Roy Hennessy, CKLG and C-FUN

On this day in 1986, Donovan appeared on the Legends Of Rock’n’Roll show at EXPO 86. The Province‘s Tom Harrison wrote “Donovan mesmerized an audience eager to embark on a magic carpet ride to the mellow yellow of a hippie never-never land.”

“Mellow Yellow” was a huge hit here 20 years earlier, and I asked Roy Hennessy about his memories of that time. True to form, Roy responded with a wonderful story that instantly took me back to the golden days of the fierce competition between C-FUN and CKLG. Reposting today in honour of my friend, who passed yesterday at 80. Ladies and Gentlemen… Roy Hennessy!

CKLG was the new kid on the block, and we took advantage of C-FUN‘s weak spots. They were number one so they stopped the flow after every song and ran commercials. We made the decision to run no more than two commercials at a time – and we always ended the set with a jingle straight into music. C-FUN had ‘old school’ jingles – CKLG ran very tight acapella jingles always followed by a tune. The music never stopped. The result? ‘LG sounded more energetic. ‘And The Hits… Just Keep On Comin’!’

When other stations were running news at the top and bottom of the hour, CKLG was playing three in a row. A great reason to sample the station, and then we didn’t give you a reason to leave! Our news commitment was taken care of at 20/20. ‘LG also played more black music – especially in the early days. Motown ruled the east end of the city and the suburbs. CKLG was playing real R&B while C-FUN seemed to be focused on cover versions.

C-FUN was Vancouver’s original Top 40 radio station. They were known as the hit station, but management and sales were too busy cashing in to see the writing on the wall. CKLG management actually knew a lot less about the changing world than C-FUN did. When I was starting out in the morning show, I would get off the air at 9 — exhausted — and be met by the manager telling me how funny Monty McFarlane was that morning on CJOR! Of course he wouldn’t listen to me, he was an adult! True story.

It took from the fall of ’65 until the summer of ’66 for ‘LG’s growth to start showing up in the ratings, but the impact of the newer format was pretty dramatic. It took quite a bit longer than that for the money to catch up. C-FUN had the reputation, and they had proven established talent like Red who carried them for quite a while. In a few short years, all that was pushed into the background when society was being shaken by the Baby Boomers coming of age. FM crept in, and both CKLG and C-FUN became irrelevant.

It really ended up being ‘us’ versus ‘them’… ‘them’ being the establishment who grew up with The Lone Ranger and Bing Crosby, while the younger generation was reflecting the real changes that were happening in society. The old guys thought they could just ban rock’n’roll; it would disappear and then they could go to the club for lunch. They never imagined that we could just walk over them, ignore them or relegate them to the waste bin. But in our own way, we did change the world. I am so happy to have been part of it.”