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January 17, 2018 8:07 pm  #1


Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

I couldn’t quite believe what I heard on AM 640 Wednesday night. But I was squirming in sympathy with whoever was behind the board.
 
It started after Alex Pierson gave her opening commentary at 7 PM. Everything went fine until she had to introduce “The Employment Hour.” She welcomed her audience to “Lior Fiorino.” And then, about 30 seconds later, she said “Fiorino” again.
 
I say this with no intent to make fun of anyone but I seriously wonder if Alex has some sort of leaning disability. Because I’ve heard her mangle names – often the same names, despite being corrected just seconds earlier – over and over and over. Enough so that she makes Jim Richards, who suffers from dyslexia, look good.
 
When she was on CFRB, she simply could not pronounce Jerry Agar’s last name properly. She continually called him Ugh-ar, instead of the correct Ay-gar. And as far as I know, she never got it right in all the time she was there.
 
And it’s not just names. I’ve also heard her call a “bagel” a “bag-ell.” Every time that word comes up, it’s the same mispronunciation. And now Fiorino, which isn’t even close to Samfiru. And those are just three examples of dozens I’ve heard since her show began.
 
I’m not sure how you cure this kind of affliction, if indeed she suffers from it. But it’s certainly an unfortunate problem for a newsperson who interviews a lot of people to have. Despite all that, I actually like her show and I wish her success. Just maybe have the guest introduce themselves. 
 
Still, the “Fiorino” thing was just a prelude to what came next. After John Scholes began his intro to the Employment Hour, there was at least two minutes of dead air, in which you could hear someone typing on a computer – and nothing else.
 
After what seemed like an eternity, Samfiru’s voice came on saying, “I can’t hear anything.” There was more silence, followed by Lior sighing and in a disgusted way intoning something like, “Oh this is just great!” He’s paying for the time, so he’s naturally upset about it being delayed.
 
Finally, after additional dead air (and typing) you hear Scholes say “just go to commercial!” More silence, then two spots and the traffic report stinger, which played on for about 30 seconds with nothing happening. When the newscaster finally came on to introduce the traffic guy, that, too, was delayed by about 10-15 seconds.
 
After all that, things got back to normal. But I was looking at my watch and the entire thing went on for about 4 minutes. I’m sure it seemed like hours to the poor employee behind the board and having been where he or she is, I can say it may not have been the employee’s fault. But it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
 
At least no one swore on air, which could easily happen. In fact, the only thing worse I can remember hearing happened about 35 years ago on the old CJCL 1430. Afternoon host John Donabie was doing a crossover promo with the late Earl McRae about his sports show, which started at 6 PM.

As John introduced Earl and asked him what was coming up, there was a pause. McRae, who was never shy about saying what was on his mind, consequences be damned, turned on his mic and boldly intoned, “I can’t hear a fucking thing! I’m telling you, not a fucking thing!”
 
This, of course, went out over the air to all who were listening. I’m told Donabie turned white and managed to explain something about “technical difficulties” before going to a song. But the damage was done, and McRae was suspended two weeks without pay for the incident, since he certainly should have known better. (Although I'm told he would claim until his dying day that he said "I can't hear a DUCKING thing!" Right, because that's what most people would naturally utter in a moment of panic.)  
 
So many sympathies to the AM 640 board op on Wednesday night.
 
Been there, hope never to have to do that again.

 

January 17, 2018 10:20 pm  #2


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

I also was tuned in , stuck in traffic on 403. Very painful to listen to  but yet I couldn't hit a preset. It was fascinating in a bizarre way to see how long it would go on for. When the show finally did kick in, it was obviously a repeat of a previous show. My guess is the technical glitch was not a quick fix or Lior and John just said ef it and went home. I didn't realize until tonight that Lior does the show off site. I also sympathize with the board op who must have been in full panic mode. The gal doing the 8 pm news really sounded rattled as well. But, it will not phase me from tuning in tomorrow.

 

January 18, 2018 12:17 am  #3


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

mic'em wrote:

I also was tuned in , stuck in traffic on 403. Very painful to listen to  but yet I couldn't hit a preset. It was fascinating in a bizarre way to see how long it would go on for. When the show finally did kick in, it was obviously a repeat of a previous show. My guess is the technical glitch was not a quick fix or Lior and John just said ef it and went home. I didn't realize until tonight that Lior does the show off site. I also sympathize with the board op who must have been in full panic mode. The gal doing the 8 pm news really sounded rattled as well. But, it will not phase me from tuning in tomorrow.

It's interesting how these things are like a car wreck, especially to radio people. You want to look away, but somehow you just can't until it's over with. I once  'listened' to 7 minutes of static after a station went off the air in mid-sentence, just to see how long it would go on.

In my very first job in radio, I met the most unflappable engineer I've ever seen. He was fixing something in the control room, when the record that was playing on air (yes, we used records back then) suddenly slowed down and stopped, leaving dead air.

"Dave," I said in a panic. "What the hell just happened?"

He said, "This," and proceeded to plug the turntable he'd accidentally disconnected back in. It started with a huge 'wow' but we were back in business.

     Thread Starter
 

January 18, 2018 8:01 am  #4


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

I only heard the last minute of this mishap but I was thinking of E Grant the entire time.
 

 

January 18, 2018 8:15 am  #5


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

tc143 wrote:

   I was thinking of E Grant the entire time.   

cGrant was likely beside herself throughout the entire show
 

 

January 18, 2018 8:22 am  #6


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

I find even the dead air more entertaining than anything cGrant has posted on this forum.

 

January 18, 2018 12:25 pm  #7


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

Brings back memories of when 820 CHAM was still playing classic country.  Their automation system was set up so that if something went amiss in the system, it would play the full version (4:40) of Marty Robbins' "El Paso"  presumably giving some time for whoever was on call to fix the problem.

I can recall a couple of times where I heard that song on 820 after some technical problem.  Sometimes two or three times in a row.  If I was flipping stations in the car and came across El Paso, I would stay with it to see how it would resolve.  The fact that I like the song doesn't hurt either. 
 

 

January 18, 2018 12:56 pm  #8


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

Country music and technical glitches is a win win for any radio fan.

 

January 18, 2018 4:05 pm  #9


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

RadioActive?  I actually don't remember the incident.  That's not to say it didn't happen.  I do seriously congratulate you on remembering this. 

However RA, since there was only Earl and myself in the studio; at that time of the evening, I don't believe there was anyone there who could say I turned white; except maybe the late Earl.  As Bob Hope would say, "Thanks for the memories."
 

Last edited by John D (January 18, 2018 4:07 pm)

 

January 18, 2018 4:21 pm  #10


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

John D wrote:

RadioActive?  I actually don't remember the incident.  That's not to say it didn't happen.  I do seriously congratulate you on remembering this. 

However RA, since there was only Earl and myself in the studio; at that time of the evening, I don't believe there was anyone there who could say I turned white; except maybe the late Earl.  As Bob Hope would say, "Thanks for the memories." 

I actually heard it happen that day and I'll never forget it. But as for you turning white, that was a story told to me by someone that worked at the station at the time. I was taking their word for it, although perhaps they were exaggerating. But I know for a fact it happened. The day after he was suspended, a good part of Open Line Sports Tonight was dedicated to whether Earl should have been given such a punishment.

As far as CJCL goes, it was an experiment in talk radio way, way ahead of its time. Robert Holiday (or as Earl called him "Robert The Station Vacation") was always a few years too soon with a lot of his ideas. I'm not sure that a talk/music hybrid would work today, but it was one of the first major talkers before this market was ready to accept that format. Nowadays, it would have fit right in. 

And one last thing. Earl McRae was an amazing man, a radio natural, and though he made his bones in sports during a lot of his years in journalism, I would give a lot to have heard him deal with regular everyday issues. Given how wonderfully weird that show was (remember when his Talbot the Talking Computer "exploded" on air after supposedly malfunctioning all program long? The sound effects of pieces that were still "falling" extended right into the Blue Jays game intro) it had the makings of a cult classic. We'll never know, of course, but I wish I could have heard him try it. 

[Edit: By the way, in case you've never seen it, here's a piece from Leslie Sole on that version of CJCL called "The Greatest Station You Never Heard." Worth a read.]   

Last edited by RadioActive (January 18, 2018 4:25 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

January 18, 2018 4:58 pm  #11


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

I still don't know how to make a quote; but your comments on Earl are so true.  One night he asked me to be a guest on his sports show.  That was weird; as I was not born with the sports gene.  He said he had a special guest who wanted to talk to me.  OK..The show begins and Earl sets it all up.  "Now let's go to Penetanguishene , Ontario and here's John's Mother."  Now there RA I did turn white!  He went on to interview my Mom about me.  He had a hell of a sense of humour and was a brilliant writer.  I was proud of my Mom; as she and Earl had some fun that night.  I guess I did too.

 

Last edited by John D (January 18, 2018 4:59 pm)

 

January 18, 2018 4:59 pm  #12


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

John D wrote:

I still don't know how to make a quote; but your comments on Earl are so true.  One night he asked me to be a guest on his sports show.  That was weird; as I was not born with the sports gene.  He said he had a special guest who wanted to talk to me.  OK..The show begins and Earl sets it all up.  "Now let's go to Penetanguishene , Ontario and here's John's Mother."  Now there RA I did turn white!  He went on to interview my Mom about me.  He had a hell of a sense of humour and was a brilliant writer.  I was proud of my Mom; as she and Earl had some fun that night.  I guess I did too.

 

 

 

January 18, 2018 5:00 pm  #13


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

Damn.  I made the whole thing a quote.  That's not what I wanted to do.

 

January 18, 2018 5:50 pm  #14


Re: Alex Pierson, Lior Samfiru & An AM 640 Wednesday Nightmare

John D wrote:

I still don't know how to make a quote; but your comments on Earl are so true.  One night he asked me to be a guest on his sports show.  That was weird; as I was not born with the sports gene.  He said he had a special guest who wanted to talk to me.  OK..The show begins and Earl sets it all up.  "Now let's go to Penetanguishene , Ontario and here's John's Mother."  Now there RA I did turn white!  He went on to interview my Mom about me.  He had a hell of a sense of humour and was a brilliant writer.  I was proud of my Mom; as she and Earl had some fun that night.  I guess I did too. 

That was one of the hallmarks of his shtick. He did the same thing to none other than Don Cherry. This was long, long before he became a staple on Hockey Night In Canada. He sat Cherry down, talked hockey for a bit and then started asking him questions about his childhood. I remember him saying, "Were you ever spanked as a child?"

Cherry instantly got suspicious. "What's this leading up to?" he asked.

McRae's answer was classic. "Well, if you won't answer then we'll just have to ask your mother. Mrs. Cherry, are you there?" McRae was great at tracking down obscure people and you could almost hear Cherry turn bright red as his mom suddenly came on the air and began saying, "No, he was a good boy." And it went on from there. 

It was the first and probably the only time I've ever heard Cherry rendered almost speechless.

McRae was one of a kind and I'm sorry he never got a chance to do more local non-sports radio. 

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