10 Questions with ... Ted Bird
August 28, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Mainstay on English Montreal morning radio since 1985, primarily in a combined co-host and news/sports role. Started in Charlottetown, P.E.I. in 1978 and also spent five years at CFTR Toronto when it was still a top 40 powerhouse (1980-85).
1. What got you into radio? Why radio?
I used to be able to recite George Carlin's Wonderful WINO radio bits by heart and everyone told me I should be a radio announcer. Being a people pleaser, I took them at their word.
2. You've been on the radio (and TV) in Montreal for a long time now (and in P.E.I. and Toronto before that) -- what's changed the most since you started?
Everything has changed - some for the better, some for the worse. Digital technology and the internet have made it possible to deliver a much more polished and informative product. On the downside, the industry focus on shareholder value versus professional excellence has diluted the quality of the product. Corporate sensibilities have muted the creative buzz and cameraderie that used to exist between all departments in a radio station. In short, it's not as much fun as it used to be - not my job specifically, but the radio milieu in general.
3. You've worked solo and for many years partnered with Terry DiMonte at CHOM, Mix and CJAD, then with the CHOM morning show, and now you're alongside Elliott Price and Shaun Starr -- what is the adjustment like to working with new partners and at different stations? How would you describe the process of feeling your way towards a comfortable fit with your on-air partners?
Mutual respect is paramount. Without it, you can't work through professional or personal differences that inevitably arise, and your ship is sunk. In my experience, it's pretty easy to know within the first 15 minutes of meeting a prospective broadcast partner whether you'll mesh on the air. If your spider senses are tingling, it's a no-go.
4. You've been doing an online hockey show as well as your broadcast duties -- how far along do you think Internet radio is in Canada at the moment? Are we closer to it being a viable business model, or do you perceive it to have a longer way to go?
I'm not a businessman, so it's difficult for me to gauge the monetary aspect. You really have to put a top quality product out there for people to through the steps it takes to get to a website and find what they're looking for, versus pushing the "on" and "preset" buttons on a radio. That said, both mediums (radio and internet) are ever-changing and it's probably only a matter of time before podcasting goes (more) mainstream, although I don't think it will be at the expense of traditional radio.
5. Who are your mentors, influences, and heroes?
Ed Watters gave me my first job at CFCY Charlottetown, Don Wilson (CFCY) showed me how to be a pro, Mark Burns (CKGM-CJFM) encouraged me to be creative, Terry DiMonte (CHOM) taught me a lot by example, and Rob Braide (CHOM/CJFM/CJAD) was a fair boss who was always generous materially and in spirit.
6. What's your process -- how do you prepare for each show? What resources do you use?
I have three young kids, so I don't do a lot of prep at home. I arrive at the station at 4 am for a 6-10 am broadcast, write a daily sports editorial, amass and edit audio from local and network sources and go through the newspapers (French and English) to see what's what.
7. How do you use social media in conjunction with your show, if at all? How do Twitter and Facebook enhance your work, or do they?
I'm a regular on Twitter and Facebook and I use them for personal and professional purposes, which are often one and the same. After 27 years in the market, a lot of listeners/followers have become friends.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Probably that no show I was ever on was better after I left, or so I've been told. And that I've been able to adapt fairly seamlessly to different formats and - more importantly - different morning show partners.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______________.
...a shitload of coffee.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Best advice I've ever received was to be myself on the air, because as I evolve as a person, my show will evolve and I won't have to worry about re-creating myself. The worst advice was to laugh on the air even if I didn't find something funny. Listeners can smell "contrived" a mile away. The speakers don't lie.