Marty Forbes: Return of the Wiz
Updated: May 31
Every time we have a radio veteran on the podcast, the conversation shifts to the future of radio at least once. But it's always about the future with Marty Forbes. He always has had an eye towards it. It's no secret that the broadcast industry is struggling to keep up with the times. But few guests have quite the depth of insight into radio's slow demise that Marty Forbes brings.
A lifelong Program Director, VP and GM at stations like CKFM 99.9, the Bear in Edmonton, CISL, CKKS, CJAX, CKSL, and his first gig at CKNL in Kamloops, Marty knows the ins and outs of broadcasting in a way few others can match. He's seen far too many stations fail to meet the shifting tides of the media market, or more commonly, hurt themselves worse in the attempt. In 2009, Marty started Radiowise Inc. to help as many companies as possible to launch, rebuild, and evolve while avoiding these issues.
However, since he decided to shut down Radiowise, now seems liek athe right time to ask him about the specific problems he's seen. Together, we dive into the challenges radio stations face in 2022, the way many companies are failing to address them, and the problems with the CRTC's stagnant grip on broadcasting.
We also discuss Marty's extensive catalogue of public service efforts, but did not have a chance to list off the specifics. He's a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service, and he's been directly involved with a staggering number of charitable organizations: The Jerry Forbes Centre, Santas Anonymous, the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree, Crescendo, and the John Cameron Changing Lives Foundation.
If you want to hear more from Marty, you can check out his blog, Marty's Musings, where he talks about everything from business advice to travel planning. You can also connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. If anything - do it for the travel advice!
If you were working at a station where Marty was, it was going to be fun. This video was shot back in 2002 right around the time EZ Rock 104.9 was coming into the building. The station went on to become what is now Virgin, but if I recall correctly, this was a welcome lunch for everyone involved and the building was about to get bigger. Matt appears in the video at some point and would be leaving for Montreal after 8 years in Edmonton.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:00:01
The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill.... starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:11
This week, it's the return of Marty Forbes. It's been five years, nine months and six days since his last appearance on this program. Perhaps it's because we talk at least once a month about things. How it was, how it is, how it should be, and how it's going to be.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:27
I thought, I'm going to wait for the perfect time to bring him on again. Well, that time is now. The Forbes family name is legendary. His father Jerry, setting the tone in Edmonton at 630 CHED with personality, charity, community and service. And Marty, Jerry and Gord carrying those values for the last four decades in cities across Canada. Marty left Astral Radio shortly after it was sold by Standard and started up Radio Wise to work with organizations on everything from transforming them into the digital space, to working with traditional media to get value for their promos and ad dollars. In short, he sees both the value of digital and traditional media in a world that so often sees it as one versus the other. And that's why we call him the Whiz. He's in the process of winding down Radiowise, traveling more and spending time with Liam, his grandson. Marty Forbes joins me from his home in Edmonton, Alberta.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:23
Marty, why are you shutting down Radiowise?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:01:25
Well, I like to use analogies. Remember those turkeys that used to have a little thing that popped up, little red thing, when it was done and the thing would pop up? Mine popped up. Over the last two years of COVID, basically all the business that I had either was shut down or really pulled back. And when this province opened up on April 1, all of my clients said, okay, we're ready to go again. But instead of what they were usually going to do, it was all of a sudden, okay, we have to catch up for two years of lost revenue. Two and a half years of lost revenue. So Radiowise has set up more for a hobby job to keep me involved and keep me relevant. And I was lucky enough to be able to choose projects that I wanted to be involved in that either paid it forward or did something for the industry. And all of a sudden, I'll use John Cameron, with them for twelve years, doing all of their concert business. Instead of one show, John now has a five year plan. It includes Calgary and travel and Christmas. And all of a sudden it was just, Holy Marco. This alone is a big project, and almost everybody that I was dealing with, I finally said to them, look, I've got some family time, I got to catch up now too. I lost three trips to Europe last year, all three with Kim, my wife. So she hasn't basically had a holiday for three years. So I thought, it's time, shut it down. Shut it down fully and start to focus on my life, and multiplying the effect was losing so many friends over the last year, and a great number of them are younger than I was or I am. So to sit back and say, there's all these indications, and that little red pop up says it's time to catch up on travel and catch up on my family, spend some time with my grandchild who I just adore, and I shut it down and I feel good about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:20
Well, last time you and I spoke, it was 2016 and you were in Arizona and you'd gone to high VO and studied and had really embraced the digital side of things. So why did you come back to Edmonton?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:03:33
The biggest thing was the grandchild. All of a sudden, Iran let us know. It's going to be the only child that she's going to have. And for the first two years of his life, I mean, he was still googoo gaga, not doing much, and all of a sudden I got thinking, I want to be part of this kid's life and not just a FaceTime on Christmas or his birthday or Grandpa's day, as I like to call it. And it was a tough decision because that time in Arizona, the time in the States came as radio was kind of devolving and digital was evolving, and I ended up hanging with some pretty amazing people and watching some really interesting things happening in the digital world. And of course, it was moving at the speed of light, and it was coming from non broadcasters, non broadcast companies. So while radio and television and print were trying to adapt to everything that it had to deal with, all of a sudden I'm in with Pandora and EA Sports and Spotify, and looking at what these guys are doing in what I call a no-rules environment. They were building companies, adapting those companies, changing them without regulation, without CRTC, without FCC. And today you look at what is going on with some pretty amazing stuff out there. And when you look back at the people that left the broadcast industry in the last five or six years, specifically, they had so much passion in the business that they decided to evolve, too. And you look at, I think, Maureen Holloway and Wendy Messley just launched their brand new podcast, it launches at number one. How come? Well, because they're really qualified ladies, really in touch and are off to a great start. Ryan Jefferson lost his job at CHED here and has invented a really neat template of what he does with his new daily talk show and utilizes digital in every proper capacity. That is really cool. You look at Linda Steele and Jody Vance- again, two highly qualified, respected industry people, and they've invented a new show. And listening to Connie Tiesen talking to them on the Broadcast Dialogue podcast the other day, they were proud that they own the show. And I think that's really cool because they can move on a whim and not have to worry about going to Toronto for approval of something or somebody saying you can't do that or it'll never work. They're willing to try. So the digital age for me was really cool because I got to get back here and work with clients to try to understand how to use traditional media for its strengths, but to have a digital effect, to do short form for radio, long form for podcasts, I love to talk about it and how database marketing works and what you should be doing with your Facebook business site and your Twitter sites. So it was an exciting time for me. I really wanted to stay relevant, I always have. But it just came to a funnel where I said, okay, this is a big right turn in my life and I better do it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:26
Well, you're a great person to ask this question too, because I went to Canadian Music Week and the normal two or three days that used to be with radio was sort of a one online and one in person. One of the in person sessions had some digital marketing people who were on stage and they were talking about placing ad buys. And you've done a lot of work in that area with Radiowise. So does radio have an attribution problem? Because two of the things that I heard, and I'm not sure if it's- it kind of made me go, what? And they said, radio doesn't turn the copy and creative around quick enough compared to digital. And the other part was that the attribution is wildly different and not really as up to speed as digital. Is that true?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:07:06
In a lot of ways, yes. If you saw Victor Kwee, the new Elk's President, and an incredible person, just fed out his thoughts today on digital and the analytics of what it brings. And that's the biggest strength. I moved almost all of my clients into programmatic last fall, and when you can provide your clients with amazing targeting, we did a Campaign for Fairness Alberta that was directed to Edmonton, Calgary. It also had an Ottawa component and a Toronto business component, and we could pinpoint where the message was going to go and to be relevant with the problem that we have to do with equalization payments. We even did a French version that was dropped into the French areas of Ottawa. And I can go back to the client for a 10th of the price that traditional was charging to do this kind of work and show them the effect and literally follow that digital trail, where it takes them, from seeing that somebody in Ottawa dialed in on an iPhone and they went to the website, they read this column, they went to the podcast, and they bailed out of the podcast at the twelve minute mark, for example. And if you saw a trend with that. You could go back to that twelve minute mark and say, okay, we went off track there, so we needed it. So radio, the hardest problem I had with radio over the last little while is the decentralization of all decisions. So I would take my clients into a radio station. I'd be dealing with a new person almost every single year. A lot of them had just come out of a broadcast school or from someplace else and have to explain to them what this John Cameron thing is and why it worked and why it needs the station's support, and why it was good for them to do a promotion with us. And they said, well, okay, well, it's got to go to a central pool in Toronto. We'll get back to you in a week or two, depending if they can get to this decision. And now, all of a sudden, I'm relying on somebody in Toronto who's probably never left Mississauga to make a major decision while I'm sitting there high and dry with a show that I have to promote and sell 15,000 tickets. When we did it digitally alone last year, or excuse me, the shutdown year before COVID, we sold 15,000 tickets to this show without spending one penny on traditional media. And that's disturbing. This is how I grew up. This is my life. But the messaging and the coverage for traditional is to get people to utilize your digital. I mean, make sure that you drive them to the website, that you can buy their product, or get the information, or contact a human being by name to do the product. So it's working radio and digital together. And of note, almost every major company now has a national digital corporation within them, or a third party where they can do all aspects, including podcasting. And actually, some of them are now pooling their sales to include billboards, newspapers, magazines, whatever, all under one roof. So it's changed dramatically.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:06
So radio has a perception problem, because when we talk about it, we really don't think digital at all. So I'm going to give you the keys to a radio station. How are you going to change the public perception of radio so that we think digitally as well?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:10:21
Well, I think the Fred Jacobs Report that came out a couple of weeks ago, and Jeff Vidler complimented it with some research that just came out as well. And back to my analogy here. When Kim and I choose a favorite restaurant, you go to that restaurant that you're so familiar with, you go all the time for all those special occasions, and all of a sudden, menu has dropped from 25 things to twelve things, and all of your favorites are gone. I think that's what's happened right now is radio has taken off so many things that Joe Average liked to consume, and that showed up in Jeff's research, information, and entertainment. So what are these companies been doing well. They've been voice tracking all nights, voice tracking weekends, and all of a sudden, that has spread to every aspect. In Edmonton, for example, we have three morning shows that come from outside the market, one from Halifax, one from Seattle, and one repackaged from the day before out of Vancouver. And we just had the Edmonton Oilers that own the city. As you well know, the city of a million and a half, almost now. To the third round of the playoffs, where 18,000 people are going to the games, another 8000-10,000 are in the downtown core. Every business is dressed up in their Oilers outfits, and you're going to turn the radio stations on the next day. There won't be a word of it. You can't capture that. So bit by bit, over the last number of years, we've taken all those tune-in things off radio, and it's allowed them to move to other platforms. That's just line about a red flag. This is the red flag. We're now raising an entire demographic that is not using traditional media of any sort. My daughters don't have cable anymore. They don't watch TV. They know they can get anything they want, wherever they want on their cell phone. And until we can start getting the very basics of what made radio good- really good morning shows, community involvement, being actively involved in the city, bringing the general managers where the stations have them, back into the United Way, back into all these fundraising events, and being partners in what makes a great city great, that's the hardest part for me to realize. People don't quite understand that because of the big operators now, the radio is about tier number seven in their revenue stream. They can raise the price of their cable by a dollar and make millions of dollars with no people aspect. It's the same product going out, cell phones, cable, satellite pay per view, hockey teams, football teams, all these things that they own. And all of a sudden, you take radio down to the 6th or 7th tier with no ambition to do anything but survive. So to get radio back into being something that is part of, dad used to use the term the social fabric of people's lives, it's got to become interesting again, it's got to become active again. And it's going to take some investment. It's going to take some people in these major markets thinking that, boy, we better put something back into something that we've been cutting all these years. We signed off EZ Rock when I left, and they did, with an eight share billing $8 million. And that's over ten years ago. It's a two share now, and you can do the mathematics on that alone. And it has no people or one person and high, high turnover. It's not a place like we had at the Bear, where people wanted to work at that building. They wanted to be part of that success story. So to start with, making people proud of what they do inside those hallways, and what they put out on the air, is huge and it is salvageable. But it's going to take some new thinking and some innovative thinking in the States. For the last number of years they've been breaking off some of these giant companies into regions. And I talked to a good friend in Phoenix a couple of years back from Bonnieville and they're based out of Utah, and he said we were kind of forced into consolidation because everybody else was. We needed 1200 stations, we needed to go coast to coast until a new manager or president came in and said, what do we know about New York? We know nothing about New York. So now we're taking on CBS, NBC, CNN and all these operators? No. So I just noticed the other day that they had purchased a number of them around the state of Utah, and are going back to the old structure of what we had years ago, where maybe stations are 15 or 20, but the synergy and the speed of the way they can operate is way quicker than 150 waiting for something to roll out coast to coast that may not make sense to their market.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:58
And so that centralization you mentioned also spills to talent. You touched on it with out of market radio. I know locally- I took a look at the ratings. So Roz and Mocha is a show in Toronto, does very well and I see it advertised on my television. But you bring it into Winnipeg, and I go back to 2019. KISS with another local morning show was 3.7, but then you replace it with Roz and Mocha. The show is a 1.7 right now. How do you live with that? I'm looking at this book, and only the people at Rogers really know this, but I'm like, a 1.7. You think that would induce a change of some sort.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:15:32
Well, you call it 711 radio now because there's so many of the same things. The fact that if you say the word Virgin into your series, it's going to ask you which one of the 27. You turn on your cable TV, you're watching a football game and a Virgin ad comes out with no names, no city, no frequency, and you're going, I wonder which of those seven, eight, nine Virgins. And we've lost that identity to try to save money and make everything easy to control. But yeah, I remember asking Gary State one time which share what the station had to be to fire him. He said seven. There'd be about ten radio stations in this market where I would have got fired. They think of the people in those places. Matt, how would you like to work for the last place radio station for ten years?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:22
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:16:23
One of the properties I left with McLean, Hunter CJAX here, we signed it on 40 years ago this September. I walked in and said, you guys aren't going to invest in this, and my name is on this, so it's time for me to go. And that's when I moved off to Vancouver, and good things happenedfrom there on in. But, yeah, some inner pride. Look at the clothing that every single staff member of ours used to have twice, three times a year. The ski outfits and everything. And if you walked out on the street, people saw that bear logo, there was respect for it. Greg Diamond can tell you we reserved the leather bear jackets for the program directors. When you handed that Bear leather jacket off to somebody, it would go in a glass case when they retired, right? So some inner pride in building and doing creative things. And I think that's what you're seeing with Digital now is that these kids, and you and I both know Montana Getty, I'll use her as an example. You go to her website. Holy mackerel. The kid created everything on her own. She's her own product. And one of the things I wanted to bring up with you, I can't remember if I sent you a note on this, but the signature lines from a couple of the students that I worked with through the Gray Cup Festival doesn't say radio, TV or print anymore. It says digital journalist. And I asked them to say, well, what does that mean? Well, it means we can do anything on any platform. So if someone says, I'm needed on radio, yeah, I got that. How about television? Yeah. Can you write a blog? Would you like to do a podcast? So they themselves are describing themselves as digital journalists, and I think that's very cool, because that's where the building comes. These guys are building their own templates, and that's what radio has stopped doing. I haven't heard of an exciting new station, and I'll use BOOM UK is the one I'm listening to the most. BOOM UK, it's a classic hits, but it's really wide. All the announcers came out of Capital FM, BBC or even off the pirate ships, so they're mature, but every time they talk about an act, they'll say, Oh, yeah, this is when Peter Noonan dropped into Pirate Radio back in 19. And there are storytellers. It's really neat, and there's no set playlist. There's this great material and there's so much British content that didn't get great airplay over here, but, you know, as Gerry and the Pacemakers by that sound, and they have storytelling as part of it as well. It's a digital only station, it's based in London. All the announcers live in France, Spain or Scotland and do their shows. There's news at the top of the hour, 90 seconds every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it's just that need to know news, so I have a hard time turning it off. It's one that relates to me and my demographic and my career. And it kind of signified to me some rule breaking, saying, okay, well, it's not a BOOM FM per se that we would hear in Canada with our outdated Canadian rules and regulations. It's a neat little radio station. I keep watching for more of those and they're just very few of them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:27
I guess radio has a recruitment problem. I know Troy Reeves sort of touched on it at Canadian Music Week last week when he said, well, we'll open up a radio job, we'll get a handful of applications, but we'll have something that says podcast producer, and we'll get flooded with them. And I think one of the reasoning is that you actually physically have to go to a radio station to participate, and you can do the podcast production at home. So I think the work from home thing is also playing into that. But you mentioned it. I don't think a digital journalist is going to look at an ad saying radio station and really put the two together. That goes back to the perception thing.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:20:01
The entire cycle is broken. If you use hockey as an analogy, a kid plays junior hockey, he knows he's going to the AHL, and he has to work really hard and be with really good people around him to get to the NHL. It's no different. We used to get out of Nate Sate BCIT and go to Moosejaw. Moosejaw was designed by Moffat to- Every single person knew they were there to learn. And if there's an opening in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, or Winnipeg, they were going to go there. And somebody emailed me the staff list from I think it was around 1982, 83. And that list of employees at CHAB Moosejaw are the Who's Who of Canadian Radio. Danny Kingsbury, Brad Phillips, I can go on and on and on, almost every one of those. Whereas now you go into- there's Red Deer or Lethbridge and all those are voice track stations, or there's one or two shifts. And those markets used to contain a lot of people that were either at the end of their career or late in their career, and people that have spent a great deal of time at successful operations and decided to go back to Lethbridge to be with their parents or whatever. And I know when I was there in 82, you walk into that CJOC newsroom, and those guys are the top of their field. They had been across Canada at CFRB and CFAX, and some of the best radio stations. So these kids now are getting surrounded by expertise to learn and develop and get those references, those all-important references. But when there's no training ground, when there's no air checks- I still get people asking me to do air checks. You're not getting air checks. Well, I haven't had one for two years, so no one's helping you get ahead. And Troy is a great guy, a good friend and all that, but the whole cycle, where are you training? What are you involved? Our Edmonton broadcasters funds a scholarship and this last couple of months, just before I bailed, we went back in to Nate and said, how about you guys take some anthology stuff from us and help us redo our websites, and finally get some audio and video on the broadcaster site that doesn't have any audio or video. So when somebody passes away now, we have the opportunity to do this amazing production, and it goes up on the Facebook site, the website, and the families get to see this legacy of their parents forever. So it's an involvement in helping them get ahead. They want direction. And then the neatest thing in talking to Montana and Elliott and some of these people, 201, they say, yeah, we know the business was great. We don't care. We want in. Yeah, it's not going to be what it was. We don't care. So their digital is them showing off how damn good they are at any aspect, and they just need a chance. You're 18, 22 years old. You're learning how to grow up first. You're leaving home for the first time. Your Kraft Dinner was seven for a dollar on June 1, 1970. I remember because there's seven days of the week. So they need to grow up as people, just like that kid hockey player needs to as well. So we have to invest in their future. We have to make the business sexy again, we have to make it fun again and stop laying so many damn good people off.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:15
In just a second, more with Marty. The last time we spoke, we were waiting for the CRTC to complete a radio review and wondering when it might be in. Well, the review is done and it's still not out. We're just waiting for Bill C11 to redraw the Canadian broadcast landscape. What lies ahead? We speculate. Hopefully no more tertiary Trooper songs on classic hit stations. And we dig a little deeper into a performer's digital rights and their intellectual property. There's more. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com. Including a transcript of this episode.
Sarah Burke (VO) 00:23:55
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The Sound Off podcast with Matt Cundill.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:08
And then of course, there's the people. And this is a problem, by the way, with BBC and CBC and NPR and a few other places that- they gather a collection of work, and then they realize, oh wait, I can do this from home and I can own the intellectual property and I can do the podcast and I can stream this from my house. So you've got the talent sort of spreading from both ends.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:24:31
Well, and they know there are no rules, there is no corporate or legal that they have to worry about, and there is no CRTC. There's no one standing over them saying what not to do. And that's the nicest part about this thing is they're creating things. They don't care if it's 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, if it's good, their friends are going to tell them, we're going to tell them and they'll do a small edit here, a small edit there, and they're turning out some amazing product. Whereas the corporate structure is just too restrictive of what you can't do anymore.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:01
And what about the broadcast schools? Because these people who are graduating are coming out with the skills that actual corporations want, because they want people doing video and audio and populating websites and social media. And the initial radio job is minimum wage. And these jobs at these corporations are 40, 50 grand a year.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:25:23
Absolutely. And in a bit reverse for that, Matt, you're not going to make 50 grand year one. And we went to small markets. I went to Lethbridge, $300 a month. I got a $25 raise. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. So we knew that to get out of those markets we had to be really good. And I learned this from my dad. I mean, the one thing that CHED with a 55 share in 1980 had, was every single person on that radio station was the best that there was. The guy on the all night show wanted to be nine to midnight. The weekend swing guy wanted to be during the week. And they worked their tails off to earn those moves forward. Nothing was handed to you. Today's kids kind of think, okay, well, if any school I need to make 50, 60 grand, it's just not going to happen like that. And I understand it's tough out there, I don't know. But you've got to remember they just spent 8, 10 thousand dollars to get here. I can't imagine my kid, if it came in today and said, dad, I need ten grand to get into radio, I would have a, hmm, we better have a chat about this kind of thing. So you still have to earn your way. And I noticed there are an awful lot more hirings starting to happen, and I think there are some opportunities starting to happen. And I know the Nate guys, they have some of the best teachers ever. Patrick Galenza still goes out after all these years and does remotes for Stingray. He hangs around the radio station, he engages with the staff. It's not this old school like it used to be anymore. They understand they're turning out these really good kids that understand the rules and the needs. But the industry has to help that along and embrace it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:57
You were there and of course, well, you've been around forever. You were there in the 2000's when a lot of additional radio licenses were passed out. And I think you sort of summed a few warnings as well that this would happen. But I'd say that we're here, right. We've really over saturated most of these markets. Edmonton, Halifax comes to mind. Winnipeg, Calgary. There's too many radio stations. Is that fair to say?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:27:22
Yeah, but it's hard to paint one brush with everything because when you look at especially the newer radio stations that came into Edmonton, they came in last place or no listeners. And Sonic is as solid a radio station today as the day they turned it on. Up and Now are either number one or number two in the market. So they have done really well, and there's just some other radio stations that just haven't been able to break through and I just don't think they have the resources to get to that next level. But yeah, there is too much. There's way too much radio.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:55
Why did it take so long for other radio companies to copy Now? Because Now is really an amazing story. And when it signed on, I think it was like 2009, 2010, and it came on. It is conversational, it is social, it is interactive, yet nobody copied it anywhere in the country.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:28:15
Well, it has so many elements built into it that are right back to the very basics. Strong, strong morning shows. I love the fact that there are two people on every single shift, and if you walk into any other operation now and say, here's what it's going to cost, and it's going to cost two salaries and two benefits forever and ever, they would likely shut it down. Whereas they've created a culture in both of those radio stations. They have very low turnover as well, that they love working there, they have a lot of fun there, they have some great opportunities there, and they have a really unique product. And it also broke the rules. It isn't just another format that's dropped in. They Edmonton-ize it or Calgary-ize it, whatever. And they're very strong operations.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:59
Did we get a radio review yet?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:29:03
No. And reading some of the things that are coming out today. First off, that CBC decision yesterday was scary. You used to apply for things and they would negotiate back and forth. It now appears that they're handing it back to you. Oh, no, here's a new element that you have to do. Now, the radio review was canceled because of BC11. And so all of a sudden, the radio review, that hasn't been done since the integration of radio, has now become dependent upon the digital that they have never, ever regulated. And you watch some of the craziness on Facebook, of Facebook denying somebody saying or posting one thing. So now you're going to have people hired that have the skills to listen to every feed on a radio station, decide whether that's appropriate or not? It's absolutely ludicrous. One of the things that I mentioned in Bill King's book when he interviewed me was the term of Senate. I said, if you're going to hold a radio review, why would you hold it with all these people that have made radio into what it is today. And I think the last commissioner even said, Bell is too big. Bell doesn't even listen anymore. We've lost the analysts. There's no Peter Flemings anymore. They used to come to the radio station, assess what you promised, and away you go. So all of a sudden, the whole focus is going to be on this, and yet we still play 52 year old Trooper hits every single day, seven days a week, on X amount of radio stations. God bless Trooper. But when the Senate is, why don't you get instead of doctors, lawyers and accountants on the CRTC, why don't you have a session with all the people who built great radio properties in Canada? It's a long list. Chuck McCoy, Paul Ski, Ross Davies, Gary Slate. We can go on and on and on and just say, how did we get here? The CAB broke up at the point when they were really, really close to having an incentive plan for Canadian music, for new music. It was within days, all of a sudden, it had disappeared. So the intent of trying to help new bands is playing second fiddle, pardon the pun, to playing anthology music. Literally, I started the same week that CanCon did 52 years ago, and it hasn't been updated or assessed for at least 20 years. And the www is where these artists want to go. They're not so concerned about getting airplay on Swift Current. They would like to get worldwide airplay. And there are so many now that are so huge, half the people in the world don't know where The Weeknd comes from or where Drake, and they don't care. They like his music. To sit here and watch them wait and then argue this, because now it's got to go to the Senate, now it's got to get argued back and forth. It'll be four years and three heritage ministers from start to, hopefully, the finish of reviewing the rules of radio.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:00
You know that moment when you're in the end zone and it's like, we don't need this anymore? That was 2015. Seven of the top ten artists in Billboard magazine for the year were Canadian. Seven out of ten. And now they make music. And it comes to Canada, it's not even labeled CanCon.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:32:16
Well, one of the things I was chatting with Brett Kissel, and the kid is an amazing artist, but I said, Okay, let's say you release a new album and you go into either of the country stations here, and at five to nine, before the shift ends, they play the new single. That's great, eh? Yeah. But what if we go down the hallway for the next hour and do an interactive thing via Twitter, Facebook Live, whatever, where I play the entire album acoustically? They interview me, we give away some copies, we invite some people to sit in on this whole thing. So the end result of a CanCon is one airplay, one time for one song, as opposed to worldwide exposure, sexy exposure, interactivity with artists and that, and get some credit for doing something digitally. That's what I don't understand. That's the integration that's not there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:09
Do we know what's inside Bill C-11?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:33:11
You know what? They keep arguing back and forth. Every second day there's a new evolution to it, and there seems to be more denying than anything else. It's not going to be this. Well, no, it's not going to be individuals. Come on. So a big corporation hires Marty and Matt to do their, We're not employees, and we do something. Come on. It's a field they just don't understand. And like everything else in Canada, it's going to get discussed till the cows come home, and a document will come out and be handed to somebody in Ottawa saying, okay, go hire 200 people and have them spend their whole time doing this. All the time. It's ludicrous.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:47
It seems a little crazy because the more information that I do pick up from Bill C11, it looks as though we're trying to promote everything to Canadians and keep it here and suppress other stuff. And I thought Melanie Jolie had it right when she said we really should be in the business of exporting everything, and it doesn't seem we're there.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:34:08
These guys want worldwide airplay. They want worldwide concerts. They want revenue from the world and not just Canada. That's the crazy part about this invisible border that we have. It doesn't make any sense anymore.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:23
So I look at podcasting. Do you think podcasting is going to fall under this?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:34:29
Concievably, sooner or later. And again, how do you regulate that? How do you tell some of these famous people, you look at the stuff that's coming out of the States now. There's some great podcasts. How do you go to Dennis Miller and say, okay, you can't say that in Canada. Okay. The new Jason Sudeikis one is phenomenal. The guy is one of the biggest stars in the world because of the Ted Lasso is doing this amazing podcast. So you're going to tell him, because it's coming into Canada, that you can't say this, or you can't do that? In the movie scenario. We have a whole industry built on doing movies in Canada to disguise that they're actually in Canada. Suits is shot in my brother's legal office in Toronto, but it's actually in New York. Get some Canadian pride on what we do and make it go worldwide. Then it's a different scenario. But you just can't put this false border up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:18
Does the CRTC have the capacity to do this? Because I think they've even come out and said, we don't have the capacity to do this.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:35:25
That was the last commissioner's very honest thing that he says, we don't have the people to do this. Who are you going to hire to do this? What kind of a job would this be? For somebody to do, it's not going to work.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:36
And it's not as easy, let's say, in a podcast, to start checking production boxes and the content creators are Canadian, but maybe this podcast got sent off to the States for production. And are we going to MAP all this podcast?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:35:51
And what is freedom of speech? You want to get into that argument? How long is this podcast?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:57
If this episode is still here in three years, we'll be happy. We'll know that the bill didn't pass.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:36:02
Let's look back at it and laugh, I hope.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:04
You've worked with Paul Larson. What does he say about purchasing a radio station that makes me think that, why would he do that?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:36:11
Well, that's a great example. I worked with Paul on their Lethbridge properties for a year. But Paul is that passionate guy. Paul is that next gen guy who- his success story, he's so modest, is phenomenal. And it was all built on small town radio. It was built on all the elements that make radio great. And he's done something already with the people that he's hired and brought into there that people believe him. They'd rather work for Paul Larson in a nice little small operation in a beautiful setting. And I could assure you that his quality control will be immense. He knows how to do great radio at every level, and he's built himself a nice little template. And Steve Huber in Assiniboine, this neat little wee radio station he has done really well with, works his tail off. But again, every one of the elements that made radio great go into making these new stations competitive and great.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:07
Just touching back on talent for a second. So if you did have a radio station and you were looking at talent, let's talk a little bit about celebrity and the people, for instance, who do Spittin' Chiclets. Is there a role for these people to be on the radio and this radio want part of their IP?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:37:25
It's a really good question. And I was chatting with Gene Principe at a function. If you don't know who that is, he's a Sportsnet legend in hockey. And I said, Gene, you're going to have to understand the changes that are going on with this next up and coming demographic. They can see through things, and they know that people who work for Rogers Broadcasting are only allowed to say and do certain things. They can only critique and do certain things. I said, the world's biggest sports podcast has no announcers. They have no professional announcers. They have three ex hockey players who say it all. And I don't know if you caught the Wayne Gretzky interview. It is 1 hour of gold. And being a huge Gretzky fan, this guy has had the three minute clip mentality his entire life. He's got stock answers to every question that has ever been said. And all of a sudden, he's sitting in a room with three other peers telling stories that have never, ever been told before, about- his dad wanted him to not play for Detroit because we would be replacing your hero, Gordie. I'd never heard that before. And all of these elements that these kids today would rather hear from Paul Bissonet, would you call him a B player or C player? And all of a sudden he's one of the biggest stars on television with TNT. How come? Because he's pure entertainment and he's also informative. And when you pair the world's greatest hockey player with a guy like Paul Bissonet, that's a signature of what is changing out there. With podcasting, people are looking for expertise. They can see through if this is a product placement podcast, or it's something that they can learn from. And I think that's the biggest change that's going on out there right now is the podcasts are the best- I call them club. I follow travel guys. If something's happening around the world and I'm going there, I want to know that, right? Motorcycles. I don't ever want to miss anything in that field. And those podcasts are coming from experts in the field. They're not coming from some guy who's gone to broadcast school and can ask a question and walk away. And if you look at some of the treatment that these hockey players have thrown back at these poor guys. Y'know, yes. Yes. No. Yes. So I'm not getting anything out of this interview? No. That demographic are seeing things differently and expecting things differently, but that's all again, being- having program directors and content control people that know and understand psychographics, not demographics.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:04
Shout out to Gene Principe, by the way, who refereed a few of my soccer games and did give me a yellow card at one point in Edmonton.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:40:13
He's a wonderful guy. It was a great chat with him. And chatting with everybody that just went through the Oilers run was really cool. Brendan Griffiths, one of our best friends, just doing this great podcast, The Outsiders, talking to anthology guys and industry guys. Check his podcast out. There's a perfect example of a guy who left broadcasting, but his credibility came through the sports area and he asked those tough questions that you're just not going to hear in traditional media.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:40
And that's something that Radiowise did, too, is help build that podcast network.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:40:44
Yeah. And you know what? He's a pretty special guy. What we did with that very briefly was realize that there's a great deal of expertise out there, but they don't know how to do all the technical aspects of what podcasting is all about. So we call that a one stop podcast. Brendan does everything.You want them to host, send him four or five questions. He'll ask that, then he'll debate or he'll add some content for it. But you can go in as a lawyer or a financial guy and do a corporate podcast that brings up professional standards. And by the end of the day, it is posted around the world on whatever platform. My financial guy does a weekly one, five minutes long, that I adore. It's information I can't get anywhere else, up to date on what's going on. And last week is a great example. It's not a good time, and you better understand what's going on out there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:36
What's your favorite travel podcast?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:41:39
Rick Steeves. I followed him on PBS forever. His apps are amazing. We're going to Rome in September, and his app is- stand on this corner, hit this app, and you can do a walking tour of Rome with that app fed into your iPod. So this is spectacular. My travel plans. I've done all the world's great cities, but our plans are all in small towns and smaller cities and meet and chat with people. So finding those little hidden gems when you're on a motorcycle in Germany is really cool.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:42:11
Yeah, I think that's one of the legacies of the pandemic, is it's really made people think about where they want to travel. And it sounds like you're going to be taking a little longer and doing things a little differently on your travel. Is that right?
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:42:23
I've got three European tours booked in the next 17, 18 months. The first one is going to be all the way through Italy on a private bus with 30 other people into Austria, which I love Vienna. Vienna is one of my most favorite cities in the world. Salzburg and Innsbruck, where the Olympics were. And then we're going to Munich for Oktoberfest for one day. And Oktoberfest is the biggest gong show you'll ever see. Then we finish up in Budapest, which is a tremendously interesting city, come back for a couple of months, and then Kim and I are doing a river cruise in Portugal. And then after that, back over to Sweden for the World Juniors. And we're going to do a couple of offshoot countries that we didn't do before. So we'll be into Norway, going back to Denmark and Finland, and then into Belgium to do as many war sites, canadian war sites, and then finish up in Amsterdam, so that's the next 18 months catch-up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:18
Now, you brought back a memory that I guess you had to cancel your trip to Portugal. Because I was going to try to hook up with you, because I was going to be in Portugal and Spain around that same time. But, yeah, you did cancel that.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:43:30
Yeah. The feedback, I'm sure. You'll see, I've never found anybody say anything bad about Portugal. They just love going there. So we'll do three days in Lisbon into Porto, and then seven days on. I call it The Floating Weston. These river cruises I just love.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:44
Well, Marty, it was too long between talks on this podcast. We won't go five years next time.
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:43:52
I'm always honored, I'm thrilled at how successful this has become. And maybe we're not crazy. Maybe they can actually listen to some guys who have some pretty decent time in the business and at least listen and assess some of these things. Again, I don't blame all the great people we work with. I'm thrilled for guys like Brian Depot and Greg Diamond that have found small little gem companies that are in smaller towns and really still thriving and enjoying what they're doing. It's still out there, but it's going to take some effort.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:52
Marty Forbes (Guest) 00:43:52
'Kay, buddy. Nice chatting with you.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:44:23
The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Soundoff Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.