There was one thing applicable in regards to the tee-shirt Wayne Webster was carrying at his Seaside house, the place he has lived for the previous few a long time along with his spouse Tracy and youngsters Dakota and Zach after we sat down for a current chat. It was a Jimi Hendrix “Final Assortment” tee from 1992 that we had manufactured once I labored at MCA Information after we launched the boxed set. Ever the music particular person, Wayne was carrying it in honour of the late guitarist who simply hit the 50-year milestone of his premature passing. That’s a music man for you.
With a style for radio first nurtured at Humber Faculty, Webster was there for the launch of Q-107, Combine 99, Virgin, Sirius and Growth 97.3 the place he at the moment resides because the Music Director.
To say it has been a protracted and profitable profession can be an understatement, however Webster has by no means been one to hunt the highlight. Rush supervisor Ray Danniels as soon as informed him “you simply appear to maintain your head low sufficient” and by doing that he has managed to transition from one format to a different, a company takeover (or two, or three..) and all the time had a job doing what he does finest – program nice music and get good rankings.
Whereas most long-standing individuals in radio have a resume that crisscrosses the nation Webster’s whole profession has been inside 3 Toronto subways stops, beginning at Yonge and Bloor and at the moment at Yonge and St. Clair. There have been no minor leagues for this baseball fan as he began proper within the majors.
The primary cease was Q-107 simply earlier than they went on the air on Might 22, 1977.
“It was April 1977 and I had two weeks left in my first yr of the radio program at Humber Faculty. They have been on the point of launch and wanted an intern to assist with the library. My job was to place tape across the albums and put a quantity on it so the announcers may discover it. After the 2 weeks, when college was over, there was nonetheless tons to do and so they requested if I needed to stay round and I stated certain, I’ve bought nothing else to do. I used to be dwelling alone and had no cash so I requested Program Director Dave Charles if I may receives a commission and by June I used to be making one thing like $115.00 every week. I used to be an intern after we launched and it’s nonetheless some of the thrilling days of my life, with champagne corks flying throughout the halls. I had no thought there have been jobs like these that really paid and I knew I needed to get in”.
Subsequent up can be a transfer up the road to 1331 Yonge Avenue in 1979.
“Dave Charles and John Parikhal had left Q and Gary Slaight was the brand new PD. There have been numerous modifications on the station. It was both Larry LeBlanc or Mark Dailey who talked to Bob Wooden and stated there is a child at Q that it is best to try and I bought a name from Warren Cosford to return in for an interview. I keep in mind writing an project at Humber the place I needed to say what I needed to do in radio inside 5 years and I wrote Music Director at CHUM-FM as a result of that was the station I grew up listening to. Inside 4 ½ years, I had my dream job.
Once I went there in 1979 Bob Wooden was nonetheless the PD and we did the album format the place each quarter-hour you featured a file and performed three or 4 tracks. So three, cease set, three, cease set, it was actually fairly distinctive. It was nice since you actually needed to take heed to a whole album to see should you may discover three or 4 good tracks. I knew Speaking Heads from Take Me To The River and Psycho Killer however once I listened to their album Concern Of Music it simply blew me away. It was an incredible file that was R&B and funky and it actually opened my thoughts and I grew to become an enormous fan and began taking part in them from then on. Round 1980/81 the entire New Wave sound began and there have been numerous one-hit wonders. In case you needed to play Turning Japanese, you would need to discover two or three different songs from the album that we didn’t actually wish to play. It was round then that we went again to a unique formulation. Working with Barry Stewart we constructed twenty-minute units round every present. It was actually fairly free-form nevertheless it completely burnt us out as we have been working six days every week on it. We lastly settled on a extra conventional strategy with computer systems and all of that type of stuff.
“We have been a rock station again then however Q was doing effectively so Bob stated let’s make the station heavier so we began taking part in Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever on the morning present and he rapidly informed us we had gone a little bit too far. CFNY was doing effectively so we went a little bit extra various and we have been looking for our spot. At one music assembly, he requested to listen to the brand new single by Madonna. The following factor you realize Settle for and The Scorpions are day parted into evenings and the entire thing turns into extra pop.”
Being a rock man should have been tough for you.
“It was actually powerful when the stuff you’re keen on will get day parted nevertheless it’s a lesson that you simply be taught. Private style goes over right here and I needed to begin programming what I assumed can be finest for the station. Impulsively we have been primary. I used to be there for eight years and it was wonderful. I actually, actually loved it and the individuals who labored there have been actually good. You needed to be actually good to make it at Chum-FM.”
Now the journey strikes north on Yonge but once more.
“Gary Slaight had all the time stayed in contact and we might get collectively yearly for lunch and he would ask me the way it was going and whether or not I had a Chum tattoo on my ass. Gary. They’d simply purchased Normal Broadcasting and he says we’ve got CKFM and wish to make it a bit extra modern, form of what you probably did at Chum. I used to be considering, okay that is fairly simple, I did it over there, and he gave me a number of situations that I couldn’t say no to.
The station was Grownup Modern however Gary had already began to make some modifications. He had this concept in his head and I needed to determine it out and get it on the air. After a few years with the CKFM branding, we knew that individuals would all the time contemplate it an AC station and that’s when Pat Vacation got here in and we modified it to Combine 99.9.”
A lot of PD’s got here by means of the door nevertheless it was J.J. Johnston who was the one who began getting eights and nines within the rankings and Combine actually began to click on.”
Whereas working at Combine, which was quickly to turn into Virgin, Wayne began serving to out at EZ-Rock.
“Rob Farina was the pinnacle of radio and we had a gathering on the eleventh ground and he stated, are you able to do one thing with EZ-Rock? We knew it doesn’t matter what we did CHFI was going to be primary and second can be the perfect we may do. We have been codecs and there was one which rocked and that was simply mixing all of them up. I began writing down artist names and stated to Rob this might sound actually good. He stated I used to be the man to do it as I had performed numerous these artists on Chum, which was Grownup Different however not completely Triple-A and all of us needed to do this one. There was one other one primarily based on viewers response. It was like you’ll be able to play pop after which various and Combine and that’s the place Growth got here from. So I began doing Growth and Virgin. It was Virgin PD Martin Tremblay who got here up with the title.”
On the facet, Wayne additionally began programming Iceberg Radio for Sirius satellite tv for pc.
“I feel I labored for seven totally different stations on this constructing. It was a enjoyable station to place collectively. We needed to play 85% Canadian however we determined to go full 100% taking part in every thing from the Guess Who to Metric. It actually made you take heed to Canadian music which was nice. When Astral purchased Normal they actually didn’t need me to spend my time on it so George Christie took over the reins.”
For the final 11 years, the main focus has been strictly on Growth 97.3
“When Rob Farina was there he would ask if we have been taking part in somebody like The Violent Femmes and I might say no and he would say, simply play them. I actually bought into sound coding, that is Different, that is rock, that is Disco, we may go from one to the opposite and that’s how Growth grew to become what it’s. I may go from The Eagles to Duran Duran to Def Leppard after which to Speaking Heads, and since that was funky go into Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees. For me being a music man that is enjoyable. I choose all of the music for Growth by hand, the quaint method. I feel it makes it sound higher than letting the pc do it.
We launched as “Toronto’s Biggest Hits” in order that left it extensive open to play music from totally different a long time. After a couple of yr we did some analysis about our slogan and other people thought we have been Chum in order that’s after we modified it to ‘70s 80s 90s’. I keep in mind I used to be at my son’s baseball recreation and a Dad came to visit and stated ‘you’re employed at Growth 70s 80s 90s proper’ and I assumed yeah, that slogan works.
I’ll program the occasional track from the sixties like Hey Jude or Satisfaction or throw in a Coldplay track. We have now a Completely 80’s weekend and I’ll throw a bunch of stuff in there I don’t usually play simply to spice issues up. We additionally do a listener lunch and mixtape present the place they get to choose their songs. If a basic artist like U2 releases a brand new track I’ll characteristic it. Kim Mitchell did a dwell model of Rocklandwonderland over at Metalworks and we gave it a number of spins. New stuff gained’t go into rotation as we don’t have a present rotation and I feel it begins to alter the station if you begin to enter newer stuff.
A heavy will get about 10 spins every week. Chris Ebbott, who used to work for us and now works for Ok-Earth in Los Angeles, spins his heavies about 27 occasions every week. He says individuals love Don’t Cease Believing and Resort California so simply play them time and again. They went from quantity 5 to primary out there so I assume it really works for them.”
What has modified in current months with every thing occurring with Covid?
“Properly, I’m at work proper now. I’ve a room in my basement with all of my music and it’s very snug and I get pleasure from working down there. I feel I truly get extra work completed.
The on-air employees are working from the studio for probably the most half. We’re all a little bit bit older and we’ve got been doing it for a very long time and I feel there’s something about being in an precise studio fairly than your front room. With know-how now I feel we’re discovering out we are able to nonetheless all make this work and sound good.”
With bodily distancing very a lot a high precedence, the station can’t have interaction their very loyal viewers the way in which they as soon as may. Standing in entrance of the Danforth Music Corridor handing out Growth swag is at the moment not an choice.
“We have now bus cease posters proper now with about 300 of our listeners on them and they’re all the time checking to see if their image is there. If not there’s a little spot within the center we are able to add their face and ship them the image.
Often thrice a summer season we’d go to a listener’s house for a ‘carry your individual vinyl and have a giant celebration of their yard’ however we are able to’t do this proper now.”
Rising up in Toronto and listening to Chum, CFTR, Chum-Fm, Q-107 and CFNY uncovered him to numerous music that will assist his profession.
“There’s so many alternative kinds of music that individuals grew up with so the thought is to reveal it to them in a business method. You attempt to please as many individuals as doable however on the identical time attempt to make it attention-grabbing.”
I labored a boring photocopying job in highschool and all I needed to do was get house in time to listen to what was in David Marsden’s “little brown bag”. I’ll always remember when he bought Darkish Aspect Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and stated he was going to play the entire thing. That was wonderful”.
Who knew when Dave Charles got here in to lecture our Humber class again in 1976 and informed us he was going to be launching a brand new rock station that I might be there for the launch”.
In case you are on the lookout for Wayne you would possibly see him on a Toronto Blue Jays house telecast from Buffalo’s Sahlen Subject because the long-time season ticket holder is without doubt one of the cutouts that adorn the stands.
At all times unassuming and leaving effectively earlier than the celebration will get out of hand he has lived by a easy rule; “deal with individuals as you wish to be handled. You deal with them with respect and hopefully they’ll deal with you with respect”.
A lot respect Wayne.