Thursday, May 31, 2012


Evan Duran and Junky Rhodes took their best smiles to Toronto for a photo shoot with Edward Ambrosius on Adelaide. Edward shoots high end fashion photography - he's got the gear, the visionary eye and the ideal backdrops both inside and outside. Heather Burnell handled make-up and hair.

So, why a photo shoot? Isn't radio just about hearing, not seeing? Haha - well, at LIFE 100.3, we put a lot of work into providing listeners with a great sound experience by filtering the audio through processors, equalizers and limiters. All the bells and whistles to make our music and DJs sound great when it comes through your speakers.

Now with websites and Facebook and billboards and displays with the Street Team where you can SEE our on-air guys, we want our DJs to look great, too. I guess you could say the playing field for media is expanding. In the next month you'll see the snappy photos, starting with!

Here are a few photos of Evan Duran that I took on my crappy iPhone from the cheap seats of our boys working hard!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mercy and Forgiveness

During my quiet time this week I was reading about mercy and forgiveness.

 Think about this. How many times can we mess up before God gives up on us? Well as Christians we know God’s grace covers all sins. But, really, with all our mistakes, over and over - and over - isn’t God like a bank account - if he’s empty we can't write any more cheques?

The devil wants us to think that our account is empty and closed forever. No prayers, no matter how many, will make God re-open the account.

But the Bible says if we confess our sins he will forgive us and cleanse us. He’ll show mercy because God has unlimited, amazing forgiveness. His love never quits or gives up.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The seadoo is on the water! Woo hoo!

Yes, I know, it's not a "seadoo", it's a watercraft. Technically, it's a Cruiser made by Yamaha. It's funny how product branding becomes a normal description - like Kleenex.

I was curious to find out how the new braking system works on the water. What a great idea!  I asked the dealer and he tells me, "oh you just stick it in reverse".  So, it's not really a brake. Ok.

But it's a great power ride!  Whoooooooooooosh!

I filled up the car yesterday - $1.29.  I filled up the seadoo today - $1.57!  Holy crap! This could get out of control!

But did I say - "what a FUN ride!"

(Me, with Evan Duran)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


When I heard Mick Jagger would be hosting and performing on Saturday Night Live this week, I wasted no time to set my PVR. And - it was BETTER than I expected!

This appearance by Jagger wasn't to plug an album or movie - just a fun night, doing skits and jammin' with Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters, plus several skits. One of the skits was Mick dressed as Steven Tyler!

The set with Foo Fighters blew me away. An electrified version of "19th Nervous Breakdown" segued into "It's Only Rock and Roll."  Dave Grohl gave it the angst and Mick played it up.

The opening monologue was great! Mick answered FAQ and had fun doing it.

Mick is 68. He's doing what he loves, looking good and performing like a 20 year old! The legend lives on!

Still lovin' it!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Friday night, LIFE 100.3 presented the Semi-finals of Karaoke Superstar - Season 5, at Willow Creek in Barrie!  Our 19 chosen sang their hearts out and from those we selected 7 to compete in the finals.

On the judging panel beside me was Maria Lopez and Steve Jones. These guys were so insightful, offering a critique to help each performer. I believe this year, more so than the previous four seasons, our performers understood the criteria of singing songs that are "LIFE songs", since it IS a LIFE contest. A few didn't quite grasp that concept, which in the end, helped differentiate those who deserved to move on. When Maria, Steve and I debriefed near the end of the show, I had 9 people whom I really liked, so agreeding on the final 7 was a bit difficult, not wanting to overlook anyone who might be the dark horse.

Unfortunately, technically speaking, this was probably the worst event in our history. Bad sound, wrong audio tracks, silent microphones - it was inescapable. As an organization that is based on audio, the situation went from bad, to worse, to embarrassing to anger. Finally, after a dozen false starts, I prayed for the Lord's help. Things improved, somewhat, but certainly challenged our performers. During the show, our promotions manager and myself were texting through the difficulties and even considered letting a couple of competitors sing again but thought better of it, not wanting to be guilty of favouritism. To our audience and singers, I apologize for the unprofessional event. In short, our sound checks were incomplete.

Now to the fun! On June 2 we meet for the finals. At this event, our seven finalists will open the show with a group song. Then we'll move to the individual songs. From the 7, we'll choose the final 3 and have a sing-off!

We've amped up the finals with video screens, candid performer interviews on screen, a full band for a full performance sound, and more fun stuff.

Our Breakfast Club waker Ben Davy will be hosting and promises to look very dapper! Canadian recording artist Matt Brouwer will join the judges' panel and has promised to sing a couple of his radio songs and I know he'll show us how it's done, right!

Tickets are on sale now! See you there!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


As much as we prepared, I don't think any of my friends on our 88.1 panel were fully comprehending the drama contained in a CRTC Hearing.

You see, the CRTC is the government regulatory body that decides who gets a broadcast license and who isn't following the Broadcast Act. They decide on licensing new stations by first asking for an application - a creative application, outlining sample music lists, a financial commitment to developing Canadian talent, the vision for the news department, funding, etc. After the application is reviewed in Ottawa they call a formal hearing, during which, the applicants present a 20-minute oral presentation.

That brings us up to date. At the Hearing in Toronto, there were seven Commissioners, on a platform, facing our panel.

The Commissioners were Louise Poirier, Stephen Simpson, Tom Pentefountas, Leonard Katz, Candice Molnar, Peter Menzies and Marc Patrone.

We played our 7-minute video that was a summary of Torontonians expressing their wish for Christian radio in Toronto, plus artists explaining how a radio station would support their careers, and pastors talking about how Christian radio would help promote events and church attendance.

(Two rows of tables where we sat, facing the front. Legal staff along the side wall.)

Just before "show-time" our video was accidently misplaced. Both the DVD and the back-up USB version! Oh my! The secretary was very apologetic, realizing the signficance of the video to our presentation. I was not worried. Anticipating a problem I brought a back-up stick. (And failing that was another copy on my laptop in the car.)

The video played fine. It sounded great, it looked great. It was passionate and fun and musical and informative! CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

 My panel friends took turns reading a narrative that I had written. Our panel included Drew Brown (recording artist), Fazal Karim (Christian Herald), Paul Firminger (technican), Andrew Hamilton (Chairman of the board), Maria Lopez, Steve Jones, Janice Baird and myself.

After our 20-minutes, Pastor Ginette Howse from Malvern Christian Assembly gave her endorsement - which by the way, was stellar! Pastor Ginette and Malvern LOVE LIFE 100.3 and support us financially and pray for us with fervor!

After that, it was the Commissioners turn to ask us questions and see how well prepared our vision was. (And quietly comparing us to the other competitors.) "Why do you think there would be an interest for Christian music in Toronto?" Me: "Because, according to Stats Can, 65% of Torontonians consider themselves Christians." "Ok" he smiled.

Janice explained our Sharathon. Maria shared about our vision for Toronto news. Fazal talked about Immigrating to Canada and the challenges he faced. Drew talked about the difficulty of being a full-time musician without radio support, Paul told them about our transmitter power and location, Steve talked about music programming - daytime and evenings.

Our answers were short, and we didn't ramble and get off topic as did most other applicants. They found a $500 difference in one of our financial projections, which we corrected on the spot. The Commissioners seem to understand our vision and, in my opinion, did not appear to have concerns.

I believe we presented ourselves as prepared and knowledgable about our vision, with back-up plans in case of a financial failure. I would not presume to know their decision, as they will analyze 21 other presentations, some of which are presented by million dollar entrepreneurs and broadcasting pros.

Was God with us? Absolutely. In the days leading up to the Hearing, my nervousness and worry was minimal and my excitement escalated. I love radio - I love talking about radio, especially to people who understand radio. God gave me extreme confidence in the midst of, what many would consider to be "panic".

Our Technician Paul said to me this morning, "In all my many years in Broadcasting and presentations of applications before the CRTC, this is one of the most relaxed presentations I have been part of."
Sidebar - I have spoken with CRTC personnel by phone many, many times, and visited them informally in Ottawa. They seem to have a reputation as anti-Christian - and I have never felt that. They have always been helpful to me, never talked to me like I was unimportant, always returning my phone calls and willing to spend time with me. My experience has been very good!

Alright - here's how we prepared:

Our team had rehearsed the 20-minute narrative as a group in three meetings, tweaking the words, shorting the explanation until it flowed like a great song, building to a climax of excitment, which by the way, ended with our top ten list of reasons to "give us the license!"

My homework was to read the transcripts of 15 other applicants from previous hearings, writing down each question the Commission asked, and then I asked my panel to answer them as they related to us. We discussed answers until we had it down pat.

The video was edited and re-edited - some scenes were cut for time. It took AJ and I three times longer to produce than I anticipated but the final production was fabulous!

I was also consulted by John Stewart from LIFE-FM in Blackville, NS. John presented his station case six months ago and had some advice for me, which I gladly accepted. (Thanks John.)

(L-R - Andrew Hamilton, Drew Brown, Janice Baird, me, (back row Rev. Ginette Howse), Steve Jones, Maria Lopez, Fazal Karim and Paul Firminger)

Today and I look back and write this blog and scan the photos from the Hearing, I am also reading hundreds of facebook comments just from today. I feel - well - wonderfully content. So many people prayed for us. I could feel it. We did our best. We pray God would take control of the rest.

This process happened much faster than I expected. The Commission is ahead of schedule based on my timeline. Now, we wait for them to render a decision, likely not until September 1, possibly as late a Christmas.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

KS - Barrie

We concluded the regional auditions this afternoon in Barrie. Today was - amazing! So many great singers! Talent wise, this was probably the best showcase of all five, certainly better than the first Barrie showcase last Wednesday.
Today we had a variety of songs, a variety of age groups and a variety of personalities. It was a great day of what Karaoke Superstar should be! Believability, sincerity, power! Good job, everyone!
Photo (Tim Maassarany, Rozz Maassarany and me) Tuesday morning on the Breakfast Club we'll announce the 20 finalists! Woo hoo!

KS - Newmarket

Tonight we hung out at Newmarket Community Church on Pony Drive. A good turnout - 11 auditions and about 50 fans. These competitors were mostly worship singers. There was one stand-out and several runner-ups. I'm noticing that most performers through this entire week of auditions, are missing the art of "performance". Very few singers get into character - they are just singing songs. But when you see rock stars, they are "into it" - rockin' out, believable, with authority, controling the stage. Not the case with the perfomers I've seen this week. Only a couple have that special quality and those are the people who will advance to the semi-finals. Come on- we want a performance! Next stop - Barrie today/Saturday at 2pm.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

KS - Huntsville

Day 3 - Huntsville Regional Auditions The Karaoke Superstar "Performance Convoy" actually moves in two vehicles. The first vehicle is the van which carries the equipment and the crew. Terry Molinaro is the crew manager. He coordinates load-in, set-up, breakdown and load-out. I'm not sure how he fits all the gear in the van. We have a new KS backdrop on stage - it's huge! Plus a sectional stage, the P.A., the regular booth - whew! Somehow it fits.
With Terry is Dave Dube who handles the sound mix for each contestant. This is Dave's first year. He rolls the tracks for the singers.
Rozz Maassarany is our Promotions Manager but tonight whe was not with us, so Terry did double duty. The second vehicle leaves later, carrying the judges and host. Tonight, Junky was host; I was a judge, with my friend Charles West from Port Sydney and Cathy Faubert from Huntsville.
There were six contestants and I happy to tell you that tonight's performance was much better than last night in Barrie where most singers were rather weak. Tonight, two were outstanding, two were really good, one was weak and one was amazing but the song choice missed the criteria, which is unfortunate. But, the semi-finalists are not yet decided. That happens next Tuesday.
The Huntsville crowd totalled about 100, about double that of Barrie last night. And, Huntsville was excited and supportive of their singers! Very well done! Tomorrow night, Newmarket!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

KS - Barrie

Day two - tonight the Karaoke Superstar machine rolled into the Kozlov Centre in Barrie. It was a smaller crowd than Monday night in Peterborough, and much less enthusiastic. Barrie - what's goin' on?!
(At the judge's table - Ben, Maria, me - behind is Evan) 

Evan Duran hosted the show with 8 contestants who gave us an interesting mix. A couple of dark songs that were challenging songs to sing, a couple of well-known songs and a bunch of worship songs, some of which our judges didn't know.  How many times do we have to say "pick the right songs! It's a LIFE competition! Stay with the format!"

At the judges table was Ben Davy, Maria Lopez and myself. Ben is the pro; but Maria - it was her first time with KS. Her critiques were awesome! As we deliberated after the show and picked our favourites, one thing came up with almost all our contestants tonight - stage presence - it was very shallow. Most contestants seemed very timid and seemed to hold back their talent, which made for a softer performance.
(Evan on stage with one of tonight's performers.) 
For those singers who move to the semi-final round - remember: pick songs you would hear on LIFE, and work the stage! Don't be shy! If you're a performer, let's see your stuff! 

Next stop is tomorrow night at Huntsville Place Mall. Showtime is 6:30.  My friend, and former Ascension bandmate Charles West from Port Sydney will be sitting next to me at the judge's table!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

KS - Peterborough

LIFE 100.3's almost annual talent search "Karaoke Superstar" is back! Six auditions showcase local talent as the singers perform to tracks. In the end, one will win recording time at A.M.E. Studio in Kitchener with Andy Horrocks producing, and LIFE will send the song to every Christian radio station in Canada.
It began last night in Peterborough. Myself, Evan Duran and Andy Taylor (season 2 winner) were judging. Rozz Maassarany from our Promotions Department was the host. Dave Dube handled sound. Our Street Teamer Terry Molinaro stood around looking like a model.
7 people performed - all were good. A couple were really solid! I wish I could tell you about something funny behind the scenes, but nothing went wrong. Everything rolled out as planned. I love it when that happens!
Thanks Peterborough for a great night at Lansdowne Place Mall! I love hearing Christian music in a public place!

Oh ya! Next stop - Barrie, tomorrow night at 6:30 at Kozlov!