FM 108 Remembered
FM 108 in 1985
"Do what you want, dig what you do, 'cause that's what's life's all about." Norman B. signoff
To a generation of radio listeners in Southern Ontario and Western New York, Norman B. was more than a voice on the radio. He was a friend - one who would answer the studio phone himself, talk to his listeners and actually care about what they had to say. On the air, he refused to give his listeners cookie-cutter radio, instead bringing to life odd and obscure records with a passion that reminded some of the late Alan Freed. In fact, Norman has been called the Canadian Alan Freed. Here he is from 1979, on his first show at all-oldies FM 108. In fact, it was Norm's first show since quitting radio in disgust in 1975 - disgusted with the diminishing role deejays were playing in radio (imagine how he'd feel now). Norman Blakely died Jan. 19, 1997 at age 53.
NOTE: FM 108 ran middle-of-the-road music, not strictly oldies from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. On Sundays, it was religious and ethnic programming.
Monday-Friday: 6-10 a.m.
Talent: WES ATKINSON
No one served more "Golden Breakfasts" than Wes Atkinson, long-time FM 108 morning man and veteran of southern Ontario radio. It's almost easier to make a list of the stations Wes HASN'T worked at than to list those stations he has been employed. It just seems that everyone wants him on the airwaves. Among the southern Ontario stations Wes has worked at: CHUM, CHIN and CKYC Toronto, CFGM Richmond Hill, CHIC Brampton, CIDC Orangeville, CKPC Brantford, CHOO Ajax, CHRE St. Catharines and CKLH Hamilton. More important than his long-time success in radio is his reputation as one of the real "nice guys" of the business.
Monday-Friday: 6-10 p.m.
Talent: PETE JAYCOCK
Pete Jaycock was one of the smoothest sounding of all the FM 108 deejays, preferring a velvet touch to a heavy hand. His 6-10 p.m. Monday-Friday show was a statle of FM 108's lineup in the early to mid-1980s, and a perfect lead-in to Rockin' Robin's 10 p.m.-12 midnight show. The two complemented each other. Jaycock - nicknamed P.J. the D.J. from his early days - went on to host the morning show in the winter of 1985-86 before leaving for CKLH-FM in Hamilton, Ont., where he hosts the midday show to this very day.
Monday-Friday: 10 p.m.-12 midnight
Talent: ROCKIN' ROBIN
Rockin' Robin recalls first contacting FM 108 in the late '70s. He wasn't impressed at all by the person doing the evening show on the station at the time and thought he could do better. He told the station so and those in charge at FM 108 replied, OK show us what you can do. He did so and how. Robin spent more than a decade doing the evening show at FM 108 as its signature voice and the man many recall if asked to name just one FM 108 personality. He was perfect for the station, sounding much like many of the fast-talking and fun-sounding '50s and '60s deejays that played this music in the first place. Robin always sounded like he has was having fun (he was, it was no act) and FM 108 listeners embraced his show. These days - after stops at the Canadian Radio Network, CJRN and CHML - Robin is spinning the hits on Saturday afternoons at CHSC St. Catharines, Ont.
Monday-Friday: 12:01-6 a.m.
Talent: RUSS HORTON
In its time, FM 108 in Burlington, Ont., achieved legendary status in southern Ontario. Eight years after its departure from the airwaves, that status has been upgraded to mythical. It was a great combination of classic oldies music and distinctive personalities that made FM 108 a station for the ages. One of the best of these on-air talents was Russ Horton, who started as the all-night man in the early '80s, left, and then came back again as production manager and music director. More important than his on-air skills is his status as one of the truly nice guys of radio.
Saturday: 12:01-3 a.m.
Talent: J.B. (a.ka. Jay Brown)
He was known as J.B. and later Jay Brown (and even that wasn't real name). But regardless of the label, oldies buffs in southern Ontario and western New York are lucky to have been entertained by such a true friend and fan of radio and oldies. J.B.'s on-air career began right at the beginning of FM 108 Gold and Great in 1978, where working usually weekend all-night shifts he gained a strong following among listeners of the Burlington station. His bright, friendly on-air style always left you wanting more. J.B. left FM 108 in the mid-1980s as the station began a slow move away from the oldies format, but he wasn't through with radio. J.B. landed on Saturday mornings on CJRN Niagara Falls, Ont. in 1988 and by 1998 had crossed the river to Niagara Falls, N.Y., to WJJL. He hasn't forgotten his FM 108 roots. "There was only one FM 108.", says J.B. The man who trained many new FM personalities - including the author of this page - is to be thanked for his contributions to this page. Thanks, J.B.
Saturday: 3-6 a.m.
Talent: DAVE WHATMOUGH
Dave Whatmough gave FM 108 listeners a peek into his huge record collection every Saturday morning from 3-6 a.m. We the listener were rewarded by getting to hear some of the rarest and least heard songs of the rock 'n' roll Top 40 era. From a spoken word song that peaked at #107 on Billboard to a instrumental offering on the 'B' side a major hit we got to hear it all. Dave, whose incredible DX (stations listened to) list can he found here, left FM 108 in 1986 and continues his work as an accountant.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Talent: DON BIEFER
He was a big talent with a big voice, and a big audience to boot. Don Biefer, veteran of southwestern Ontario stations like CKFH, CFTR and CHIC, came to FM 108 in the summer of 1984 and proceeded to take the station by storm. His ratings for his long-running Saturday morning show were always high, and he remains one of FM 108's most enduring memories. His high-powered Top 40 presentation always left you wanting more. And since he recorded the music at home on reel-to-reel tapes, the show was always tightly produced. This observer wonders why he didn't get more airtime. Don at present owns a very successful deejay service in southern Ontario though he is no longer on the air.
Saturday: 1-3 p.m.
Talent: BURT THOMBS
FM 108 was an oldies station for 13 years and for much of that time Burt Thombs was a key part of its lineup. He is best remembered for his long-running Saturday afternoon show during which he played many of the so-called "true oldies" - the period from 1955 to 1963. In fact, Burt once said he turned off his radio in 1969, assumedly unimpressed by the direction music was taking at that time. What impressed many with Burt's show were the rare tracks he played - followup hits, answer songs, doo-wop - the ones that are not played on oldies radio today. By 1988, Burt was near the end of his stay at FM 108 as the station began to move in a new direction. At that time, he was on both Saturday afternoons and nights. Burt continues to work at Dofasco after many years and also hosts a Saturday afternoon show on CHSC. Thanks for the memories, Burt.
Saturday: 8 p.m.-12 midnight
Talent: RITCHIE YORKE
No matter how much will ever be written about Ritchie Yorke, he has them beat - he's probably written more. The long-time rock critic and author has written several books on the subject including a favourite of this writer's - "Axes, Chops and Hot Licks" - a look at the Canadian music scene in the mid-'70s. In the 1980s, Yorke did a much-liked progressive rock show on FM 108 that appeared variously in the schedule on Saturday and/or Thursday nights. He left the station in the late '80s and is now residing in Australia.
Monday: 12:01-6 a.m.
Talent: DALE PATTERSON (a.k.a. Scott Regan)
It was on in the wee-small hours of the morning, but it certainly offered an alternative to Southern Ontario listeners. The Gold Mine, hosted by Dale Patterson (a.k.a. Scott Regan), was a smorgasbord of musical features and trivia with a common thread - Top 40 Rock 'N' Roll. Mini-concerts, feature artists, the top five countdown and the rarities hour were all part of this weekly Sunday all-night show. Patterson called hosting the show a "dream come true" and to this day is thankful to program director Norman B. for keeping the show on the air long after syndicated programs had taken up the other six all-night slots. "He had faith in me." says Patterson "I'll never forget it." Patterson later went on to host a Saturday afternoon show at FM 108 in 1990 and in fact did the final oldies show before the station switched to a dance format. Dale continues to work as an editor-reporter at the Canadian Press news agency after 28 years.
Talent: MARK PANOPOULOS
Who is FM 108's longest-serving employee? Mark Panopoulos. Who is FM 108's unofficial historian, with more archival material than anyone alive? Mark Panopoulos. Who regarded the late Norman B. as both a father figure and a mentor? Mark Panopoulos. Mark has worn many hats at FM 108 - deejay, producer, keeper of the archives - but his contributions are not as well known as other more high-profile personalities. Suffice to say that no one on earth cares more about FM 108's history than Mark Panopoulos. Mark has played a major role in the development of this page, with his contributions of airchecks and other archival FM 108 material. But he also played a big role during the golden years of FM 108, hosting his own '50s and '60s and the infamous Friday Night at the Fifties show in the late 1980s. It was on a February night in 1989 that Mark did the last of these great shows before the switchover to satellite-delivered programming. By the way, Mark is still at FM 108, the last remnant of a great era - a Gold and Great era!
Talent: CLINT TRUEMAN
Many announcers enjoyed long stays at FM 108 during the oldies era, and one of the longest belonged to Clint Trueman. A mainstay at the station from its early days to the last few years of its life, the pleasant-voiced Trueman entertained Southern Ontario audiences for many years with his show which often ran on Saturdays.
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