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My First Year of Recovery at CKLW-FM 1988

Dave Shafer CKLW “The Big 8”

I found a recording made in June 1988 where I was six months clean from booze and cocaine and not supposed to be working full-time for the first year of my recovery.

PD Sandy Davis sweet talked Father Paul Charbonneau of the Brentwood Recovery Home into releasing me from that condition and I got midday's on what had just been re-branded the New “More 94 FM” Windsor/Detroit. It was a hell of a company too. Charlie O’Brien took the lead as the alumni of “The Big 8”, but with Dave Shafer, Tom Shannon, Scott Miller, Jim Quick, and Dave Reynolds. Adding me to the mix seemed charitable.

Personally, I thought they were crazy to hire me, but here’s how it happened…

I was confused.

CKLW Program Director Dave Shafer called me while I was staying with my parents in Toronto after completing recovery. “Hey yer ‘face!” he began (Speaking in “Detroit radio dialect” which he spoke fluently and taught me) “Make it in to see me first thing yer back in town face. Don’t mess with an appointment, just show up when ya get here” And with a “See ya!

I was still talking to the phone when it went to a dial tone.

Dave had the corner suite full of memorabilia at the CKLW Radio building in Windsor. He was the most friendly interviewer I met in my travels. A really incredible guy.

So, with two old radio guys in the office we talk radio stories…Dave told me about “the buzzer” installed by RKO Radio PD Paul Drew. A timer gave you ten seconds to talk before the buzzer went off under the “Live” microphone.

And it stayed on until you shut off the mike.

Pat Holiday

(Listen to this air check of my good friend Pat Holiday on CKLW in August 1973 during Drew's buzzer era…)

Shafer told of times when he knew that CKLW Program Director Paul Drew was in Los Angeles or New York City to deal with RKO Radio, the American owners of this Canadian radio station at that time.

Shafe’ loved talking and ignored the buzzer, repeatedly violating the “No BUZZER Rule” that Drew had devised. Then a call came in on the HOTLINE and it was Drew saying: “Why did I hear Buzzer?

Shafer ignored the question asking: “Aren’t you in Los Angeles?

Drew replied: “I’m listening on the phone line” (RKO had installed a special “listening phone line” that radio executives could call to monitor the radio station)

Because of the primitive mobile phone technology of the time (1968) Shafer was able to wrap the call up quickly saying “I can’t hear you Paul. The phone is cutting out.” All while Drew kept querying: “Why did I hear Buzzer?

Of course, then Drew returned and immediately fired Shafer!

He came back though. Again, and again.

Dave got fired just as many times as me, all at CKLW!

He’d pull a stunt and get fired, then the station would bring him back. Then he’d do something else and it would all happen again. Dave was married to CKLW. (An often “dysfunctional” relationship…)

Our interview flew by and Dave shook my hand saying “Welcome aboard kid!” while I looked even more confused.

I spoke up “We didn’t talk about when I quit on air at CFRA” *(Note: I do not exist anywhere in the “official history of CFRA, Ottawa”)

Dave waved me back to my chair. “Hey babe, yeah I really felt for you when I read about that…”

His next line was the one that made me understand what he was doing…
He said: “When I did that..” and I went numb.

I was speaking to the only other guy who’d done what I’d done quitting my job “on the air” and GOT AWAY WITH IT!

Listen here as I am 6 months clean from drugs and doing what had been the unspeakable for me in 1986…Playing Oldies! on “The New More 94 FM” Windsor/Detroit

The story continues… “He should have been charged with theft!