Gerry Davies

Stories and info about those no longer involved in the industry

Gerry Davies

Postby cart_machine » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:45 am

“Gerry Davies, 17, Wins City Sinatra Contest” read the headline in the Vancouver Sun on January 27, 1944. After a two-week competition on the Orpheum stage, Gerry won $50 after girls shrieked over his rendition of “Night and Day.” He wasn’t in Sinatra’s salary bracket yet.

And he never got there. Gerry gave up a career in commercial art—and singing, for that matter—to go into radio. By 1952, he was a transmitter operator at CKNW and when the all-night show opened up, Gerry took over the mike. Lew Fox, Wilf Ray and Johnny Johnson had hosted the overnight record show on ‘NW but Davies ended up doing it the longest.

Jack Wasserman devoted his Sun column of March 9, 1973 to Gerry’s departure. In it, he mentions Jack Kyle would be taking over. Jack had the smoothest, most relaxed voice of anyone on the air. Unfortunately changing shifts wasn’t Kyle’s idea. Wasserman revealed in his January 30th column that Kyle’s mid-afternoon show was getting kicked by talk shows elsewhere and it was going to be replaced with Wayne Cox and Friends. Jack wasn’t going to be one of the friends.

Kyle’s Night Flight lasted until August 1987 when he was replaced, while on holidays.

The photo below is Gerry (left) and Jack with a listener from 1957.

Gerry Davies died in Richmond in 1998.

cArtie.

LONG AFTER DARK
My time of day is the dark time.
A couple of deals before dawn,
When the street belongs to the cop,
And the janitor with a mop,
And the grocery clerks are all gone.

Those words are the lyrics of a strangely-metred tune from the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls and I borrowed them once before when this column first started as a once-a-week saloon piece called After Dark, heaven help us all, more than 21 years ago. Just about the same time a skinny guy named Gerry Davies, who once won an Ivan Ackery contest to find "Vancouver's Frank Sinatra," took over the midnight to 6 a.m. shift on CKNW. Until he signed off for the last time this morning, it was his time of day, too.
For two decades in this town his friendly, un-hip voice has been the one link with normalcy for those of us who, by reason of oddball jobs or just plain insomnia, couldn't sleep at nights. Gerry was never a big whiz in the ratings. Actually they never took any ratings after 11 p.m. because the whee! small hours weren't considered to have any commercial value. In the eyes of the straight community anybody who was up at that hour of the night was either drunk, crazy or a ne'er-do-well.
That "straight" opinion was once confirmed by an allegedly-learned Supreme Court judge who upheld the demotion of a city police inspector on the grounds that any man who was out on the town at 3 a.m. was up to no good.
That ridiculous judgment completely overlooked the strange fact of life that it's just as tough to go home and straight to bed when you finish work at midnight or one in the morning as it is when one finishes the job at 5 p.m. There has to be an unwinding time.
There are a few all night restaurants and an occasional blind pig — no, sonny, that's not a drunk cop. That's what they used to call the booze cans presided over by sly grog merchants who had tailed to get a city licence to carry on their business.
But mostly the night people are stuck with the morning paper and the radio, praying softly in the kitchen so as not to wake up the sleeping household that lives on straight hours.
For many of the early years Gerry was the only game in town. Most stations shut down at 1 a.m. When all night record shows and music hall dawn shows became a fixture on other stations they were handled by juniors who were going nowhere, or bright young guys who'd have worked midnights in the Pouce Coupe station to get a chance to be on the air. It was a stepping stone for the likes of Brian Forst. Only Jerry Landa on CJOR is a night-oriented nut who works the hours because he likes them.
But it was Davies who was the dean of the all-night men and he was a throwback to the "good old days" of radio when the record spinners were exploited to a fair thee well. For many years he was on air six hours a night and seven days a week. Through a combination of management compassion on modern electronic wizardry he was permitted to pre-record one show a week so that he had a night off. That was achieved by allowing Davies to pre-record an hour's worth of broadcast each night of the six he worked. It was usually done between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m. while playing a Broadway album that didn't require any chatter between the tunes.
His departure from broadcasting comes about through a combination of factors, not the least of which is Gerry's realization that he doesn't really wish to spend the next 20 years on an upside down schedule. At the same time the management awoke to the commercial possibilities of all that unsold time during the whee! hours. General manager Mel Cooper told me a few weeks ago that he suspects that there are now vast numbers of people abroad in the night in the Big City and the time period is commercially viable.
So my old friend Jack Kyle will be given the opportunity to jazz it up. But it won't be quite the same as the nights gone by in the ratty old studio when the mouse ran up Gerry Davies' leg while he was doing a weather report, abruptly ending a newscast. Or the early morning when his was the only voice around for a lot of people who would have been very lonely otherwise.


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