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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

why i was fired from 102.1 the edge by barry taylor


From his Myspace blog...

There are no delusions of grandeur going on here. But at the same time try and name another radio personality that managed to use his name to create a play on words for the title of a joke and a survey. Seriously. That’s pretty awesome.

The inquiring emails have gotten out of control. At last count there were 7. Let’s deal with this before someone gets hurt. There were some statistical rating issues at the Edge. These began a couple of years ago when the station started to air six, two minute commercial breaks an hour instead of three breaks of three to four minutes. The station suffered - except for the morning show as they were the only time slot that didn’t change to the six commercial break format.

This new format created times when there would be two minutes of commercials followed by a song followed by another two minutes of commercials followed by a song, two more minutes of commercials, another song followed by a minute long promo followed by a song.

It should also be made clear that in radio the only times that really matter for generating revenue are Monday to Friday between 6am and 6pm. I worked Mon-Wed evenings starting at 7PM and weekend afternoons, A.K.A. – prime time. And according to Ross Winters I was a problem.

Ross Winters. The latest Program Director at one oh two point one the Edge. The guy who continually calls all the shots. When one thinks of Ross one word comes to mind: Adonis. Cut from the pages of a romance novel, the man turns heads when he walks into a room; the ladies stare with lustful eyes and the men stare with envy. He speaks with a slight accent that moistens the loincloths of every female within ear shot. The only thing sexier than his long, chestnut-brown hair are his muscles. A man among boys.

The first thing Ross ever talked to me about was how much money KROQ in Los Angeles made. This wasn’t a good sign. He casually continued to express his ideas on making the Edge like a Top 40 station but with grunge music. “Zee Edge must appear sexier to all zee people of Toronto” he told me. “Like Paris Hilton.” But he pronounced Paris like Pair-ee so I was confused at first. From that point on I was pretty positive I was ####ed. Sounding like a monotone burnout doesn’t really work with Top 40 Radio.

Changes came quick with Ross. The music played on the station became incredibly restricted and really repetitive. In the past I was allowed to have input at the station’s music meetings. The meetings happened weekly and it’s where we’d decide which songs to add. Enter Dr. Don Mitchell, the Music Director and Assistant Program Director.

Don is a six foot six, 300 pound African-Canadian who lives and breathes Gangster Rap. When Don was hired a few years ago the Canadian Music Industry instantly stopped and thought: Why, in the name of all things holy would one of the biggest new rock stations on the planet, whose musical integrity and credibility are unmatched, hire a music director that is the absolute antithesis of the demographic they’re trying to reach? Don became known in Toronto music circles for his catch phrase, “Nigga, here’s my mother ####in’ philosophy…”

Ross and Doc decided all music at the Edge would be based on what other stations were playing. They also sent out for a ton of research to try and tune them into what the demographic liked.

One of the last music meetings I was at we were trying to decide which Canadian band to add. Ross liked band A because he had met the lead singer and thought she was sexy. Don wanted band B because they were being played in Edmonton and Calgary, I offered band C. Band C had three sold out shows at Toronto’s Massey Hall that month and band C’s iTune sales were exponentially greater than band A and band B put together.

Dr. Don looked at me like I just pissed in his soup. “Nigga, here’s my mother ####in philosophy,” he snapped. “#### three sold out shows at Massy Hall. I could take a shit on stage and sell out Massey Hall. Why don’t you take your Barry Funny Ass out of this mother ####er. “ Ross agreed. I wasn’t allowed at another music meeting.

Another nail in my coffin came with the whole electric car chaos. Holy crap that upset people. The coverage received more attention from outside media than any other thing that happened on the Edge in the 7 years I was there. Awesome. Management is gonna love the publicity. No. No they didn’t. I was immediately told to not talk about the issue on air.

I was also told I talked too much about music. The 420 Thought was replaced with familiar Foo Fighter or Pearl Jam songs. The Blue Jay Breaks I did with my dad were also axed and for the record, while we covered the Jays this season they were 21-12. Since I was fired they’ve tanked to 49-51 ....so…yeah. Pick a side.

As the station continued it’s homogenization it became clear changes were coming for those who didn’t fit in. The music became even more repetitive to the point where I’d be playing the same song twice in a four hour shift. No artists were to be interviewed on the air, aside from the morning show. Announcers were told to talk for 30 seconds or less and our content was heavily scrutinized.

Finally on a Tuesday in May I was called in before my shift and let go for rating reasons. As an email went out the following day the first person to reach out was Martin Streek. He was very supportive and let me know he had my back. A few hours later Ross had him come into the station for the last time.

So that’s it. In the end it’s not a big deal, it’s a business. The Edge’s number one goal is to make money. Some have asked about Megaphoneman. Sadly he was let go too. Was it discriminatory? Let me put it this way, now that he’s gone Corus Entertainment employs no vocal-impaired Megaphonites. The days when a former opera singer who lost his vocal capabilities due to expired cough syrup and subsequently had to speak through a Megaphone was allowed on the Edge are dead. But let us not forget those days and they will live on as the Spirit of Radio.