Jim Lang: Live, Local and Social at the Region
Updated: May 31
Jim Lang is a renowned broadcaster who's worked all over Canada, mostly in AM radio and almost always covering sports. You probably know him best from either Sportsnet Fan Radio 590, or his Toronto Argos coverage on AM 640. In this episode, we work our way through his broadcast history, from his humble beginnings as a radio intern all the way to his coverage of events like the Superbowl.
If you're a sports fan, you'll love this one. Jim talks at length about the most stand-out moments of his sports career- the aftermath of Superbowl 42 and the ensuing chaos, the feeling of living in Montreal while the Canadiens were on a Stanley Cup run, and the privilege of becoming the radio voice of the Argos.
This is a great episode for radio buffs as well, as Jim shares his story of moving from Halifax to Toronto and falling in love with the radio offerings the city had. He shares the exact moment he knew it was the career for him, the trepidation he felt the first time he stepped inside a big-city radio control room, and even some tips about making a voiceover sound punchier.
Nowadays, Jim hosts his own morning show on 105.9 The Region. You can listen to him from Monday to Friday, 5:00am to 10:00am. Hockey fans should also check out any of his 3 books, all co-written with hockey legends:
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill 00:00:11
Jim Lang is the morning show host at 105.9 The Region in York. York, by the way, is located just north of Toronto and it covers a big area. Jim and I worked together for a few years back in the early 90s when the Blue Jays were winning the World Series. The Expos were getting ready to win one of their own and the Stanley Cup came back to Montreal. As the years carried on, it was great to see Jim call football games for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts and become an anchor at Sportsnet. In 2014, he got reacquainted with the alarm clock and morning radio. Jim Lang joins me from his home just outside of Toronto. I'll tell you one thing I completely forgot, though, and that's you were born in France.
Jim Lang 00:00:53
That's right. My father was in the Air Force in the 60s. Now it's funny what's going on with Russia and Ukraine because my dad was there in the height of the Cold War and the Canadian Air Force, the Canadian military was much, much larger then, and what happened after World War II is West Germany had huge allied bases, American British, Canadian bases with airplanes and troops. And the whole idea was they were expecting the Warsaw Pact, Russia and East Germany and all those countries to come through West Germany and right to Paris to the English Channel. And the only thing stopping them were the Canadian bases. So my dad had been posted in Ottawa, met my mother, and then basically if you were in the military in the 60s, in the Canadian military, you were going for a four year stint in Europe at one point because they had so many people there. So my parents had just got married and we were living in a little village in Belgium because we were stationed in Marville, France, which is just basically not far from Bastogne, not far from that part of the Luxembourg, Belgium, France confluence there. And then I was about a year old and then we ended up moving and set up base and we were my dad and his other members of the military team, they were the first people to open up the Canadian Armed Forces base in Lare. They would do World War Three drills twice a year. They would have to drive around the base at midnight, my dad and a group of other young airmen and say, you have X amount of hours to be at your post, pilots, crew, air traffic controllers on the idea that you would have to be airborne, flying into Russian territory at a moment's notice. So that's what my dad and the members of the military, the Canadian military and the British and American military went through all the time in the 60s. And so it would have been '68 when we left Germany and ended up moving to Trenton. And they did our cycle of moves in North America.
Matt Cundill 00:02:45
So where does your radio story begin?
Jim Lang 00:02:49
I think it starts. I remember in CFB Trenton being in grade 6-7, listening to Rochester. An FM station from Rochester basically came across the Lake into Trenton. But in grade- the start of grade eight. My dad got transferred to Burbank. The Canadian military bought an aircraft called the CP 140 Aurora that still flies today. It was built in the late 70s, early 80s, and arriving into Southern California radio in the fall of 1978 from living in Trenton, Ontario, in the Quinte area, Matt, was well, I mean, I'd never heard anything like it. They had a Charlie Tuna was the name of a huge Top 40 Jock in LA. Then you had Rick DS on the air. You had these huge 200, 300,000 Watt stations in Southern California that would blast into Nevada and Arizona. And I fell in love with a station called KLOS. They called it the Best in the West KLOS. And it was an FM rock station unlike anything ever heard. And you would hear music like you just did not hear in Canadian radio. In the late Seventies. The Canadian radio programmers would never play this stuff. And their attitude on the air, how they did stuff on the air was very different. And then we moved from there, about halfway through Grade 9 to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia in the early 1980s. Matt, this was they had, I think, C 100 FM, which was a Chum station. And that was almost like a hybrid of CHFI at the time. And Chum FM, like there was no rock radio east of Shone in Canada in the early 1980s. English radio. I mean, there was some Francophone in Quebec City, but Chhum FM, that's where it stopped. And east of that, it was just top 40 and easy listening FM and some country music and CBC radio. And it was sort of a dark period for radio, for me, for those half a grade 9, 10, and 11. And then my dad got transferred to Camp Borden, which is about an hour and a half north of Toronto. And then all of sudden, I was picking up Chum FM, Q107, The Edge. CFRB signal went from Lake Shore. I swear it was like almost up to North Bay. It was such a huge signal. And that's where you sort of started to think about radio. And that's where you thought, well, I thought I had heard the best of the best in LA. And I said, this is just as good what I'm hearing in Toronto. The big thing for me in high school was 680, the Top 40 station. And especially in the afternoon, Mike Cooper was a huge influence. And he had the 5:20 stupid joke of the day. And I was lucky enough years later to cross paths with him and get to know him and absolutely wonderful human being, like one of the best you'll ever need. But one of those guys off the air and on the air, his voice is one of the top radio voices the country has ever produced, Matt. And definitely in that mid 80s era, as I was ending high school, it really kind of put the radio bug in my ear what I wanted to do after high school.
Matt Cundill 00:05:49
Did I know about your stint in Greenwood, Nova Scotia?
Jim Lang 00:05:52
I don't think so. Back then I was just in the early parts of high school, and my whole life was just going to school and playing hockey and a little bit of football and just living life. Yeah.
Matt Cundill 00:06:05
Yeah. I worked down in that area for a time in the 1990s and yeah, C100 would have not even gotten to Greenwood.
Jim Lang 00:06:13
Kentville was the only station. Yeah.
Matt Cundill 00:06:16
Well, Kentville had Annapolis Valley Radio, and that was really a string of AM sticks that went across the Annapolis Valley, and Greenwood would have been close to the Middleton stick.
Jim Lang 00:06:25
Matt Cundill 00:06:26
That didn't really offer much other than some country music and a whole lot of news and information. I mean, I worked there, so I kind of loved it. It was a great place for our first gig.
Jim Lang 00:06:36
Yes. And I can remember like it was yesterday because we would be bused from the base to the high school, West Kings District High School, because that was the closest high school to Greenwood. CFB Greenwood. And honest to God, they would do a turn onto this road to get to the school. And there was about a three or four month period where every day at the time of the turn, they'd have the local AVR station on and they'd play Billy Joel it Ain't Rock and Roll to me or Still Rock and Roll to me, like every day at the same time. And we go, we'd be sitting in the bus mullets and the lumberjack shirts going, oh, my God, here we go again. And I hear that song and I'm in grade ten on a bus in the middle of Nowhere, Nova Scotia. And when Jake Edwards set up Q 104, that was a huge thing for Maritime radio, that changed radio in the Maritimes forever. And that created the whole rock radio culture in the Maritimes. So people take it for granted. But before Brother Jake Edwards did that, they didn't exist.
Matt Cundill 00:07:35
We had Tom Bedell from Q 104 on here a few months ago, and he was talking about that launch. And I'm sure if you did a survey in Halifax that 90% of people aged 18 to 34 will say that they were there for the first day of Q 104.
Jim Lang 00:07:52
Well, my cousins, I have a lot of family that lives in the Halifax area. It was a game changer for them Matt because they hated the local radio and it was a lot of easy listening. And then they had like April Wine and Rush. It was rock and roll and the attitude. And they're presenting concerts at the Metro Center, and it was a huge thing. And then that spawned the rock stations in Monton, I think was the next one. And sort of now all of sudden and then the St. John's, Newfoundland. All of a sudden, you had a number of stations in the Maritime taking that sort of Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, rock attitude and took it east to them.
Matt Cundill 00:08:29
When did you first land inside of a radio station?
Jim Lang 00:08:33
Well, I guess my favorite story is when I started a Humber College, I had applied to different colleges for radio broadcasting, and Humber was the one that accepted me. And so there was about 65 of us in the first week, and it was the second or third day class. And it was like, hey, I'm Matt and I'm from Montreal and I did some volunteering here and everyone, they're going along like L Lang. So they started A and so Hi, I'm Jim Lang from CFB Borden. I like to listen to radio.
Jim Lang 00:09:02
That was my experience.
Jim Lang 00:09:05
I'd never been inside. They were like from a small town. They had to work at their local radio station. They had a high school radio station because they were from the city. And I didn't know I mean, the first time I was actually inside a radio station was I had to do a project. And I think at the end of the first year of Humber College, and I met Lee Eckley, and he invited me, another partner of mine, Doug Smiley, who was my roommate and worked in some of the radio stations. We got to go to Chum FM to see Lee "Beef" Eckley, tall, skinny guy. And it said on the door through these doors past the finest radio talent in Canada, and it was like Indiana Jones finding the Holy Grail. I mean, it hit me like a diamond right to the forehead mat. I couldn't believe it. I saw the mixing board, and this is why we're in school. It blew me away. It was like, it was like an instant addiction. That's why we're going to have to put the work in because I want to sit in a chair like that some day.
Matt Cundill 00:10:07
So I had the same experience in the control room you wound up in one day. When I saw Terry Demante doing his job, I go, what's this? It's got those are carts and these are lights and those are phones. And wow, it was next level.
Jim Lang 00:10:21
So fast forward. So I ended up doing my internship at Q107 because Stan Lark, God Rest his soul, the late great Stan Lark, who ran the radio program at Humber for years, and he had worked at CKY and RB, and he had a syndicated gardening show through the 70s and 80s that was broadcast in like 100 Am stations in Canada. And he had this big, deep, classic radio voice. So he made calls. I ended up doing my internship with Q, which was a wonderful experience. And I got my first job. I sent about 35 resumes and one place hired me. And it was CKBB in Barrie. And the program director and parttime announcer, Jeff Walther, was a Humber alum and always liked to hire Humber people. Give them a break. Don Landry was doing the evening show who was a year ahead of me at Humber. And I got hired to do the all night show. And they had the old pan pots, the old dial pots. And I go, this is not quite the Chum FM board. It was the summer of 87, and I was talking at a microphone being paid to do it on a radio. So this is great.
Matt Cundill 00:11:29
They had those pan pots, by the way, at AVR.
Jim Lang 00:11:32
Oh, I believe it. So it was like a big dial on your oven. And that's how you adjusted the levels as opposed to the nice what you see the nice mixing boards and that. But it was old school, but Matt, by God, it did work.
Matt Cundill 00:11:46
How did you get into Q 107 as an intern? Yeah.
Jim Lang 00:11:52
I think there was somebody I think he called Gene Valaitis because Gene Valaitis and Jane Hawtin ran the newsroom. He called Gene Valaitis and said, there's this young man who wants to do an internship here. And at the time, FM radio did a lot of foreground programming in Canada, and this is the late 1980s. And they had magazine show. So Gene Valaitis, who was the news director, and Jane Hawtin, who was a newsreader, did a weekend magazine show called Barometer. And it was a series of interviews with musicians, politicians. And the weird thing is we do a version of that on the radio station I'm at now 105.9 The Region in York region called the Feed. But in the 80s, that was pretty standard. The Edge had it every almost FM station had a weekend magazine show to really maybe shine a spotlight on a charity or something happening in the community. And I really liked it. So I was the intern and I would help edit the interviews and help edit and put the show together. And in that newsroom was Kathleen Rankin, John Gallagher, Jane Hawtin, Gene Valaitis, Steve Anthony was there, John Derringer, Bob Mackowitz, Steve Warden. Steve Warden had not started yet. It was just before Steve Warden with Andy Frost, like Jake Edwards, like broadcast icons, and walking through there, being in school and being a radio, you learn a lot of good theoretical foundation stuff. But when you're in an intern at a station like that, you realize this is the Big League and you realize it's been like an athlete and you think you're pretty good and you get called up to training camp. But I've talked to hockey players like they're hot stuff in Junior and they go to pro camp and they're like, wow. And they know why they're going back to their junior team, Matt, because they're not ready. And as much as I thought I knew everything, I walked into a place like Q in the late 80s doing an internship with that talent. Like, there's no way I'm ready to get in front of a microphone. Q 107 send me away somewhere because you realize you have a lot to learn. The more you do it, it becomes muscle memory. And it was explained to me, you start talking about athletes and they like they said, Look, Jim, we don't have time to think. Things are happening so fast and so immediately you practice it so much that it happens without thinking. There's no thought that goes into it. And you're asked afterwards, How'd you do it. And you're like, you almost have to look at the video. Oh, yeah, that's how I did it. Because in the moment you're not really sure how it happened. And I find in broadcasting, you have to do these shows, host these shows, host a podcast, voice a comment and write it. And you learn the best way to write it, the best way to voice it. The one thing I find it takes time is- at the beginning, everyone talks in a pretty flat tone of voice with a few I find minor modulations up and down. But with time, you really learn how to do, almost like a singer looking at the music sheet, you learn the up and down of your voice. So if I give a script to someone out of school, they're going to read it. It's going to sound like Matt Cundill is hosting a podcast on Squadcast, and it's going to sound pretty basic. And I think with time you learn how to read that in such a way it sounds completely different and that only comes with time. To me, that's only experience. And the longer you do it, the longer you're doing it. You're reading the same words as someone else, but it sounds completely different because of your understanding. The voice has got to be almost like you're listening to a song. Like, a singer can't hold the note up. Like here, you can't sing like down here, it's got to be somewhere up and down. There's got to be moments where you punch the words in a song. It's the same thing reading a script. You have to know when to punch the words in the script.
Matt Cundill 00:15:39
So you were doing some production with John Derringer at Q 107. I think you were doing the 06:00 Rock Report in and amongst all the other stuff, because I know you came to Montreal with all these great relationships with bands and you came part of the deal to CHOM in Montreal, as I recall. And when you come so John goes and lives out in St. Lazar, which is past Hudson. It's not even a suburb like you're in the country, but you choose to reside in Outrement, which is like the polar opposite. The neighborhood is predominantly French. It's fairly diverse, but it's really in the heart of Montreal. And you're not really near the radio station, which was located over in Westmount on Green Avenue. So why did you want to jump in and do Outrement?
Jim Lang 00:16:27
I wanted to live the Montreal experience. I really wanted to feel like I was in Montreal. And I mean, the other thing is I was making 20 grand a year and my apartment was 350 a month. This is great. First of all, this is the most money I ever made in radio. It was 20 grand a year and 350 a month. And it was like a studio, one bedroom, kind of open concept, hardwood floors, but really cool area. There was a Metro, a small Metro a couple of blocks away. And I'm like, oh, the Metro in Quebec. I can get beer and wine. This is fantastic. And there was like a real Montreal bagel shop nearby. And I would have to drive over the mountain to come down Green Avenue. And I had an old K-car and I couldn't afford winter tires. And I can remember one time coming into the morning show and I'm coming down the Mount to get down to Green Avenue. You come down from Mount Royal and it flattens out by Sherbrook. And I was doing this and I missed a Jaguar by that much. And I'm like, oh, my God, I still to this day don't know how I didn't hit some of those expensive cars parked along because I was not in the fancy area. But I drove to the fancy area to get to the radio station at CHOM. But I really wanted to immerse myself in the Montreal experience. I was in my late 20s. I was single. I said, I'm going to live in Montreal. John wants to live out in Saint Lazar, out in the sticks with his big dog. That's fine. But I want to live in Montreal, be able to hop on the Metro, be close to things. And I don't regret it for a second. It was an incredible experience living there and working there. And years later, married with kids, went to Montreal. We were driving through and going to some of the places. It was awesome. And going up the lookout on Mount Royal, and I could say, hey, girls, my apartment was just a few blocks over there, and that was really cool. I really liked that. Montreal is a fantastic city. Still is. And to this day, it's the only time I witnessed the Stanley Cup parade was four months after I moved there is on Sherbrook Avenue up in the sales office, one of our sales associates of the corporate sales division that work with us, looking down on the floats going by, and it's still one of the highlights of my sports life is watching the Montreal Canadian Stanley Cup raid in the spring, summer 93.
Matt Cundill 00:18:44
That was such a weird year. Here are these two die hard Leafs fans who came to work at Shelley and the Leafs had this great run because I know you and I watched a lot of it down at Old Blitz. That's right.
Jim Lang 00:18:58
Matt Cundill 00:18:58
That's where Toronto eliminated Detroit, I think in overtime. I think that was a Wendell Clark goal anyway, the Leafs go on this great run and then it gets to game seven and then they get sort of hosed by the high stick and Kerry Fraser, which I'm sure he will never live down or at least no Leafs fan will ever let that go. But then you're in Montreal and you have to endure the Habs winning a Stanley Cup, which I guess you guys got caught up and was a lot of fun. But yeah, we had a riot and then they had to put the parade on Sherbrook Street that year and then the Expo started to take off. It was really good times for Montreal sports then.
Jim Lang 00:19:33
Incredible. And I've been fortunate enough in my career, Matt, years since to get to know a number of the players in that 93 team. And Gary Lehman, who played a key role, he honestly said we didn't know that Jacques Damiris was illiterate. No one had a clue. And Jacques LaPierre was a veteran Montreal Canadian assistant coach. And Jacques Damiris would be talking and motivating and go, Lappy draw it up and that's what he would always say. Lappy. And Lappy would draw up the notes and that. But they just thought he was delegating the job to Jacques LaPierre as his top assistant coach to do that. It was such a tight team and a diverse team. And this is where you realize when you talk about all time great goalies when it comes to play offs, if my life is on the line, I think I'm going Patrick Roy in his prime at that time, because when you smell that Stanley Cup, you were not beating them. I mean, that playoff, that Stanley Cup final. One of the great highlights in the history of the NHL is winking at Thomas Sandstrom because he just robbed them of a goal. And you're like, you're not beating Patrick Roy in this series. I don't care if you clone Wayne Gretzky. They're not beating Montreal that year.
Matt Cundill 00:20:43
Ten overtime games or ten overtime wins out of eleven. I think we're the numbers and I'm glad you mentioned Gary Lehman because he's one of the ones that came to mind. But you and I would go out, we would run into these guys in bars and there was a bar below CHOM and Kirk Mueller was generally there. Lyle Odeline would frequently be there. Of course, this was late at night and you have to get up in the morning. So you may not have been there, but I had this question down and I want to ask it now because we're kind of here and talking about this. The Montreal media, Kirk Mueller, told me at that time, you could win two games and go out and everyone loves you, and then you could lose two games and I can't go out of my house without getting yelled at. And you spent a lot of time in Toronto, and all these years have now passed. What is the difference that you see between the way the Toronto media treats the Leafs and the Montreal media treats the Canadiens, and what effect does it have on the teams and their success? Because I think there's a correlation.
Jim Lang 00:21:45
I still think that the Francophone press in Montreal is tougher on the Canadiens if they've lost two or three games in a row. I'm not saying the Anglophone press in Montreal isn't, but it's the blue blanc et rouge, the thought that they're held to such a high standard. Because if you think of that run from the mid 50s to the 60s underrated dynasty through the 70s, it's as good as there is in sports. It's Yankees, it's Green Bay Packers, it's Manchester United. I mean, that's what the bulk of the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup and this run of hall of Famers. I'm not sure if you're going to find it in other sports. You basically went a group of hall of Famers in the fifties, to a group of hall of Famers in the Sixties, to a group of hall of Famers in the Seventies. Like that doesn't happen. You might have one decade as good as the Green Bay Packers were in the 60s. By the 70s, they were horrible, horrible for a long time until Brett Favre came along in the 90s, but not Montreal. So when they have an off year, it's not accepted. And I think the difference with the Leafs, they've struggled so long. Like, I know right now in Toronto they have all these good teams, but losing in the first round. Now, honest to God, if they win a first round playoff and they lose the second round, the people well, they won a first round, right? I mean, hey, they're getting there, but I think it's the little higher standard in Montreal. And I honestly think the pressure is tougher in Montreal, especially if you're a Francophone player or Francophone coach in that press. I mean, it's unrelenting, and I think that's part of the toughness of it. And let's face it, there is a lot of great players who maybe from Quebec, from Ontario, who may have grown up Leafs or Canadiens fans who get drafted in an American team and they come time for contract renewal. You know what? I don't mind visiting there. I don't mind going there for the playoffs. But living in Dallas or Tampa or San Jose, when I'm away from the rink, almost nobody knows who I am. And they've got all that money. I can see why they stay there, Matt. I really can because not everyone can deal with that pressure. Not everyone is Patrick Roy. I think he's one of the most mentally tough athletes we've ever seen. It seemed like no matter what the stage was, he could rise up to it. Not every athlete is built like that.
Matt Cundill 00:24:03
Well, you and I are talking about a Stanley Cup that took place in what is now ancient history between us a long, long time ago. But it is the last time a Canadian team won a Stanley Cup. And you pointed out if you're free agent, you don't want to go to Winnipeg or Edmonton or Vancouver when you can go to Anaheim, two Florida teams with no tax, you also probably have a wife who would probably like nights in the swamp in Florida rather than in cold Winnipeg in December. With, by the way, your husband out half the year.
Jim Lang 00:24:38
And I think that's it like being a parent. I know I was on the Leafs beat for a couple of years, and my wife was a single mother for about two years because I was on the Leafs beat and I'd be pulled off and sent to cover the Super Bowl. And I had a flight statement one year, and I took 36 flights on Air Canada, and that's not including the other Airlines they put me on. And I was gone half the year. And so if you're a professional athlete and you have a chance to be gone half the year and your wife doesn't have to shovel and she's got toddlers in the driveway and wondering how to get to school. Yes, I get that. I get that if it's a warmer climate, that it's more appealing to play your hockey there. I totally get that. And that is part of it. And if you're going to be gone that long as an athlete, but it's spring or summer pretty much all the time. And the worst, you're going to worry about a little bit of rain getting the kids to school. That's a big advantage. It's been a long winter here in Southern Ontario, but it's been a lot longer in Montreal and even longer out west. And so when you have family in Northern Alberta, you're in Edmonton and God bless the Oilers. And the wife looks at her husband's Instagram and they're with the boys golfing in Phoenix because they have a day off before they play the Coyotes. You think that goes over very well? I don't think so.
Matt Cundill 00:25:57
It's clear that I need to calm down with the sports talk in just a second. We'll get back into the radio talk and find out what it takes to have a morning radio show that is both local and social. What were Jim's biggest pandemic radio takeaways? Why did Jim leave sports television behind? But you know what? We aren't quite done with the sports questions yet. Jim has worked a few Super Bowls, including that 2007 one where the Patriots just couldn't quite make it an undefeated season. You know the one with the helmet catch? Yeah, that one. There's more. Oh, there's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:26:35
The Sound off podcast.
Matt Cundill 00:26:38
You mentioned that you worked some Super Bowls. I know you worked the one in 2007 where I guess at the time it was a 17-0 Patriots went in and then lost to the Giants. What was it like after the game?
Jim Lang 00:26:50
It's one of the greatest, wildest five minutes of sports I've ever experienced because I had spent the week in New England. The Leafs have played Boston on a Thursday, and then I stayed there to cover the Patriots AFC Championship game against the Chargers on a bitterly cold day. They win. I come home for a few days, clean up, pack and then head down to Phoenix for Super Bowl 42. And I've never seen more odds stacked against a team. And then the Giants and Eli Manning. I mean, the Patriots that year were so good and they had everything going for them. The credit of Tom Kauflin and his coaching staff and the defensive coaches and really Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck were fantastic, fantastic in that game. They kept after Brady and kept hitting him and kept that game close. And that was the David Tyree game. So at about six minutes, seven minutes to go in the game, all the media that's going on the field, we are ushered down to the tunnel. So we're about 10 meters from the field. We can see the field and we're just under the seat. So what the NFL does is they have TV monitors all along this concrete walkway. So all the reporters about to go on the field can see what's happening the last few minutes. The Patriots score. And I'm not kidding. All the Boston media are like, yeah, and fist pumping, which you're not supposed to do, but they're into it. Well, guess what? All of a sudden, Eli throws a back corner to Plaxico Burress in the corner to take the lead. And the New York media, I thought they were going to go at it, some of the New York and Boston media and then all hell broke loose when the game ended and, the Giants won. And it was just mayhem on the field. It was incredible. And that's the thing about sports is up until a minute to go in that game, the Patriots were going to pull off the undefeated season season that hadn't been done since the Dolphins. And Don Shula. And I bet you if you get Bill Belichick home alone in a private moment that still sticks in his craw, that they lost that game because it would have been of all the great things on his resume, he also would have had an 18 and old perfect season. And David Tyree and Eli Manning, they blew it on that impossible play. And it was incredible to be on the field afterwards. And what happens is on the field, it's almost like swarms of bees. All the reporters running around, try to grab players and get sound. And then you have to do stand ups afterwards. And it's an absolute blur. And we had some good camera people and producers trying to get everything done in that. And it was incredible. And then I was lucky enough to next year at Super Bowl 43 in Tampa. That was the game where Ben Rothesburger hit Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone, the opposite corner of the end zone, and he did the toe drag. And they beat Larry Fitzgerald on the Cardinals because Larry Fitzgerald that year in the playoffs was as great a receiver as I have ever seen. And the Steelers, their fans travel well, that was another crazy atmosphere as well.
Matt Cundill 00:29:53
I mean, it's nuts to go out and do all that reporting, but you also called some games, you call the Argos on the radio. How much fun was that?
Jim Lang 00:30:01
Well, that was a lot of fun. I had called some OUA football and a little bit of OUA hockey in 2000 and 2001 on CHTV, which was a great experience. And then I did a little bit of arena football, which I really enjoyed. And then they said, would you like to do the Argos radio? And at the time I was doing Sportsnet radio. So I had to go to Scott Moore and say, hey. And they're like, yeah, that's fine because it doesn't conflict with your schedule. And so I did it for a year and it was great because you really, really get a sense when you leave Southern Ontario, the Southern Ontario bubble and go to CFL teams and CFL stadiums in other cities across Canada. How different it is. It is so different the approach to the games, the fans, the media, the community in other parts of Canada than you see in the Toronto, especially Toronto, Hamilton. So it was really eye opening. It was a great experience.
Matt Cundill 00:30:57
I mean, Doug Flutie, he did fumble in 96 against the Eskimos, right? We agree.
Jim Lang 00:31:01
Well, I think he did. I was at the game, but there was no way they were going to let the Argos lose that game. And that was one of the great football games I've ever seen. And even with the fumble, they scored a defensive touchdown late in the game with PB Smith with a pick six. And then Mike Vanderjack kicked like five field goals in a snowstorm. I still think the Argos would have won.
Matt Cundill 00:31:23
Yes. That wasn't Hamilton. That one, right?
Jim Lang 00:31:25
It was, yeah. So we get to Hamilton and this starts snowing. I'm like, oh, okay, this wasn't in the forecast. And it's snowing. And that's coming sideways off Lake Ontario through the Burlington Harbor into old Ivor Wynne Stadium. And it was snowing. And then it picked up and they were like, wow. But no matter how hard it snowed, they kept playing and it was the atmosphere. And to be honest with you. That game to me saved the CFL at the moment because the CFL was in some rough shape at the time. So I think that game, the way it played out, it was on ESPN, the highlights. Doug Flutie goes to the Bills afterwards. The whole thing that happened, it helped revitalize and save the Canadian football. I feel a big way because of the way the game played because all of a sudden like Chris Berman is doing highlights on Sunday night. Like, did you see this game, the Blizzard? Because Doug Flutie is still a huge name down there. I mean, we were on vacation a few years ago. We happen to be in a mall going to get something for the kids who are younger. And we happen to be in Attic, Mass. On the outskirts of Boston. And there is a street called Flutie Pass named after Doug Flutie from his days at Boston College. So that was really something special. And I talk about this all the time. The CFL when it's on, it's fantastic. My problem is the Grey Cup ends. It's Christmas. And then you don't hear anything about the League for months. And unfortunately, back in the day, Matt leagues and teams had off seasons, you didn't hear them and you had an off season. Then they'd come back. But you can't have an off season now with the current news cycle. With social media, you've got to produce content all the time, whether it's a podcast with a coach or player, whether it's Instagram or Snapchat. I mean, my kids are in their late teens, early 20s, and it is all Snapchat, Instagram and social media. They don't consume stuff on a conventional TV. They're not going to have a phone on the wall. It's going to be laptop, tablet, phone, watching stuff. Or looking at their social media feed. They'll say, dad, I saw on Instagram, I saw a Snapchat news feed. This happens if you're in sports, you're in media. It's crucial. I know one thing I do every morning I come in for the morning show, I do an Instagram story. What's happening on the day. It takes about 50 to 55 seconds and then I shoot it selfie mode and it's like me talking to you. This is what's happening today and happening later and just hey, hello. I think it's crucial that someone broadcasting or sports or anything does that every day. And at least in sports, you could have someone in your media relations Department do a quick thing. Hey, I know it's the off season. Don't forget tickets coming up, by the way. I know it's off season. Matt Cundill, he just ran 5 miles today with his dog on his back to get ready for the season, that kind of thing. Yeah.
Matt Cundill 00:34:15
It was pointed out actually during the pandemic and became really evident that the CFL does have a social media problem and a lack of engagement problem. I added up a lot of the engagements for some of the teams and for the League, and a lot of it's just not there, any problems that you had going into the pandemic were just accelerated by it. And I think it became very evident during the off year that the CFL needs to find better ways to engage. And you just mentioned it with TikTok. The CBC is bringing back Street Sense and they're putting it on TikTok.
Jim Lang 00:34:47
I think platforms like that, they're free, they're available, and they allow you to show some personality that maybe is separate from what's happening in the field, because when you're on the field and you get interviewed after a game, you're not saying a lot. Now if you're away from the field and you're with your dog in the park, you're probably a lot more relaxed and you're going to show some personality and show more human side than the athlete all. You know what I mean? I think the connection and you realize they're an athlete, but they've got a golden retriever like I do. Oh, they're an athlete, but they watch Outlander like I do. I didn't know they loved it as much as I do. Showing that personal side, I think, is important in that engagement. And with the technology we have now, you can create content every day. It's very easy. Even something as simple as the Instagram story. I'm a big fan of the Instagram story. You don't have to worry about trolls. It's a quick hit. It's 15 seconds here and there. It's a photo, but it shows a little bit about who you are, and then it's gone. I love the Instagram story. I'm a big fan of it.
Matt Cundill 00:35:52
I'm very impressed by how advanced you've become in this whole new world. By the way, I don't mean to glaze over your career and not talk about your time at Mojo, because you talked about all star teams at Q107 before, but you worked at Mojo as well, which was an innovative concept at 640. And the people in there, including yourself, I mean, it's just loaded with talent.
Jim Lang 00:36:13
It was a great idea and a great concept, Matt, and it was really cool to be part of. I think part of the problem is I've been in Canadian media for a long time, but Canadian media is very conservative, and people can talk about we're going to do this, this and this, because they got inspired by something they saw in the United States. But to have the stomach to see it through, to back the talent, to back the management that we're going to do this, it doesn't happen very often. People wonder why has there not been a Canadian Howard Stern? Because between the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, the CRDC conservative Canadian values, to have someone like a Howard Stern talking like he does, doing talks like he does, having the kind of topics that he does, it wouldn't fly. All it takes is a couple of sponsors, especially now post pandemic to say, hey, we're not comfortable with that and that's not money. Coming in to the radio station TV, do you think they're going to back you if they lose key sponsors because of some offside stuff the host is saying? I don't think so. I just don't see it.
Matt Cundill 00:37:12
I remember turning on my TV, I just can't remember where I turned on my TV. And then I saw your face and I said, oh, look, Jim's got a job at Sportsnet. That's really cool. And he's got great hair, lot of product.
Jim Lang 00:37:27
So what happened was I was at 640, I was the sports director and doing stuff at Q. And unbeknownst to me, the management of the station and Sportsnet were working on a deal called Sportsnet radio. They basically said, Jim, I got good news and bad news. He goes, you have a job. It's just not here. And I kind of looked at my boss said, you're still going to do what you do, but you're going to do it in a radio studio at the Sportsnet Studios. And I had like an ISTN box. And I would punch in numbers and I would do different stations. I had about six stations. I would bounce around, do morning updates, and we had people do afternoon. So at the time, the Sportsnet TV show was live. So the host had to be at the studio for four and they were live at 06:00 a.m.. But that also means the production crew was in about 230 or three to get ready. So it was a real grind. And the host, the regular anchors and Sportsnet were all night time hosts. They traditionally done the 910 or 11:00 sports highlights. This is early 2000s, right? Matt. And they were complete- Their body clocks were so skewed to game at seven, do the highlights, probably don't go to sleep at two or three. And they said physically they could not do the morning show. They could not physically perform at six in the morning. And they said they can't do it. So they went to me and said, hey, can you do a screen test? And I had already done some stuff for CHTV. And they said, okay. So Damien Goddard was the host at the time and he was going away in a multi week vacation. And they wanted to train me basically to do his three week run in the morning show. And it was easier for me to backfill the morning show on Sportsnet radio than for them to get what the other host, they said, Scott, we can't do this anymore physically. We're ill because they can't get up and be that early if you're not used to it. It takes a lot out of you, especially if you're night and then all of a sudden dropped into the morning, it shocks you. And I have been doing in the morning the morning sleep cycle, the morning work cycle for so long. And that's what I did. So I ended up doing that for three weeks. And then I became the backfill for Damien, and then he left and Hazel came in and I became her backfill. And then I started doing lacrosse and other reporting. And then by '03, I was a full time anchor reporter at the network until 2010.
Matt Cundill 00:39:49
And then you got let go. And I was so sad to see you go.
Jim Lang 00:39:51
Yeah. Famous words. Hey, we're going in a different direction, Jim. And I said, okay, it was a bit of a shock. And I did a few different things and ended up at The Fan five months later during the Fan morning show. I did that for about two and a half years. And, hey, we're going in a different direction, Jim.
Matt Cundill 00:40:08
So did you do that with Greg Brady?
Jim Lang 00:40:10
I did, yeah.
Matt Cundill 00:40:11
I remember listening to you there, too.
Jim Lang 00:40:13
I think Rogers is trying to tell me something because that's twice in the last. So I took my envelope and said thank you very much. And then I ended up getting hired at 105.9 The Region. They were starting the radio station in York region. And it worked out great because it was a busy time for my wife, for my kids. And it was 30 minutes door to door, 25 minutes. And in Toronto commuting, that's nothing. And it was just a better lifestyle for all of us. And basically we were starting a station from scratch. It was a brand new station brand. It was kind of exciting. And we're like eight years on the air and counting and made it through the pandemic knock on wood. To me when you're broadcasting, I guess to me, Matt, is things are going to happen. You're going to have changes. Some of the biggest names in the business that I know, whom I consider hall of Famers have had sudden job losses. Aaron Davis, Maureen Holloway, you name it. I can run down all the names of hall of Fame broadcasters who have had unexpected changes in management, you name it. And so I think you have to be flexible. You have to be adaptable. And the biggest thing that's helped me in my career is you've got to learn new skills along the way. Back when I started- back when I started, you did radio or you did TV or you were a writer. You didn't do either one. But if you're in business now, you've got to be able to be comfortable. You got to hold that camera in front of your face and get comfortable doing a daily video Vlog to help promote your show, promote the station. You've got to get comfortable writing something, whether it's a small blog or writing social media. You've got to be able to do different things because the odds are your station is going to pay you one salary to do different things. So you have to train yourself to do different things, to stay employable.
Matt Cundill 00:41:56
I kid you not. This morning on social media, I believe I went into Milkman where they were discussing how in Newfoundland there's really nobody manning the stations there anymore. And it was Lee Eckley who chimed in to say that companies like the one you work for, you work for Durham Radio, correct?
Jim Lang 00:42:13
No, it's Markham Radio. It's called Markham Radio. So that's the official name of the company.
Matt Cundill 00:42:18
Yes. But the company that you work for, Markham Radio and other stations that are built like this are really doing a good job connecting with the community and really redefining what Radio's relationship is with communities and really setting a blueprint for what radio should be doing everywhere.
Jim Lang 00:42:35
Really, our whole thing is hyper local. I do morning sports. I'll do like Elise Halves, but I'll do York region high school sports and triple A hockey and junior B hockey from kids in the area. We talk about events and charities and things happening in the area. And what's happened is you look at suburbs in big cities in Canada because of the price of housing. You have large segments of the population who live outside of the city core who are really underserved by the radio. Where we are, York region that steals north, that's over a million people outside of north of Steeles. Mississauga, Brampton, west of Toronto is over a million people. That's 2 million people who live outside of the city core of Toronto, who have concerns about local traffic and local politics and local charities and events and local sports that they would never hear about it in downtown Toronto station because they've got enough to worry about dealing with their own station. And that's the one thing I really like about it is trying to be hyper local, because hyper local, to me is the future of radio in Canada. If someone's going to say, I'm going to listen to satellite radio, well, that's fine. You can listen to satellite radio and you'll listen to podcasts. But if you want to know about this big charity Five K Walk happening in your community to help the local hospital, you're not going to hear it on Howard Stern. You're not going to hear it in your podcast, but you're going to hear it on your local radio station and you're going to hear it through your local radio station's social media feed and the website. And there is a place- there's room for everybody. And maybe that piece of pie that once was in the early mid 90s is smaller, but it's still a very tasty pie. And there's still a lot of talented people doing great things every day in Canadian media and maybe on a smaller scale, but a very hyperlocal scale. And it's so important to people, especially through the pandemic. Where do they go with their senior parent for an inoculation what happens? We had a big ice storm just after we went on the air in December 2013. And there was big power outages in parts of Markham, Richmond Hill and Aurora. They're like, well, where do they go for a warming station? We had to tell them. That's the beauty of having that local radio.
Matt Cundill 00:44:49
How do you cover traffic? I know that seems silly, but I know you're probably near a very busy highway, but many of the commutes of your listeners are probably not to downtown Toronto. They're probably 15 minutes, maybe they're 30 minutes, but they may not even go inside the 416.
Jim Lang 00:45:08
When I'm doing the morning traffic, I try to focus on Steeles up to highway 9. That's the main area of York region, East, West, North, South. And most people are going down 400, 404, or 27 and 48. And then highway seven is the big East-West through the heart of the region. So you're focusing on choke points in areas of Aurora, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, in that area. Now we will touch on stuff like, hey, if you are going into the city, the bottom of the 404 of the DVP every day is a nightmare. In Toronto. It's no different. In Montreal and Vancouver, there's going to be a highway. I could be blindfolded know that highway at that time of day is awful. It's just the way it is. So we really try to say, hey, there's an accident in this part of 16th Avenue Woodbine, just east of the 404. Well north of Toronto. But for people in that part of Markham, it's important to getting off the highway who are trying to go east. So we let them know about that. We really try to be hyper local, working with the York Regional police, working with the transit. They'll say, hey, there's a bus stoppage because of a problem at Rutherford and Jane, and we let them know about that.
Matt Cundill 00:46:15
What's the biggest pandemic takeaway involving radio? What did you learn the most about radio between 2020 and 2022?
Jim Lang 00:46:24
Well, we learned like our online numbers went through the roof. The amount of people that listen to the radio station on their laptop where they were working at home grew in a huge way because they needed to know locally what was happening, where to go, is it safe? They needed that information. And so we were providing that information with our daily programming. And then our weekend magazine show, we have a show. Anne Romero is the lead on it. She's so well known in the area. And it's called The Feed. It's an hour and we would talk to health experts and mayors and nurses and just people in the community and businesses. And that was a big thing, too, is people. If you're getting into this business, if the business community suffers, you suffer. If the local businesses aren't making money, you're not making money. They may have a campaign, an advertising campaign to promote vaccines, but it's limited. Let's be honest. When the local economy is doing well and local businesses are doing well and they have disposable income to spend in advertising. There's more money for local TV and radio and Internet and digital media. It's important that you're making sure that you have good campaigns letting people know we're big on shop local, help local business, get takeout. If you're not comfortable going in, just get some takeout and come home. But you're helping local business. And people may think, well, hey, if that local business goes under and that's one less piece of money out there in the community to spend on advertising, that's going to hurt you in the long run. So it's in your best interest to make sure that you're reminding people the importance of shopping local and helping local business. And that's one thing. Maybe people forgot the pandemic, but it was really brought home big time in the pandemic because, I mean, for a lot of radio stations, Matt for years had relied on depending on the format, car dealers and bars and restaurants, and that it was gone. They were shut down. They weren't spending money in advertising. And they're like, Where'd the money go? So you have to be creative. How are you helping business? Because if you're helping business, then they can spend money in advertising. They're helping you, because if you're not the CBC, you have to really be always thinking about the business angle of your station and how it benefits everybody.
Matt Cundill 00:48:45
Jim, I'm going to put all of your social connection points in the show notes of this, because I think a lot of people should follow you because you're doing it right. And of course, you're a great follow, and you're a sports fan and all the things. But for anybody who wants to be more local and social, you're a great example. So thank you.
Jim Lang 00:49:01
I appreciate it Matt. To me the media has changed a lot through the pandemic, but the need to be informed locally of what's going on, the need to know that this is happening is important. I can remember they had a vaccine clinic at the Ray Twinney Arena, Newmarket, and there was a long lineup, it was a really cold day. There were seniors standing outside and they hadn't done it before. This was all new. They had never had a mass vaccine clinic in a lot of parts of our community, and it's like that across Canada. So everyone was learning. So I had the Mayor of Newmarket on the next day who I've gotten to know really well through the years of working at the station, and he basically explained what happened and how they helped. And then sure enough, a few days later, they had tweaked things the community had heard. They got involved. If it was a really elderly person, they said, here's a chair, here's some water. Don't stand out in the cold, things like that, because all of a sudden you're working for a local community no matter where you are in Canada, you're told you have to close down the hockey rink, turn it into a mass vaccination clinic and It's -20 out. And half the community wants their shot because they're seeing the news and they're worried they're going to die from COVID. Everyone's learning as they go along here so the radio station can be a great conduit to help everyone stay informed and learn about ways things can be done better and just inform people. You're letting- hey, this is what happened. They're doing this now. It's okay. These are the hours that kind of stuff. To me, that's the invaluable thing about radio still in Canada. That's why it's so important.
Matt Cundill 00:50:32
Jim, thank you So much For Doing this. It's Great to connect after 30 Some-Odd years.
Jim Lang 00:50:37
Yeah, well, I mean, Matty Cundill And I, A Few Expos games, a Few Habs games back In The day. It's The One Thing I Still remember the Old CHOM studio. When I First started there, it Was windowless. And It Was A Classic FM studio. And if You Push Your Seat Back Too Far, you Would Run Into The Rack Of CDs. So you Had About this Much Room To Move Your Seat back and There Was A Glass Booth For News And Traffic. Oh, God. I mean, I Have such Wonderful memories of working In that station, in that city, and I'm A Huge Believer if You're In Media, You Should Do At Least one stint away From Your Home community In Another province. I Think It's So Important. You're Not Going To learn everything by Watching A TV Show Or A letter, Kenny Or Trailer Park Voice. As Much As I Love them. Get In The Community. You live there. You Immerse yourself. You Maybe Live In A Neighborhood You Didn't Think About. You're In The station. So When You Do Move around Or Go Back To Your Own Thing, You're Better for it. And you're More informed. And You Bring All that To The table as A broadcaster, as a communicator.
Matt Cundill 00:51:41
Jim, thank you So Much, man. You're the best.
Jim Lang 00:51:43
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:51:44
The Sound Of Podcast Is Written and hosted By Matt Cundill. Produced By Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another Great Creation From The Sound Off Media Company. There's Always more at soundoffpodcast.com.