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Tom Rivers
Tom Rivers, who died Friday (11-19-04) of cancer, was a true Top 40 icon. He spent four decades in Top 40 radio, with stops at KFRC San Francisco, WIBG Philadelphia, CKLW Windsor, CFTR Toronto and several other top stations. But he is perhaps best remembered for his many years at CHUM Toronto, where he came and went several times between 1970 and 2004. Catch a net full of Tom's airchecks at the Rock Radio Scrapbook.

Toronto Star
Rivers loved rocking the boat
Former CHUM deejay used to rule the AM dial in Toronto Last of the rebels drove his listeners wild and his bosses up the wall

By Peter Goddard

Everything about Tom Rivers was big: His size (6-foot-8 "in round figures," as he'd say), his genuine talent for mayhem and his impact on Toronto.

His death yesterday, aged 57, after a battle against cancer, comes with a big reminder attached. The biker-like deejay was also one of the last great AM radio rock jocks here or in any rock 'n' roll town.

His greatest blast of publicity came in true rebel Rivers fashion in 1984 when the Canadian Labour Board ruled that CHUM unjustly fired him from his $65,000-a-year job in September 1982.

He wasn't entirely exonerated, though.

In her decision, adjudicator Jane Devlin took note of the rock deejay's unruly behaviour and apparent wilful inability to follow rules that led to his highly publicized dismissal - on his 35th birthday, yet - from the local Top 40 station.

So what if Rivers thought rock and unruliness went together like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards? He'd been warned.

Unruly behaviour such as eating food on air was simply too much. At least that was the warning from CHUM general manager J. Robert Wood.

In response, Rivers did what any self-respecting rock jock would do under the circumstances. Ordering the biggest, multi-course meal from the nearest restaurant, he proceeded to chow down live on air with gusto.

If Rivers had a goal in life, besides playing music he loved, it was getting under management's skin. In fact, he did it with such flair that even Wood was left breathless in admiration for Rivers and "his great talent."

Indeed, Rivers and Wood had a legendary love-hate relationship. Rivers loved doing all the goofy stuff that made it on air. Wood, a straitlaced but very savvy rock programmer, wanted the goofiness confined to the music, with only a minimum slopping over the edge into live broadcast.

Rivers couldn't take it. Increasingly, there were too many rules and too little craziness. Even before he was turfed out, he confided he himself wouldn't want to listen to his own show.

Rivers' revenge was sweet and fast, after joining CHUM-AM rival CFTR in January 1983. He soon boosted CFTR's morning show ratings ahead of CHUM's. He underplayed his achievement although he ruled rock radio through the early '80s. Maybe he knew the days of music on non-stereo AM radio were at an end. Maybe he knew that he was the last of a vanishing breed.

Rivers' first stint at CHUM in the early '70s came after years making the rounds in places such as Anchorage, Denver and Windsor. Long before that though, the Toronto market had already had its share of great, inventive deejay crazies such as Al Boliska at CHUM in the '50s and Dave "Mickie"
Marsden in the early '60s. They battled management, too. But Rivers made it an art form.

Management-baiting led him to take on the dubious task of acting as a listener's alternative on Talk 640 radio in the late '90s to Howard Stern's big bad shtick on sister station Q-107.

"Jeez," he said at the time. "I've been able to talk for three minutes and not have a program director on the phone, yelling, `Shut, up.'"

In truth, he was a sweet-natured guy, with less malice in his makeup than any family's pet golden retriever. In fact, he worried about what the public thought of him. He just wanted to perform.

"You never knew what was going to happen with him," says veteran broadcaster Russ Holden, who knew Rivers from CFTR.

And that was the point - at least once upon a time - of rock radio, rock music and rock jocks like Tom Rivers.

He made you expect the unexpected. He made you want it.


 Toronto Star Feb. 6,2005
'Mac' led heady days at CHUM
DJ Bob McAdorey as popular as music
`Bon vivant' later a Global TV fixture
By Jim Bawden
Bob McAdorey helped usher in radio's rock `n' roll era and set the musical agenda for a generation of Toronto teens.

Few today realize the power that DJs like McAdorey exerted over Toronto popular culture 40 years ago, when radio ruled. It was a cozy time for music
- and then CHUM entered the fray, blew the cobwebs away and ushered in the crazy days of rock broadcasting.

McAdorey, 69, died Saturday at St. Catharines' Hotel Dieu hospital after a long illness.

McAdorey grew up in Niagara Falls and attended Stamford Collegiate, also the alma mater of Titanic director James Cameron. He was in the same graduating class as Barbara Frum, the legendary CBC-TV interviewer.

As a teen, McAdorey won a province-wide public speaking contest and was the popular president of his high school fraternity.

He also played ragtime piano.

"Crowds would go around him," said his older brother, Terry McAdorey.

McAdorey's radio career started in 1953 when the Niagara Falls native first signed on with CHVC near the Falls, introducing listeners to his unique style of easy-going patter.

"I looked like Buddy Holly back then," McAdorey told the Toronto Star in a
1981 interview. "I weighed about 95 pounds and we played songs like `Que Sera Sera.' Everything was a lot softer, smoother then."

After additional stops in London, Guelph, Hamilton and Dawson Creek, McAdorey wound up at Toronto's CHUM, coaxed to climb aboard by resident star DJ Al Boliska.

"I'd lived with Al above a variety store in London and he kept telling me to come to CHUM. I asked for $600 a month, after all Gordie Tapp was making $100 a week, and to my surprise I got the job."

Starting in 1960, McAdorey began a stint that many people consider rock programming at its finest: brash, spontaneous and pretty wild. And the DJs were the stars.

CHUM became the rock station to listen to and McAdorey was the man who told you if a song was going places. The guy who hung out with The Beatles and The Stones when they were in town (and introduced them from the stage) was known simply as ``Mac.''

For years, he hosted the all-important 4 to 7 p.m. slot. CHUM's chart of the week's top records was posted everywhere: in record stores and high school lockers. Eaton's and Simpson's would only stock those 45s that were on the CHUM list. When a new record called "The Unicorn" came in, McAdorey liked it so much he immediately put it on the air and it sold 140,000 copies in Canada in two weeks and made The Irish Rovers.

Thinking back on those heady days, McAdorey said, "We kept it all clean up here. There was no payola as in the U.S. and we deliberately helped a lot of Canadians. It was personality radio. We were promoted like crazy back then.
And the pressures were unbelievable. We dictated what records were going to go. And what kids would eat, drink.

"I could have written five books about what happened at CHUM. There'd be one book if I saved my memos. The most frightening thing was the British invasion. There weren't enough cops to handle the crowds - it was out of control."

Off the air, he was a bon vivant, said 72-year-old Terry McAdorey.

"We did a lot of drinking. He was a good friend of Ronnie Hawkins."

In 1968, the CHUM deal fizzled. When owner Al Waters brought in American consultants, McAdorey felt the business was becoming too heavily formatted and left.

McAdorey headed to CFGM in Richmond Hill, which was trying to invade Toronto with a country music format. As morning man, he energized the station. He moved to CFTR in 1970 and after a few years returned to CFGM.

A constant listener was Bill Cunningham, head of Global TV news, and he asked McAdorey to contribute satirical bits, which eventually became a full-time job.

Sample segment: during an airline strike McAdorey headed out to Terminal 2 with bowling equipment and pins to demonstrate the building was only of use as a bowling alley. RCMP officers saw nothing funny in this and whisked him out as the piece was being filmed.

Another time during a city campaign to get dog owners to scoop up deposits, McAdorey and a cameraman went out to do field tests, which consisted of chasing terrified dogs whose owners had failed the test.

By 1980, he was entertainment editor. In 1983, Global tried to fire him when he disagreed over assignments. Global's Three Guys at noon telecast was a big hit (the others: Mike Anscombe and John Dawe) and hundreds of daily phone calls forced management to reconsider. For a time, Global even outperformed CBC's Midday.

McAdorey later got his own afternoon entertainment show where he'd report from movie junkets and comment on the entertainment scene.

I last chatted with him in 2000 when he was railing against Global's
retirement-at-65 rule. But he looked frail and had been off for months after a fainting attack.

McAdorey had a farm at Gormley and a place in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Despite his TV success he still yearned for the golden days of radio: "I'd walk into the booth in pyjama tops and jeans and talk one-on-one to people. At least that's the way I always imagined it."

McAdorey leaves daughter Colleen, her husband Jim Tatti, a Global sports broadcaster, and four grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife Willa, daughter Robin and son Terry.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Patrick's Church in Niagara Falls.

 

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