Goodbye to the “the island of Sanity”…

Lowell Green (photo by Francesco E)

Radio legend Lowell Green is retiring at the age of 79!

Congratulations Lowell! Although this isn’t “the finish line” at all, is it?

I know you better than that.

The last time I recall your retirement you started “The Ottawa Sunday Herald” now better known as “The Ottawa Sun” and hired me as your first music columnist.

Lowell, we disagree politically on a lot of things and always have, but you have always been a friend I’ve loved and admired.

Working around legendary names (I know, I have one too) has been the greatest school I could ever attend.

I used to hang out in my office, or as others called it “The Jock Lounge” until I moved in and took it over.

At lunchtime everyday, I’d head down the hall to the coffee shop at 150 Isabella Street (the “bunker)on the second floor to get a sandwich and coffee. It was a habit that when the clock struck 12:30 pm regardless of anything else I would go for lunch and run into you at the coffee machine.

You always had something to say to me, or about me and what I was doing. Like the time you walked in and said” “Real men don’t wear earrings.
I cringed at words like that and defended my pierced diamond stud for all it was worth!

Of course, you always had a comeback and we played back and forth until the overhead speakers announced” “And now The Kelly Funeral Homes have today’s announcements…”.

(I worked on a radio station that announced obituaries daily at noon…That’s another story)

That was your cue to stop wherever we were in our argument, smile, then pick up your coffee and run to the studio for your show “The Greenline on CFRA”.

I can’t recall how long our daily sparring lasted, but finally one of the old-timers pulled me aside and said to wait until you were on the air to get my lunch.

They said: “He’s using you as a punching bag to warm up before he starts arguing with the old ladies on the air.

After that my lunch break started at 12:36.

For those who don’t know you so well I can report that apart from a vociferous temper, you’re a true friend and a kind and generous man. A lot goes unsaid about any of us apart from what people hear on the air, but I know you to be someone I will never forget.

Waking up one morning I heard you and Ken “The General” Grant talking about me on the air. The question was “Have you seen Elliot’s car?” Then a groan from you about “the cloud of blue smoke” that meant I was in the parking lot downstairs. Then more about how I had “a V-7. It was a V-8, but one cylinder died.

Gowan: You did NOT look like a skunk!

Then there was the time I showed up with Canadian singer Larry Gowan: “The guy who looks like a skunk?” (Larry had white streaks in his dark hair)

Believe me, I was proud to be the butt of your jokes and I had lots of my own about you and your many years of radio adventures.

That’s what friends are for.

Steve Madely is someone I’ve missed in the years gone by because of his keen insight and on air warmth.

Then News Director, the late Ernie Calcutt always made me laugh like the time he came to my office after meeting my children Natalia (age 4) and Kristina (age 3) in the coffee shop. He laughed as he said “I just met your children and asked them their names.” They answered: “We’re not supposed to talk to strangers.” Big Ernie let out a belly laugh!

I tried to get my children to do that and it never worked, so you must be doing something right!” he chortled.

Too many years have gone by since we’ve seen each other but I will always speak up when your name is mentioned.

I’m sure that retirement to you means you will work something like 9–5 unlike the 24/7 of old.

Also, I won’t be surprised when in a year or so you get fed up with “retirement” and come back again!

It’s an honor to have worked with you and I’m proud to call you my friend!

Good luck!

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