Wednesday Sept 5 7:45 PM
You know what say about nostalgia-it never goes out of style.
I was reminded recently by Elliott Price that we had just passed a significant date in our broadcasting careers. We did our first on-air gig together 25 years ago last month.
I was hired by Jeff Rimer at CFCF-radio in september of 1981, just in time to (kind of) experience Blue Monday (chronicled in an earlier but no longer available blog-I've since learned how to save- but rescuscitated here (after a frantic google search) for your enjoyment:
By the spring of '82 I had established myself as a talented smart-ass who still sounded several gallons of whiskey and hundreds of cartons of cigarettes away from having any kind of depth to my voice. But I brought an attitude into the booth and pressbox shaped not by what teams or players wanted me to say but having grown up watching and reading Howard Cosell and Jim Bouton and listening to talk shows, especially south of the border, that featured hosts who were outspoken. Here in Montreal Ted Tevan ruled the airwaves, hardly a yes man to anybody. So I had an attitude that rubbed some older members of the media the wrong way but those who took the time to listen realized that I had the smarts, and most importantly, the passion, to go with the attitude. Bob Dunn was one of those guys.
Dunn had been an Expos beat writer who later became the sports director at CJAD where they were attempting to re-build the sports department and "get younger" (some things never change). He had already hired a young kid from Ontario who sounded even squeakier than I did but who was clearly on the fast track to a newtork job. His name was Chris Cuthbert.
I was told to phone Dunn (quick lesson on negotiating from strength: let them call you) which I did that June. I was hired only after he agreed to bump my starting salary to a more reasonable
$14, 500. I was late for my first shift (co-hosting a show called "Sunday Morning Sportspage") but hey, as Larry Parrish once said, "I was single, in my early 20's and living in downtown Montreal...") but smoothed things over the following monday. It was the first week of july. On my way out for lunch I walked out of the Fort street elevator right passed a young guy with an even bigger head of curls than mine. Later, I was told that Bob had just hired somebody from Regina to fill out the department. A native Montrealer who was described to me just as that guy I had passed in the elevator. Name was Elliott Price.
Elliott and I first appeared on the air together in August of 1982. There was instant chemistry. We came from similar backgrounds although he had to go the Maritimes to do a country music show (Haggard rules!) before driving out to Regina for what he promised that station manager would be a long term arrangement. Three days later he was on his way back to Montreal. Thankfully, I never had to leave town, cutting my teeth at CKO Radio, before heading back to school, then a cross-continent trip during the baseball strike of 1981 and eventually to CFCF.
In August of 1982 The Expos had gone through umpteen second basemen while trying to replace Rodney Scott (Wallace Johnson, Mike Gates, Frank Taveras, Tim Raines (yes-Raines), Bryan Little, Joel Youngblood and Mike Phillips) before finally settling on Doug Flynn. And a few southpaws trying to replace Bill Lee (Randy Lerch anyone? Tom Gorman? Dave Tomlin? Chris Welch in '83) before finally re-acquiring Dan Schatzeder. The so-called Team of the 80's was falling apart. It didn't take long for Dunn's boys to go after the culprits, namely John McHale and Jim Fanning.
Professional soccer was "the next big thing" in North America in the 1970's thanks to the New York Cosmos and the North American Soccer league. In the summer of '82 The Montreal Manic
were into its second season after a move from Philadelphia. With former Cosmos coach Eddie Firmani leading the way, the Manic, bankrolled by Molson's, appeared on solid ground averaging over 21 thousand fans a game at Olympic Stadium. Chris Cuthbert was the radio voice of the franchise, occasionally calling games in front of over 55,000 fans.
Montreal's CFL franchise in 1982 was actually known as the Concordes. The Alouettes died following the 1981 season when Nelson Skalbania tried to buy a Grey Cup by importing NFL stars Vince Ferragamo, James Scott and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson. As was the case with baseball in 1968, Charles Bronfman came to the rescue and in august of '82 the franchise seemed as solid in Montreal as baseball itself.
In the summer of '82 the Montreal Canadiens were coached by Bob Berry who would spend many a post game media session slumped on a chair in his office, head down, puffing on cigarettes (usually bummed off Elliott or Randy Tieman) while waiting for the 5-6 reporters to finish up so he could head up to DJ's on Crescent for a couple of drinks and a lot more (bummed) cigarettes. Berry had reason to stress. Even though the '82 Habs featured Lafleur, Shutt, Robinson, Lapointe and Gainey the magic of the late 70's was clearly gone. Their leading scorer was Keith Acton. The goaltending, two years removed from the Ken Dryden era, was merely adequate (Rick Wamsley, Denis Herron, Richard Sevigny). And Doug Wickenheiser, drafted instead of Denis Savard in 1980, had scored a total of 19 goals in his first two seasons while Savard's 81-82 season produced 119 points for Chicago. But surely help was on the way in 1982-83 after Irving Grundman's staff, with its first two selections, drafted Alain Heroux and Jocelyn Gauvreau. By the end of the season Berry and Grundman (and his staff including Ron Caron) were gone. And the Ron Corey era would begin.
We've seen a lot, Elliott and I in the last 25 years. Covered most of it. Would have made a good full time radio team if only radio execs had more of "that vision thang" that Bob Dunn had way back then. We've been roommates, radio opponents, brief adversaries and finally on air partners once again during the last two years of the Expos. Somewhere along the way we also became related. Didn't really need a marriage to make that happen. We've been brothers since August of 1982.
1982 Habs & Expos you might have forgotten about:
Jeff Brubaker, Dan Daoust, Yvan Joly, Bill Kitchen, Mark Holden, John Newberry, Dave Orleski, Bill Root, Dwight Schofield; Terry Francona, Brad Mills, Tim Blackwell, Brad Gulden, Bob James,Roy Johnson, Dan Norman, Chris Smith.
Nostalgia-it ain't what it used to be.