Memory "Laine": An Original CHUM Disc Jockey Remembers
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CityNews: How long has it taken to contact the former jocks and who was the hardest to find? How difficult was it to locate airchecks for the CHUM greats who are no longer with us and where did they come from? Can you give us some idea of the difficulty in restoring the old recordings, which can sometimes be incomplete?
Laine: We've been working for 6 months to try and find the CHUM on-air alumnae. We have airchecks of most of the guys but we have no Al Boliska morning show (6am-9am) and just 30 minutes of Mike Darow (4-7pm.) Otherwise, some of the shows had the music removed so we had to put that back and some old commercials were retained, but not too many. This whole process was accomplished by our creative guru, Doug Thompson.
CN: Was there anyone you tried to find that you couldn't locate?
Laine: We found Brian Skinner in Seattle but he couldn't make it here. Health was also a factor in Duke Roberts not being with us. Jack Armstrong will be at home in the U.S. mid-west, listening to us on-line. Phil Stone [who will make an appearance] is the oldest of the old CHUM guys at 93 (his 60th wedding anniversary is coming up). He started at CHUM during the pre-Allan Waters' days and is joined by a couple of octogenarians, Pete Nordheimer and Barry Nesbit, who will be listening.
CN: Do you remember the very first record you ever played at CHUM and the first thing you said on-air when you joined the station in 1958?
Laine: The first record I played on CHUM, May 1st, 1958 was "Witch Doctor" by David Seville. I guess if it was a pretty ballad, I wouldn't remember, but who could forget The Witch Doctor... "oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!!!!" I can't remember what I said when I first went on the air but, whatever it was, I can assure you I was scared saying it.
CN: What was the strangest behind-the-scenes incident that the listeners never knew about (that we can print!)?
Laine: There were many strange things that happened at CHUM. On one occasion, I caught a guy stealing a typewriter from our switchboard at 3am. I chased him and he dropped the machine and didn't kill me. One other time, my technician, Dave Shaw and I decided to celebrate an especially nice summer night by taking a couple of chairs and spending a few minutes on the sidewalk in front of the building. We put the station on 'auto-pilot' and enjoyed the night air. "Do you have the key?" I asked. "Don't you?" Well, we ran to a jock's home nearby and got a key and made it in just as the last song came to an end. There are dozens more...but space and time, you know!
CN: How do you account for CHUM's incredible longevity and the strong memories it seems to invoke in those who grew up listening to it?
Laine: CHUM was one of a kind and the disc jockeys were part of Toronto. We mingled with the folks at the CNE and the Sportsmen's Show. We did 'sock hops.' We were visible and CHUM was fun and the music was unique. CHUM became part of a lifestyle, not just a radio station. ...
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CHUM radio personality Bob Laine dead at 72