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  • Writer's pictureAidan G

John Mielke: The Milkman Delivers

Updated: May 14

Who is John?

John "The Milkman" Mielke is a pioneer when it comes to bringing radio to the world wide web. John has two websites that any radio-head should be tuned into: MilkmanUnlimited.com is an incredible resource for keeping up with radio industry news. It also curates work for voiceover artists, including a few you may recognize from this show's credits, like Mary Anne Ivison and Matt Fogarty. On the other hand, BlastTheRadio.com is basically a 24-hour radio station without the "radio station" part. Meaning, there's no callsign or frequency to tune into. It's all online, but it still looks, feels and sounds just like your favourite radio stations.


We discuss both sites, as well as the importance of the radio community in John's life (and his importance to the community). We also talk about John's public battles with depression and anxiety, the ways he's given back to local charity resources that helped him, and his plan to become an even more involved community service partner. Here's a hint: It involves a souped-up RV.


Despite Milkman Unlimited being the premiere place to learn about radio layoffs for the last 30 years, John remains optimistic about radio's future, which I suppose means the rest of us should be too.


If you want to know more about John, keep an eye out for his aptly-titled book, "Who Is John?" It'll go in-depth on some of the radio stories that made him who he is today, and should be coming out soon.


John is still an active voiceover artist and radio host himself. You can catch him Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm on WSRQ in Sarasota, Florida.

 

Transcript:


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  00:02

The Soundoff Podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast starts now.

 

Matt Cundill  00:13

I'm not sure anybody dislikes radio job cuts more than John Mielke. Maybe it's because he loves radio more than the rest of us. He has literally had to report every single layoff since 1995 on his Milkman Unlimited website. He himself went through some ruthless restructuring back in 2015, and since then, he created BTR: BlastTheRadio.com. It's a 24 hour station which looks and feels and sounds like radio, but it's on the internet. It seems that John and I always get together when there are big radio cuts. And I know what you're thinking. It's a wonder we don't do this thing more often. Here we go. John Mielke joins me from Ottawa, Ontario. So I have to take an inventory on what you're doing because I can never keep up. So I'll just call out the things I think you're doing, and you say yes or no, and then tell me if you're doing them and what this entails. So let's start with the morning show, which is Zoe and the Milkman.

 

John Mielke  01:11

Which is a afternoon show now on BTR.

 

Matt Cundill  01:14

And you're doing BTR, which is Blast The Radio, which anybody can access just by talking to a smart speaker.

 

John Mielke  01:22

Pretty much.

 

Matt Cundill  01:24

And when we ask the smart speaker to play it, what happens? What do we get to listen to?

 

John Mielke  01:29

You got to be careful how you say it, because if you don't say it with a little pause between blast and the and radio- It's- I don't know what the station's- I think it comes from Japan. It plays Blast Radio. It's always an adventure. But yeah, you got to be very precise in how you call it to the speaker.

 

Matt Cundill  01:46

Well, it could be worse. You could have named your podcast Soundoff, which is an instruction, so the device doesn't know what to do.

 

John Mielke  01:53

Oh no. Oh, Matt, of all the people.

 

Matt Cundill  01:58

Well, how was I supposed to know smart speakers would become a thing in 2016?

 

John Mielke  02:02

They're too damn smart.

 

Matt Cundill  02:03

Yeah. I'm not the only one with that problem. ABC has a news program called Start Here so they're not doing much better.

 

John Mielke  02:10

There you go.

 

Matt Cundill  02:11

So on BTR, how much Can Con do I have to listen to?

 

John Mielke  02:14

You know what's interesting? When I started it, I went you know what, I don't need to play Can Con. I'm on the internet. There's no regulations that apply here regarding music. So initially, I launched I played zero, just because I didn't have to. And listening to it, you know, for- after all the years I've spent working on Canadian radio. It just sounded so weird. And so I added it back in. I don't keep track on percentages or whatever else. I would guesstimate though, Matt, just, you know, listening to the station. We gotta be between 25 and 30% without even trying.

 

Matt Cundill  02:45

And BTR, it's largely- the best experience to listen to is an Ottawa experience because you will speak to some of the things that are happening locally, but it doesn't really matter where, you can listen to it anywhere and it's still wonderful.

 

John Mielke  02:57

I've gone back and forth on how I want to position BTR. Do I want it to be an Ottawa only radio station? Do I want it to be a national service? Do I want it to be an international service? And right now it's kind of a hybrid of all that. Jeff Michaels is doing mornings he is, I guess, Alberta ordinarily. He's in Arizona for the winter. He's doing mornings for us. I've got Rusty doing an Oldies show every Wednesday. He's out of Oshawa, Whitby area, I got to be careful because if he's in Oshawa and not Whitby, or Whitby and not Oshawa, you know how that goes. I got contributors from all over the place. My my overnight show is Beat World Radio. So it's DJs from all over the world spinning from midnight till 6am. Weekend programming comes from different places. So yeah, it's kind of back and forth. It's definitely Ottawa based. It's definitely Ottawa influence. That's where it started unabashedly. I mean, I've taken on other responsibilities too. So I mean, full disclosure, I'm not on BTR nearly as much as I used to be, I'm doing a- every noon hour I record with Zoe, she's on her lunch break. And we've gone back and forth, even on that show. Do we try and make it you know, something that's gonna go after, you know, syndication? Should we be heard internationally? We're gonna market this thing in the states. And listen, I've been listening to a lot of your conversations with people I respect like Erin Davis and Terry and Ted, etc. And, you know, the conversations they have about their realisation, being in the podcast space, especially that, you know, I'm not in Joe Rogan's world, I can't monetize this the same way if I'm trying to be that big. But I do have great relationships locally. So why don't I just do an awesome podcast that is local, and especially with all the cutbacks that are going on with news, etc, etc, etc. There's an opportunity there, and I've really listened to that and taken that to heart. So with Zoey, we've kind of taken a step back and revisited the show. And we're really full on right now with making sure that it's a full hour, six breaks in the hour, and as much local conversation as we can.

 

Matt Cundill  04:55

So one of the words that keeps coming up in the podcast world is the idea of community. And I guess you would know this better than anybody, because you started one of the first radio communities, just with Milk Prep way back in the day. I know I keep going back to this, but you know how it all comes around. People are like well, how do I- how do I monetize my podcast? Or how do I monetize my business? And this idea of community is really where it's at. It's not just a bunch of people who listen to your station and saying, okay, you're part of a community, it's the people who interact with your brand and you and what you're doing.

 

John Mielke  05:33

You know, it's funny, I never thought of Milk Prep like that. And you got to be a certain vintage to remember it being called Milk Prep. But yeah, that's kind of how it started. When you say community, my first thought is when I launched BTR, because it was happenstance. I'd lost my job at Bell Media after 23 years, I was sitting around and flipping through my phone, and I stumbled upon an app from Mix LR is the name of the company, and it was just broadcast yourself. And I thought, wow, that's kind of neat. And they've got this little interface on your phone. So you know, I got a studio, all I need to do now is figure out how do I get the studio plugged into my phone, because I'm an idiot. And I didn't go looking for their website to see if there might be a web interface, which there is. Anyway, jerry rigged the phone, but all this to say, they include a chat room with their service. Now, if you had asked me when I was launching the radio station, would you like a chat room with that? I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Yeah, sure. ICQ is online, too. Why don't I just add that back to things? I never would have added it. It ended up being the very thing that put us on the map, because people got to engage with the radio station, got to engage with the performers. And it was wild. I mean, there were days we'd get 500 people in a chat room, just talking about the day, talking about the music, talking about what was going on. And from there, it grew into Twitch, which again, has a chat component to it. So it's- my first thought about community is that, but you're absolutely right. Milkman and Milk Prep. Very much a community. Yeah.

 

Matt Cundill  07:02

Oh, wait, you do Twitch?

 

John Mielke  07:04

I do.

 

Matt Cundill  07:06

Tell me how that works. Because I've only had a few people on that- that can talk to it. Don Collins was-

 

John Mielke  07:11

Well, he'd be the guy.

 

Matt Cundill  07:12

Yeah, he was the guy. At one point who was- who was spearheading, let's get some radio and content creators onto Twitch. He's no longer there.

 

John Mielke  07:20

Oh, he's who recruited me to Twitch.

 

Matt Cundill  07:21

Yeah. And so tell me about the Twitch experience.

 

John Mielke  07:24

So Twitch is owned by Amazon. I don't know if people know that. Originally a platform that went after gamers. So I mean, if you like hockey, you can watch the NHL on TSN, Sportsnet, etc. You've got- you know, lots of places to see that. Football, baseball, basketball the same thing. But gaming is so huge. If I'm a gamer, and I want to watch really good gamers play and draw tips from that and make my own, you know, gaming better, Twitch was that space. Amazon saw an opportunity to go after YouTube. And they and Don had some sort of conversation somewhere, how it happened, I don't know. But they wanted to go after performers, and build that space, and create an opportunity for them to monetize what they are doing. The problem of course is when you're doing music based radio, well, how do I get onto a platform like Twitch? As we know, you can't even play, you know, the songs playing in the background of the grocery store without Facebook and Twitter, etc. muting you because you don't have rights to the music. Well, Don made that happen. He had the conversation saying, look, I'm going after radio people, you want me to get performers on here. We got to give them, you know, a little wiggle room on the music, and Twitch has- has given us that wiggle room. So we've been able to stream music on Twitch. I don't know how, I don't ask questions. We've just been able to do it. But Twitch was interesting, especially when you're doing talk programming, which I did a good bunch of a while back. I had the legendary Lowell Green on with us. He and I were doing a talk show together. And Twitch again offers a chat room and it offers you a chance to monetize. So the way that works, get the Twitch app on your phone, you go to your app store and you buy what are called bits. It's a currency. And if I really like what anybody on Twitch is doing, I can donate my bits to them, the person, the performer, then gets a check at the end of the month. Amazon will actually deposit that. The other cool thing about it, if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber and you really like a certain person's channel, you can go on and say, this is my favorite Twitch channel. It doesn't cost you anything more, Amazon Prime actually gives the channel owner five bucks a month on your behalf. So it was a great way for me to make a couple of bucks when I really needed to make a couple of bucks. But it really works best when you're actually doing engaging content. Us just playing music on Twitch doesn't catch an audience at all.  So you must be recruiting talent all the time for BTR. I try. It's a different space, though, right? And I understand this. There's a lot of really talented people out there who would love to be back on the radio in some way, shape, or form. Of course, as you and I know, we're doing this from home right now. You can do radio from home right now, but they want that paycheck. How much is this going to pay me? Well, the opportunity I offer is very different. I've got the website. I pay for the app. I I pay for the music licensing, I pay for the automation software, all of that is done. So you don't have to worry about any of that. And whatever you sell for your show, you keep. But that's where it kind of falls apart. People get really freaked out of the idea of having to go and sell what they do, which- I get it. Is that really any different than when you sit down at a job interview, you're asking for the job, you're asking to get paid.

 

Matt Cundill  10:26

But you're better than the rest of us at that, because you've been receiving checks since about 1995 for things and the rest of us have not been doing that, like you understand it's a business. You've explained it to people that it's a business. In fact, I've seen you go on Milk Prep and say, Hey, everybody, the classifieds part is a business. And I'm sorry, you don't like the blind box, but that's just the way it goes. And I'm sorry that you don't like this company. I don't need you banging on the people who are paying me money. This is a business. So I mean, you come some kind of pre programmed to be a little bit in sales here. The rest of us do not.

 

John Mielke  10:58

You know what's ironic about that? My very first professional job out of college- I always knew I could be on the air. Like I always knew that. Like day one, John Henderson at Loyalist College tapped me and said, you're gonna fill in for me Saturday and Sunday mornings on CIGL. And I know Erin Davis was just talking about her experience at CIGL, brought back some great memories of the kalam music reel to reel systems, etc. My first year, he- Yeah, he put the first year student to do that. So I knew, like on air was inherent to me. Even in high school, I was DJing and doing some radio stuff at the local university station. So I knew I could fall back to that. Anyway got into sales, and about eight months in the general manager and I sat down, we- we agreed that you know, John should never ever, ever, ever, ever try and sell anything anywhere, anytime. He's horrible at it. So ironically, yeah, in a roundabout kind of way, I guess I do have to sell. Look. I mean, if you want to eat, if you want- if you got bills to pay, you gotta figure out a way to get paid. Asking for money is not a dirty thing. The person working at the convenience store down the road, when you want to buy a pack of gum, they're going to ask you to get paid. My money, give me my money, please. It's not a dirty thing, and people need to get over. And people in radio need to remember too, you are in sales, even in an on air capacity. You are in sales, you're selling me on your music being better. You're selling me on your format being better, your weather being better, everything you do on the air is sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. The only difference is how much will you pay me to do this?

 

Matt Cundill  12:20

A lot of people don't know this, unless they follow you closely on social media. And that's- you have a station vehicle.

 

John Mielke  12:28

Like, is that not the best story?

 

Matt Cundill  12:30

There are some stations that don't have station vehicles.

 

John Mielke  12:33

Well, that's true. The short story on that is, I've always had a vision. And listen, we saw it back in the 70s-80s. There are a lot of stations that used RVs they modified into mobile studios that they'd show up at, you know, the Central Canada Exhibition with, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, live on location. So I've long had a dream that, gosh, you know, how cool would it be to have a big honkin vehicle with signage that could show up at events, you know, be a real community service partner with a PA system and everything that comes with it. And I happened to mention that I still have this dream. But then I said, it could be a podcast studio and a broadcast studio. And what I would really love to do is tie in a mental health component to this, because I'm someone who's had a long, very public battle with depression and anxiety. And I've been very, very lucky that I've got great coaching and great support and I'm in a really good place. I'm okay, so I give back to mental health charities and foundations and fundraisers whenever I can. So I thought let's get this thing on the road. If I can find a cheap RV, let's get it on the road. And let's do a podcast where people when we're set up at community events or live and locations can just drop by and have a conversation five minutes, half an hour whatever about their experience with mental health. Well, a couple approached me they said we bought an RV couple years ago, our intent was to retire and travel well my husband sick thing has been sitting in a field for four years. It's got squirrels living in it pretty rundown, pretty nasty looking. We were gonna put it on Kijiji for six grand, but we love the idea that you've got. It's yours for three grand. Okay, now I just need to find three grand. So I put it out there on social media. Here's my dream. Here's the opportunity. Within a few hours I had raised close to $7,000 we acquired this RV it's 28 feet. It was Matt it. It sat in a field for four years it literally had squirrels living in it. It was badly vandalized it had broken into people took the fire extinguisher and just coated the entire dashboard, every nook and cranny with that stuff from fire extinguishers, mud, dirt, everything the cabinet's ripped off the hinges, and I spent two winters ago just putting this thing back together again, gluing it, deep cleaning it, etc. And by spring we had it on the road. So yeah, it's a 28 foot RV. It's called the BT RV for mental health donated exclusively to us from our listeners and a good base of really great local businesses in Ottawa. And we went to all kinds of events last year from Ottawa to well, actually Peterborough would be as far south in Ontario as we got so Peterborough, Kingston, Ottawa, all through Quebec, and all the way to New Brunswick, and back again, really, really amazing.

 

Matt Cundill  15:25

I think I want to play therapist for a little bit, because you mentioned therapy.

 

John Mielke  15:29

Okay.

 

Matt Cundill  15:29

So let me go back, and ask you to go back to- how much time was it between when you were let go from radio- and when I mean radio, I mean Bell, because I think you were at Bob at the time. And when you went to a therapists office, and the therapist said to you, who is John without radio? And then that caused a little panic inside of you. But what was it- how much time between being let go, and then that happening? Two years?

 

John Mielke  15:57

So that happened a little later. So I had a battle with depression. I had my breakdown live on Bob FM, live during Bell Let's Talk Day, every- I had been sick for a while and going to see my doctor, you know, went through the stress test, heart test, everything. But nothing was turning up. You know you're a little heavy, you've got some cholesterol issues. But you know what, you're also in your 40s. This is normal stuff. This is nothing we can't manage, but nothing out of the ordinary. And on that day, there was just- you know, the conversations that I was hearing were ticking boxes. And suddenly, by the end of my shift, I'm going, oh my god, I think I've come to a realization here, and I called my doctor, I said, I need to see you this afternoon. And it just became overwhelming. So I had a breakdown on the air, was off for three months, was back on. Fast forward to- Yeah, they let me go. It was traumatic, because nine days earlier, my wife who had worked for Sears for 22 years, lost her job. We knew that was coming. She worked for an amazing boss. The writing was on the wall at Sears. And she said my job is to get you out of here with some money, which fortuitously they did. So we had accounted for that. What we didn't account for was that nine days later, nine days later, on my first day off on two weeks vacation. Can you come in for a meeting? Oh, really? Okay. That was late October. By December 2nd/3rd, I was- I had launched BTR. And I launched it because the conversations I've been having about my mental health online, they needed to continue. I couldn't just walk away from that audience and into that platform. So that's where it launched. It was around tax time in the spring. So Sue had her severance, I had my severance. And we went to see the accountant, they care, our taxes, whatever else and the guy got it from I was just having a bad day of depression. I was really in a bad spot already. And drag my buddy into his office, he got up and he high fived me for all the money I had made that year who was to severance packages. It wasn't it wasn't a celebratory opportunity. And it Damn near killed me. It was later that afternoon, I admitted myself to the hospital. I called the distress center. I said I'm not coping well with this. And they actually stayed on the phone with me. They call the head of the hospital. He's coming in. We're worried about this guy. So yeah, I was in hospital on a three day security watch. And it was in the hospital. It's all a blur. But the first night, the on call psychiatrist, had a conversation with me just to sort of, you know, what's going on here and start putting things together. And I guess I had said something in the conversation about, oh, I have these conversations about mental health on my radio show. Okay. Well, he's back the next day. And we're talking again, within a few seconds. I said, I know exactly what you're saying. I bring this up all the time. Whenever I bring mental health up on my radio show, he snapped his fingers out. He said, Okay, we're gonna cut the bullshit. Do you do this with your regular therapist? Because if you do, I'm calling your regular therapist. And I'm gonna point this out. You're not going to do it with me. He says everything that you talk about is radio. It's radio, radio, radio, radio, radio. We're going to take radio away from John. Now, who's John, scare the hell out of me? Because this is all I've ever wanted. I mean, you talk to so many people, they all have the same story. It's all we've ever wanted to do. My earliest memories were sitting in front of the radio listening to Ken "The General" Grant on CFRA. Marching me off to school.

 

Matt Cundill  19:16

Yeah, I had the same experience as well. It's funny, you mentioned Central Canada Exhibition, just off the cuff and I went, oh, yeah. I was there in 1982, 1983, 1985. And CFRA was live from the cat- they were by the Cattle Castle.

 

John Mielke  19:33

Front entrance.

 

Matt Cundill  19:35

And I think CFGO was there.

 

John Mielke  19:38

Every time.

 

Matt Cundill  19:39

I think CJOH did the news from there.

 

John Mielke  19:42

100%.

 

Matt Cundill  19:43

Yeah, and I was working overnight in the Cattle Castle, literally shoveling shit, which is later when I did in radio as well on air. Yeah, thanks. But yeah, it was so impressionable.

 

John Mielke  19:57

But I mean, it took me forever to sort of unwravel that, you know, who is John? I haven't had to think about- and I knew what he was saying. And whenever I put it out there people are like, oh, John's, this, John's that. But at the foundations of it, it's like, no, no, there's gotta be more to you than radio. Have you ever examined you as a human being and what you value? It's all the things we talk about in radio, you know, but being relatable, et cetera? What is it that you know, ties you to a community? What other things do you like that you can talk about on the radio? Because you don't talk about radio on the radio? So what are those things you really hold near and dear? And it took me a good seven years to kind of come up with an answer, which I'm finally going to put down on paper, I've got a book coming out. And the book is actually called Who is John, and the entire point of the book, tell my story a little bit, absolutely, hopefully offer some inspiration, whether you're, you know, radio capacity, your broadcast capacity all or not just, you know, that it's never the end, that there's always you know, if you're creative, and you're good, and you're smart, and you're willing to take a risk, there's an opportunity for you to move past to, you know, still do what you feel you were put here to do. And in the book, I answer the question, Who is John? Because there is a lot more to me than just radio.

 

Matt Cundill  21:16

There's so much that- what is done in radio, and what we're doing now, and anytime you get behind a microphone, that is tied to identity. And so I'm not sure if you have a lot of dreams that would involve wallets, backpacks, things like that. It's more of a female thing, like purses, for instance, that their identity is sort of a little bit attached by what's inside those things.

 

John Mielke  21:37

I see where you're going. Yes.

 

Matt Cundill  21:39

Listen, I study the Jungian dream stuff all the time, and I'm not quite sure what it is for males so much. But yes, I find many of the settings for dreams that I have are still inside radio stations, even though I'm long gone, and haven't been inside a radio station and getting paid at the same time in over 10 years. That's still a thing. So I bring it back to identity. And you know, who is John? Well, you're immediately looking for a little bit of identity right there. So- but we- we spend every waking moment in the radio career shaping identity of the radio station, of personality. What are you going to do in this break? How's it going to make people feel? And what- and how can I identify with people, everything just comes from that. I look forward to your book.

 

John Mielke  22:25

Yeah, I look forward to it being out there too. And I've been putting little bits and pieces here, just- not- not getting into the heavy stuff, and suicide attempts and all that stuff, that'll be in the book. But certainly some great memories I have of people that I've met Rick Dees, I got a great story coming out next a little bit about how being the Roughrider Rooster mascot actually led me back into radio and got me the job at Cool FM with CHUM, which, you know, Bell Media acquired and I was there for 23 years. So you know, fun little things like that. So that those are, that's one chapter in the book. And each one is sort of a little story within it. But I've been you know, putting that out there because I really do want to have a light side to this, I really want people to read the book and have a laugh along the way in what is been a pretty dark, you know, period of time that really, you know, inspired the book in the first place.

 

Matt Cundill  23:13

So a few more things as my therapy session with you continues.

 

John Mielke  23:17

Yes, Doctor.

 

Matt Cundill  23:17

Right now. So when Bell, and I'll single out Bell because it happens with them more often than not. But layoffs in general, when they occur, I get a little bit out of sorts, like I wake up bothered. And I said, well, I've got a business to run, but I'm still bothered. And you're also exceptionally bothered by it. And a lot of people- like people will start texting me, everybody who has been through the experience of it will start to text me, or we will all start to talk, or we will congregate and often it could be on the Facebook group that you run. It could be anywhere, just people talking about, oh, this shit again, this is all happening again. I feel a little bit re-victimized. You know, or feel that people are being re-victimized that they know what the people who are getting let go are going through, and feel this empathy for them.

 

John Mielke  24:06

And a lot of it too, I'm sure you'd agree, is just- we all have such passion for this business. We already talked about that. You know, you're how many years out of the business and you still think about it. You haven't been in a radio studio forever. But you still have dreams about it. And I think that's lost on some of the bigger companies who don't have that intimate association with radio. They didn't grow up wanting to be in radio, they saw a business to acquire, which helped them promote other things. So it's always in I hate the word triggering but it's the buzzword du jour. It is very triggering for people who've been through the experience because in I get probably to my detriment. I probably absolutely to my detriment. Look, I run milkman unlimited. Bell is a company who has been very good to me, as far as that partnership is concerned. They have continued to advertise job postings with me. And I've had to walk a very fine line in that, right because I worked for them I was let go by them, I was traumatized by being let go and afraid of losing my house and you know, watching the health package that I had disappear and not being sure what's what and all this confusion, whatever else, but I've still got to be in business with them, I gotta walk that fine line, and I got to be careful. And I will get carried away because I've got such passion for the business. And because I've got such empathy for people who have been affected by this, I understand. And it's easy for them to say, it's not you. This is just business. It's not just business, this is people's lives, and the impact that it has is devastating. So I do get my backup, and I do get very vocal, more and more so lately, because I'm not afraid to say it anymore. Maybe it has to do with my age. You know, I'm 55 now and I just I see it differently. If it affects the business, it affects the business, but dammit, I got to stand up for radio at this point. Because it's it's such an important thing with all what's going on in the world, not just for the media in general. And in the news side of things. I've always viewed the news departments as really the official opposition to the government. They're the ones asking the questions on behalf of Canadians and to watch that evaporate. It's it's, I don't even want to say heartbreaking. It's maddening. It's infuriating, because we need that. So see, I get all riled up.

 

Matt Cundill  26:38

Yeah, I know. And listen, there are people watching this saying, what are these crybabies all about? And I'm here just to tell you that this is not like getting let go from the bank. You are asked every day to go in and to shape and to be and to be empathetic and to reach out and touch someone and put it all on the line. And in a moment it's gone. That's very, very difficult for people. I've had so many people on this podcast, yourself included. Mary Anne Ivison comes to mind, people who when they talk about the process of getting let go, have broken down in tears. Because it is not the same as well, I got let go from the bank. I'll just go to the other bank. It's not- what you're being asked to do every day-

 

John Mielke  27:19

Being let go from any job is traumatic, right?

 

Matt Cundill  27:22

Yes, this- this one, especially a little bit more though.

 

John Mielke  27:26

I don't know of anybody who has ever worked at a bank, I don't know of anybody who's ever worked at a law office, or retail, who has been called in on their day off, it happened to be my day off. Okay? But not just me being called in. The entire on Air Staff being gathered together in the boardroom, where the program director who you reported to wasn't even in the room. You've got the general manager and vice president of the company reading from a script, an HR person you have no relationship with who's been flown in to deal with this. We thank you for your service at the radio station, it's just business, but we're going in a different direction. Moments ago we flipped the switch and we are now a country station, and then as a team, and we're a team, had to go stand in line outside the HR office and wait our turn while our now former coworkers walked by, saying the hell's going on. And wait for some person you don't even know to hand you a package and tell you how sorry you are that they had to be there on this day to do this to you. It's cold, it's callous, it could have been handled so much better. Like it was literally a month or so earlier. The same guy that read that script and let me go was handing me an award for 23 years of service. Don't- don't do that to people. It's awful. Like you had to have known two weeks earlier, a month earlier, that this is going to happen so it's just it's that that- that more than anything bothered me. Look there's- we all know, if we ever wa- if you watch WKRP in Cincinnati, it's all Johnny Fever talked about. Being fired from a radio station no big deal. I'll move on to the next radio station. Easier then than it is now. Right, you got a lot fewer options now. But that's- that's the business. You haven't really worked in radio unless you've been fired. We all expect it. We all know what's going to happen, we will understand that formats change and things change but to gather us as a group and do that? That's what really hurt me the most.

 

Tara Sands (Voiceover)  29:36

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Mary Anne Ivison (Voiceover)  29:54

This podcast supports podcasting 2.0, so feel free to send us a boost if you're listening on new podcast app. Find your new app now at Podcasting2.org/apps. That's Podcasting2.org/apps.

 

Matt Cundill  30:09

Let's just touch a little bit on news, because you mentioned that it's so important to keep government in check. And there's less and less of it. So when I was in radio, back in the olden days, which was about maybe up to 10 years ago and longer-

 

John Mielke  30:25

I'm quickly coming to that realization, that yeah, I was in radio a long time ago, nine years ago, a lot has changed.

 

Matt Cundill  30:31

But news was never a moneymaker. And now Bell is saying, well, you know, we can't make any money on it. So we're gonna get rid of it. And I'm like, no, your promise of performance is to inform and put the news on the air. You make your money by playing the hits.

 

John Mielke  30:48

That's exactly it. That's exactly it. Thank you.

 

Matt Cundill  30:51

And at some point, they got- somebody went and said, well, we'll just, you know, count differently. And we'll put all the news in one pile and said well, look at that, we're losing money. We- we can't sustain this. What are you talking about?

 

John Mielke  31:04

News is what gives your station- especially in TV, that's what gives your station the identity. You talked about your memory of CJOH broadcasting live from the Central Canada Exhibition, Max Keeping, Carolyn Meehan, the whole gang was there, JJ was doing weather the whole nine yards. And people stood there and watched the news. You know, from Lansdowne Park, they were mesmerized by it was that connection to the community? Look, news is never going to make you money. Absolutely. But it's not that easy. And you said it exactly right. It's the promise of performance. It's the we want to be in the broadcast business. We require a broadcast license to be on am FM or television as part of our requests to be granted a license on the public airwaves. We promise to serve the community. And here's how x number of hours of news, which is the biggest connection to the community, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And then they just dismiss it as if it doesn't matter. Except it does. It's the be all end all. It's everything to a TV station.

 

Matt Cundill  32:11

And what you have now, because you look like you're in a radio station, you've got- you've got a radio in back of you in the radio station, you've got a set- another microphone over there. I love what you've done. I love what you've done with the place, John. Do you think of yourself as a radio station?

 

John Mielke  32:26

No.

 

Matt Cundill  32:27

Because I do, here's how I interact with my devices. I will ask to listen to 107.1 The Peak, which is a great radio station out of Hudson Valley, New York, or I will ask to listen to BTR, and I will ask slowly and properly in order to- to receive it. I can do the same in my car. My presets are in my head. I will ask said devices to play me this stuff. Or if I'm in the car, I will use TuneIn or I will use the iHeart app. You're as much of a radio station as anything else. So I look and listen and it all feels the same to me.

 

John Mielke  33:06

Okay, so if your question is do I think of BTR as a radio station?

 

Matt Cundill  33:10

Yeah.

 

John Mielke  33:11

Yes. 100%. Do I think of myself as a radio station? No, I think of myself as a radio visionary as an entrepreneur. Because I'm not just doing BTR as you know, and we haven't had a chance to get to that. And I'm sure you're you're going to there's a whole lot must have going on in this room. This tiny little room in my basement is a very, very busy place every single day and extends beyond here. I've got you know, a voice booth outside where I do, you know, station imaging and commercial voiceovers for clients, etc. So no, I don't think of myself as a radio station. I think of myself as someone. Yeah, for the longest time it was radio, radio radio, I've really come to understand that I'm in a different space. Now radio is part of it, a broadcaster. But I'm someone who's really gravitating to everything that the internet has to offer. And the one thing I really do recognize about myself that I didn't understand for the longest time, I have a really uncanny ability to see where things are going. I'm way ahead and I stand back and I get very frustrated because Why can't people see what I see. And I actually had a listener say that to me years ago, she says, you know, your problem is, you're already in the endzone, celebrating the touchdown. And the 23 other players on the field, they have yet to realize the balls even been snapped. Like you need to recognize that about yourself. So because I have this intuitive understanding of the internet and how it can be harnessed, and how how we can harness podcast, and Twitch and all of these things to make radio as the foundation really leap into the minds and imaginations of listeners again, I don't see anything happening on that front every single day. I don't see other people standing up going here's how to do this. Let it be Let's get excited. My 21 year old niece is living with us while she goes to university. She and I talk about radio all the time, and she laughs at me the amount of work a radio company would have to draw her age group back to that medium is I don't know, how do you even begin to do that? It's got to be so unbelievably compelling and exciting. And where do you even market to them? Social media, I guess. But I mean, it's it's such a lost opportunity that, I mean, we were all in on conversations where, look, it's the 25 to 54 year olds, we don't care about anything younger, that's where the money is at. And we didn't grow new audiences. So yeah, I don't think of myself so much as a radio station anymore. It's the how it's out. You know, there's only so many hours in the day, how do I bring all of this vision that I have to use video components and podcast components and bring this all together and really, you know, make it the magical thing that it always has been, but can be again, just in a new box.

 

Matt Cundill  36:06

What else is BTR that we haven't spoken about yet? Because I know there's some podcasts in there as well.

 

John Mielke  36:12

Yeah, there's definitely some there's a lot of podcasts going on. There's a lot of voiceover work going on here as well, but just me personally, so I'm voice tracking a ton of stations every single day from here. So my day starts at 5:30am, I'm up and I'm on the bike for a little bit. I'm in the studio by six the first order of business is making sure that my show notes on the night before are still applicable has really changed overnight. But from six till about 7, I'm voice tracking for a station that I worked for in Sarasota, Florida, so I'm the midday guy at WSRQ, which is a classic 60s 70s 80s classic hits. Lot of fun to do that, every now and then they've got me filling in on the station in Erie, Pennsylvania as well, which has been a real good experience and one of those things that whenever the topic comes up of oh, listen, voice tracking man, I don't know about voice tracking. It's got to be live, it's got to be local. Well yeah, but when you voice track and you do it right and you really immerse yourself in a market- The tools I'm using to be local in Sarasota are exactly the same as the tools I'd be using if I was actually local in Sarasota, right? I'm- there's a traffic accident on i-75. Well, I'm gonna fire up the highway patrol cameras. I'm gonna see what's going on and report that back. I can. It's not in real time, but it's a minute or two after I voiced it and uploaded it. So middays on WSRQ, I take a little break there, grab myself a little breakfast, and then I'm back in here, and I voice track the afternoon show for FM 101 FM 92 FM 101.5 Milton Orangeville Simcoe, Ontario. It's one show three stations. take another little break in there. And then I voice track the afternoon show that airs on MIX 106.5 in Owen Sound. So that's my day. Then I get back into the studio at noon, Zoe and I record then, she works in real estate full time. So she spends her noon hour with me. We do six segments that then air on BTR between two and three, I edit that down into a podcast, isolate the video clip, the video clip goes on to social media to help promote the show. Yeah, and then I'm on to, you know, the podcasts, etc, that I've taken on that I've also got the responsibility for, so this is much more than just BTR. Plus, I'm doing the music scheduling, the commercial scheduling, the commercial writing, the commercial production. It's a busy little place.

 

Matt Cundill  38:23

In summary, this all appears that you're very viable.

 

John Mielke  38:27

Isn't that shocking? Yes.

 

Matt Cundill  38:31

I didn't want to let the episode escape us without working that word into the whole thing.

 

John Mielke  38:37

It's- that word is forevermore.

 

Matt Cundill  38:40

What did you think when you heard Robert Malcomson say that, you know, radio is not a viable business?

 

John Mielke  38:46

You follow me on social media. You know damn well what I thought. How dare you say that? And what a slap in the face. I would love to get- sit down for a beer, you know, with some of the people of Vista, and you know, John Pole, and MBS. Mr. Pace, and all who, on that very same day, just forked over a ton of money and signed an agreement to take over the radio stations. And then they're told the radio stations you just bought. Yeah, it's suckers. I mean, exactly. And by the way, I don't know when you're gonna put this on. But as we're recording this, I am aware of more layoffs that happened today. I can't say where. But I know that the owner of the radio station, put the wheels in motion for the layoffs because, gee, Bell says this isn't a viable business. Maybe I better get out. The repercussions of that comment are just unbelievably damaging to this entire industry. And yeah, can you imagine you buy a car from someone and as you're driving down the driveway, they're like, hahahaha, you bought a beater, bye. How angry would you be?

 

Matt Cundill  39:52

Oh, and you also still have employees by the way who are still working, getting a paycheck from you, and you just called what they do- they're now working in not a viable business.

 

John Mielke  40:02

Radio is a viable business.

 

Matt Cundill  40:04

Oh, is it ever.

 

John Mielke  40:05

You have to have an understanding of what it can do, and what you want it to do. I'm not seeing a lot of evidence of that. I see a lot of commercials on TV for radio and that's nice. I'm gonna set myself up again for probably a little bit of a slap in the wrist for this. I don't care. How in the hell do you hire Tarzan Dan, put him on 22 radio stations. I love the guy. He's one of my best friends. Put him on 22 radio stations, hav him do the media tour for an entire week appearing on every single newscast that CTV has local. And then Super Bowl Sunday rolls around. You got the broadcast. But the commercials you're airing for Bounce are still just talking about, we play 80s and 90s. You couldn't even reavoice that to mention Tarzan Dan? You hired a goldmine.

 

Matt Cundill  40:57

Well, you know what, for the very first time in my life, I can listen to Tarzan Dan terrestrially in the place I live, for the very first time. And I'm like, I can't wait to get in the car and go listen to him on 99.9 here in Winnipeg.

 

John Mielke  41:11

We just talked. Looking for that marketing opportunity that will bring people back to the radio. It's stuff like that, that you know, when it's not a viable business. It is when you pay attention to things like that. To me, that's a huge missed opportunity. You know, and then, of course, the next day, the ratings come out, biggest viewership in the history of the Super Bowl in Canada. And you didn't tell anybody about this person, this legend, that you just hired for 22 of your radio stations. It's viable, it is viable. And the new owners recognize that and will do a great job with it.

 

Matt Cundill  41:46

Very astute of you, by the way to have- to have thought of that. If you'd run down the hall Friday at five, I would've worked late to make that happen.

 

John Mielke  41:52

I mean, what would it have taken to reimage that and reupload that? Nothing,

 

Matt Cundill  41:57

There are changes that happen all the time. And I'm like, let's see if anybody is going to come in and fix that for the weekend. Let's say they move like the time of a sporting event or something like that, or an NFL game or something. So let's see if anyone is gonna come in and fix that. And then often they don't. I know I would.

 

John Mielke  42:12

They should? If it matters, you would.

 

Matt Cundill  42:14

Yeah.

 

John Mielke  42:15

It has to matter. And that's- that's the thing. If it's not a very viable business, it's because you- it didn't matter to you.

 

Matt Cundill  42:21

I have a radio station in town, a Bell station as it were, that got refunded. They just turned it off. And I thought to myself, it's an AM station, the frequency is 1290. There was a sports station there then it was a funnies station, a comedy station.

 

John Mielke  42:34

That was a cop out.

 

Matt Cundill  42:35

And now it's nothing. And I thought would I buy that for $1? And I don't think I would buy it for $1.

 

John Mielke  42:41

AM? No. No back- back in the day, there was some thought to hanging on to AM stations because it would give you an advantage when everything moved digital. Well, everything moved digital, but not in the way we thought it would, right? Digital for conventional broadcasters, is now the addition of a stream online, on a smart speaker, on an app. I can't get too upset with any broadcaster wanting to take AM off the air. You could have a very- this is a quote from Rob Farina who I used to work for years ago, but I love the quote. You could have a really, really great store in a dead mall. There's nobody coming to your store. And that's the AM band right now. There's- the sound quality isn't there. The expense? You know, for what is it five, seven transmitters to run an AM station? Seven times the power etc. It's cost prohibitive. Unless you can flip it to FM, I wouldn't touch an AM station. Even if I had that dollar. No way.

 

Matt Cundill  43:45

And who knew I'd be coming to you for business advice? I like that. Thanks.

 

John Mielke  43:50

It's a good relationship. We- we bounce a lot of stuff off each other occasionally.

 

Matt Cundill  43:54

Hey, you said bounce. I like where you went with that.

 

John Mielke  43:57

You're welcome, Bell. See, I'm not such a bad guy after all.

 

Matt Cundill  44:00

Yeah. Because you said bounce, you gotta pay them now for it. The classified ads that come in to you, that you post, the job postings. What trends are you seeing in terms of what radio companies are looking for? Doesn't matter if they're big or small. What do you- what do you see?

 

John Mielke  44:15

The demand for newspeople really stands out to me. And that's the thing I hear from employers all the time is they're just not getting enough applicants for news. Whether it's not enough people interested in doing news or what, but that's- that's the biggest frustration. That's the biggest trend right now. And that's what I have the most job postings up there for news that is in demand. Conversely, I'll have a conversation with a radio station. I'll say, Well, okay, you're in a difficult spot. You need somebody yesterday, you're in a remote location, you can't pay somebody a wage that you know is probably going to allow them to do this and do this only they're going to have to take another job. Are you open to Who? Then working from home? Oh, no, nope, they've got to be here. Do they? In 2024? Do they have to be there? I understand you want them to go to the city council meeting, and that's all well and good, et cetera. But can they not source that online and still report on it? I'd be looking at that option. If I was really stuck for newscasters right now, I would really be looking at the freelance option. But that's the biggest trend is the need for news right now.

 

Matt Cundill  45:25

Are you optimistic about radio? Because you mentioned that there are a lot of people who are buying radio stations, we talked about Vista. He talked about Pole, who had a big launch earlier this year, actually a year ago with the radio station.

 

John Mielke  45:39

Also the first Canadian to own an American radio licence.

 

Matt Cundill  45:42

Yes.

 

John Mielke  45:43

Which is pretty freakin cool.

 

Matt Cundill  45:44

We see maritime broadcast, they're expanding. That's exciting stuff for them. I mean, when you look at all that, there's got to be some reason here to be optimistic about the future, because they're all good people.

 

John Mielke  45:56

They really are. Yeah, they really are. I've got great relationships with all of them. I've met with Robert Pace and his team. On occasion, when I'm down east, I've got a cottage there. I've got my wife's family's down there. So I've always got an opportunity to drop in on MBs. And I have and for a long time, VISTA got great relationships with a lot of the hierarchy there. And they're a good sponsor of ours as well. John Paul, and I met years ago, Algonquin. I'm a big fan of what he's doing. Yes, I'm incredibly optimistic about radio. Initially, when the announcement came down, you know, you see the headline, bail, gets rid of 45 stations gets rid of more people. And it just it sparks, you know, that fuse again, and you get angry and you get frustrated, you know, like, this is this thing that, hey, love, just got beat up again. You know, and it just keeps happening over and over. But once in you were one of those people that sort of say, Hold on a second, look, look beyond the headline. Look what's really happening here, people stepped up and said, I do value this. And I've got a plan for this is going to be staffed around the clock, like radio used to be with an overnight show and a live evening show, et cetera, probably not. But I look at who has purchased these and I look at their track record and I listen to the other things they're doing. I posted this on on milkman several months ago, I just happened to be scanning the dial in my truck heading back from the west end of the city. And I happen to catch the oldies station that my FM owns. Out of Arnprior. I couldn't stop listening to this radio station. It the music was like nobody's playing this stuff. I knew every single song, the imaging was tighter than a fart in church. The jingle package was spot on the announcers were short, sweet to the point they knew the music. It was like, What is this? And I haven't had that happen to me a long time? Well, that's their only station and they're doing that oldies format and other markets as well. So, yeah, once they peel back the layers on this, I have to be optimistic that there are people out there who see a future in radio who want to do something with it. They've looked at these specific properties. And they've said, let's give this a solid run. So yeah, I am. I'm optimistic.

 

Matt Cundill  48:10

So if the headline that day wasn't, "Radio no longer a viable business." What if someone, or what if the quote that day had been, "We're gonna give these radio stations the best chance and the best opportunity to succeed, and we want communities to have vibrant radio stations"? Bell just doesn't have it in their DNA to say that, but if they did, wouldn't we look at that as being a great day for radio? Just change the one quote from that day.

 

John Mielke  48:42

I mean, that's all I want. You know what I want? I want radio to get back to celebrating radio. Listen, when they hired Tarzan Dan, back to that. I didn't get a press release. I didn't get an email from Bell. I had to see that on Tarzan Dan's page. Why is radio not moving heaven and earth to make sure that people who celebrate and promote the shit outta radio are fed as much information as they can about ra- it's an afterthought. Oh, it's on our Twitter. It's on our corporate page. Well, no, like feed- feed the beasts here, you know, and I'm not- I'm not trying to pick on Bell. They're not the only ones guilty of this. It just doesn't happen in radio industry or the TV industry anymore. We're not celebrating what we do. We're not- We're not patting ourselves on the back. We're not championing the industry. We're letting- you know. It's on Facebook. It's on Twitter. Everything's fine. You know, the word is out there.

 

Matt Cundill  49:39

Oh, I remember we would do something good. And I said, did- did you get a press release out? And did you send it to Milkman?

 

John Mielke  49:45

I can probably count on two hands the number of press releases I got in all of 2023. Isn't that a sad commentary?

 

Matt Cundill  49:52

It's bizarre.

 

John Mielke  49:53

Matt, I mean, we're recording this on Wednesday. And I sit here every single day, you know, when Milkman gets quiet and that- that happenes sometimes, there's no job postings, whatever else, you know, they will come back. But you're telling me that in the past five days, I haven't had anything to update on Milkman because an entire industry has done nothing noteworthy for a week? There's gotta be something. There's got to be a great show that connected with an audience. There's got to be a fundraiser that happened. There's got to be something.

 

Matt Cundill  50:24

A ribbon cutting.

 

John Mielke  50:26

It's crickets, man, it's crickets. We got to change that.

 

Matt Cundill  50:30

I'm gonna send you a press release in two weeks, you can have it exclusively. For 24 hours, I'll let you have an exclusive.

 

John Mielke  50:37

Okay.

 

Matt Cundill  50:38

How about that?

 

John Mielke  50:39

You can't tease me like that and not give me a hint as to what that might be about.

 

Matt Cundill  50:42

Two weeks.

 

John Mielke  50:44

He's got two weeks to figure it out. Okay.

 

Matt Cundill  50:46

It's two weeks, man. Give me two- give me- I'll invent something. I mean, this- this- it's ratings. Let's come up with something, right? Let's invent something.

 

John Mielke  50:55

NewCap were the experts at that. How many press releases were we getting when NewCap had their fugitive on the loose?

 

Matt Cundill  51:02

That's right.

 

John Mielke  51:02

You know, and on and on and on. And those- you know, those great little things that just, you know, we- listen, we were Cool FM in Ottawa, we- we were the big, top 40 station in town, we were up against Energy 1200, the mission, of course, was you know, it's AM, doesn't sound as good.

 

Matt Cundill  51:18

Put that old pet to sleep.

 

John Mielke  51:21

And then along came HOT 89.9. And I mean, they were in our face all the time. And I- you know, listen, when- when you see that coming at you, you're overwhelmed by it. But the radio fan in you also goes, oh, hell yeah. Oh, this is great. What happened to that? What happened?

 

Matt Cundill  51:39

Well, I think I know.

 

John Mielke  51:41

Okay.

 

Matt Cundill  51:41

Well, we- were going to put out a press release, we're going to need to run that by the number of people.

 

John Mielke  51:46

Alright.

 

Matt Cundill  51:47

And by the time it comes back, it's already passed and happened. It's over. It's like, it's old. Like, there's- it's too difficult to get stuff into the moment because you got to run it by HR, and then you got to run it by legal, and then you gotta get approval, and we're gonna need some changes. And-

 

John Mielke  52:04

Well, and you know what? I know you're kind of kidding. But I also know you well enough to know that you're not, that's kind of the process now, isn't it?

 

Matt Cundill  52:10

But that's what happened many times. It was like, by the time it came back. I'm like-

 

John Mielke  52:14

In that chain of command, it just- it just falls on deaf ears. It just- it doesn't matter enough to one person in the food chain. And it just goes nowhere. It's sad.

 

Matt Cundill  52:24

Billy in legal was sick. But they came back a week later and have now approved this. I go, we're done. It's over. We're not doing this anymore.

 

John Mielke  52:33

I love that Billy. Billy works in legal.

 

Matt Cundill  52:36

Billy in legal. That's right. William. You mean William.

 

John Mielke  52:40

Oh, that's better.

 

Matt Cundill  52:41

Yeah. Hey, you're still a CFL fan. You like the Red Blacks Do you think the CFL's got their act together?

 

John Mielke  52:46

Ugh, I have a love hate relationship with my Red Blacks. But yes.

 

Matt Cundill  52:50

Does the CFL have their act together yet with social media?

 

John Mielke  52:53

No.

 

Matt Cundill  52:53

Okay, I know. Alright. Why did I ask you a question I knew the answer to?

 

John Mielke  52:57

Did you see what Saskatchewan did?

 

Matt Cundill  52:59

Did they- whatever they did, they probably did it on dial up.

 

John Mielke  53:02

They sent an email to their season ticket base about a day ago. And some video campaign. I'm still trying to get my eyeballs on this thing. It's been removed from the interwebs. But girl math, that's the big sales pitch to try and get to a new base of fans. You know, the female audience, girl math, and apparently- I haven't seen it but from everything I read, it was just this condescending, you know, macho- They're taking a lot of heat for it. Do you go to a lot of Winnipeg games?

 

Matt Cundill  53:36

I don't, but I love the team, and I watch.

 

John Mielke  53:40

What's not to love? You got a great team going there.

 

Matt Cundill  53:42

You know what, for years they were not good. And now they are the model franchise. I love it. But I'm still an Alouettes fan.

 

John Mielke  53:53

That's right, eh? That's- that's-

 

Matt Cundill  53:54

I had to sit in a corner to watch the game. This year. I had to sit in the back corner by myself and cheer the Al's on, you know, in a room full of Bomber fans.

 

John Mielke  54:03

I haven't been to another CFL city for some time. But when I go to RedBlacks games, and I was a season ticket holder for a long time, you know we've got this refurbished stadium, etc. and they want to knock down the Northside stands now and rebuild it and it's just- it's not entertaining, the value for the dollar is just not there. I mean there's no halftime show, the audio- it's not that the audio system itself is bad. But the audio that they're playing, the songs they're playing, etc. all seem to be recorded to different levels, and they're distorted, and it's just like they don't even make popcorn at the stadium anymore. Like the smell of popcorn doesn't exist, and it just- for me the whole experience of the CFL falls flat. I find the broadcast is- you know, and it's unfair, I know, to do this to the CFL. But when you- like it or not, you're in the football business. You're up against the NFL. Go back to- you know, you're not even trying, radio. Well the CFL broadcasts asked me are very laid back. I've often joked about, it kind of sounds like golf, when I'm watching CFL broadcasts. I'd like the excitement level up a little bit. I still support the CFL, I go to games when I can listen, you say that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers weren't good for a lot of years. Try being an Ottawa Rough Rider fan through the Glieberman years and Horn Chin, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And then the Renegades days. It was painful, but I'm glad the team is back. I don't- I don't see them making any moves. Again, there's just- there's no excitement in the city. You just don't hear anything. And again, they've got that relationship where it seems that all of their eggs are in one basket. They're- they're advertising, as far as I can tell, exclusively on TSN 1200. Well, if I'm a sports nut, I'm probably already aware of when the games are. There doesn't seem to be too much effort to get out there to the fans that may not necessarily know, but are looking for a thing to do with the kids for the weekend. Missed opportunities again.

 

Matt Cundill  56:00

I have lost track over what stations still exist. Do you still have an Ottawa sports station at 1200?

 

John Mielke  56:06

CSN 1200 and CFRA. Both Bell Media stations, they are the only AM stations left in Ottawa, and you gotta figure Bell Media as a business has to be taking a look at those news, as we've already discussed, and CFRA is a news talk station, that's an expensive thing to run.

 

Matt Cundill  56:23

This is the CRTC who should have fixed that. They should be allowing stations on FM. I don't need 15 stations playing music at me. Just put some- put some news on FM.

 

John Mielke  56:23

So my question to you, maybe you know more about this than I do? Because I know CFRA and TSN 1200 are both available on HD through Pure Country and through- I still call it Magic but through MOVE. Can they exist as just an HD station? Or do they need to maintain that AM transmitter?

 

Matt Cundill  56:51

I don't know. But can we just put this thing on FM?

 

John Mielke  56:54

Or that. Well, there's not a lot of- I don't think there's a lot of room in Ottawa on the FM band, they would be a very low power radio station if they were on FM. Because Rebel had that- that problem too, when they first launched, they had to trade frequencies with a university station on the Quebec side in order to up their power. So Camp Fortune is where the big transmitter is, most stations- the earlier stations anyway, they're 100,000 Watts beaming off the top of Camp Fortune. And they're Blowtorch radio stations that I know you probably heard a little bit when you were in Montreal, even, they would bleed into that market. There's a lot of overlap and crossover there. Stations like LIVE 88.5 that Stingray owns, Rebel, I believe the Christian station, they've had to go to a transmitter to the south end of the city, which would put them lower and I know Rebel for a long time didn't have enough power to even find an audience in office buildings downtown, they changed the frequency, they were able to up their power a little bit. So I don't know that there's frequencies left that they could, you know, have the same opportunity to succeed as they do on AM.

 

Matt Cundill  57:51

I'm not asking Bell to move it, although it would be nice, because that's expensive. I get that. I mean, just looking at that, that's expensive. But if- but if I wanted to start up a news station or a talk station, even, what if I just want to have a talk station? I'm not even allowed to do it. And we know Corus already has a hankering for moving some of those legendary AM stations over to FM, they've tried it. So just let them.

 

John Mielke  58:13

Well, and to Corus's credit, I know that they haven't had permission to move the talk stations to FM, but they're doing it. I view it as kind of a- oh, yeah. Tell me I can't. Go ahead. Let's have that public war.

 

Matt Cundill  58:28

Yeah.

 

John Mielke  58:29

Like in order for my business to survive, I have to make this move. You say, I can't. I'm saying it's time you, you know, revisit that. I applaud that. If the CRTC is not going to listen, okay, you got to do what you got to do to save your business. I would have no problem putting talk on FM, absolutely, in a heartbeat. Ever- everything sho- everything should be FM or digital going forward.

 

Matt Cundill  58:51

Yeah, I don't want to throw the blame at all the radio people because there is an enabler in all this, and that's the CRTC.

 

John Mielke  58:57

You can only work within the rules, right?

 

Matt Cundill  58:59

That's right. What are you looking forward to this summer?

 

John Mielke  59:04

You know what Matt? How long has it been now since I have been on my own? Is this summer nine or summer 10? I want to say this is summer 10 coming up. In every single contract that I have with radio stations to voice shows for them. For the first time in 10 years, I have said, I get two weeks for me. I have not given myself a real vacation for 10 years. So this summer I'm looking forward to being at the cottage in New Brunswick. The BTRV parked outside because my in laws live in the cottage, but walking that beach on the Bay of Fundy with the dog and my wife and just, you know, getting caught up and just doing some of the other things that John actually is, you know? Picking up the camera again and- and doing, you know, photography, I love nature and landscape photography. You know, travelling, you know, I've been going to the east coast of this country for 30 years, every summer. I've never been to PEI.

 

Matt Cundill  1:00:08

What?

 

John Mielke  1:00:09

I know. I've not been to Cape Breton.

 

Matt Cundill  1:00:12

What? Okay, wait a second.

 

John Mielke  1:00:14

They're right there. I know, I've been to the bridge. I have been on the New Brunswick side of the bridge. I didn't go over. I know it's wrong. And so I want to start doing some of those things, especially now that the BTRV is for the radio station, but we take it with us. So I've got- you know, I've got a thing with me that really allows me to go anywhere. Why aren't I? Well, I'm gonna start doing that kind of stuff. 55 changes you too, you start looking at things a little bit differently. You know, your bucket list starts getting a little more real, you know, stuff I gotta do, so- and I'm just- I'm just looking forward to paying myself. Finally.

 

Matt Cundill  1:00:14

The end of this show sounds like a London Life ad for Freedom 55. How did this happen?

 

John Mielke  1:00:54

There is no freedom at 55 I'm here to tell you, I'll be working, loving what I do till the day I die, Matt Cundill.

 

Matt Cundill  1:01:00

You know what, me too. Me too.

 

John Mielke  1:01:03

It's passion. And that's- that's- again, that's what's lost on a lot of people I think, who have been in this business sometimes, is this is- this is passion. Look, Lowell Green. I had Lowell Green on well into his 80s. Why did he want to do it? As he just doesn't have any- He just- He doesn't want to sit around the house and do nothing. We're a passion business. And ain't it great? Mostly?

 

Matt Cundill  1:01:28

It is. Thanks for doing this. I appreciate it, man. I appreciate you. And I appreciate all the things you do for Canadian radio.

 

John Mielke  1:01:35

Likewise, Matt, I'm a big fan of what you do. Rest assured, I know we don't necessarily talk all the time. But you've always been very good to me. Always very candid with me and I am watching what you're doing. I really have great appreciation for a lot of the interviews I've seen, especially lately. Terry Dimonte. I got a great Terry DeMonte story I'll share with you one day. Ted, gosh, the list just goes on and on and on and on. You know, great little things like that that are reminders, and just so you know, this is the influence you're having on me. So I'm doing what seven shows a day? For radio stations? Little things like the conversation you had with Erin Davis, where she talked about- where you and she talked about sitting down with Valerie. And very quickly, Valerie heard one of your breaks and said that's great. But how can we make this more impactful? And just taking the time to rewrite and restructure. And you reminded me of one of the things I used to teach when I was at Algonquin College filling in for a couple of semesters. The most powerful word we can use and radio is "you." And this is what I found ever since hearing that conversation with Erin, and thank you for it. It reminded me that I need to get back to- especially in a voice track capacity, where it can feel very disjointed and not connected if you're not in that community, but if you just restructure the break and say, have you ever? Do you do this? Suddenly you're their buddy again, and it's a simple little thing that I think, you know, radio can be looking at to do, to reconnect with an audience and you brought that to me, and I'm sure to many others, so thank you for what you do for radio.

 

Matt Cundill  1:01:39

Thanks, man. Appreciate you.

 

John Mielke  1:02:40

Go team.

 

Tara Sands (Voiceover)  1:03:07

The Soundoff 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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