I've got 'news' for you, Mr. News Director

I was quite young. It was the late 1950s, or very early ‘60s, when I was the just-hired News Director of a small and less-than-big money radio station in Cobourg, Ont. I was also the only body in the News Department of “CHUC Radio . . . 1450 on your dial.”

So it was a “rip-and-read” operation, without audio feeds from Broadcast News. So I also had to do a full on-air shift playing records and reading local commercials. But – hey – I was in show business. Fame and big money were just down the road a piece. I was only an hour’s drive east of the big time . . . Toronto!

To this day, I remember how the CHUC advertising manager walked into the cramped “news room” and told me in an authoritative voice:

“I’ve got a news item for you which should get good play.”

“Oh,” I said, wondering whether there had been an accident or some other emergency he’d seen. “Is it a fire or . . ..”

“No . . . no,” he said, “there’s a store opening soon and they’ve bought quite a lot of spots.” (In those days, usually 60-second commercials.)

Being relatively new at the station and the news business, and rather impressed with my position of journalistic authority, I told him that his item was not really news and suggested he use one of the many commercials he’d sold to announce the opening.

The following morning the Station Manager called me into his poorly furnished office where he told me he had “news” for me.

I was fired.

Within an hour I had packed my stuff and was escorted out the door with my small severance cheque.

Later, at The Gazette in Montreal, The Canadian Press wire service co-operative, The Vancouver Sun and other outlets, I learned the meaning of the words “must carry” and learned to keep my mouth shout about the practice.

The Cobourg store opening was a “must carry” news item as dictated by the CHUC owner.

The owner of a Canadian small-time news medium is God. The Apostle Advertising Sales Manager sits at His right hand, the lesser Apostle Station Manager cum Program Director sits at His left and the News Director cum Reporter cum Sweeper Upper sits at the Sinners Table with the other riffraff.

The disc jockeys sit to the far left of God in order of their ratings and their Radio Guy brain-power; the dumber the better.