the one thing, right, Matt? It's one person. And especially in the morning, they're sitting there, they're having a coffee, they're waking up looking at somebody they can't stand, or going to a job that they abhor. And they're- they're literally naked coming out of the shower. They're thinking, how do I get through this day? You know, and that's why make it matter, is my world safe? You know, that's one of her things, too, is let people know it's going to be okay. And if it's not okay, it will be. And here's how you do it. So it's just the wrapping yourself around that listener and caring. And you can fake it. But I've been so lucky. I've never had to fake it. I really do care. And to this day- Well, you've seen the following that I still have, and it's not so much a following as a mutual connection, because I feel for them as well.


Matt Cundill  22:43

I had the one break with Valerie, and then I just got the book, and then that finished out the rest for me. Because everything else- everything else was in the book, and it was perfect. I think back to your time in the early 90's, and you're writing the sports first thing in the morning, because you've got to make that matter, and you've got to get it right, and you've got to tell the truth. Early 90's sports in Toronto. Well, oh my goodness, the Blue Jays. The Toronto Maple Leafs nearly got to the Stanley Cup final in '93. I can tell you're a Leafs fan because you still speak of that fondly.


Erin Davis  23:16

Gilmour!


Matt Cundill  23:16

Well, I will remind you the Montreal Canadiens won the cup that year.


Erin Davis  23:20

Oh, probably. Paul de Courcey was in our newsroom and he was an avid Habs fan. So yeah, yeah, yeah.


Matt Cundill  23:27

But some of those parts we talked about, they feel gone. And especially, you know, getting it right. Well, certainly telling the truth. You know, in some capacities of news that's- that can be gone on talk shows. And for some reason we've gotten away from the listener in radio. How did that happen? I think you might have already touched on it by mentioning the syndicated shows.


Erin Davis  23:50

Oh, yeah. Well, you know- and I used to hear about this even back then, oh, it's the bean counters, the bean counters. And, you know, I never really quite understood that. But I understand it when you've got communication conglomerates, who couldn't give a flying fadoo- tribute there to Bob McCowan, dear Bob, a friend of ours, and that was his thing, fadoo- but they couldn't care less about the quality of what was going out on the air. I mean, Rogers had it in the DNA. Ted Rogers was broadcasting long before television or communications or anything like that. But yeah, radio was his thing. And you know, Edward now is like, okay, how are we gonna get CHFI back to number one? Well, ask somebody who knows, for starters, instead of bringing all of these, you know, people coming in, who are just- they're making decisions that are just so ridiculous. And it came down to how much is this person costing? How can we do it more cheaply? And of course, they do have fewer advertisers, but I'm thinking, and follow me here and tell me where my logic is wrong. If they had treated the medium with the respect that it deserved, and moved along with the times, which I think stations like KISS are doing, doing their podcast for their morning show and that sort of thing. But if they had done that, then they wouldn't be dying. And I think it's a slow suicide. They're doing it. We saw it happen in the States where one station- or one company took over all these stations, and it's just syndicated garbage basically. So we can all hear Ryan Seacrest say good morning, everybody. And not give a damn what is happening in your town today, where a train derailed or anything like that. I could go off forever on this. It's so sad because I love radio with every, every fiber of my being.


Matt Cundill  25:41

Yeah, you had it right. It's Ryan Seacrest saying good morning, everybody, followed by what Kim Kardashian did yesterday.


Erin Davis  25:48

Oh. gags Sorry. Sorry. There's room for that. And now there's platforms for that. Go get your fill on TikTok and stuff. But make radio real and relevant and connected again, if it's not too late.


Matt Cundill  26:03

What was the transition after Don? After he retired in '99?


Erin Davis  26:07

Eeeeh. It should have worked. It should have worked. Bob Magee came from mornings at 1050 CHUM. Handsome. Oh, he was beautiful. He was a lovely man. Bob always did the right thing. If there was a birthday or whatever, there were flowers. He was the most gracious gentleman to me. He had a very public breakup with Jeanne Beker. And her book came out while he and I were together. And he was a good, good person. But he was afraid. He was so nervous, he would shake when he was on the air. So he didn't have that confidence to helm a morning show, and coming in after Daynard, nobody could fill those cowboy boots. And you know, I am sure I was at fault. But we did not have the magic, the chemistry, that je ne sais quoi. And because I didn't have that- that net, knowing that if I left, was it going to be okay? And he didn't have that with me either. We were both, I think, afraid. Management didn't know what to do. Our program director didn't know what to do to make the show better, because he'd never had to. Daynard wouldn't listen to anybody. He resented bosses of all kinds, which was to me something else I learned. It was just like, I was totally raised on authoritarian figures. My father was an officer in the Air Force, yada, yada yada. And so Don didn't give a shit, basically, if I can use that. So management didn't know what to do to help the show. So eventually, you know, we had solid ratings, but they weren't Daynard and Davis ratings. And so in 2003, they looked down the hall to the morning show there, that they had spent literally a million dollars promoting recently, Mad Dog and Billy, and it wasn't moving their needle and they thought, well- and this is a literal turn of phrase used by one of the managers at CHFI- Why don't we euthanize CHFI? Euthanize. He thought, I don't know, if he was doing the turn of phrase on purpose, but y-o-u-t-h youth. And so that's when Bob and I- Bob moved to afternoons. I had in my contract, I only did mornings. And so I was off on the beach for a little bit. And they brought in Mad Dog and Billy.


Matt Cundill  28:25

Shout out to Julie Adam, by the way, who's been on this show.


Erin Davis  28:27

Yes. I love Julie.


Matt Cundill  28:30

By the way, she loves you too. But she's taken responsibility for being part of that move. A number of times, she just says yeah, hey, it's okay to make mistakes, I made one once. And she kind of makes reference to being a part of a team that made this decision.


Erin Davis  28:42

Yeah, it wasn't all her. There were a lot of desks had to sign off on that. But she shouldered the responsibility. And one of the things, Matt, when I was told on that June day, June 14 2003, but I don't remember that I wasn't coming in on Monday, is that I've really regretted that I wasn't going to work with Julie Adam, because she believed in her people. And imagine being able to work for a woman, too, who had such vision. And just was all in, such passion for radio. It was- it was, I thought, a real loss, but I got to. So yay.


Matt Cundill  29:17

And that's why I didn't meet you, because in 2003 I did go to Canadian Music Week, but you were on the beach.


Erin Davis  29:23

Yes, I was. Which is such a nice way of saying drinking your face off in grief. But it's true. You're called on the beach and I had a year that I was told, you know, you're not to go on the Toronto airwaves, and we'll pay you. But I was able to- you know, there were a couple of jobs that came up just out of the blue, a TV show on the W Network live. Unfortunately it debuted the same day, same time slot, as another host with the initials E.D., Ellen DeGeneres. I think she did okay. I didn't. And so that was that and then I got to be in Ross Petty's panto of Cinderella, and I got to play the fairy godmother. And that just- ahh. It was- it was amazing. So that's what I did in my year off.


Matt Cundill  30:08

The show on W, was it- was W based out of Winnipeg at that point?


Erin Davis  30:11

It wasn't, it was right in Toronto, down at the Corus- no, Corus wasn't down at Harbourfront at that time. It was near the bread factory somewhere. My geography has never been good. Lived in Toronto 30 years, Matt, and it might as well have been three. So yeah, it was kind of in the west end of Toronto.


Matt Cundill  30:30

And did the noncompete just expire, and then you got to go back to radio?


Erin Davis  30:33

It expired at the time that EZ Rock, which was CJEZ where I had also worked after I left CKO way back when, they had an opening in the morning show because Mike's co-host was on maternity leave. So I went in to fill in with Mike, and it was like, after the first day, oh, oh, this isn't good. This is amazing. The chemistry, holy crap. I had never worked with anybody like Cooper. He was like nobody I'd ever experienced. And I had the chance to work with him, because when Bob McGee was brought in, Cooper could have been hired in '99 as my co host at FI. And my first thought was, no way. No way. I had worked with enough guys who had amazing voices, and absolutely nothing up here, in my CKO days. So I thought, no, I'm not going to work with Cooper. But Holy Hannah did it ever. I needed, it turns out, kind of a real man's man, to- That's such an outdated and sexist phrase. But you know what I mean, I needed a guy who was steeped in testosterone, so that I didn't look like the man in the couple. I needed somebody to go up against, and come back and go holy, what was that?


Matt Cundill  31:50

To support your role.


Erin Davis  31:51

Yes, exactly.


Matt Cundill  31:53

The way people know you and the way you're comfortable being a broadcaster.


Erin Davis  31:58

Right, a broad caster, you know what I mean? And it was like Valerie Geller, there was always that- are you a pitcher or a catcher? I think she had a better turn of phrase for that. But my role always changed. I was always kind of the catcher and then with Cooper, I became the pitcher. And every day, every break, it would change. And it was so refreshing to be like Shohei Otani. What are you going to do today? Where are you going to- Where are you going to, you know, kind of shine? Is it going to be at the plate or is going to be- you know, so it was just a magical dance.


Matt Cundill  32:33

How good is that? Because I look back at the one time I had a co-host, I did one show. My favorite show I ever did was the pitcher and the catcher, you could change roles and just going into the role, you can say, I pitch, you catch, or you catch, I pitch. Honestly, it's the best.


Erin Davis  32:48

It is. Now there are some people who are most comfortable in their roles and some people who should never be out of their roles. But if you've got that ability to not just catch it, but to then pitch it back. You know, almost like a volley in tennis. Where are you going to hit it? Sometimes you're going to hit the net, but sometimes it's going to be something they- they hit back even better. Oh my god, Matt. It's just- it's magic. And it is that undefinable chemistry that- that you cannot look at paper and go, yeah, okay, this is gonna work. Let's do this. You know? It just doesn't work.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  33:24

Transcription of the Sound Off Podcast is powered by the You May Also Like podcast, the show about people, places and things. Follow the show on your favorite podcast app, or at YouMayAlsoLike.net. The Sound Off Podcast supports podcasting 2.0, so feel free to send us a boost if you're listening on a newer podcast app. If you don't have a newer podcast app, you can get one at newpodcastapps.com was


Matt Cundill  33:53

Was EZ Rock owned by Standard?


Erin Davis  33:55

Yep.


Matt Cundill  33:56

So Gary Slate finally got ya.


Erin Davis  33:57

He didn't. He got me, as in he hired me, but I don't know how many times I would go in and say look, when Cooper's co-host comes back, put me in with Wallashin. I can do this again. Meaning that, you know, the audience from CHFI moved like a hive of- a swarm of bees over to EZ Rock and took it to number one. And then I knew okay, my job here isn't going to be forever. Christine's gonna come back. I understand that. But let me move over to Wallashin, because we had some chemistry. Just a few times we met, I thought, I can do it with this guy. But Slate couldn't see past his nose. And he really resented that my husband helped me in my negotiating. Because I know my strengths, and standing up for myself is not one of them. It never will be. And Rob has been my agent, producer- not producer now, I produce all my own podcasts. But you know, he's been the man who was always the catcher, the bass player, the goalie. That's always been Rob's role, to make me show up and shine. And it's how we have worked, and how I've remained any kind of relevant my whole life. So the fact that Gary had someone standing up with and for me, he didn't like it at all. And I remember when I went back to CHFI, he said to Sandy Sanderson, he said, okay, they're your problem now. Like, how he saw me as a problem, I never ever knew, because we weren't a problem. We just stood up and said, actually, no, if you want to sign me on for another period, it's going to- you're going to have to sign three months, or sign six months, I can't be just at your beck and call. He wasn't used to people who said, no, sorry. That's not how it's gonna work for us. You know? It's hard to even talk about because that whole negotiating thing is just- it's as awful as, and again, here I come with the sports analogies. But, you know, if a player goes in, they tell you how awful you are, and then try and get you for a lower price. And they tried that with me, and it just didn't work. I said, no, you're- you're- you're either misinformed or lying to me, because none of that happened. So they weren't used to that either. And you mentioned Sandy Sanderson, so after that, it was the return to Rogers? Yeah, back to CHFI. And they- they brought Cooper with me. And he had to wait it out until the end of October. And so I sat in on the morning show with the afternoon guy, who's still there, Darren Osborne, all these years later at CHFI. And Darren sat in, and then Cooper came at the end of October, and it was like, whoosh, off we went.


Matt Cundill  36:33

And all those years- I mean, we're spanning a couple of decades here, but CHFI, those- those legendary call letters. In all of my trips to Toronto, whether it was an airport, or the train station, I'd get into a cab, and CHFI is on the radio, always. What made the station so special, that it performed so well for so many years? And still does to this day, for that matter.


Erin Davis  36:58

A combination of really good marketing, really good marketing. I mean, they got in bed with some very big people in Tennessee, who did high quality commercials like using stars, from WKRP, Gilligan's Island, you know, all of these. Terry Gar, all of these names that the people who listened to CHFI knew, and put us in their orbit. Wow. So there was that. There was effective marketing, money to spend on advertising, attention to the product, the quality of the music, and the people on air. And we knew what we were and what we had. And I always felt like I was an ambassador, not just for the station, but for the city. Whenever- wherever I went, it was this giant responsibility, but honor to be part of CHFI, you know, and I always called it a family. We treated each other as a family. We did our Christmas Eve show where everybody kind of came together and brought their kids, and we did a show from six till midnight. One year, Matt, it was on one of every two radios on in the city. And I'll never ever forget that. They can put that in my obituary if anybody cares. So it was a family. And also that knowing that Ted Rogers was just a few floors up. I don't know, I took it all probably way too seriously. And that's why being fired devastated me. And anything that happened, I just took to heart and became a serial drinker. But- Pff. That went dark fast. Then anyway, it was just- it was so much. It was such an honor and such a responsibility, because CHFI was Toronto.


Matt Cundill  38:41

Well, you look great. And you look healthy. For somebody who has made at least four references to their drinking along the way, it doesn't- it doesn't look like it's aged you, and it looks like your body just completely regenerates itself properly after like, what, two days later?


Erin Davis  38:54

Oh, no, I'm sober. I've been sober for four and a half years. Yeah. Second time around. I was sober for 10 years in there, too. But yeah, it's no fairy tale. You know what the business costs you, and how drinking and partying was a part of the whole culture. When you had a good book, you went out and drank your face off. And you know, I wanted to fit in with the boys, there were cigars at the end of the night and everything else. So there was a lot of that. And of course, not knowing how to deal with the misogyny, and not being wanted all the time in the studio where you were doing your very best every day. And it was easier to go in hungover than- than to face the anger.


Matt Cundill  39:36

Yeah, I felt that the role playing that I had to do on the radio made it difficult for me to be myself at times. And so I couldn't wait to have drinks on Friday for many, many years. And you know, I think- by the way, you didn't need a good book, because I think the motto was win or lose, we drink the booze.


Erin Davis  39:57

Right? So true.


Matt Cundill  39:59

Yeah, and so I can certainly see how- well, I certainly remember- that, you know, it was definitely something to- to enable us to get to- to Monday morning, the next morning or whatever- whatever came next. 2015-2016, I mean, there's so much, so much, that went on in the world. You know, we talked a little bit about massaging but you personally, you lost your daughter, and under, you know, these horrible circumstances. And at the same time, the world is changing, and at the same time, there's a Me Too movement coming. And so how did you cope?


Erin Davis  40:34

I put on that face that you say, you know, to find out that our daughter had died in her sleep, while we were about to begin a remote broadcast in Jamaica that morning. That May 11th, 2015. It's just the most bizarre radio story ever because you know, it just- it tracks. Radio gave me everything, it gave me my husband. My daughter was born almost on the air. And you know, three months at home and gurgling in my arms, and hearing from mothers later who would start to lactate what Lauren cried on the radio. Dear God. So there was that such a connection that she grew up before listeners' ears, and then to- to find out that morning, and then have to leave a ballroom full of people who had gotten up to watch us do a show, and then just say, okay, now what? Because Lauren herself was a broadcaster in her own right in Ottawa, so it was already on the news wires, and making, you know, Canada AM and that sort of thing. And it's just all so frickin bizarre. She was on maternity leave, she had started, you know, in college in Ottawa, went to CFRA. And then had graduated to doing the new national news, for Christ's sake, she was 24. 23, when she went on mat leave. I mean, just so much promise and potential and talent, and just a wonderful woman and mother and loved her baby. Perhaps to death, because she was on a drug that we believe stopped her heart, and the drug was to help her to breastfeed, and the breastfeed lobby is so mean and loud and angry, that she listened to it all. So I took one month off. I didn't know how long I was going to take off. Because you just don't know. And you know, they thought, well, maybe she's never coming back. And that- that might have been a solution for a normal person. We checked normal at the door a long time ago, Matt, and Cooper had me on the phone, we did a live hit about two weeks after Lauren died. And I found myself laughing with him and him laughing. And I went, oh, okay, this is the medicine. Don't disregard this. Because you can sit and wish and think and do all of those things for the rest of your life, but- or you can get back at it. So one month to the day after Lauren died, I was back on the show with Mike. And I wasn't myself, my voice was about an octave lower, I was just still climbing out. And I talk about this in- in my book, Mourning Has Broken, that it felt like being out of air in your tanks at the bottom of the ocean every show, and just trying to get up to the surface. And at the end of the show, I would kind of stumble across the street, because we lived in condos on Bloor Street, right across from the radio station. And just kind of undressing on my way to the bedroom, and then just kind of collapsing, I was like, completely spent, because I had given everything that I possibly had. But it brought me back to life. It was like some sort of an IV, that gradually day by day I was healing, and doing it as publicly as people had seen our devastation. So then I thought, okay, if you can't be a good warning, be a good example. And I'm going to- I'm just going to try and get through this, and not show everybody- you know, I'm going to show you, but just kind of prove not what I was made of, but what can be possible. So hopefully, that's what I've done.


Matt Cundill  44:11

So I'm working with a podcast that does deal with grief. And one of the things that comes up constantly is the expectation. And I'm sure you're coming back after a month, back to radio, I'm sure there must have been a few callers,  a few letters, a few notes, a few emails, from people saying it's too soon. Or telling you at what level, you know, grief should be experienced. And I think you might have even referenced that recently on Twitter, about- you know, the expectation that people have about what level you should be grieving, at what point, and you know, you should be over by now or something.


Erin Davis  44:42

Yeah, that is the greatest mistake, because we have fixes for everything. And we are in this age where if you don't know something, you go to your phone or you ask whatever speaker's listening. So there is no timeline, no GPS, no rules, but part of our upbringing, part of our lives, is Miss Manners say that manners says, that manners is, the ability to not make other people uncomfortable. And your grief makes people uncomfortable. Because I don't know if it's like, like people used to not say cancer out loud, because as if it was contagious, as if you've said it, someone might catch it. And when they look at somebody who's got everything, and then the rug is pulled out from under their life, they go, Holy Hannah, that could happen to me. And it's- it's a very- it's a very uncomfortable reality. So there's that. You don't want to exploit or explore your grief too publicly, people don't want to know about that. It's just too awful. And so you try and be authentic, without being- let's put on a show, you know, the show must go on kind of thing. But really, life must go on. And so we had in our heads a mantra, that one day when we reunite with Lauren, and our souls come back together, because this was some sort of an agreement that we made, and she says, well, Mom, Dad, what did you do with your life after I left? That we have a damn good answer for her. And to me, that's the only standard I'm going to be held to, whether people think- you know, coming up, this May, it'll be nine years. And you should be over this by now. You never, ever get over your particular grief. You get through it. And how you get through it is such a completely personal experience, there is something called complicated grief that you should look into, if it's still deeply affecting your life and terrible ways. But other than that, it's- everybody's got a story that will break your heart, as Amanda Marshall sang, and it's so true. And it's just how you deal with it. And I'll take a breath here in a second, but you've hit on something that's so deeply personal and- and important to me. And it is Viktor Frankl, who wrote in Man's Search for Meaning that the only real thing humans can control is how we react to something. You can't control anything. And this is from a doctor, a psychiatrist who was in the death camps in the Holocaust, and observed and learned and later taught. The only thing we have control of, Matt, is how we react. It's stoicism at its very most basic.


Matt Cundill  47:28

How did it end for you at CHFI?


Erin Davis  47:30

Really nicely. It could have ended better. My dear sweet partner, Mike Cooper, had to leave the February that I left, 2016. His wife Debbie was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, and she- he wanted to be with her as much as he could. And he was, he was, but he had to leave. And we all got that. And it's becoming a blur now, because then I was partnered with Darren B. Lam, who was just somebody from outer space who had been beamed into the studio. And I can't say anything about that experience that doesn't make me sound awful. So I just- I just won't. He didn't understand a human interaction or human experience, or he wouldn't let himself be human on the air. And maybe as time went on with Maureen, I think it got a little bit better. But just the fact that he vanished in thin air, called back to the mothership tells it all, and left the station in the lurch and left- you know, Cooper came back to be with Maureen, and thought that they were going to save the station when the station decided to do something altogether. I'm just- I'm so sad for what happened there. But not for me. Because Darren, bless him, bless his heart, as they say in the South. He gave me permission to leave, because I knew it wasn't fun anymore. And it was time to go and explore life outside of radio. So I made my announcement. It's so funny, because the great Rogers promotion machine, or PR machine, which had nothing to do with radio, we all kind of decided the date it would be announced. And at one point I said, you know that is the morning after the US election, should we- should we pick another day? Oh well, it'll be fine. And of course, everybody woke up to the news that Trump had won. And so there it is trending on Twitter. I see Breakfast Television on the studio's TV. It's like Erin, CHFI and Trump. I despise him for every, every reason, but that's- and that's not even one of them. I don't care that anything came out the day I announced I was leaving. Who cares about, you know, somebody leaving a radio show when that was happening? For crying out loud. Anyway, yes, go on. Well, I was gonna say in 2016 as well, there was that pivotal moment, but the Me Too moment, which happened throughout the entire year. And you must be saying to yourself, finally, people are seeing what I've been seeing, not just in the radio business but across most of the entertainment industry and beyond. It took me a long time to kind of open my eyes to what I had seen. Because the fact that I begged them in 1999, to say, hey, you know what, I've been doing this show 11 years. Can we make it Erin and Bob? Well no, it just sounds better, Bob and Erin. And I said, yeah, you're right. Sounds more like Don and Erin, people won't notice a difference. And just the little things that I did, to try and say, hey, over here, and the examples of abuse that I cited, and I still have the letter, I don't know why I've kept it. It's in a box of crap from years ago that I wrote, saying, please, please, please address what's going on in this studio, you know, the way I'm being treated and that sort of thing. And nobody wanted to say anything, least of all me, because at that time, my job was to not upset the applecart, because there were so many other girls they could have brought in to do this job. So I knew I was going to have to tough it out. And so I did. And it was only- it's like they say in the golf game. It's that one great shot that keeps you coming back. And there were great shots with Don, we had an amazing partnership at times, but I knew how much he resented me, and I think disliked me, for so many of those years. And it was such a father-daughter thing too, I was so looking for a dad spot in him, that he couldn't possibly give me. So yeah, I was to blame for a small part of it. But the misogyny that I saw around me, you know, like the- the guy, and I won't name his position because I don't know who he is now, but you know, groping the receptionist and- and her kind of disappearing, and all of the things that went on, and- and going on business trips. And his main job, this guy, was to pick up a waitress in the- in the hotel bar, or whatever. It was just- it was so icky. But what did we know? When I started at CFRA, I was thinking of Ed Needham, the other day, the late talk show host. He would call me the- who's the frail? The frail. Frail! And I didn't even know that was such an antiquated term to refer to a woman. And all of these- all of these- just- and at CKLW, being taken to strip clubs with the rest of the news guys. And- and I would go along because I needed to fit in. I couldn't be the one who was not one of the boys, because I wanted so much to succeed and be a part of it. So anyway, wow. How much is this therapy costing me, Matt?


Matt Cundill  52:38

It's $150.


Erin Davis  52:40

Okay, thank you.


Matt Cundill  52:41

See Jane to book an appointment again next week.


Erin Davis  52:45

That's the problem with therapy and people in radio, nobody gets us. Nobody understands our references, or why we're so effed up. And that was a thing that I found one after the other, after the other, once I got over my fear that they would recognize that it was me who was on the radio coming in here and telling them all these stories, they just didn't understand. Well, why didn't you stop doing that? Why don't you say something to somebody? I can't..?


Matt Cundill  53:10

I have a theory that the most successful morning shows are the ones that exist with codependent relationships. And so that sort of baseline of success, of codependency, really sort of spreads that- you know, throughout a radio station, between a program director and talent. It's very codependent, as opposed to being interdependent. So all of our relationships are dysfunctional. Then you throw in the other stuff, whether it's the misogyny and sexism, and all that stuff, and it's just a witch's brew. By Friday, you might need a beer, might need a joint, you might need to go to the strip club, you might need to go and- also acting, playing different roles. So at its root, it's dysfunctional.


Erin Davis  53:50

I think also that radio attracts broken toys. We are the people who aren't normal. We're the ones who say, hey, look at me. And you have to build up an ego, not only to shield that vast insecurity, but so that when people tell you, you suck, the other one was better. What are you doing there? It doesn't destroy you. So it's- it's really hard. And you see people who are a-holes to listeners, but that's because they had to build that up and they're so used to being told that they're awful, that they don't care. But I took it all very personally, I'll tell you. In the middle of November every year, when CHFI turned to all Christmas music, I would get this barrage of phone calls and emails, people so angry that their radio station was playing Burl Ives in November. And I took it personally, that's what a yutz I was. It was just like, please stop. And so I would have a countdown on the wall to to when Christmas came, and it wasn't like an advent calendar. It was almost like, we can do this. We can survive this. Because it was- it was awful. What a baby, eh? Too bad for you. Number one station in the city and the country, and you're complaining because people are mad about Christmas music. But that's what happens when you take it all personally, right?


Matt Cundill  55:08

Well, that's the power of radio, people are complaining about a product they're getting for free.


Erin Davis  55:12

Haha! That's right, you know you have buttons. But what hurt me was that- giving them a reason to push the button. That was always the thing. Never give them a reason, Matt, right? Don't do anything that might give them a reason to find another station that they maybe like better. Oh my god, what if they like Marilyn better? Well, of course they do. She's on television. No, don't let them leave.


Matt Cundill  55:36

You mentioned therapy. One of the best methods of therapy is writing. And you wrote a book. What's it like to write a book?


Erin Davis  55:44

Oh, it was awful. But here's the thing. I had been writing a journal since 2003. So every day I had the discipline of getting that message out. First, it was to 80 people. And I was saying to my husband the other day, thinking okay. It's been 21 years we're going into of doing this. And it used to be daily. And now it's once a week, thank God, I came to my senses. And I said, how many- is it still worth doing? He said, yeah, there's about 1200, 1300 people who read it every time you put it up. So, okay, I'll keep at it. But Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours, and I'd had that of my writing. So it turns out, when I announced I was leaving CHFI, Tracy Moore, bless her, on Cityline had me on the show, and I told my story of Lauren dying, and going back to radio, and what our lives were, and how her baby boy was doing and everything. And in the audience that day- and it's the wildest thing, was the Executive Editor/Publisher of HarperCollins. And she contacted me, and I didn't even open the email for days, because I was just so inundated with emails, and it said, we think you have a book in you. And it's like, okay, am I going to do this? My husband, my light, love, strength and stay, said, no, don't. And one of my sister says, why does the world need another book about grief? And these, of course, the sisters are the voices in my head anyway. And so I thought that, what can I possibly bring to the table about grief that hasn't been written so much more eloquently numerous times, for millennia, or as long as people have been, you know, carving in caves? So then, we started to talk about what the book would be. And it morphed into this, not only our story, but things I'd learned, and I was so often contacted by other bereaved parents who told me their experiences. And so I was able to mine some of that, and my own- another sister who knew from grief with the death of her son, and the death of a baby. So she had her own experiences. And then I thought, okay, I can put my own voice in this. And people may want to read it, because they know me, and they knew our story. But did they really know it? So writing it while people thought and obviously, it's a question that came up a lot during the book tour- was it cathartic? Was it cathartic? The answer should have been yes. But no. Because when you grief to this extent, when you grieve to this extent, to me, I put a cloak on. It was the cloak of grief and shock that protected me and kept me going, you know, kept me facing forward, do a show, get through it, and then just do what you have to do to survive it at home. But going into the book was- I had to ask my husband, okay, what happened that morning, when you got the phone call in the hotel lobby, and then I came out from the ballroom asking, where are you? What happened? What did people do? What did the- what did the guests say? What- how did we- because I had forgotten it all. And that's kind of how I function. I can compartmentalize things really well. And it's how I could survive. So writing the book was not cathartic. It was dirty. And I would- I got to the point where, where Iris, the publisher, said, do you need a ghost writer? And I went, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, I'm writing this thing. Okay, you've lit a fire. So I did get to writing it. I love deadlines. And I would say okay, today I'm gonna write 1000 words, and then we're gonna go back out and just go through it. And Rob edited, he would do the first edit for me. So he was neck deep in it as well. So it was hard. But ultimately extremely gratifying. Because to this day, I still have people saying, I just read your book, or I've given your book to a friend of mine whose son just died. So the message continues, you know, life after loss.


Matt Cundill  59:37

2020, another monumental year on our planet, but you're inducted into the Hall of Fame. Did you get to do that in person, or was that an online event?


Erin Davis  59:46

Did that happen? Did that really happen, Matt? Because no. It was online. And it was hilarious, because I got all made up, I was all ready, I was in front of my camera and stuff. And I was waiting that night for the FedEx to come with the award, and it was going to come, and I was going to shoot something, and then they were going to put it up right away. I don't remember why I had turned it into such a thing. But I sat there like the girl awaiting her date who stood her up on prom night. The delivery never came. And so I just shot a thank you without holding it. It was so surreal. And it was a moment that I- again, I'm- did it happen? Because I didn't get to- get to do it in front of everybody. And just to experience that communally with- with my peers. It was sad. It was sad. But I'm grateful. God, it looks good on a bio, for what it's worth.


Matt Cundill  1:00:36

It does. It's- I can see you standing there at the front and accepting the award and, you know, 10 minute speeches and all that stuff. And no, it didn't. It was 2020.


Erin Davis  1:00:46

Yeah, it was. Yeah. I didn't even remember that that was the year, as a matter of fact, but yeah, it happened. And I don't know, maybe one day I'll go back and induct somebody else. But who knows? Who knows?


Matt Cundill  1:00:59

Tell me about podcasting. What brought you to start one?


Erin Davis  1:01:02

I couldn't not. I mean, I was doing my journals, and then I decided, okay, it's COVID. I'm going to do video journals. Because we can do this. So I set myself up in an arm chair with some lighting and figured out how to use my iPad as a prompter behind my computer camera, and started doing that just to connect with people and let them know, okay, we're all still together. We're here. And then the first one I did was for Slagle Villages retirement homes, and it was called Elder Wisdom. And it still continues, Kathy Buckworth, who is on AM 740. She's Zoomer radio. She's doing it now, because we did it for two years, kind of stepped away. But it was a podcast with a co-host in his 80's, who lived there. And then just the shared experiences, the stories that never get told. I mean, on paper, it sounds like, oh, this is going to be a dud. But once you get great producers who prep all these people, and- anyway, that was the first one. And then the Canadian Real Estate Association reached out to me and said, we're gonna do a podcast, would you like to host it? Because I'd already been doing live events emceeing for them. And yeah, I said, sure. So that has turned out to be a really great thing. And this year, we're doing 100% video, I have a much better set than just my poorly lit awful studio here. But it's really neat, because now it's video, and that's monthly. And then my friend Lisa Brandt, who did radio forever, same as me. We're born like 12 days apart. We are like sisters, but hopefully have differing enough opinions to make it interesting. So then we started Gracefully and Frankly, I was just playing with names. And I was thinking, Grace and Frankie, Grace- oh, gracefully and frankly, and that's where it came from. And in there, I also began a sleep podcast called Drift, which is now over 100 stories, over a quarter million downloads. And last night, this morning, at two in the morning, I came up with a tagline. It says- just a minute, I'm gonna find it. I just- I'm so proud of this, Matt, and you're the first person that's going to hear it. Listen to this. Okay. Blah, blah, blah. On Drift tonight, Drift with Erin Davis sleep podcast. 100 plus stories await you for free. You're not dreaming... yet.  You're not dreaming... yet. And I'm not even looking it up to see if it's some pillow company. Oh my god, what if it's a pillow guy? Anyway, yeah, I'm really proud of that one. Because it started- really, for me, not being able to sleep at night, listening to calm stories and going, why am I not doing this? So there. Four podcasts. Just three now, though, I'm cutting back.


Matt Cundill  1:03:16

Perfect.  Well, I took you to bed last night.


Erin Davis  1:03:42

Oh, really? You were the best, best last night.


Matt Cundill  1:03:47

Well, that may be why the slogan came up right when I was downloading your show. I just wanted to actually just double check a number here, because I think- I just want to put it into context for listeners, because I know a lot of people have been listening to the show. We're going on eight years now. And you've mentioned that you hit a quarter million downloads total. And this podcast, which has been going for eight years- I keep these numbers here somewhere. So very boring.


Erin Davis  1:04:11

You should, and Broadcast Dialogue has you right there. I mean, wow.


Matt Cundill  1:04:15

So this podcast has the same. We have 253,000 downloads, since I started tracking it eight years ago on Podtrak. But here you are with the same number of historical downloads in a shorter period of time. This is a huge audience for you. And there's a lot of people who need to get to sleep.


Erin Davis  1:04:35

Yes, exactly. Wow. Well, congratulations to you. Alright, Matt, it's on. Let's check in in a year.


Matt Cundill  1:04:42

Listen, there's not as many people in radio now who are going to be, like, looking for these stories, which is why we put podcast ones in there as well. But I love the goal. The goal of your show, by the way, is to not get to the end of the show. And the goal of my show is to get people to the end.


Erin Davis  1:04:54

Isn't that amazing? I mean, it's like this karmic turnaround after years of waking people up when they wanted to be sleeping, I'm doing the exact opposite. And it's so gratifying. Oh my god, I'm loving. It's called Drift with Erin Davis Sleep Stories. And the Lisa Brandt one, I've already said, is Gracefully and Frankly, we are loving that. Because how often you get to talk with your best friend and just talk about anything? And it's like radio without the commercials, without the music, and just kind of the occasional swear word. But we never say the F-bomb because kids are around, and my grandson listens to it! He says, yeah, you're on Spotify. I said what are you doing? He says, I listen to you and Miss Lisa up in my room. And it's like, that's Lauren's boy, you know? Listening to gramma banana on the radio, sort of.


Matt Cundill  1:05:42

What app do you use to listen to podcasts?


Erin Davis  1:05:44

I listen on Amazon, on Prime. At night, what I listened to to go to sleep is American History with Lindsey Graham. Just tell me a story. Not that Lindsey Graham, not- not Miss Lindsay. The one- you know, he's a really good podcaster. I want to hear a story that is told well, I put it on point eight, so it's slower. And then it's kind of boring. But it's- and doesn't have commercials to wake you up, and doesn't have a bunch of music. I mean, other than that, I love listening to Badlands and Hollywoodland and stuff that- and I listen to Dateline on my dog walks, but- and of course you, Matt, I can't leave you out.


Matt Cundill  1:06:23

I love that you listen to history, because I am a history nut, and I will listen to history podcasts to go to sleep, but you're the very first person I've ever met who will listen to a podcast at a slower speed.


Erin Davis  1:06:33

Well, that's to go to sleep. But you know, I listen to my news podcasts a little faster. Usually 1.2. But yeah, just more slowly to go to sleep. And then I don't have to really pay attention to the word so much because they're being fed to me just more gently. Yeah, I love podcasting. I came in hating it. I resented the hell out of it, because I thought you're killing radio. And then I realized no, no, this is making up for what radio could be, should be, and can't be. I mean, you could listen to Howard Stern for- like, I got a sister who listens to him constantly. And I always had this thing against him because of his misogyny, because of them putting him on Q107 in Toronto, you know, when he didn't belong there. He wasn't- he wasn't local. But then you kind of go wait, he's a great interviewer, now that he's kind of off of the boobs and butts and stuff more. And he gets people to be honest with him, and you get stuff from him that you don't get anywhere else. So pay attention to that. And how can you do that? You know? I love interviewing. Christ. I love talking. I'm so sorry to have been talking so much here, Matt.


Matt Cundill  1:07:38

I'm sorry. Is there a program director who's telling us to wrap it up?


Erin Davis  1:07:41

No. But I- Ahhh.


Matt Cundill  1:07:44

No. Listen, you mentioned Howard Stern. When people say, who do you love as interviewers? It's Terry Gross. It's Howard Stern. And I'll throw in Dan Patrick, because I like it when Dan Patrick does- interviews my favorite sports person, the questions are short, and he gets right to the point.


Erin Davis  1:07:59

Yeah, I love that. The people who don't make the questions all about them unless it is for context. And you're really good at that, by the way, you really are. I feel so comfortable. I'm just going on and on, and I'm so sorry. But when you get talking to me about communicating and radio... Thanks for coming to my ED Talk. E.D.


Matt Cundill  1:08:19

Why were you resentful of podcasting? Like, why would you look at it and go, this is taking all of radio. You know, radio used to be the one, it was always the Valerie Gellars that came in, we want to speak directly to the listener, we want to make it personal. We want to make it feel like it's one on one. And now when people asked me about the difference between radio and podcasts, and I say, well, radio, they talk at you, and podcasting they talk to you.


Erin Davis  1:08:42

Yes, I was resentful. Partly- okay, there was an ego thing that came in and said, wait a minute, I've done all this training. I've done all this slogging through crap. And you're just gonna come on and do your little podcast, and it's gonna be- I'm gonna talk about- you know, and so there was this ego in me that said, anybody can do this? Why? But then that's the beauty of it. I opened my eyes and said, get out of your own way. Anybody can do this. Anyone can be a good storyteller. Anyone has a story to tell. And that's what I used to love about biography. Remember when A&E was actually arts and entertainment? Oh God, who's old? Get off my lawn. But biography, you would go in there going, I couldn't care less about the guy who started Cadbury, and then you go, aw, this is really neat. Because if you tell a story, well, it's like that break Valerie had you retool and make better. It's always going to be good. So that's the beauty of podcasting. And I resented it, Matt, because I thought it was going to take away from our radio audience. And again, never give them a reason to change the channel or to find something else. And the more that we, you know, found the stuff that they were making us do that was so inane, you know, like the all music hour at 8am, with- with, you know, no commercials, but no talk. No hosts, and it was just so stupid. And it happened around 911. They did that to us. The night of 911, that program director phoned me and said, well, everything that's been said about it is going to be- it's already been said. So let's just go back to our regular programming tomorrow. When the rule the Valerie Gellar rule was, is my world safe? You needed to hold people's hands and tell them the stories, and we weren't allowed to do that. Podcasting said, over here, and then came in and told the stories, and it's just amazing. I love it now. I love it. It gives me an outlet and keeps me busy. I love it.


Matt Cundill  1:10:48

I want to thank you for taking the time, just before you head off down south for- for a few weeks of hopefully some wonderful sunshine.


Erin Davis  1:10:54

Yeah, going to California. I'm very picky about where I go now. They've changed their open carry laws, which kind of helps, but yeah, it's- every place is a little bit insane. Rob and I are taking our son in law and his wife, our daughter in law, that's- you know, it's weird family dynamic, but it works- and our two grandkids and we're going down and they're going to do Super Mario World and we'll get on a hop, on hop off bus or- I don't know, go see Jimmy Kimmel or something. I don't know. My days- they Disney'd did that out of me when I was in the radio station. We had to work for the mouse really hard, like a rented mule. And so we're just going to enjoy. It won't be warmer than it is here in the Victoria BC area, but we'll have a really neat experience.


Matt Cundill  1:11:39

Thank you so much for doing this. It's so good to meet you finally.


Erin Davis  1:11:42

Oh Matt. Thank you. Meeting you and being able to talk to your audience one on one. It just means the world to me,and I'm so grateful to you for asking. Have a wonderful- and I know we're well into the year now, but I never get tired- oh, a Happy Lunar New Year. Now I can say that.  There we go.  There we go. Year of the dragon, away you go.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  1:12:01

The Sound Off Podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Edited by Chloe Emond-Lane. Social media by Aidan Glassey. Another great creation from the Soundoff Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.

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