Music Director Bootcamp

“How did you become a Music Director?” That is the question I answer most as a Radio Instructor at NAIT. And my answer is always the same, “you learn on the job.” I was lucky enough to work in environments that fostered and accommodated my learning and development; a rare luxury afforded to many media companies and offices these days. Today’s MD’s and PD’s are swamped –often managing multiple properties– so how does the next generation of Music Directors get started?

Music Director Bootcamp is a weekend course I’m developing with the help of NAIT’s Continuing Education Department and contacts at leading industry software companies including MusicMaster.

Students will learn the basics –and into the “next steps”– of selecting, scheduling, and managing a station’s music library and industry relationships. Is this the sort of course you, or somebody you manage, would benefit from? Do you have a suggestion to make the experience the best it can be? I’d love to hear from you.


The perverse economics of concert tickets

This is OLD. But in my opinion, still relevant. I HATE to say it…..I really do.

Dave Sawchuk

THIS IS AN OLD BLOG.  But it’s just as relevant today regarding the Tragically Hip as it was in 2013.  

Tickets to see Mumford and Sons in Edmonton went on sale Friday at 10:00 am. By 10:02 am they were sold out.  By 10:05 am dozens (or more) tickets showed up on craigslist/kijiji for as much as $500 a pair.  That’s about 3 and a half times the price they sold for.  Keep that figure in mind “three and a half times the price”

A brand new Ford Focus, right off the lot from sells for $17,649.  Check it out. does not sell Ford Focus’ for $5,045.00 (three and a half times less than the manufactures suggested price) because the market has determined that the value is higher.

Why can’t musicians figure this economic issue out?  They THINK they’re being righteous (and appearing non-capitalist) by selling their tickets at a…

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May 4 – Modern Rock Radio Picks

Review from last weeks picks: +/- is from the BDS Canada: Modern Rock 7-Day Rolling Chart and reflects total spins on the chart

  1. JR JR – Gone (-13)
  2. Finish Ticket – Color (not on chart)
  3. Struts – Kiss This (-5)
  4. Kaleo – Way Down We Go (+40)
  5. Bear Hands – 2 am (-20)
  6. Cage the Elephant – Trouble (+16)
  7. Struts – Kiss This  (so nice, I named it twice)
  8. Disturbed – The sound of Silence (+1)
  9. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Soundcheck (+10)
  10. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – High Dive (not on chart)


This Weeks Picks

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – TBA (out tomorrow)
  2. Radiohead – Burn the Witch
  3.  Bishop Briggs – River
  4. Sheepdogs – Bad Lieutenant Canada-Maple-Leaf
  5. July Talk – Push + Pull canada-maple-leaf (1)
  6. Joywave – Destruction 
  7. Silversun Pickups – Circadian Rhythm (last dance) 
  8. Kongos – Take it from Me 
  9. Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin’
  10. Young the Giant – Something To Believe In

What are you adding this week??


April 27-Modern Rock Radio Picks

These 10 songs (in no particular order) are poised to explode at Modern Rock Radio in Canada before mid-May.  My research indicates these tracks are on the rise and could demand regular-rotation spins soon.

  1. JR JR – Gone
  2. Finish Ticket – Color
  3. Struts – Kiss This
  4. Kaleo – Way Down We Go
  5. Bear Hands – 2 am
  6. Cage the Elephant – Trouble
  7. Struts – Kiss This  (so nice, I named it twice)
  8. Disturbed – The sound of Silence (this is not a typo)
  9. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Soundcheck
  10. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – High Dive

Being a Man and the New Tough

The ongoing process of “being a Man” is complex and confusing.  It’s important to look at where “being a man” came from in order to understand where Men are today; and why where they are today is dangerous.

Humble and Primitive Beginnings 

Men are taught when they are boys that being a man requires physical strength and a willingness to use it.  Wells don’t dig themselves, gents.  Wood doesn’t come self chopped, fellas.  Pickle jars lids are always snug, chaps.  Without the physical tools to perform certain tasks: we’d be dirty, thirsty, and cold in (the dark) eating sandwiches without a tangy, crunchy zip to them.  Physically, the manual for being a Man looks like this:

         How To – Be a Man.  A guide for boys.

     page 1.

Roll up your sleeves (if you’re wearing any at all) and get after it!  Push, pull, heave, trench, sweat, swear and muscle at the task until it’s done.

page 2.

(I imagine this being comic strips and maybe an article on lawn maintenance)

Mentally, the process of being a man is much less straightforward and it has changed drastically.  100 years ago (give or take), a man had to view every other man as a threat.  And rightfully so!   If another man wanted what was yours (your house, land, horses, etc.) he challenged you to a duel for it.  The only thing worse than drawing second, and losing that challenge, was refusing it altogether.  Think about that:  showing weakness was a fate worse than DEATH.

Men had to constantly be on guard and keep their emotions in check in order to live to see another sunrise.  Some men still believe this world-view is completely necessary. And this is where our problem begins.  Newsflash: you will not be dueling another man over a clam-shell of mixed greens anytime soon.  Despite this fact, men still act like every other man is just looking for an opportunity to pounce!  This defensive outlook has seeped into how Men maintain their health.  The reality is: the single largest danger facing men today is themselves.

The New Tough

The hard part of embodying what it is to be a Man these days is overcoming the preconceived notions, fabricated conditions and outdated traditional rituals that we are led to believe we cannot or should not change.  Despite the fact that in the last 100+ years, everything has changed.  Men don’t hunt in loincloths anymore, they go to Safeway.

The New Tough is recognizing this change.  It means showing emotion and being a Human; not just a Man.  It is being confident enough to see a doctor because living is more important than what a lesser man thinks of you.  It also means being sympathetic toward that lesser mans and helping him see the stigma.  A man recognizes he can be hurt both physically and mentally (heck , even Superman has kryptonite and a soft-spot for the human race…and nobody questions his toughness).  “The New Tough” is being man enough to recognizing that the world has changed and that to keep our physical and mental health in check we need to change with it.

Movember Launch 2015

Movember Launch 2015



Free Agent IN/OF/P: Dave Sawchuk

Dave Sawchuk

**Reliable IN/OF/P on the #YEG Slo-Pitch Free Agent Market**

Scouting Report

Dave Sawchuk is a strong defender with a good arm and high “Baseball IQ.”  In addition to being able to play every defensive position at a high level, he can also be counted on in a pinch to throw a few innings.  Don’t expect much on the hill though; just strikes and plenty of good-natured banter.

His real strength is consistency.  “Sawchuk is the kind of ball player that shows up every week with a 6-pack”, says former teammate Len Wangen.  “He’s just slow.  Really slow.  I mean, how is a guy that tall so slow?” added Wangen, unprompted.  While Sawchuk has never been clocked in the 40 yard dash, many top scouts think he’d be average with a tail wind.

His consistency isn’t limited to just showing up with libations.  Dave is a singles hitter from the right…

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Northlands: October 6, 1990

My favourite Northlands moment came on Saturday October 6, 1990.  It was my first Oiler game.  The home-building company my father worked for had season tickets.  He must have had a good month, because that Saturday night was the home opener.

The Oilers had just won their 5th Stanley Cup, and during the pre-game ceremony team officials rolled the trophy in question onto the ice.  Even from high in the stands, The Cup looked massive and sparkled like a ten-foot diamond on a Christmas tree.

The home team was announced and Mark Messier was given the loudest ovation.  There was a smoke-machine (!) and what would now pass as the appropriate lighting production for a 6 year old’s birthday party. Hey, it was 1990!

Then it happened.  Just as the visiting Winnipeg Jets were announced, something I had never witnessed in person before began to happen.

Grown men started boo’ing.  Children began jeering.  Women were cussing.  It was the most unruly thing I had ever seen or heard as an 11 year-old!  Confused, and perhaps caught in the moment, I began to boo too!  “Boooooooooooo!”, I hollered.  I managed only one “mini-boo” before my Mother let me know that it was not polite and I was to stop immediately!  I’m guessing she was thinking, “Phil Housley, Thomas Steen and Ed Olczyk seem to be decent guys.  My child should not be calling them down at work.”

I don’t remember a single goal in the 3-3 tie (but I do remember going to Boston Pizza for dinner, delicious).  Thanks for the memory and the lesson in sportsmanship, Mom!



The Romance in Arguing with an Official.

Arguing with the officials is as much a part of sport as athletic supporters.  In baseball, players spit near the feet of umpires while managers kick dirt on homeplate.  Football coaches race down sidelines blue in the face with rage screaming bloody murder.  And who could forget this classy gem by NHL head coach Joel Quenneville in the playoffs last year:

That's what Coach thought of the call.

That’s what Coach thought of the call.

Soccer is different.  Arguing with the official is almost romantic.  Players plead their case like jilted lovers.  Their eyes pour with extreme disbelief like the wrongest of wrongs has been done unto them immediately after they kick another man in the shin (from behind).  How could the referee punish me for this?!  They hold their hands as if to pray, begging the referee to see their side, as if the fate of humanity depended on it.  With arms extended out, as if crucified, they beg for a higher power (the guy with the whistle) to see things their way!

I was at my first Edmonton FM match on the weekend.  We tide the match at 1 in extra time off a free kick.  It was a thrilling finish to an afternoon filled with the most romantic sports arguing I have ever seen.  I am now a soccer fan.

Straight Outta Compton’s Pre-Parody: CB4

A Parody, by definition, is a satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature. You’ve seen them before at the movies.  But have you ever seen a parody in advance of the original film’s success?  Sounds like the sort of exercise that requires a time machine.  But not in this case.  Follow me here…

In 1996, “Scream” was a slasher box office sensation.  In 2000, Hollywood parodied it with “Scary Movie”.  “Spaceballs” did the same for the original Star Wars trilogy 4 years after the fact.  Even Porn is into the act.  “Shaving Ryan’s Privates” is an entire film based on Porn’s parody successes (a friend told me).

Making a funny version of something super-nova-successful in order to resell it to a rabid fan base is not a new concept.  Keep in mind: Spaceballs and Scary Movie wouldn’t have made a dime if audiences didn’t already have a frame of reference on the content.  Dark Helmet is only comedy genius because we know who Darth Vader is.  This is where it gets interesting.

In 1993, comedian Chris Rock starred in CB4.  A parody, in large part, about the story of NWA.  Yes.  Straight Outta Compton, the #1 movie in North America during the month of August in 2015, had it’s successful parody released 22 years in advance.  Rock plays MC Gusto (a spin off of Eazy-E) and Allan Payne is “Dead Mike” (an Ice Cube riff).

Even the music was so well done Weird Al would have been impressed.  Straight Outta Locash is as good a goof on Straight Outta Compton as anything you’ll find.

The 22 year difference speaks volumes.  Here was a story so powerful and culturally significant that the parody came first: perhaps because North American audiences weren’t ready for the real thing in 1993.


Letting a band “Go”

Getting old is incredibly inconvenient.  Physically, your back hurts for no reason.  Mentally, you find yourself responsible for your parents (not the other way around: what a trip!), and eventually you need to decide if you’re going to age with your favourite bands or if you’re going to “let them go.”

Aging with a band requires the discipline of a Drill Sargent,   You continue to go to the shows, buy the albums and follow on social media.  Your worship of them never waivers.  You live in the musical past (for the most part) because the future is too complex.  Too uncertain.  Too hard.  This group gets busy with the challenges of life and eventually squeezes new music out of it.  As we age, we gradually find new ways to see ourselves in the world.  We no longer need new music to see our reflection.  We have children, careers and emerging interests to do it instead.

Embracing the ideology of “letting a band go” means being prepared to stop liking them.  Being prepared to stop defending them: and not holding it against them.  Songwriters age (like the rest of us) and inevitably change their writing style, content and performance tactics as a result of a morphing world-view.   Unless you’re changing on the same trajectory (or one close to it), it can be hard to truly identify with your favourite band as a 21-year-old, on the same level, in your mid-30’s.  This is no ones fault.

I have to let the Foo Fighters “go”.  They’re officially a “Dad Rock” band to me.  The evidence was all over the sold out concert in Edmonton last night.  The lead singer pulled a mega-dad move and played the show in a leg cast (my dad would  never miss a day of work either).  The band pulled John Doe out of the crowd to join them on stage to sing a cover song.  That cover song was by the ultimate “dad rock” band: Rush.  I understand there were local children on stage at some point for some reason or another.  These are all incredibly gracious acts by the Foo Fighters.   A band know as much for their genuineness as their record sales.

Some music lovers age with all their favourite bands.  Some “let go” of them all and integrate a new roster every few years.  Maybe you’re on one end of the spectrum or somewhere in the middle.  There is no right answer.

foofighters1 (1)