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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Terry O'Reilly: Under The Influence

Updated: May 31, 2023

Terry O'Reilly is a radio guy. He will tell you on the show that he is an ad guy - and that might be partially true. However, it is apparent that when you listen to his take on the world of media, advertising, marketing and radio, that he is grounded in radio. His show, Under the Influence, which grew from its previous incarnation of The Age of Persuasion (2006-2011) and O'Reilly on Advertising (2005). The show is now in its eighth season on CBC Radio and has expanded further into the podcast world.

Terry and his wife Debbie, along with daughters Callie, Shea and Sidney work on the program year round to create some of the most amazing audio about marketing. The show has developed a loyal following from countless Canadians and listeners around the world. Here are some things in the show we learned:

  • The show's idea came about over beers one day which involved Larry McInnis who was the creative director at CHUM in Toronto. As a complete aside, Larry is a graduate of Acadia University which is where I went to school. :)

  • There is a Beatles reference in every show. That information lives on the Wikipedia page but Terry confirmed that he is a big fan and in his most recent episode spoke about how John Lennon was the best marketer amongst the Beatles.

  • Terry is starting a company for podcasters... details will be announced soon but we were stoked that he announced that on our podcast.

  • As we mentioned at the outset, Terry is a radio guy. When I asked him to come on the podcast he was aware of the show and had taken in a few episodes. High praise!

  • Podcast aficionados will love hearing how Terry has embraced podcasting.


The entire back catalogue of Under The Influence is now available in Podcast form. Connect to it here.

Terry has three books and is working on a 4th this summer. Connect to all things Terry here.



Amanda Logan (VO) 00:00:01

This is the podcast for broadcast. The Sound Off podcast with Matt Cundill.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:01

This episode is being released on Canada Day weekend, 2019. And this week we have the host of one of Canada biggest podcasts and radio shows, Terry O'Reilly, who is the host of Under The Influence on the CBC. Two of the things I really, really like about this show first is the music. The theme song is so well matched to the show. And also there's Terry's voice. You know who it is when you hear it. The stories about advertising and marketing he tells along with the production make for one of the best audio experiences available.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:00:50

The Jump the Shark episode has gone down in history as the moment when Happy Days storylines took a dive and never recovered.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:04

Under The Influence is a family affair. Most of the writing and organization of Under The Influence is created along with his wife Debbie and daughter Sydney and Callie. Terry O'Reilly spoke to me from the Tearstream Mobile studio, which goes where Terry goes, so he can record anywhere. You know, this marks the second show in a row that we've had a Ryerson grad appear. So, Terry, how did you get from Sudbury to Ryerson?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:01:32

There's a good story. Well, you know what? I was very lucky because I grew up in Sudbury. I went to Sudbury Secondary High School, and one of the courses, Matt, in that school was a film and television course. We had our own studio equipment, cameras, lighting with the full studio accoutrement. And I was able to- for five years, from grades 9 to 13, I studied film and television, which is an amazing thing in a small Northern town, right? So I fell in love with it. Of all the courses I took, that was my favorite by far. So when it came time to decide on a University, I wanted to study radio- I wanted to study television, actually, not radio, which is the ironic part of this story. And I applied to Ryerson in Toronto and went down for an interview. And I think the reason I got in, Matt, wasn't so much that my marks were that great. I mean, I was kind of an average student, but I had a reel. I brought a reel with me of television shows I produced that had aired across Northern Ontario. And so I think it was really that that got me into Ryerson. So with that, I became a student of radio and television arts at Ryerson.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:49

So what was your first job after Ryerson, and was it in advertising or was it in television?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:02:55

Well, the interesting part about that was, at that time, there were really no advertising courses to be had. I don't think any universities or colleges in this country, anyway, in this province, maybe Ontario, offered those courses. And I didn't know anything really about advertising. But every Wednesday morning we would have a lecture class at Ryerson at RTA, where someone from the industry would come in and talk to us. So it would mean maybe a journalist or maybe an anchorman or maybe a documentary filmmaker. And one day, two people from the advertising industry came in to talk to us, and talked about their industry, and talked about selling ideas and strategy and creativity and working with clients and deadlines and studios and actors. And I sat in the back of that room absolutely thrilled, and I saw my future. There it was. It was just in a lecture class that I found where in the broadcasting world I could end up. So when I got out of Ryerson, I started to look for a job as a copywriter, an ad writer in an advertising agency, sent out 60 resumes across the country. And this is the funny part, got back 61 rejection letters. One place rejected me twice, and nobody would have me in an advertising agency because I had no experience. But I ended up getting a job as a copywriter at a small radio station in Burlington, Ontario, called FM 108. And that was the start of my career.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:26

What were those first few days of watching television like for you? Because you said you wanted to be in TV, there must have been some TV shows that influenced your decision to move towards TV.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:04:35

Radio wasn't a big factor in Sudbury because there were only two radio stations at that time. Because Sudbury is surrounded by rock, hence the nickel mining. Radio signals didn't bounce into the city. All those romantic stories you hear about people listening to far off radio signals at night and becoming passionate about radio. That wasn't my experience because we couldn't get any of those signals. So television really was my portal. So I was a child of the 60s and 70s, so I loved comedy. So my dad and I would watch The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres and Gilligan's Islands and all those sitcoms and The Dean Martin Show and The Dean Martin Roasts. And comedy was really a big thing in my house. My dad loved it. He loved to laugh. I love sitting in the living room with him watching those shows. So television and movies, I have to say, when movies came to town, too, it was the visual aspect of television and movies that initially I loved.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:37

You get your first job at FM 108. The signal, by the way, is still there in the region. Did you have to write commercials a little bit differently for FM radio? Because the regulations were different and the product was so different as well? Between Am and FM?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:05:52

I would say no, Matt. First of all, it was baptism by fire for me because I was the only writer, so the creative Department comprised of me. So I got out of Briarson and then got a job, and I had to run a creative Department in a radio station, and I didn't know what I was doing. And we had 150 ongoing retail clients in any given time. So I was writing probably between ten and 20 commercials a day. And I think that baptism by fire really made me fall in love with radio and that job, which I really didn't want because I wanted to be in an advertising agency. That job really influenced the trajectory of my career. As it turned out that radio would become my career down the road, and it was because I fell in love with it at that small radio station. So I learned how to craft radio commercials there because I had to do a lot of them. I got to try a lot of things because I didn't have to answer to anybody but the clients. I had no creative director. I was the creative director, so I got to experiment and I got to try things. I got to fail a lot. I had some successes and I really became confident in the media. So when I eventually got a job with a big Toronto advertising agency a couple of years later, radio was really my strength, and that was the one thing most advertising agencies lacked were writers that understood the medium.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:22

What was the first agency that you worked at? Was it straight after FM 108? Did you go straight to the agency after that?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:07:28

No. I had a job at a small ad agency in Burlington, which was more of a radio and a little bit of print, so I was there for two years, but I really wanted to get back to Toronto into a big agency. So I worked on a portfolio at night of ideas, and then when I felt my portfolio was ready, I called up various creative directors in Toronto begging for an interview, and I got one with this flamboyant South African creative director named Trevor Goodgall at an agency called Campbell Ewald. And he liked my book and took me on, and that was my first shot at the big time.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:07

Why is marketing such a mystery? It seems like when we finish the commercial or we finish our piece of marketing, we feel very satisfied and we feel it's going to be successful. But really whether it becomes successful or it's a failure is really up to the masses.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:08:22

It is. I say that marketing is like staring at a 500 piece puzzle all sky, and it's a lot of mystery and it's a very difficult thing because there are so many factors where it can go wrong. You need a great strategy to begin with. You need a great selling strategy, and from that Springs the creative. The creative is just an expression, a creative expression of the strategy. So if you haven't got a great strategy at the beginning, the chances of the ads working are pretty slim. And I think that's where most advertising falls down is there isn't great strategy underpinning it, and then you need a great selling idea and you need a great execution of that idea and then you need the right media buy. So the right people hear that idea, and then you've got to cross your fingers that everything in the marketplace is going to go right because you can't control how easy the product is for people to find or where it is on the shelf, or is there a competitive product right beside it that's cheaper, that even though you drove the person to the grocery store, they're going to pick the product beside it because there's so many factors in whether or not a marketing campaign will work.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:31

So what's the most pivotal point in the process of putting together a piece of marketing where you see it could go off the rails at maybe the production part, or it can go off the rails and you've got too many people involved with the project. What's the most critical part of the entire process?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:09:47

Well, that's a hard question to answer, Matt. As you said, it's also interdependent. I would say the strategy is the most critical part, believe it or not. I mean, I spent my life as a creative guy, but I relied so heavily on the strategy to be right and insightful. And you can never be greater than the strategy. The creative idea can really never. It's pretty rare for a creative idea to be greater than the basic strategy it's based on. So when I go to speak to young people and universities now, marketing courses, I always say to them, the industry has a lot of great creative people in it right now, but what we're starved for is great strategic thinkers.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:32

When did the idea of doing a marketing show on radio come to fruition?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:10:37

So I co founded Pirate Radio and Television in 1990. And every year for many years, I would stage a creative radio seminar. So I would rent a big theater in downtown Toronto. I would invite 200 young green copywriters from across the country. I would feed them breakfast, lunch, and an open bar at the end of the day. And I would stand on that stage, Matt, and I would teach for 7 hours. I would stand on that stage and I would teach them how to create effective radio. It was script structure, humor versus drama, 30 verse 62nd commercials, casting, use of music, studio protocol, how to present radio. I would play 70 great radio commercials from around the world. So I would do that every year. And one summer I was out to lunch with a few radio friends of mine. We're having some beards in the Sunshine. And one of those people, Larry McGinnis, used to be the creative director of Chum, said to me, you know that radio seminar you do every year? And I said, yes. He said that would make a great radio show. And I said, who would ever run that? And you thought for a moment and he said, the CBC. And I said, the advertising free CBC would run a show on advertising. And he said, I think they'd run that show. So we laughed about that and we had a couple more beers and then I went home and I couldn't get that idea out of my mind. And Mike Pence, who was also at that lunch, called me up and said, I think what Larry's idea is really interesting. He said, do you want to team up and go pitch that idea to CBC? And I said, yeah, let's do that. So we walked in with a one page pitch, and it was a really simple pitch. We said, Advertising is kind of like architecture. It's everywhere in your life. And most people hate it and they despise it and they wish it would disappear. But in reality, it is one of the most fascinating industries out there because it's the study of human nature. Mike Tenant and I, we said, we're not journalists, we're not academics. We're working admin in the trenches. We have experience and we have access. And we want to take people on a backstage pass, give them a backstage pass to the closed world of advertising. And Chris Boyce, the head of CBC Radio, sat there and he said, we'll take it. And then Mike and I had to figure out how to Mount a radio show, and that's how that started. That was 2005.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:12

So at that point, are you recording down at the CDC or are you recording in your own studio? And how did the first season go?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:13:20

We recorded everything at Pirate, our Studios. By the way, we're an outside production, so neither Mike and I work for CBC. So we licensed the show to CBC, which continues to this day. Mike is not a part of the show anymore, but we license the show to CBC. The first season was interesting. Cbc said to us, we'll take you on as a summer replacement series. So for July and August, when one of our bigger shows goes on hiatus, we'll air your show. And we were thrilled at that. We were just thrilled at the opportunity. So we recorded our shows. And when the first one hit the air, Mike and I braced ourselves because we really anticipated a lot of blowback from CBC listeners because people do tune into CBC, many of them, to escape the commercial radio world. And we wondered how they would take to a show about advertising. So we braced ourselves and the feedback was instantaneous and it was wonderful. People were warm and intrigued and curious. They said, we love the show. Tell us more. The feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that CBC kept us on as a permanent show before we'd even finished our run of eight weeks. So it was a pretty wonderful start.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:42

So that started in 2005, ran to about 2011. But the show was called The Age of Persuasion, correct?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:14:49

That's right. Well, the first season, Matt was O'Reilly on advertising and that was just going to be that summer show. And then when we realized they were going to keep us on the next season, we kind of really retooled the show, gave it some structure, looked at the long term, and called it The Age of Persuasion.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:07

Mike left the show in 2011, and then it became under the Influence, correct?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:15:11

That's right. So Mike wanted to go and pursue other show ideas he had because he had a lot of cachet with the CBC by that point. So that left me. I had to kind of rebuild the show without my partner. So a lot of change that was like from 2005 to 2011. I mean, there were no smartphones when we started. There was no Facebook, no YouTube. Maybe YouTube was a couple of months old. I mean, all of social media did not exist. Podcasting really didn't exist when we started the show. So when it came time for me to kind of retool the show again, I took that into consideration. So I expanded the focus of the show from just advertising, which Age of Persuasion was, to marketing, which is what under the influence is advertising is just one tendril of marketing. And I wanted to reflect the changes in the whole zeitgeist that it was really moving from an industry of persuasion more to an industry of influence. So I retooled the show, I renamed the show, and I broadened the scope of the show, and that became under the Influence.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:21

I actually have that down as a question. Did social media marketing have a lot to do with the retooling of the whole thing? So I just wanted to give myself a little check Mark.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:16:30

Yeah, and it did, because the digital world really turned the advertising world upside down, and it changed everything. Suddenly, consumers had a direct line to advertisers. It became a two way conversation for the first time in advertising history, which is huge. We had front row seats suddenly to see how an Advertiser dealt with their customers, how they dealt with complaints. The transparency was huge all of a sudden. And I wanted to reflect that in the show because, like I said, it changed everything. And as you saw the legacy mediums like newspapers, etc. E started to struggle. I mean, it was a sea change in my business.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:19

When you look at radio today, do you see radio going through the same struggles, or is radio as vibrant as ever?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:17:25

That's a good question. I'm always trying to discern that because I'm such a big fan of radio. When I look at the data, it looks like radio is contracting a little bit every year. But I think podcasting is kind of rescuing radio, that people can listen to their favorite radio shows on their own time, kind of like Netflix. You can choose when to listen to a show instead of missing a show or having to sit down in front of your radio at 1130 on a Thursday morning. You can catch it whenever you want. I think podcasting has gone a long way to rescuing radio. I also had this ongoing problem with commercial radio that I don't think it's that interesting these days. It's not that creative. And I was hoping that when satellite radio appeared that it would kind of jolt commercial radio into just kind of rebooting itself. But I don't think that really happened. And when I look at my three daughters who are now in their 20s, they don't listen to radio. They listen to a lot of music, but they don't do it on radio. And I don't think radio courted them, if you know what I mean. I don't think radio in this digital age thought themselves. We really should try and figure out a way to retain our young listeners so they stick with us. And I don't think radio really did that because my daughters, as a prime example, never listen to radio.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:50

Well, I go to the radio conferences and the conversation does come up. How do we engage and how do we do this? And I think they know they have to do it, but there's a huge knowing doing gap that's been going on.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:19:02

I think that's right, Matt, and I think it's been going on for a long time. I don't know if there has to be a generational change in the ownership of those stations for them to realize or to really bring some new thinking to it. But remember, back in the 60s, radio was so interesting and so dangerous, and the disk jockeys had a lot of freedom, and there was so much great, exciting, interesting radio happening. And it's been a long time. I mean, maybe you could point to Howard Stern as the one standout example of doing something differently, but I mean, it's been a long time since we've had some really interesting, dangerous radio out there.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:39

In just a second, I'm going to ask Terry more about the podcast monetizing, the content, music rights, and how long does it take Terry and his team to create the show and what other subtle intricacies go into making this successful audio? And now, in an ironic twist, our personal quest to monetize podcasts with some mid role marketing. You mentioned that commercial radio doesn't feel very creative. One of the things I notice is how little writing goes into commercial radio programs. But your show, you've got 40 hours of research every week that goes into every episode. It takes about three days to write, 12 hours to record in the studio, and that's every episode.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:20:25

I call it joyful stress. Matt. I love doing the show, but it is a lot of work, depending on the topic. It's about 30 to 40 hours of research split between my researchers and me. And then it takes me about three days to write the show. My daughter co writes it with me now and then it takes, as you said, 12 hours to record and mix the show because there's a lot going on in my show because I always believed that a great podcast shouldn't just have great content, but it should be sonically interesting. So we make use of the FM spectrum. So we mix left to right if you hear the footsteps of somebody who will move from your left speaker to your right speaker. We have sound effects, we have commercials, we have music, we have news clips. Sometimes I invite actors to come in and do funny little bits for me. So it's quite an ambitious 27 minutes and the music that goes into it.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:21

I believe there's a Winnipeg connection with the music.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:21:25

That's right. Ari Posner. Yes. Ari Posner and Ian La Fever co wrote the theme music for the show right from the beginning, from 2005. We've updated it over the years, but it's the same theme. And so, yeah, I love that theme. I have to say I've always loved it. So that came from Rene.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:44

So do you have a podcast or do you have a radio show? How do you explain it to people? Because you seem very ingrained in podcast, but it's still an incredibly popular radio show. So do you just call it audio?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:21:55

Yeah. Well, that's an interesting question. I've noticed recently in the award shows around the world that the categories called Now Radio and Audio, which is very interesting to me. The last time I judged the London International Awards, I want to say that was maybe eight years ago. I said to the founder of the award show I was judging the radio category. I said you have to change the radio category. There's so much happening in radio that are not 30 or 60 seconds anymore. So you have to really expand the criteria for your award shows. So that was really eight years ago, me seeing that sea change happening, that there was big ideas happening that weren't just confined to a radio dial. So when I look at our show, I think of it as a radio show on the air and as a podcast. But I have to say that the podcast side of it is growing immensely. We've had probably close to 12 million downloads since January 1.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:53

Of the businesses I started to get into over the last ten years was voiceover. And of course, you being an advertising, you've worked with so many voiceover people. One of my favorite episodes from the previous year was Living to Tell the Tales and you got to tell the story of Alan Arkin and the Moose Head ad. And so when you look at voiceover, what about the changes that are going over in that industry?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:23:14

For the past 25 years? Until 2012, I was a commercial director. So pirate, that was really our stock and trade was producing radio commercials in the sound for television. So my job was to work with actors every single day just to give you a sense of how many actors I would work within a year. I would direct over 500 commercials a year. And I did it tally once that I probably directed close to I think it was 13,000 commercials, and most commercials have two to three actors or more in them. So you can do the math there. Casting was always incredibly important to me and to Pirate. I think that if you ask people who worked with Pirate, they would tell you that one of the big reasons they chose to work with us was because of our eye forecasting, because I always searched long and hard to find just the right actors for every role. And that has changed, too, because back in the day, you would have to bring in actors and do auditions, which still happens, of course. But then as technology improved and the digital world appeared, you could audition actors over the Internet and you could listen to reels over the Internet. You weren't just pulling cassettes and real to real tape anymore. And then we could patch. And then what happened then, probably in the early 90s, Matt, was I could have an actor in Los Angeles and an actor in Toronto, and I could be directing the spot, and they're having the dialogue. So suddenly that opened up my casting opportunities to cast from around the world. I would work with actors in London, England, and then La and New York and Vancouver and Montreal and all from our Toronto Studios. So the technology really changed the world of radio.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:00

When you think back to that first meeting with Chris Boyce at the CBC, did you ever think that how fortunate it was that you were going to be producing and licensing this show to CBC? Because a lot of people, starting from about 2006, right up to 2012, they would just let a network do the whole show. Do you ever think back to how fortunate you were to keep it?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:25:24

I do. And I have to tell you something. It was naivete. So when it came time to negotiate the contract with CBC, I just assumed that it would be as a licensing situation where I would license the show to CBC. I didn't know any different. So when I proposed that to CBC, they kind of hesitated for a moment and said, oh, okay, well, let's talk about that. And then we hammered out a contract. It wasn't any negotiating genius on my behalf. I thought that was the way it went. But when I look back on it, we're so fortunate because we really do have entire control of our show. And CBC, God bless them. I have to tell you, they have been so good to us over 14 years. They have never interfered with the show. Every year they give us lots of feedback on ratings and how we're doing. But when it comes to contract time, they always say, we love what you do, keep on doing what you're doing. So when do you ever have that much freedom in your professional life? It's quite astounding.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:28

And as you see the changes in audio going forward, when did you know that podcast would become such an intricate part of under the influence?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:26:36

When we started seeing the numbers, when we started seeing so CBC is really great for giving us every week like pages of feedback, how many people are tuning into our show for how many minutes, how many downloads, how many page views we get all of that incredible audience measurement back. And we started to see about, I would say five years ago, this incredible bump in the podcasting numbers. And for many years, we were the number one podcast in Canada, if you looked at the itunes charts. And before that, it became a 7000 podcast world on itunes. We're still very high up on the charts. But anyway, we saw this number growing in leaps and bounds every week, so that's when we knew something big was happening in podcasting.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:25

And then I think there were some ideas about how you could monetize the show, because I saw the show being sold on CDs, and then I saw it being sold on itunes. And were you happy with the way that worked out? And did you have any luck in trying to monetize it from that side?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:27:41

This is a big area of interest for me is how to monetize podcasts. So just to address those three beats you mentioned, we put together a CD box set many years ago of the ten best episodes from our very first season. So from O'Reilly on Advertising 2005, we put together a ten episode CD box set, and we just made that available many years ago. I'm trying to guess what year now, maybe 20, 12, 20, 13. Cbc wanted to put our archives behind a paywall and I think they wanted to experiment with our show because we are an outside show and they wanted to see how much push back they would get from listeners for charging for archives. So they put us behind a paywall that generated revenue. But I wouldn't say it generated a ton of revenue in the last two years. We've had lots of talks with CBC and we said we'd like to come out from behind the pay wall. We want to make our archives available to listeners at no charge because we want to increase our listenership on podcasts. And let's see if we can insert advertising into the podcast. So that's where we're at now. Cbc finds advertisers and search them into our podcast, but the podcasts are now free and we're releasing them slowly so we don't overwhelm our listeners, but we're releasing all of our archives slowly as time goes on.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:05

So you have a show about advertising, which is now taking on a little bit of advertising. And I did see some Twitter blowback on. I think you read a pre roll very simple preroll just on the podcast. And then I saw some blowback. And it may not be just blowback for your show, but for the entire CBC, which doesn't always have a lot of advertising.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:29:27

Yeah. I mean, the thing that I understand the blowback the blowback is we pay our tax dollars paid for the CBC. Why are we having to insert advertising in it? But here's the thing. I mean, the CBC suffers from incredible cutbacks. And I mean, just every year, with the exception of Trudeau kind of reinvesting in the CDC, every government, Liberal or conservative, has just chipped away hundreds of millions of dollars of drastic cuts to budget. And CBC needs to find ways to generate revenue. That's just the way it is. And your tax dollars, by the way, it's $34 of your taxes go to CBC every year. $34. That's a pretty good bargain. I would say that's like two or three Starbucks coffees and you get all the programming for CBC. So I would say that's a bargain. Anyway. You look at it in other countries, Matt, the UK, I think it's over $100. In Australia, it's over $100. Only $34 of your tax dollars goes to support the CBC. And you look at all the great programming from CBC. So I say if they need to generate revenue from advertising podcasts, I say go for it.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:39

Are you aware that your show is a gateway drug for podcasting?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:30:44

Well, I love to hear that. That's music to my ears. Well, like I say, that's high praise. If you say that we've been podcasting a long time now.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:53

I'll tell you the story is every time I tell people about podcasting and what I do, they say, well, I only like to listen to Terry O'Reilly. And I said, well, give me your phone and I show them the purple app. And I say, look, here's Terry, he lives right here on your phone. And that's their first podcast, by the way, for demographics purposes, it's women 25 to 44 who will often hook in right there.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:31:19

Well, I love to hear that. We're actually going to launch a podcast company soon, which is kind of an announcement that I haven't really made yet. But that's how much we believe in podcasting is. We're going to start we're starting my family. It's a family business. We're starting a podcasting company. We will be creating original podcasts. But part of our marketing has always been Matt to market the show as a whole, to market each episode as they come out. But the third leg on that stool is to make sure people know how to download a podcast. So we will often use social media to say, hey, if you've never downloaded a podcast before, here's the four easy steps to do that. And here's how you'll find our show. So we never assume that everybody on social media is a podcast listener. So we will even do that kind of basic marketing to get people to tune into our show.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:14

Are you frustrated that it's so hard to have music commercial music played on a podcast?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:32:18

It drives me crazy.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:20

Do you have any ideas to solve that?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:32:22

I don't, because it involves the music unions, the publishing houses and broadcasters to come to some kind of royalty agreement. It seems to exist in the States. I hear a lot of original needle drop music on podcasts in the States, but you can't do it here. And I always warn young podcasters not to put needle drop music in their shows because every piece of music is coded. That's how Shazam works, right? And if they were to create a royalty agreement, you never know if it's going to be retroactive. You never know if Sony Music is just cataloging all the music they're hearing on podcasts and then come at you for royalties. For three years worth of royalties, you could be in a lot of deep trouble. So it's an enduring and ongoing frustration for me because we have to build two versions of our show, one for broadcast and one for podcast, where we'll take out all the needle drop music and replace it with licensed music. And when I do music shows, it's really frustrating when I'm talking about music marketing or talking about a band or something to do with music, where I have to kind of skirt around it. In podcasting, it's annoying.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:32

But you can still manage to slip in a Beatles reference every show.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:33:35

Well, only loyal listeners would know that. So I'm the world's biggest Beetle fan. So in every single episode on air on CBC, not on podcast, but in every single episode on the air, I have one Beatle reference in every single show. It could be a piece of music, it could be a verbal reference. But there's one Easter egg hidden in every show.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:55

As we record this, we're moving towards July. Where are we in the cycle of the year for under the Influence, for moving into summer. What are you going to be doing this summer?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:34:04

Well, our last show airs on Saturday for the season. That's the end of the 2019 season. Normally we take July and August off to recuperate because it really is not a seven day week proposition. This show just if you did the math on it. Right, all the research, three days of writing, another day to record it's really seven days to put the show together. So we take July and August off, and then we'll start researching in September. We'll start writing and recording in October, and I try to have eight to ten episodes recorded and in the bank by the time we return to air in January. I'm writing a book this summer, so that will be my task. This summer is really getting my book underway. So that'll be what I'll be noodling over July and August.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:52

When do you decide that it's time to write a book?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:34:54

Well, the first book that Mike and I wrote together called The Age of Persuasion, we got a great call from a great editor in the city and said, I'm a fan of the show. Would you be interested in writing a book? And we said, we would love to write a book. So that's how the first book came. The second one called this I know marketing Lessons from under the Influence was a book I wanted to write for a long time. It was a book aimed at entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses who didn't have an advertising agency on speed dial. So I wanted to bring all my knowledge of marketing to advertisers who wouldn't have access to that kind of thinking otherwise. So that was the case there. And this third book, I was approached by a publisher with an idea and said, would you be interested in writing this book to this idea? And I love their idea. So I said, yeah, I'll do it. So that's what I'm doing.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:44

Now, you've never had a guest on the show, but you do have people calling into the show and leaving messages. But you've never had a call from Terry O'Reilly?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:35:56

Well, yes, it's true. I'm the only person on the show, really. I have actors, as I said earlier, come in and do little bits for me occasionally, but I do not do interviews on the show. I did that for a reason, by the way. Two reasons, really. One was every show on CBC is an interview show. So I wanted to zig. Well, everybody else zigged. And I didn't want to be hostage to chasing down interviews or finding the best person in the world on a certain subject who also happens to be the worst radio voice in the world. You know how sometimes you have the foremost expert on something, but they make for bad radio? So I never wanted to be hostage to that. So that's the two reasons why I don't do interviews on the show. I did always try and get Terry O'Reilly, the hockey player, because, of course, I've been plagued with that my whole life. Whenever I call up to make a restaurant reservation or something, the next question always is, are you Terry O'Reilly, the hockey player? I thought it'd be really funny to get him on the show just to leave a little message or just he and I have a little moment. I had no luck. And then Matt, I tried everything. I have connections at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I went through the Bruins Alumni Association. He just will not play with me. So I haven't succeeded in that yet.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:12

If you could have one guest on your show, would you actually have that one guest on your show?

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:37:16

No. If you're asking me for a dream guest, it wouldn't be good old Terry O'Reilly. As much as I would love that, if you're asking me one of those dead or alive questions I would probably love to have had either David Ogilvy or Bill Burnback the two really Legends of the advertising business on the show. That would have been a dream come true for me.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:40

Terry, thanks so much for being a part of this podcast and telling me your podcast and radio story. It's truly fascinating. There are listeners all over the world who love this show. I love it and I listen all the time. Thank you.

Terry O'Reilly (Guest) 00:37:52

Thanks, Matt. I really enjoyed talking to you. Those are really great questions. I enjoyed that.

Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:57

Thanks for listening to the Sound Off podcast. Find us online at, and connect with us wherever great social media is housed. The show is imaged using the sounds from Core Image Studios. Written and hosted by Matt Cundill. A production of the Soundoff Media Company.


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