CKCY: My first media job

July 6, 2020

It was circa 1975 and between beers at the Purple Lantern, I studied Journalism at Sault College.

Classmates included David Gazer and Joe Petrolo and I mention them because all three of us managed to land part-time jobs at CKCY Radio while still “studying” at Sault College.

Gazer and Petrolo, with their booming, CKLW-Windsor-style voices, worked as late night newscasters at CKCY while I was the weekend sportscaster.

Thus began my media career, which is now at 45 years and counting.

Times, to be sure, have changed.

CKCY, which was the no. 1 radio station in the Sault Ste. Marie area back then, has since gone off the air.

CKCY may have signed off from the 920 AM dial but memories of those early radio years of mine remain vividly clear.

Gazer actually made it from CKCY in the Soo to CKLW in Windsor. I briefly kept in touch with him after he left the Soo but have not seen or heard from him since 1978.

Now retired, Petrolo stayed with the news radio business for a number of years before settling into a job at Ontario Lottery & Gaming at a considerably-higher pay rate than the $3 an hour we used to haul in at CKCY back in 1975-1976.

As Gazer and Petrolo were consummate pros in our CKCY days, I wasn’t quite as attentive and committed as they were.

Oh, I never missed a shift or an assignment but reading sports part-time on radio was less of a priority than working as a waiter and bartender at the Windsor Hotel, where I made a lot more money.

Those were good days amid a cast of radio characters, none of whom I will forget.

There were Gazer, Petrolo, Sam Kaplan and Denise Daniels on the news side, Paul Leonard Sr. and me at the sports desk and disc jockeys that included Kennedy, Tony Chipman, Dave Carter, B.W. Martin, Robert E. Lee, Phil Parks, Tony Dee, Don Wayne, Tony Marziale et al.

The legendary “Voice of the Soo Greyhounds” Harry Wolfe also served as station manager and Russ Hilderley was the program director.

The radio was good — even if formal training of announcers was next to nil — and it was live, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I have managed to stay in the media business all these years, both as a broadcaster and a writer.

The media industry has changed — that’s the way it goes.

And regardless of the many good people who I have met, worked with and worked for over the years, I like to reflect back to the 1975-1976 days at CKCY Radio.

$3 an hour, 25 cent draught beers and cab rides home with my radio buddies Joe Petrolo and B.W. Martin.

And let it be forever known that it wasn’t Petrolo or me who puked in the cab.

What you think about “CKCY: My first media job”

  1. Pretty cool Randy! I was just a kid and my dad and I had season tickets to the Hounds every year, probably around your beginning days. If there was the rare out of town televised, we’d turn down the volume on the TV and tune into CKCY and listen to Harry do the play-by-play. Sometimes my dad would take the transistor radio and ear plug to listen to Harry. Great times!

  2. Randy,
    You have proven to be a dedicated Media professional,and one I have come to respect deeply. Given our earliest encounters at CKCY,I had misgivings at first.
    You however ,have excelled as a Journalist, in every sense of the profession.
    Sincerest regards,
    PS: Kitty converted me to sharing our mutual dedication to the “Lions”.
    If Randy Russon CHOOSES THE “ROAR’ OF DETROIT.I can join the pride.

  3. Dear Mr. Russon:
    I go back a little further than you but I do remember some of the names – people with whom I had the privilege of working over an amazing few years from 1964 to 1968. Al Bestall was the station manager, later replaced by Johnny Meadows. Harry Wolfe was in sales and on air was the sports director. Indeed, Dave Carter was morning man followed by Art Christmas, Bill Haight later in the day and, of course, Barry Sarazin at night. Karl Sepkowski, Russ Hilderley and Norm Fera were a few that I remember in news. Pat Bestall was the music director.

    Me? I was the program director of CKCY FM where I also did various on air shifts.

    It was a glorious, highly creative time in my life and there isn’t a week that goes by without my recalling little snippets of my time in Sault Ste. Marie and at CKCY.

  4. Hello Mr. Gasparini, I just wanted to reach out to acknowledge your response to Mr. Russon’s notes about CKCY. My dad was Dave Carter. (my name is Debbie Kaye)
    I remember the station so well as it was one of the few stable things in my childhood in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s funny but I can even remember how it smelled. My first job was to file away the records alphabetically in the tiny room in the back so the DJ’s could find them again. Pat Bestall wrote my first recorded song Picking up my Hat and Al Bestall sent my recorded voice to Columbia records in Nashville and launched my singing days. The men of CKCY are bright in my memory. They were the RADIO MEN! I also remember a woman named Gwen Mallory. Does that bring a bell? My best to you and your family. I hope your health is good. We are all archives now aren’t we?

  5. Debbie Lori Kaye, the apple of Dave Cartner’s eye. Many of us listening to his morning show, and promoting Debbie as the next young Canadian singing sensation
    had all of CY’s audience cheering as well!
    Dave, and all Sault radio/tv on and off-air folks who’ve left us and are now are up in SKY STUDIO, the online archive of those whose earthly tubes “went dark”. Thank you to our colleague Art Osborne, who curates his creation, and updates the biogs. of those who are now “winging it”!

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