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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Scot Turner: Airwaves and Soundwaves

Updated: Jun 19

Another episode years in the making. Scot Turner recently retired from Evanov Radio in Brantford, Ontario. Scot discussed his experiences in radio programming, sharing insights on how to navigate challenges and create successful radio stations, including CFNY, 94.5 The Beat, Dave-FM in Kitchener, and many more.



In this episode, Scot emphasized the importance of blending genres, catering to a specific audience, and adapting to changing listener preferences. We also discussed the evolution of dance music on radio, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, and the challenges and opportunities in urban radio programming in Canada during the early 1990s.


We got deep into the weeds on the integration of hip hop and urban music into Canadian radio formats and the impact of streaming platforms on traditional radio. Highlighted are the nostalgia and importance of CFNY, culminating in a forthcoming documentary supported by Corus Entertainment. Finally, we emphasized the significance of celebrating radio's history through anniversaries and innovative programming, offering a rich perspective on the medium’s past and future.

 

We got very deep into the weeds on a number of subjects and here are some of the things we thought about after the show....


Amazing Voice Talent:


  • Producer/Voice guy Scott was thinking of Dan Tucek. He is still think he’s voice of CP 24 (Toronto, ON TV), Bounce (Edmonton, AB Radio), 98.5 KISS-FM (Peoria, IL Radio), Sony Music Canada, Universal Music Canada.

  • Joanna Stadwiser – used her at several stations over the years.  One of my fave females

  • Heather Walters – voice on Lite 92 Evanov.  They had chosen her when I got there and LOVED her. No need to change.

  • Jeff Berlin


We also discussed the Montage Rule:  Scott found text from a document he put together while at The Beat (Vancouver) in 2011.


More revisions to the hit/non-hit regs came in May 1997, when the CRTC officially stated that “A hit is any selection that, up to and including 31 December 1980, reached one of the Top 40 positions in the charts used by the Commission to determine hits. All other selections will be considered as non-hits for purposes of determining compliance with a station’s Promise of Performance.” With these new regulations, every song from January 1, 1981 onwards was now classified as a non-hit, which opened the doors for the CHR format to explode onto FM, as they could now play all the contemporary music they wanted because all new releases would be considered non-hits, whether they hit Top 40 or not. Remember, FM’s needed a minimum of 51% non-hit, so under those new guidelines, they could roll with 100% non-hit and be in full compliance with their license conditions. 

 

Scott also posted a follow up on Facebook about the success of Dave-FM. After the fact one usually forgets and can leave details out - one shout out I forgot would be to Jamie Watson the entire imaging/promo writing & production team at Corus Kitchener 107.5 Dave Rocks & 91.5 THE BEAT where we were nominated and won numerous Crystal Awards at CMW over the years. Such a key to making a radio station sound great. Jaie Tufford Christine Chaplin Smith John Quirk Ryan Dentinger Dave Hiltz 

 

The Upcoming CFNY documentary is nearing completion and it will be coming to a theater or streaming service near you. Here is a news feature that parent company Corus Entertainment aired.


If you would like a quick preview of some of the stars that will be appearing on the show - you can check out the growing list on the IMDB page. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt22941170/

 

TRANSCRIPTION


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  00:02

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


Matt Cundill  00:12

Scot Turner has had an amazing radio career to date. Our path only crossed one time. And it was during a period in the 2000s when we were both programmers at Corus. He's always been known for orchestrating incredible radio sounds at CFNY in Toronto, The Beat in Vancouver, and Energy 108 in Burlington, which, by the way, is just outside of Toronto. You see, Scot has an ear for finding sounds that don't currently exist on the radio, and bringing them to the radio. So strap yourself in for the stories and radio geekery when two programmers get together and talk shop. By the way, we got so deep into things that there were times a mistake or two was made, or we couldn't remember the name. And if that was the case, you can find it on the episode page at soundoffpodcast.com. And now, Scot Turner joins me from Paris, Ontario. I'm really glad I get to do this. Because so many times when you and I have met in the past, it was work related or business related. And I never really got to sit down to talk to you about this incredible career that you've had in radio, because I always wanted to know about the time when, about the time when. And there were- there were many times, and hopefully today I don't forget any of those times. So thanks for doing this.  Your name came up, I guess about a year ago, because I had Maie Pauts on the show. And you and Maie I think crossed paths a few times, sort of right at the beginning.


Scot Turner  00:12

For sure. Absolutely.

 

Matt Cundill  00:12

And you started in radio, it was about 1979, and it was Newmarket. How did you get there?


Scot Turner  01:43

Well, Newmarket was part of a number of those sort of weekend, part time gigs. There was also Guelph, you know, CJOY was my first full time gig, but Newmarket a couple of times, because there was CKAN, that was the AM. And then down the road, it became an FM which was 88.5, and then- or 88.1. One or the other. So there's a few times and you know, there's so many of those smaller stations that they just blur over the years, anybody that's done radio for as long as I, they kind of blur into each other. So you tend to remember the highlights, the the stations, you've you've worked longer at. CKAN, I remember I would just drive. I lived in Scarborough, and we just drove up on the weekends. I remember that. Back then it seemed like a far drive. But not anymore. It was like Burlington, you know, we're working in Energy 108. I remember I was working at CFNY, which was in Brampton. And I remember driving out because I wanted to explore other stations and I was looking at, you know, what might be my next job. And in radio, you're you're always if you're smart, you're thinking ahead and thinking, you know, things can happen. And they do, formats change, and people get shuffled around. And I remember driving out to Burlington, from Brampton and thinking, this is really far. Wow. Like, just way too far. It just felt forever. And now it doesn't at all, of course, you know, Toronto over the years has just exploded, you know, so that goes for like the new market story and the Burlington, Hamilton, they all- everything just, you know, from- now you go from Mississauga to Oakville to Burlington, and all of a sudden you're in Hamilton. It just seems like one giant city now.


Matt Cundill  03:38

And how did you get into CFNY? Which at the time was a Brampton station. And if you didn't know it, it did feel like it was not a Toronto station. It was outside and away. It was a suburban station.


Scot Turner  03:52

Very much so, yeah. So there was an AM to CFNY that some people talk about the story or tell the story when the AM was CHIC, C-H-I-C. And at one time that station had all females on the air, it was around the late I guess was like late 70s when disco was- you know, 77, 78, 79, when disco was really huge. And then later on, it became- they changed the call letters to CKMW for Metro West. It was still owned by the same company. And it was the aim to see if and why. And I got a job there. That's actually where I met Maie Pauts. She was hired in overnights. So this is around '83, when the owners were splitting off the AM and FM of CFNY, literally in the same hallway, just down the hallway was the AM, and we shared like the news department. We shared the writers. We shared a number of things between the two stations. But that's when Bill Evanoff came in and another partner and they bought the AM, and that's where it split off. And eventually became a multicultural station. But because they didn't have, you know, Bill and the other people he was working with didn't have everything lined up. He had all these hours during the day. And I think the CRTC promise was that, okay, you can become multicultural, but only so many hours a day. And so I went to Bill and I said, listen, do you mind if I program the English hours of the station? And that's where I presented him with the idea of doing this urban contemporary format, it was, as it was called at the time. So it was a mixture of top 40 and urban music, you know, r&b and some hip hop and some other stuff that normally was not getting played in Canada. And that was a lot of fun. It was called radio 790, CKMW, rhythm radio. And it lasted for a few years. But eventually, I managed to get a job down the hallway, at CFNY, as did Maie Pauts. So we kind of- that's where we both came from, the AM of CFNY, which was Radio 790, and then started working at CFNY. So I started '84, and I think Maie came over around '86-'87.


Matt Cundill  06:10

For those who are listening to this in audio format, you're not going to be able to necessarily see the joy that I'm seeing right now. And that's probably two of the greatest things going on. And that's a large collection of bottled booze. I believe is that a CD collection behind you?


Scot Turner  06:29

Yeah, if you're just hearing this audio- so I've got a wall of CDs. That was- that was hard. I downsized when I moved to where I am now, I did give away, sell off, a number of CDs, but I still have a few thousand on the wall here. And then you can't see to my other side. I do have some vinyl collection. But it's down to like four or five bins now. But I also have a scotch collection. Yes, I definitely- I have my single malts. So in my little bar- sorry, this is sorta my man cave, my, my sound room. So I've got my stereo in here. I've got you know, my little office setup with my computer, lots and lots of music, and scotch.


Matt Cundill  07:06

Where did you get your ear for music?


Scot Turner  07:09

Well, I think and I've talked to a number of people that got into radio that- I've termed it before, it's almost like some people that failed to be musicians and failed to make it in a band or failed to make it in music. I wanted to do music, I actually wanted to be in a band and I was in a couple of bands. But I one thing I noticed is I worked with this band and watched other players and you played with other bands or other bands open for you and you open for other bands. But I realized I wasn't great. I played a little guitar, I played a little drums, I sang not very well. But there was all of the things I did from guitar to drums to singing, it was- it was just really mediocre. And I realized when you saw, you know, obviously you saw, you'd go see concerts of successful bands and you realize, man, this guy can get that guy plays guitar, I could never play guitar like that. And I can't sing like that. And that drummer, I could never drum like that. So it was an awakening that I don't think- I don't think I'll ever make it in the music business. It's a tough, tough haul. But listening to radio, and I listened to guys on the radio. And I thought, you know, that doesn't sound that hard. I think maybe I could do that. And so I just kind of practiced and emulated talking on the radio, and you probably do it in your car, or maybe just as you're listening to the, the radio at home, you practice talking in and out of records. And I thought, You know what, I think I could do this. And I thought that's a safer way to get into the music business. So if you're working at a radio station, I get to play music and close to music, maybe I'll interview some artists. So that was kind of the path and choice is still my parents thought it was crazy thought that's not a job. My dad wanted me to do a trade, electrician or plumber, whatever. So that kind of freaked them out a little bit that I was going to get into radio. But that was- that was the way in, I just thought, I don't think I could be in a band. Let's try radio.


Matt Cundill  09:10

Could it have easily been working A&R at a record company?


Scot Turner  09:14

You know? Yes, probably. It's something I should have looked at and never did because I guess radio became so much fun. And one of the things about radio that I discovered soon in as I got into the business, is I realized not all music was being played on the radio and that's one of the things that I did in my career. And you know, CFNY is a great example of I really admired stations that would take chances on music, breaking new music that became you know, a big thing for me from my days at CFNY and Energy 108. That's one of the reasons I did Energy 108 because I thought, hmm. And you know, that answers your question about you know, I could work in for a record company. Maybe I could go down that path. Which did interest me, but I thought, we still have this problem of songs not being played on the radio, too much of a problem, that I thought I can stay in radio and I'm gonna see what I can do, I'm gonna- that's gonna be one of my goals, is to see if I can help break music on the radio, introduce music on the radio that your typical radio station doesn't play. And I think you know, over the years, I managed to be a part of that, and have done a job like that for the stations I worked at.


Matt Cundill  10:30

How did you know what to bring to 790 when you got the opportunity from- from Bill Evanoff? How did you know the format or what the mix of music was going to be?


Scot Turner  10:42

A number of things, a combination of things. I had done- in my years at CFNY- there was a time when CFNY was- we call it the mistake of '88, when the station was experimenting playing top 40 with alternative music. And when that was happening, I saw the writing on the wall that the station may not be the same CFNY that it was. So I started doing some research and one of the things I did, and I actually took a sabbatical for a couple of months. And I just literally got in the car, I drove down to Florida was my final destination because my parents had had a condo there so I could stay there. But on my way I visited- I called ahead, I called a number of really big black radio stations. I went to V103 in Atlanta, I went to a station in Washington, and I went to another station in Philadelphia, some of the big black stations that I had had appointments with the PDs and I went to talk to them about the music format. Because this hasn't been done in Canada. And we had a lot of people in the GTA, Southern Ontario, listen to BLK out of Buffalo. And I thought, wow, I'd love to be part of a station in Canada that broke some of this music, that played some of this music and nobody else was playing. And there are a few you know, there's college stations, of course, some college stations were- were helping and, and even CFNY was playing some some music in the genre that many stations weren't playing. But anyway, that's where I got the taste for it, always wanted to do that. And that's where you know, radio 790 was my first taste of that in 83-84, where Bill Evanoff said, sure, go ahead. And to everyone's surprise, and Bill's certainly, the station was actually quite successful. And we did this breakdance contest in the in the summer of I guess it was June, maybe it was June or July of- of '84 in Brampton, Chinguacousy Park Brampton. And we thought about six or seven hundred people would show up and it ended up being like 6000 people. And this is when breakdancing was a big thing and a couple of movies that came out that year. And it was hugely successful. Eventually, Bill continued on with the station as being a multicultural station. So that that faded away. But that always stayed with me. And later on the opportunity came up where I met Bill again, and we talked about Energy 108 and did that, you know, through most of the 90s. And that was similar, again, exposing, you know some of that black music, but also things had changed in the 90s. There was other forms of dance music and rhythmic music that needed exposure and gave us a great opportunity to just to fill that and run with that on Energy 108. It was an awesome time.


Matt Cundill  13:29

So what did you bring to CFNY in 1984 ish? Because there's still- again, a lot of music is not making it to the radio. So what kind of music did you manage to get on CFNY?


Scot Turner  13:43

Well, it's interesting that even from down the hall when I was at radio 790, you know, myself and Maie Pauts, and we were friend- friends with a lot of people at CFNY, we would go down the hallway with some imports that we had come across- and interesting that- that Bill Evanoff had some great connections with the Italian community. And we used to get these imports, people from Italy, they- a couple of connections he had would actually send us the latest singles in Italy. And there was a just a myriad of stuff that was being played in Europe and out of Italy. And there was a few records I took down to see if and why that they that they didn't have that I said well I got this import from Italy. And I think you know Fiction Factory - Feels Like Heaven was one song and others, and you know, of course CFNY played a lot of imports. So that was one of the influences that I had an in. And then we had from both radio 790 and CFNY had their connections for import records when there were places like- places like Mellow Music, on Kennedy Road in Scarborough, the guy that ran that literally every week drove to Detroit, sometimes Buffalo but he would- for whatever reason Detroit had a better stock of records, but he would literally drive to Detroit every week and get the latest records out of the US and of course a lot of you know r&b, funk, and hip hop, the record companies in Canada weren't even touching them. Because there wasn't the market, there weren't the radio stations to play it. So there's a number of records that never got the release, or it took a while to get the release. My experience with CFNY I learned the need in Canada, sadly, to look at imported records for the hits. And that's what we did, at Energy 108, when there was a rule of hit and non hit, one of the ways around that was, well, okay, can only play 50% or 49%, or whatever it was, of, of hits, well, I thought, well, there's all these import records that are hit records that are very accessible, very, you know, commercial sounding, but they're out in Italy, and they're out in England, and they're out in France, and they're out in Germany. And they're not released here yet, but boy, they ever catchy. Let's just start playing those, you know, and that's, you know, we're a lot of the the Euro sound and Ace Of Bass and Rhythm Is A Dancer, all those records that came out of Europe, we played on energy before they were hits. So we got the non hits, because this is at a time and you remember, early 90s. So I don't know when they they lifted the hit non hit rule, but-


Matt Cundill  16:17

'91. Okay, so that's wrong. The correct answer is actually 1997.


Scot Turner  16:24

But that was- so that was a challenge for FM radio in those certain years. They couldn't really do top 40 on FM radio for a time.


Matt Cundill  16:34

Just to give people an idea about how important it was to maintain all those regulations. Some radio stations had a position of Director of Foreground Programming, which is one title that you had when you were at CFNY.


Scot Turner  16:48

Yes. So it was- it was complicated. Yeah, Director of Foreground and Mosaic Programming. And we had all these different rules that that the CRTC had put in place to keep FM radio different from AM radio, and it was also to extend the health of AM radio, as people were starting to like FM because it just sounded better. The CRTC did, and I guess the radius, a lot of the radio stations wanted that a little bit of help, because we knew the writing again was on the wall, FM is going to take over. So these they stuck these rules to make FM a little bit different. And I actually thought many of the rules were very good and made sense because it did keep FM quite interesting. But it was tricky. Because you had these foreground programs where if it was an hour or two hours, the way you pass the rules is you couldn't give a time check. You couldn't give the weather, these surveillance things, right?


Matt Cundill  17:43

No traffic.


Scot Turner  17:44

And traffic. Yeah.


Matt Cundill  17:45

And you had to keep it within a 15 minute block. So if you went 14 minutes and 59 seconds, and then- and then gave the temperature, you pretty much annihilated the previous 14 minutes and 59 seconds from having counted for anything of value and worth. And there were- Listen, there were a lot of shows on the air. I know over at Q107, there was- they would- you know, Rock Report, that would count. Sunday music magazine?


Scot Turner  18:07

Yes.


Matt Cundill  18:07

That one you did?


Scot Turner  18:08

Yes.


Matt Cundill  18:09

Yeah, there were things like that, it could be 15 minutes, it could be an hour, but you had to have X amount. And I think the other one that people forget, and this was done to protect AM top 40s. And that's that on FM you could not play a song more than 18 times in a week.


Scot Turner  18:24

Correct.


Matt Cundill  18:25

Doesn't that sound crazy by today's standards, considering you probably clocked in some of the- some songs over 100 times a week at The Beat.


Scot Turner  18:32

Yeah. Well, and I think along that same thought line, they had- CFNY for a while did this Catch Us If You Can contest, which was hugely popular. So it was- you know, there's no song we're gonna play more than once a day. And if you catch playing a song twice, you know, you're gonna win 1000 bucks or wherever it was. Fantastic contest. People loved it. Except I did the evening show for a number of years on CFNY. So guess what happens? Because this is an era where we we were the DJs that picked our music, we got to pick the music on the station. And so all the current records and they were on the floor and they were records on the floor. So the morning show was like, you know when there's a hottest new- oh, Frankie Goes to Hollywood or there's a new New Order or Depeche Mode. That either got played in the morning that didn't get played by the morning, JR would play it in the midday, or James Scott would play by the afternoon and by the time the evening came, I got all the shit. All the kind of you know, secondary records or the ones that were, yeah, just not the biggest hits. That was fun.


Matt Cundill  19:44

Why isn't dance music is well received in North America as it was in Europe? In the '80s especially.


Scot Turner  19:52

I don't know if I have the exact answer, it's interesting because I'm- there was a BBC documentary on disco. That's on PBS right now that I'm watching, I've been on the second part of it. And I haven't gotten to that part yet when there was a big backlash in the US, but I think there's some reasons behind, I think there was the, you know, the religious reasons, a lot of dance music came out of the gay clubs. Disco, really started in the gay clubs. And those clubs were very open minded and had some of the greatest parties and it wasn't just gay people, but a lot of straight people or people that were, you know, marginalized or were a little bit different. But that's kind of the roots of where it came from. And I think there was a certain point that the whole disco sucks thing really resonated with a number of people in the US. And I think, you know, there's a certain religious context to that anti gay part of it, that helped spur that dance music was very gay friendly. And in the US, once that gets hold, it can really grow. And I think that's really where it came from. And then if there were some people in Canada, that also jumped on that bandwagon without really understanding the music. And I think that's another thing when disco at one point, you know, was absolutely massive, both on the radio, in the clubs there were- and I remember, you know, late 70s, certainly in Ontario, and around the Toronto area, there was not a a restaurant that didn't have a dance floor, that, you know, on their Thursday and Friday and Saturday nights. Were playing disco that what they normally wouldn't do, and it killed- the other part of it. Disco almost became too big, that it killed a lot of live bands, venues, venues that were- always had live bands were- were having disco nights. And so I think that was part of the backlash about the people that that enjoyed their live music. And then there are really staunch rock and rollers out there that were very prejudiced against dance music, in its various forms. So it had a, you know, a tough time in North America. And as you pointed out in Europe, they didn't have the backlash in Europe. And it was a very North American thing, mostly American thing. But Canada kind of followed suit to a degree but not to the same extent.


Matt Cundill  22:24

Today, I see something that has happened as a result of that, which this is not very monumental stuff. But when you go backwards, and you want to talk about the throwbacks, and let's say you had a throwback radio station right now. And if you reached into the era, 1980-81, just to the early part of 1982, it is a complete wasteland of throwback records. Because if you look at the top 40 charts, it is all slow, it is all dull. It's not very interesting. There's very, very few songs to really choose from that have any pop. And if you do, there's Blondie, and that came out of the clubs, you know, that came from the streets. So there really wasn't a lot of great music that was on the radio at that point. And I know this is a theme that I've touched on a number of times on the show, and that you know, when you get to 1982 and MTV has had six months, and it was Duran Duran and everything that came over from Europe, they began to populate the airwaves that there was a resurgence and then the tempo did come back to the radio. This is around the same time by the way that you've started to bring some dance music to the radio. But did disco get rebranded as dance?


Scot Turner  23:30

Absolutely. And I think over the years generationally that people like to stamp it their own. And so names will change, you know, from you know, that global term of dance music and dance music in the early 90s. When we started Energy 108, dance music meant house music, it meant r&b, it meant hip hop, it meant techno, Euro, freestyle, Electro, all the different genres are under that dance music, but there was a certain point where that term became a little bit dated. And then, you know, the term electronica came in. And then electronic was a sort of blanket term, which still is used today, a blanket term for all music, it's generally dance oriented, EDM, electronic dance music. It's really the same thing. But we're just finding new terms, new things to call them over the years, and that's natural, that's natural.


Matt Cundill  24:32

I feel as though I missed the entire Energy 108 era in Toronto, largely because I didn't live in Toronto. I could only hear tell of the stories that had gone on. So what made this station so great?


Scot Turner  24:45

Well, I think part of the theme of what you've brought up is, you know, dance music- one of the things I ran into with dance music, and maybe this is because there's been this prejudice on the radio, and I ran into it, and I, you know, people would actually say that to my face. You can play dance music on the radio, dance music doesn't belong on the radio, dance music is for the clubs. And I get that to a degree, but I was out to prove that wrong. And we certainly saw that with disco because disco came out of the clubs and got onto the radio and some of the biggest hits, you know, from Donna Summer to the Bee Gees, etc, etc. got played on the radio, and were radio songs. So the argument doesn't work. And so fast forward, you know, we had this disco backlash and disco died. And as you got later into the 80s, house music started to rise. And house music is- it's disco music, you know, it depends what you want to call it. It's dance music. So house- they came up with this new term house music, and that became very popular. And I saw that happening. And I saw techno in the late 80s, techno was starting to happen, the rave scene was starting to happen, all these really cool things were happening. Of course, we had a lot of urban music out of the US that was not getting played on the radio in Canada. And all of that just was like, Oh my God, here we are again. This stuff can work on the radio. There's a lot of great music. Yes, there's some of it maybe is better for the club. I agree. Then, you know, we came up with these life to airs. And here became this- wait a minute, so we could take a broadcast and take a feed from a club and and play it on the radio. So it's Friday and Saturday night people are in different moods. So their taste of what they want to hear is different. You know, on weekends, it's different in the evenings than daytime. And a lot of programmers just didn't recognize that.


Matt Cundill  26:46

And after midnight, no regs.


Scot Turner  26:47

Yeah. And you know, and Chris Shepard helped prove everybody that you could do a show from a club. He played whatever he wanted. He was the number one rated radio show. You know, when he was on CFNY and when he was on Energy, his ratings were just enormous. So you can do it. But it's- you know, I think people that are just stuck in the old ways and are just too scared to try new things. Right. That's, that's typical.


Matt Cundill  27:14

I was gonna suggest you need a radio station to play the music to get you to the club. But then you already brought up the point that you know, you can play the music in the club and send it back out through the radio. I remember in Montreal, I don't know if we picked up the idea or it was- it had evolved as well. But it was a million and a half dollars a year in revenue. How much money did you see at one point?


Scot Turner  27:39

When the club scene was exploding, this is you know, late 80s, early 90s, mid 90s, epecially with Energy 108, we were charging $5,000 for live to air. And then the DJ got paid on top of that. Myself as a DJ and others. We were making, you know, $500 to $1,000 cash a night at a club. Plus they're paying the $5,000 to the radio station for the live to air. It was incredible. Incredible. We had lived airs on the radio, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights for many years. Incredible. And we trusted the host we trusted the DJs, you know we had meetings with the DJs. But we made sure you know your club. You know the music. You run the show. And it worked. It's funny because I would have calls from other radio stations across the country that would call up and they'd ask about these lived airs like I hear you're doing these energy one away live dares and they're very, they're great for revenue and great moneymakers in the park that really freaked everybody out. It was excuse me, you don't have a playlist you don't give them a playlist to what to play from the club. I go no, no, no, no, the DJ at the club plays it now. We trust the DJs. We know the DJs they're like oh, we can't do that. So that was a big sticking point for a lot of it couldn't give away that control. They really wanted to control the music. So that was- that was a tough one.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  29:07

Transcription of the Sound Off Podcast is powered by the Podcast Super Friends, five podcast producers who get together to discuss podcasting. Sharpen your podcast and creation skills by following the show on the Sound Off Podcast's YouTube or Facebook page. This podcast supports podcasting 2.0. So feel free to send us a boost if you're listening on a new podcast app. Find your new app now at podcasting2.org/apps. That's podcasting2.org/apps.


Matt Cundill  29:41

It was a tough time, sorta in the early 90s, you know, to get an urban record on so I know because there were times I would listen to the song. Oh, that's a hit. I'd like to play that. But it's top 40 and it might be on Billboard in the 30s but it's just not quite ready for Canada. So- and I don't even think today we've done it. How can we can overcome this? Where, you know, an urban format radio station really resides in this country?


Scot Turner  30:08

It's a strange, odd thing I don't know if I know the answer to. And we certainly know there was a sort of no rap thing for a lot of programmers. And y'know one argument and I don't know if that's the answer. I used to say, Well, it's because a lot of programmers in Canada are white guys, they grew up on rock music, and they don't understand rap, hip hop in that music. And I don't know if that's fair. But that may be one answer to it. The other being, you know, Canada's not the US. Yes, there is truth of the population. Certainly, like, you know, a city like Atlanta is 70-80% African American. But you know, there's a multicultural advantage the Toronto has the though, I think we can do that in Toronto, but you may not be able to do it in other Canadian cities. So, you know, the ethnic makeup is one of the questions that it may be is one of the challenges but you know, the other funny side to things is, we all know this from- from record sales is that a lot of rap music and hip hop music, has sold millions of records to white people. So I don't know where this- where it originally came from, this you know, you can't play a rap on the radio and there you know, there was no- and they came up with versions of songs, without the rap, the no rap version, and that would get played. And it was just like, really, I get that maybe for an AC station, a softer station. But I think for top 40, makes no sense whatsoever to me that why you couldn't play the rap song and rap song at 6am. You know, the day parting and I've always been anti day parting. I think it's all nonsense. But you know, there's been a lot of that in radio. And you know, and the no two, three female vocals in a row nonsense, like eh. Don't understand it.


Matt Cundill  32:02

Somebody had a quote at the Radio Conference at Canadian Music Week, just last week, and was about the definition of a program director. It's like, always creating these rules and work in order to sort of justify the position of program director, right? So if you can come up with these rules, you can keep your job.


Scot Turner  32:19

There's some truth in that I think, I think there's some truth in that. Yeah, rules are meant to be broken and many of them have been broken over the years, you know, that maybe at some time, it made some sense to play. I don't know, someone could explain that to me, why you couldn't play more than two females in a row or whatever the rule was, I don't know that is just bizarre.


Matt Cundill  32:39

I think the justification was that they wanted to present- because radio was the only game in town, was to present a form of diversity amongst the artists. So the same rules would apply to corporate rock, the same rules would apply, you don't want to play Springsteen next to Bon Jovi, you don't want to play Boston next to Foreigner, you don't want to play next to- and eventually, you know, we don't wanna play two women, we also don't want to play, you know, two artists that- that, you know, from the same region, from the same town, that sound the same, dance, no two dance records together. So these were all a collection of rules to justify the position of program director, so some people would stay employed.


Scot Turner  33:14

Well, you know, blending is, I think, really key. And I think, yeah, I think some of those, for those that don't know, you know, we have these fantastic software systems like music master, and there's so many little things you can do with it. And there are some pretty cool little rules you can put in there to make the mix and the blend more interesting. That's true. I don't disagree on that. But I'm not sure there was ever a no two males in a row. So if you're going to have the- we can't- you can't play two or three females in a row because you want to mix it up. So there's a male vocalist, and then as a female vocalist, but I honestly don't ever remember anybody ever saying, oh, you can't play two guys in a row. Why is that?


Matt Cundill  33:57

I might have had a rule that said, we don't want to have two from the same genre. So I put a rule in so that Mellencamp and Springsteen couldn't be back to back.


Scot Turner  34:06

So yeah, and you can get into the minutiae of this stuff. And it can get quite silly.


Matt Cundill  34:11

It's incredibly silly. Day parting was silly. These rules I'm talking about now, which we did were silly. These music systems are actually based on the premise of saying no, and I think RCS selector at one point, said well let's create a system where it's yes, give me more of this and give me more of this, you know, which had to change the thinking of a lot of people who did programming but to think that your radio station is going to sink based on playing two females back to back or, you know, a song that should be allegedly day parted to a certain hour is a little nuts.


Scot Turner  34:44

Yeah, I think at one time, one of the simplest things I came up with because you got into the sort of sub genres of styles. And then I just decided, at one point I'm going- I'm going to- and I guess it was for a kind of classic hits format. I just said it's either a pop song or a rock song, I'm going to have the two categories. And we're going to make sure that it blends you know, if we were rock leaning, it would be okay, you can have more than two pops in row. If it was a little softer leaning, we could have, you know, several pops in a row. And that really worked really, really well. Just- just like, you know what, and you went song by song, not by the artists. It went song by song and this is a pop song. This is a rock song, and it's a beautiful blend.


Matt Cundill  35:25

What did you see when you did some auditorium testing and you took dance records into an auditorium test and maybe in the 90s, they played next to Third Eye Blind - Jumper or Semi-Charmed Life, or maybe they, you know, sat next to Oasis - Wonderwall. Some of the more typical 90s songs we hear, how did some of those big dance songs do in an auditorium test?


Scot Turner  35:47

Fortunately, and I will look at this as a positive thing that in the Energy years, we never had a budget to do music testing. And we had the beauty of being in the clubs, we all DJ'd in the clubs, you were in the clubs, you could see the reaction of tracks. And we just went by gut and feel and listen. And there were really no charts to follow because we were doing our own thing. And I do you remember once that when Shaw was coming in to purchase the station, that became Corus. And I remember I forget who it was, but he was- he came in to kind of look at what we're doing. And he says, let me see your r&r and, and I think we had a subscription to it. But they literally just collected dust in the corner. And I'm like, shit, you gotta find r&r in the billboard. We really never looked at them. But later on, so when Shaw came in and purchased Energy 108, there was some money to do a couple of tests. It wasn't an auditorium test, I don't think but I remember the test coming back. And yeah, there was some of that Third Eye Blind mixed with the dance records. But I do remember the number one testing record that came back and it may have been because we are already branded ourselves as this dance mix. But you know, Ghetto Superstar by Praz was back the number one, like just tested through the roof. And we just laughed at that, because I think they were expecting other stuff from Matchbox 20 and others were going to test well, as they were trying to, you know, mix up the format at the time. But you know, that's a lesson in branding. The station had been branded, so long as Energy 108, that when they started to introduce Matchbox 20, and these are big hits, the audience just freaked out. I mean, you could go for hours and not hear a guitar on the station, you know. And then when you heard the first couple of songs that had a bit of guitar, bass guitar drums, it was like, ahhh!


Matt Cundill  37:49

Were there any CanCon challenges?


Scot Turner  37:51

Yeah, I mean, this is this is the 90s this is before Drake. This is before, you know, hip hop in Toronto. And that weekend, and other artists and just the quality of productions did not really come in until you know, into the 2000s. So it was just a real struggle to find the CanCon. And of course, you know, the mid 90s, Jagged Little Pill came out, Alanis Morissette. And I'm like, ah, geez, I can't play this. You know, this is the biggest record in the world. And it's CanCon, and I can't play it. And there were other, obviously, you know, Canada's done Rock and Pop Rock really, really well. And we just, we couldn't go there. We played some remixes. There were a few things that we got the record company to do a remix of. So we managed to make it through but we did play some definite mediocre tracks, and we had to.


Matt Cundill  38:51

Did you ever explore the Quebec model of what they did? Which was to take Canadian songs, mix it into super dance mix, and then play it on the radio and count it as a CanCon? Did you ever get into that sort of gamesmanship?


Scot Turner  39:04

It was montage or something, you know, it was the montage rule.


Matt Cundill  39:06

Remember at the beginning of the episode, when I said you can go to soundoffpodcast.com to find out more about some of the things we got deep into? This is one of those things.


Scot Turner  39:15

For our live to airs- so when you hit a stopset, that was the end of the Montage, so if we started at- say the live to air started at 10 o'clock, and we ran, so I think we only ran one stopset an hour because it was just hard to break up the music. But you- that wouldn't happen in the club. Of course you break away and you play a stopset on the radio, but not in the club. But on the radio as soon as you stop the mix of music. That's one montage. So that counted as one song. And so brilliantly, you could play- like so you know, if it's a half hour sweep. Good Lord, you know it could be 12 songs in a mix, and it would count as one song. I think they killed that montage rule years ago. But yeah. But it was great.


Matt Cundill  40:07

And then they went and upped CanCon, I think probably in the- in the same movement.


Scot Turner  40:11

Yeah. So I think, in order for it to, if that one song to count as CanCon, like 50% of the mix of songs had to be Canadian, or something like that, it was ridiculous. But it really, really helped us. Because to do what we were doing as a format, we needed that montage rule. And I, I think that we may have talked to the CRTC in developing that, that rule, which really, really helped us enabled to do these live fairs and mix shows. So you know, we did a mix show at five or six o'clock in the afternoon, an hour long mix show, like some of these DJs, the ones that cut out of songs really fast, you know, at the end of the hour, if you played 50 songs, imagine trying to do that with the normal CanCon rules, right? So the CRTC were very good and understanding what we were trying to do. And then of course, at some point, people started to abusing- abusing that, which yes, you're right to think there was a few Quebec situations when they got out of control.


Matt Cundill  41:06

So we're in 2024, I believe I can count the number of urban radio stations in Canada on one finger.


Scot Turner  41:13

Yeah, it's bizarre.


Matt Cundill  41:14

Canadian radio is the whitest thing ever across the country. If I go to Atlanta, I'm going to listen to Music Power, View 103. If I go to New York, I want to listen to WBLS. I know the stations, these are the stations that everybody listens to, yet for whatever reason, we can't seem to cull together, you know, a format or a radio station in order to to properly reflect this brand of music. And so early 90s may have been 2000. I've now got my decades mixed up. But you know, Flow comes on the radio, and how would you grade that? How would you grade Flow?


Scot Turner  41:53

Just to go back on your point is that, I think one of the things that has happened with the power and strength of hip hop, the hip hop became so huge that it just blended into so many different music styles. So there's a lot of pop songs, you know, that are played on Canadian radio that are so hip hop influenced, and you know, hip hop songs being played on top 40 stations in Canada. So it's come a long way. And having, you know, just rap being played on Canadian radio is much, much better these days than it was back in the 90s. So it definitely got better. It's still puzzling how a station like Flow didn't become bigger. It did okay, it did well, but it just wasn't up there with a CHFI in Toronto, and a CHUM FM. And how did it not get there? I don't know. I know, in the early days, I know there was a lot of arguments because, you know, Toronto has got this Caribbean contingency, it there's a lot of Jamaicans in Toronto. So there's a lot of people from the islands. So there's a different blend of, you know, urban music or black music. And I think there was some arguments about you know, we should be playing more Soca, we should be playing Calypso, we should be playing reggae, we should be- And then other people wanted more traditional urban black station that played you know, hip hop and r&b, jazz, hip hop and r&b. So I think there was some arguing in fighting in those days. And I would argue in Canada, you could play more reggae. And that's another funny thing about the urban stations that I discovered in the US is that they don't play- there's really rare you you'll ever hear reggae where you could probably and should play that in Canada, maybe maybe I'm speaking if you know, Toronto, because of the Caribbean community that Toronto has had over the years, and an openness for for, you know, Caribbean music, and reggae and things like that. But it's that's a funny thing about you know, you go down to these some of these US stations in these big cities, you know, outside of Bob Marley, you just they rarely play reggae. So that's a funny thing. But yeah, I've gone back to why there weren't the stations, even though there was a time there was one in Calgary and there was The Beat in in Vancouver was very urban. And Beat Kitchener was very urban flavored when it started. But they never never got the ratings, which was very puzzling. I don't know the answer that we certainly could argue it today is that the streaming is a big factor in that radio isn't where young people are going to get all their their new, particularly new music these days, right? It's challenged that way for sure. And And The Beat Vancouver was somewhere that you went to program in 2003. So all these years in Toronto, now you're moving to Vancouver. Yes. So that was- you know, it was the independent that got the license. When I went out there. It was just poorly programmed. You know, knowing Vancouver you know, I spent some time before I started at the station researching went around talk to people went to the clubs I went around. And one of the things I discovered is I thought, okay, there's there's an appetite for urban music, but there's an appetite for dance music. And I think the station should be more rhythmic. So a blend in. And that's what I introduced you to, we can play some of the the hip hop and r&b, but we're going to blend them with some more traditional pop dance music. And we did a blend of that. And it worked really, really well. It was it was very successful for a while. And then it eventually went top 40 as, as these all these stations we talked about, eventually, at some point, the business side of it comes in and going, hey, the ratings aren't big enough, we're not making enough money. Where's the money, let's go top 40. Or in some cases, there's a little bit of rhythmic feel. And you could argue that in the music over the years, depending on what's available, what's available to play on top 40. It goes through these cycles, right. And it can be quite rhythmic in nature, depending on what's what's coming out. But I think that happened with a lot of those stations, they did eventually just become full service top 40s.


Matt Cundill  46:06

I don't recall the cycle in 2003-2004. But I do remember working at standard radio. And when we took out numbers for Vancouver, we would see The Beat start to really incrementally move in on 95.3, which was the traditional- Z95.3 was a traditional top 40 radio station. Went through some some problems and changes rebranded as Crave. I'm sure you were there to maybe see some of that stuff, you know, some of that wobbliness that they went through, but you essentially brought The Beat to number one at that point.


Scot Turner  46:37

Yeah, like, I can't remember the exact numbers but it was doing extremely well. I used some of the things I learned from Energy and having mix shows on the radio did really well. And that, you know, again, a lot of traditional programmers were like you can't have a mix show at five o'clock in the afternoon. That's that's for the club's you know, and-


Matt Cundill  46:55

Scot doesn't do dayparts.


Scot Turner  46:58

And Z103 today is a great example of a station that over the years, kept a little bit of the DNA of Energy 108 and doing what they were doing. And they have always been a station that's championed, you know dance music and in their mix shows or our you know, with PPM came along and PPM don't lie. The mix shows were and still to this day are their highest rated shows on the station. So they do very, very well. But yeah, we had a great time with The Beat in Vancouver and- just a blast. It was a real great success.


Matt Cundill  47:33

Did you leave The Beat because it got sold?


Scot Turner  47:35

No, I got fired. It was one of the you know, in the radio business. You know, you get fired every now and then or restructured.


Matt Cundill  47:41

Good job.


Scot Turner  47:42

Yeah, so I don't know what happened. It's a long story. But yeah, I was out and I think I think they wanted to go on a top 40 direction and I was being pretty adamant about keeping it rhythmic. And anyway it just didn't work out.


Matt Cundill  48:00

Back to Toronto you went.


Scot Turner  48:01

Yes. So I think when I came back it was for a short time I- Pat Cardinal gave me a chance because I was between jobs working for a the short lived time there was a Jack in Toronto. So I did afternoon drive on Jack for a very short time because he was- and they were struggling with The Jack in Toronto and I was part- I was there for the short time with Pat came in my office and said, oh I hate to do this man, I gotta fire you. He says but don't tell everybody else, you're the first, I gotta fire all the announcers. What? He goes yeah we're gonna try- we're gonna go we're gonna go jock free, we're gonna try no jocks just music. And I'm like okay, so I don't feel so bad. It's not just me. So I was that was a short gig and that's when Ross Winters when he was with Corus gave me a call and said we needed somebody out in in Kitchener and that's when I started my run run in Kitchener with first Dave FM, that became Dave Rocks, and then Corus purchased The Beat Kitchener which when I came in was a very urban but really poorly programmed, cleaned that went up and kept it you know, rhythmic leaning.


Matt Cundill  49:18

So you said poorly programmed twice. But what are you seeing? Are you seeing bad clocks? Are you seeing bad record selection? Are you seeing bad jocks? Yeah, it's tough to explain, because I've listened to a few stations recently in with other radio people. And we talked about it being sort of this is a nice listen, and this is not a nice listen. And do elements transition well, from one thing to another. Do things come out of nowhere. Is this too loud? Is this too abrupt is this, and it's got to have a feel, and everything's got to have- it's all gotta kind of mesh in a particular way. It's like, you can't explain why this works. You just know sonically it does work. I know, I was making fun of program directors earlier. But you know, as a- as a recovering program director, you know it when you hear it.


Scot Turner  49:28

Mostly the first two. Like it's to me that's the key is is the music choice, the the clocks, the music blend, you know, the choice of music? Absolutely. And how different programs are put together than definitely the talent so it was a mishmash of a few loose pieces here and there and when I went to the beat, Mocha was doing afternoon drive and I was listening to everybody and looking at everybody, I thought gee, this is the most talent to go in the radio station, and he's doing drive, and I said to Mocha, I said, look, have you ever thought of doing mornings? And he was like, oh, but he thought about it. And then he said, okay, on your one condition, I'll do mornings for you. I said, Okay, what's that? He says that I still do the music, that I'm still the music director. And I said, you know, it's a lot of work doing the morning show and doing the music and that but yeah, okay. And he stayed on doing that. And it wasn't that he was picking bad music, it was just that they were just running amok in terms of we can play anything, but it needed some structure. And there were some just deep tracks and some pretty rough CanCon they were playing that sort of thing. So it's just cleaning it up, right? And pretty obvious. It's just from listening. It's like, okay, this is easy, because it was just so many things that I thought at least were easy to fix. And that's the first thing when I ever jumped in at a radio station is I just listened to it. And I pick oh, yeah. And it'd be like, I can make this sound. I can make this pop. I can make the sound better. But there's been a couple other times I'm like, No, this is pretty good. I'm not sure why they need me. Absolutely, yeah, fair enough. And I think the other part of that is for me, was imaging. The music number one, the clocks, how the music's presented. But imaging to me, has always been at the forefront of what I've done. Really, really strong imaging. For those that don't know it, you know, it's the stuff between the songs that are not the announcers, the IDs, and just having special, a special type of it, whether it's a jingle, or it's, it's just really having a great producer, that was really, really key, really strong producers, I've been so lucky to work with some of the best producers in the business that do great, tight production, and even you know, working with a really good jingle package to make it all just pop and tight on the top 40 radio should be that's got to be that's such a key part of it. And then having an announcers that get it giving them some freedom and playing tracks first that other people wouldn't take a chance on to make the radio station super exciting. Wow, did you hear that song? You having those really key tracks that you're first on? Super exciting, you know, in radio, that's always been a thrill for me, just being on a hot track before other people and not being afraid to play it in heavy, and very few stations are playing it and we're- we just added it and we're playing in heavy rotation.


Matt Cundill  53:10

Give me your favorite record that you added first that you're most proud of.


Scot Turner  53:13

Ace of Bass comes to mind, you know, in the top 40 realm. We played Ace of Bass before anybody else and a whole number of those Euro records. You know, from Saturday Night - Wakefield to so many others that we played first. And you know the listener reaction and to seeing it in the clubs, that- that was a absolute thrill and CFNY the years that we broke so many tracks, bands, playing stuff before anybody else, was again just just a thrill from you know, the Depeche Mode's and the New Order's, and the Smiths, being able to play a band like the Smiths, that very few stations would touch and just you know, one of the greatest bands of the 80s.


Matt Cundill  54:00

Favorite imaging voice for a dance station?


Scot Turner  54:04

You know, it just popped in mind. Rest in peace Bumper Morgan. And I remember I was telling you the story when I was on that trip down to the US to listen to some US station, some black stations in some of the key markets, and when I got down to Florida the big station down there was the Power Pig.


Matt Cundill  54:24

93.3 the Power Pig.


Scot Turner  54:25

That's it.


Voiceover  54:28

Power 93. If you ain't crankin' it, you must be yankin' it.


Scot Turner  54:35

And they had flipped. I think it was 90? 89, 90, 91 I can't remember when they they flipped to the Power Pig and those that don't know the story just Google it. It's a fantastic radio story. One of the my favorite things was they you know, instead of having expensive promo vehicles, they bought a whole bunch of vehicles from wrecking yard and spray painted them all pink and just spray painted Power Pig on the side of them. And I think they had about nine or 10 of these vehicles just drove them around town. They stood out, they just looked awful, I think was one of the fastest from bottom to the top when they took over that market. Absolutely fantastic. And then the imaging, this guy, Bumper Morgan was his name, and the- I mean, just super in your face. very loud, very American sounding production that I heard that voice I said, okay, I need something for Energy that's just going to just cut through everything that you hear in, in polite Ontario, Canada, Toronto. And so yeah, we had some fun with that. And you know, everything from is is that the CN Tower in your pocket, or are you just happy to hear us? Energy 108. It's just stupid stuff. It was a lot of fun. And just over the top compression production was was a lot of fun.


Matt Cundill  56:05

For those who wanted to scroll backwards when you're done this episode. There's an episode with Jason Dixon from last summer, who was on the promo team at the Power Pig and talks about its early days extensively. Yeah.


Scot Turner  56:19

Oh, that was a- it was a pretty cool time. Pretty cool time. And it's just been so many other voices, as some of the names just are not in the top of my head right now. But just some other voices in that I've worked with, imaging voices from various stations that I've loved over the years. And again, my producers, you know, from Jay Tuffard, Johnny Q. All the different producers I've worked with over the years have just been fantastic.


Matt Cundill  56:47

And producers are important. I know that I've walked into some stations and listened to some imaging from some producers. And I said we're going to need another producer. Is that Mike Gorel?


Scot Turner  56:55

Yeah. Wade-o is another guy who still works for Bell Media Toronto, think he does the stuff for Virgin and Chum. Wade Taylor, Wade-o, we call him. A whole bunch of people that came out of out of Energy 108, two guys that actually work out of the US now. One guy on- his name escapes me right now. But he's he's, he works out of the US. But he's the voice for CP24 and a few other people, and that's that's been a thrill in this business that I've got to say that to see people that I've worked with, you know that work for me go on to have these amazing careers and be super successful, many that are still working in radio today.  Mike Gorel. Yeah.  And you can scroll back in the stack as well as listen to my podcast episode I did with him.  Oh, great. Yes. Oh, Mike. Fantastic, you know, and these guys all had great years and just had a knack. And they all had a style. And they all loved to have fun and all loved music. Really good production people, really good producers, can just- they can make the sound of a station. So, so vital. So vital.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  58:09

The Sound Off Podcast.


Matt Cundill  58:11

Tell me about your time at Corus, because we've gotten this far. You've worked for a lot of independent people. And now here you are, you're working with Corus, which is really sort of a big corporate conglomeration. Now you got multiple radio stations, you've got 107.5 Dave, and just if everyone's scoring at home, it was Bob FM that started in Winnipeg, which rolled out across America, then it was Jack, for Rogers. And then Corus comes up with Dave and Dave is actually quite a successful brand. So tell me what it was like to work inside of Corus, which was a corporate company that had Nelvana and it had television and cable. And, you know, here we are doing radio.


Scot Turner  58:51

You know, I think in those years because you know, originally they were Shaw, and they were forced to spin off Corus for the radio division, I think that actually helped because there was a definite focus on radio and to be a great radio company. And I think those early years, I still very fondly looked back at years with Corus. I learned a lot, worked with so many people. Yeah, and I think they're just their management culture. They did a lot of training. They did, you know, seminars, talk about providing all the tools you need, the support system, the just the network of how everybody worked together. You could call other PDs for stuff, the sharing of what- Hey, that works for you. They're sharing a promo that work in another market. The company was very good at doing that. And I think this is obviously a time where the budgets were much better. And so companies, you know, had budgets to do these yearly, you know, seminars where they just got everybody all the PDs together and put them in a hotel for a couple of days. And you talked ideas and you- you got training and they were, you know, speakers and all these different things they gave you to help you do your job. I couldn't say enough about Corus that way. So I think they had a really good radio culture, really good vision on, you know, where they wanted to grow. And we were able to do a lot with that in and he gave us all that I could do the research. And you know, I'm a love hate relationship with research and you know, part of me like back in the energy days and didn't give a shit about it didn't need to. But when you have that tool, it's great to see when you're right and wrong. You know, he gets great to see a song test. And you're always thinking, oh, like, this is a great song. Let's see how it tests and then you see it and going, Oh, okay, maybe I'm not as smart as I thought. So having, you know, having the access to research, which is very, very expensive for those that know or don't know, I mean, yeah, it's not cheap. And, and so that was a great, valuable thing to have, especially when we did Dave Rocks because or Dave FM, you know, my background had done so much with top 40 and dance music with Energy 108. And before that was alternative music, but just more straight, middle of the road rock, as much as I grew up on a lot of it, wasn't really my forte, so having some of that, you know, audience research and that stuff really, really helped, you know, build that radio station. And one of the things we learned in interesting from Winnipeg, one of the teams that came in and saw the music tests, were talking to Cambridge Kitchener Waterloo, and they said, you know, when we I know that many songs we tested, maybe 8-900,000 songs, but they said comparatively, they said, this is a lot like Winnipeg, this market looks a lot like Winnipeg, and then their, their thirst and love of straight ahead rock with AC/DC. And that was a, you know, a real eye opener, anything. And we had people in the building, that was another funny thing, because they were like, we're playing too much Bryan Adams and, and oh, do we have to play Nickelback, right? And then I remember the music tests. And every time a Nickelback song came on, it went through the roof, you know, had where they had the old dial system, and you could see the, you can see it on the screen and like, holy shit, and it's like, you know, I had to go back to all the announcers going on, you know, Nickelback, yes, we're gonna play Nickelback, and we're gonna play a lot of Nickelback because the audience loves Nickelback. Sorry.


Matt Cundill  1:02:29

You're right. It was an excellent leadership team at Corus who gave us all the resources. And you know, there were a few times when you and I would get together with Alan Cross, I think Dunner, a number of other- we all get together, we would just swap ideas and you show your ideas and pass them around the table. And I'd have phone calls from people saying, tell me about this Guy's Garage marketing that you're doing. And how do you do it on zero budget? Because for seven years, I had no budget in Winnipeg, yet we had successful marketing. And I'd call you up, I'd call anybody, I just sometimes just call you up and say, hey, what's new? What are we doing? How are things going? But to your point, yeah, Metallica, we- Metallica had the six of the top 10 songs in the test. You know, every year, and I think we also use the same research people. I think it was P1 research with Ken Benson.


Scot Turner  1:03:18

Exactly, Ken and them. Yeah, yeah. And yeah, that's what he says, wow, this is this looks like Winnipeg, and you know, and the AC/DC did fantastic. And we went deep, you know, on AC/DC tracks and other tracks. And it was a lot of fun and eye opening and just getting to understand how they wanted to rock and it was, you know, was Ken and that team that came in and said, you know, the rock is testing- this is when we were Jack-Bob format, the classic hits and you know, the pop wasn't testing as nearly as good as the Rock Tracks. And it was just like, money, just get rid of the pop stuff. And just-


Matt Cundill  1:03:52

Dave was a rock station.


Scot Turner  1:03:54

Right? Yeah. And so when we first started, it was a it was a blend of the pop and the rock as the Jack playing was like, you know, the Madonna and you play AC/DC beside Madonna, and then you play- and everybody was the- the- the rock was just so far ahead of the pop in the testing. It was like, let's just get rid of the pop stuff. And just go rock and that's when the station really took off. And since then, I think to this day, it's been the number 1 25-54 rock station in Kitchener. Has been for forever and does really, really well Adult 25-54.


Matt Cundill  1:04:29

Tell me about your experience at The Move.


Scot Turner  1:04:32

Oh, boy. Yeah. So brief run. It was a tough one because and to this day, that frequency's just is cursed and struggles. today as today radio.


Matt Cundill  1:04:45

It's 93.5, which was the original Flow frequency, I believe.


Scot Turner  1:04:50

Yeah. And I think understandably, when they took on Flow, the station was doing okay, but it was in that that just below the mid pack and it's like how do we get it, you know, from a four to a six share, you know, or what's going on. And that's where they started experimenting. And they tried this Move thing, which was, you know, more throwbacks and classics, classic hip hop, r&b. And they brought me in, because that wasn't quite working out the way they expected. And they brought me in, it was an interesting time, some great people there, but I did struggle, because they were not giving me the freedom and all the control I wanted. And I do like a lot of control. It's like, just let me do my thing. And either the ratings go up, and then we're good. If they don't then fire me, you know, but let me give it a shot. So it was tough. Because when I went in, I want to change this, this, this, this and this. And there was like, I understand that you've already made a few changes. So you don't want to change everything. But it was like, yes, yes. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. And yes, and no, no, no, no, no. And so at one point, eventually, I was able to make another presentation and get more of the things I needed, I think it needed. And I went in with that. And that was only given 13 weeks, 13 weeks, they pulled the plug on it and went back to Flow. I was frustrated, because I wasn't given a long enough an opportunity to see my vision come to be, but I understand the pressures. It's Toronto radio, and it's scary. There's a lot of money involved. And I don't think they were wrong. I thought going back to Flow wasn't- wasn't a bad idea. But then again, you know, maybe it's because of the flip flop and changes that that Flow never was able to gain traction and grow. We talked about this earlier that how is it that Flow wasn't a top three station in Toronto? That's just- it's bizarre that that never happened.


Matt Cundill  1:07:01

Yeah, and you know, the last four or five ideas that have gone on that frequency, I've said, oh, that's gonna work, including The Move, I thought, oh, there's gonna be my favorite radio station, oh, that's gonna work. And then they change it, that'll work. And then the next one, and none of them have worked. And at which point, I said, I don't think I can be a program director anymore, because I've- I've totally rubber stamped all these great ideas and nothing moves. But but to be fair, all new radio ideas, regarding format don't seem to work anymore.


Scot Turner  1:07:30

100%.


Matt Cundill  1:07:31

Okay, why is that?


Scot Turner  1:07:32

After the year 2000. I think if you're going to start a new station, or start a new format, with very few exceptions, it's so difficult as because the internet had taken hold in streaming. Well, Napster, of course was was here, and the sharing of .mp3's and people were finding other ways to discover music and listen to music and radio just lost that stranglehold of power. And so, you know, the stations that have done well over the years, and to this day have were long established, branded for many, many years. And certainly stations like a, you know, Boom in Toronto, if you're playing a lot of classic hits that people grew up on radio with is a recipe for success. You know, starting a new format and why today, radio is not working in, in Toronto, outside of the fact that that format, when we look at it now, it's only really truly Edmonton that it's worked right? On the scale?


Matt Cundill  1:08:35

Yeah. And it's, it's number one females 25-54 in the latest ratings that I just read earlier today.


Scot Turner  1:08:40

Yeah. And so I think that's just a pure anomaly that this is it's not a format. It's just a radio station that worked really well in Edmonton. And I think everybody should understand. But you know, the challenge for today in Toronto, and anybody trying a new format, in an established city of radio stations, it's just like, you could spend a fortune and not go anywhere. And I just I think that that time has come and gone in the world of radio. So I think you've just got to take what you have, and make it the best, you know, take your heritage, and just build on that. That's the best thing you can do today. It's just- it's too- it's too splintered. There may be some resurgence someday, who knows that the radio could have a new revival like vinyl records did or something could happen. Nobody knows the future. But I think I would not spend a fortune on marketing to try and launch a new format and radio today. Not a chance.


Matt Cundill  1:09:40

If I bought a radio station for you tomorrow, what would you do with it?


Scot Turner  1:09:43

Well, the fun side of me would go classic alternative. That would be fun. But again, it's a new station even though it's you're playing you know established older music, you still got to try to cut in to what is existing in that market very difficult, right?


Matt Cundill  1:09:59

Well, I don't think it's nuts. I hear new order all the time on TikTok.


Scot Turner  1:10:03

Yeah, and I guess it's what's out there that's that nobody's doing that people know, the music is enough of the music known to be successful. Yeah. And you could say you could argue that that's part of Boom's success that they play, you know, a certain percentage certainly of alternative music, certainly from the 80s that crossed over and became mainstream, right, and Boom plays a lot of really well tested records and it's just such a well programmed radio station, from all the things we've talked about, you know, from the music, to the announcers. And everything in between, it's just a great radio station.


Matt Cundill  1:10:40

It's very, very expensive to toss out a brand. And we've talked a few times about oh, we're gonna get rid of Flow, we're gonna get rid of Power 97, we're gonna get rid of Cool FM in Ottawa, like some of the more laughable ones that go on, and we're not talking about stations to get purchased, they get rebranded and it's incredibly expensive to go into build them back up. So I think it's a great piece of advice not to do it, and you said something, and that's sort of double down on your heritage. And along comes a CFNY documentary. And I've heard some radio stations in the last little while, they'll get to 25 years, they'll get to their 30th, they get to their 50th. And they don't do your long promotions to celebrate the stuff, and to really acknowledge their past. And I don't know what that is, I don't know if that- well, could be budget, or maybe the people who don't listen to us anymore, but what an opportunity to talk about the past and talk about where you where you've come from and where you may be going. But here's the CFNY documentary, these things never seem to happen inside the radio station, they seem to happen from outside forces. So what's the genesis of this?


Scot Turner  1:11:45

Yeah, that's true. And I think sometimes a business in radio stations get caught so much up into the day to day and there needs to be somebody that kind of steps back and go, ey, you know, where are we in, whether it's a Tim Hortons, celebrating a 60 years, you know, it probably took somebody in the marketing department to go, hey, hey, by the way, you know, we're coming up on 60 years, we should do something, and there's probably a whole bunch of people, oh, I'd never thought of that until somebody was paying attention. And again, in a lot of corporate in the corporate business world, you know, radio stations these days are owned by media companies are other companies that radio isn't necessarily their number one business plan. And so it's important to have people involved in the station that can can look at those sorts of things. And I remember, you know, when I was at CFNY it was doing some research, but it started in 1984. And somewhere in there, I was doing some research for live in Toronto, and I came across oh, the station actually started in 1977. Oh, and it's, you know, 1976. Next year, we're coming up on 10 years. And that's when I went down to a few people station and the promo department started saying, Hey, we should do something for you know, the 10th anniversary of the radio station. And it just grew from there. And it turned into the Canada Day CFNY Anniversary Special, which really took off and later became EdgeFest. So that was just a simple little, hey, you know, it's our anniversary is coming up. But I think it's take somebody to just pay attention to these sorts of things that aren't normally thought about, you know, so Alan Cross, really, you know, is the credit for coming up with, hey, we should do a documentary on the radio station. And I think part of that because he had seen and we had seen some documentaries, from other really influential, important kind of outlier radio stations in the US that had made a mark in the music industry made a mark in in their city for being bold and brave and doing and playing music. Nobody else was playing. They're having an interesting story. And I think once he started looking at it and talking to a few people, we all thought, Oh, my God, it's a great story. Especially because it started at this tiny little radio station, literally in a house in Brampton. You know, it wasn't a Toronto station. It was a Brampton radio station. So there's a whole bunch of elements. And I think when when I came on board to be part of the executive producer team, we brought in a couple of people that knew how to put a film together that knew how to do documentaries, because we were just a couple of music geeks that love radio and certainly worked at the station and knew knew the station story, but like is it interesting enough, but that's one of the things when we talk to the other people there. There's like all they love this little house story. There's a tiny little house that was filthy and infested with mice and was barely paying the bills and so many other little stories that went along with it. And all of a sudden, you know, it's it's the station starting at a time when punk is just happening, and new waves happening. And all these really cool new new trends in music were happening. So it all kind of blended together to you know, this is a story that could be told. And so that's where it started and it just grew from there. And we are, as we speak, just waiting for a debut date, there's just a few things that are that need to be ironed out. One of the things that takes time in doing a documentary is getting music clearances, that is not only expensive, but time consuming. And so I think we're just a couple more that we're waiting for. We've reached out to some of the festivals, some key festivals that do premieres, not the least of which is TIFF. And we're just waiting to hear some answers on getting some some premiere dates. And then we can do some probably select theater openings and screenings in certain towns and places. And then eventually, I think the goal is to get it on a streaming service so people can just in the comfort of their own home. Watch the documentary, but we're also very excited about it.


Matt Cundill  1:16:13

Good. Yeah, no, anytime there's an opportunity to celebrate radio, and I am beginning to see a trend of radio's past being celebrated. And it's great to see these stations here today, just in the last few weeks, you know, talked about Melbourne Radio Wars, which is something that's going on right now, Craig Bruce was on the show, he talked about it, as well, Roz and Mocha have a documentary about how they've come together, a docuseries. And that's a podcast, and I started this doing radio stories. But you know, after eight years, we're still doing it. We're writing another chapter of radio stories every week in this thing, and I'll probably be doing this till I die. I don't think I'll retire.


Scot Turner  1:16:52

No, and it is and you know, one of the things is, as we were doing it, we knew these things, but when you're talking about it again, you realize how powerful radio was. And and for breaking music, like when you, you know, talk about the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and to a degree, the 90s, there was no other place to get your music. And it's where everybody went for their music. Very, very powerful. And even a time, not every station. But the one of the unique things about CFNY, and as a- an announcer and DJ on CFNY it's still, it's still bizarre to think that I could actually pick my own records, you know, the hour started and I my song's running out and I can look at a wall of music and I just run over and grab a record, like, fantastic.


Matt Cundill  1:17:43

I have 20 year olds in the house. And I can't believe that they left a major market radio station between the hours of midnight and 6am in the hands of a 20 year old. When I was 20. I won't even let my kids get- use the car to go down the street to get milk.


Scot Turner  1:18:00

Yeah, and just you know, the fact that there were live overnight shows, and very powerful because they were all the shift workers and people that couldn't sleep or people up studying. And there was somebody they could talk to, or you know, call the station, call the announcer, call the DJ. That was pretty cool. A lost art. And you know, who knows, that could come back someday.


Matt Cundill  1:18:23

I used to listen to CFNY, actually just after the mistake of '88, which I hope is documented in the film, and you have a chapter on it.


Scot Turner  1:18:31

Yes.


Matt Cundill  1:18:32

Good. So it was 1989 and I was working all nights at a radio station and you guys are on a satellite dish. And I go what is Deadly Hedley's all night dance party? Why am I taping this? And why am I going to listen to it on Sunday evening?


Scot Turner  1:18:48

Oh, absolutely, yeah, Hedley and Chef, you know, just huge part of that station, so influential. And we do talk about that on the doc. And yeah, I forgot about that.  I remember that, there was- for whatever reason, it was on some satellite feed. And we had other people you know, in other markets tell us that they were listening, you know, overnights and stuff.


Matt Cundill  1:19:09

Listen, it sounded great. How long are you gonna stay retired, by the way?


Scot Turner  1:19:13

Yes. So yeah, retirement, this is a new thing. I'm still getting- I'm still finding my groove. But I love it. I just don't want to do nine to five Monday to Friday anymore. But also there are personal reasons the you know, from a various family, aging family members that have needed attention and care, not the least of which was my mother who just passed away just a couple of months ago, but a great life and lived to the age of 87. And I've got a you know, a stepfather who has very bad progressing dementia that I'm helping with. And so that's a part of, you know, reality of, of life, when you're my age and you've got parents that are in their 80's so, you know, some are healthy some aren't. So that's been part of it. But also yeah, I just didn't want to do nine to five, Monday to Friday. So you know, I'm open to doing the little side projects and things here and there. And obviously this CFNY documentary has been a thrill to be a part of, knew nothing about filmmaking so I've learned a lot about that, about doing a documentary and how that's done. And so that's- that's thrilling. And of course, when it when it comes out, we're- we're hoping to do, as I mentioned, some screenings and have some fun around that, including, you know, maybe some dance parties, you know, maybe bring back the video roadshow and do a couple of eve- events. So that would be fun. And you know, other things that may come up, so open to things, but I think just out of the gate for me is I've got just a whole bunch of other small things. Like I said, some family stuff that I got to look after, before I jump too much into any other project at this time.


Matt Cundill  1:20:58

Scot, thanks so much for doing this. I've been wanting to do this for years. We couldn't do it when we worked together because we actually had to do work. Surprise, surprise.


Scot Turner  1:21:07

Yes, indeed, indeed. But thank you. Yeah, no, it's been awesome. Thank you. Sorry it took a little while, but been a thrill. Anytime.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  1:21:14

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


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