CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

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CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby radiofan » Fri Nov 19, 2021 10:40 am

From the RadioWest aircheck archives -

One of the longest running and most popular features on Vancouver's CKNW 980 was The Roving Mic. Monday through Saturday, it hit the air from 8:45 - 9:00 AM. The host for most of the show's life was Bill Hughes who was also the station
Manager from the mid 1950's until the early 1970's. Bill passed away on Monday, November 15th at the age of 96. The featured aircheck is the 15,000th broadcast from June 1994 and it features Bill along with many other long time CKNW employees, several of who were fill in hosts through the years.

Click Here to listen to the 15,000th Roving Mic Show from 1994

Below is a newspaper article from 1994 about Bill and The Roving Mic.
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Re: CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby radiofan » Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:21 am

NW's Roving Mike was a must-listen-to feature with more than 15,000 shows

Image

Bill Fox (left) as ‘Barometer Bill’ with Bill Hughes in 1948
Courtesy Chuck Davis/Top Dog



By Grant Granger - New Westminster News Leader
Published: June 16, 2011 12:00 PM
Updated: June 16, 2011 12:06 PM


For 45 years Bill Hughes did something parents tell their kids not to do. He talked to strangers.

It turns out almost all of them were friendly. Hughes broadcast more than 15,000 Roving Mike shows on CKNW that aired six times a week from 8:45 to 9 a.m. Most frequently he would climb aboard tour buses or those headed out of town and just begin asking questions.

The show was originally started by NW’s first owner, Bill Rea. In 1949, Hughes realized the real money in radio was in sales and not as an announcer so he asked Rea if he could switch. Rea said if Hughes would do Roving Mike he could sell time in the Fraser Valley.

“Little did I know we were transmitting 1,000 watts from Queensborough and we really weren’t being heard in the Fraser Valley. But I went out there and they supported me,” says Hughes.

He did it in many different places, including the bus terminal at the Royal Towers Hotel and ferry terminals.

“It doesn’t work at the airport. They’re in a different mood, they’re tense they’re rushing. But everyone can relate to being on a bus,” says Hughes.

“I was amazed at how oblivious people were to a microphone. They would say things to a microphone that I couldn’t believe.”

At one time, he tried to do it with television but the interviewees froze when the cameras were turned on so the idea was abandoned.

Most of the time the show was a light, breezy way to start people’s day. However, sometimes not everything went smoothly.

One time Hughes talked to a farmer from Saskatchewan. Being the smart aleck that he can be, and since it was harvest time, Hughes asked him, “Shouldn’t you be back home bringing in the sheaves?”

“No, I have 17 kids doing it for me, 14 by my first wife and three by this,” the farmer replied pointing his thumb to the embarrassed woman next to him sinking in her seat.

Hughes then asked him how old he was and the farmer said he was 70.

“So if you’re that old and have 17 kids working on the farm what do you do when you’re at home?”

“Sonny, I just sit around and pull my wire.”

Hughes was mortified. “It killed me.” Of course, back at the station the operator kept the tape and it’s still played at gatherings of NW alumni.

Another time, Hughes got on the bus and asked a passenger, “What’s your name?”

“Bill Hughes,” he replied.

“That’s my name. You’re Bill Hughes, then Bill Hughes where do you live?”

“I live in Vancouver.”

He moved onto the next guy, and surprise, surprise that man says his name is Bill Hughes. Turns out there were three more Bill Hughes aboard. “I was speechless.”

Bill Hughes was their real name, but someone had arranged to get them together to pull a joke on Hughes.

That wasn’t the only time he was a victim of a Roving Mike prank. One Saturday morning, Hughes was teeing it up at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam and noticed NW talk show host Jack Webster on the balcony with someone, but didn’t think much of it. Two days later he got on a bus and began interviewing a woman with a thick Russian accent who said her name was Svetlana.

She says to Hughes, “What are you doing after the show?” He replies, “I have to go back to the work. What do you do for a living?”

And she’s says, “I’m a prostitute.”

“That’s when the light went on and I recognized her,” says a sheepish Hughes. “Webster had arranged the whole thing. I was really had.”

ggranger@newwestnewsleader.com

http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vanc ... 15894.html

Click Here to listen to the 15,000th Roving Mic Show from 1994
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Re: CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby radiofan » Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:23 am

The CKNW story: From cowboy station to top dog

Image

Bill Hughes, former program director with CKNW radio, with the original ‘roving’ microphone he used to interview bus passengers disembarking at the Royal Towers Hotel, which used to also serve as a Greyhound terminal. The mic was presented to him in honour of his 15,000th broadcast.
MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

By Grant Granger - New Westminster News Leader
Published: June 16, 2011 12:00 PM
Updated: June 16, 2011 4:51 PM

Typhoon Freda tore up the west coast of North America in October 1962 leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. It was a natural disaster that was a blessing for New Westminster’s radio station, CKNW.

Although it had been broadcasting from two locations on Columbia Street for 18 years, it was not the top station in the market. Freda changed that.

Her huge winds knocked every radio station north of California off the air as she headed up the coast. Except for NW. Just a few weeks before, the station had bought a power unit from the air force that allowed its transmitter to keep on beaming its signal.

“Our radio station became the No. 1 station for emergencies and it never looked back,” says Bill Hughes, who was born and raised in New Westminster and was the station’s general manager and president.

New West resident and former NW newscaster John Ashbridge was working in Victoria at the time.

“As I listened, stations progressively were kicked off the air as it moved up the coast, but CKNW kept broadcasting,” recalls Ashbridge. “It’s been proven time after time that when a station is put out of operation during an emergency the public rarely goes back to the one they listened to before.”

First with the news

CKNW started as a little cowboy station on the second floor of the Windsor Hotel in New West on Aug. 15, 1944. Under the leadership of owner Bill Rea, though, it became the powerhouse of the Lower Mainland airwaves hitting opposing stations like a typhoon with innovation after innovation.

It was the first in the area to air hourly newscasts, and then eventually every half hour.

“In those days the CBC and lots of other outlets had about five newscasts a day. NW really pioneered the emphasis on hourly news,” says Hughes, whose first job at the station was in the newsroom starting in 1946. “Things were happening almost hourly in the world. The thirst for news was really paramount.”

In 1947, NW became the first to broadcast 24 hours a day. That decision wasn’t long in the making.

“Everybody thought we must have discussed that move for weeks, but it took about a minute to decide it after we found dynamite under our tower in Queensborough,” says Hughes, who received an honorary fellowship from Douglas College earlier this month.

To ensure the transmitter’s safety, Rea assigned a disc jockey to broadcast all night from the transmitter site. “Everything was really decided on the moment whereas everyone else contemplated for a long time,” says Hughes. “NW made a lot of mistakes, but it moved and made things happen. We also had great people.”

During that time, NW was housed in the Swanrite Building, which stood where the Columbia Street SkyTrain station is now. It burned down in 1954, but it was rebuilt and NW stayed there until it moved to a former Safeway store building at McBride Boulevard and Eighth Avenue in 1969.

First in the ratings

It was a heady era for CKNW and New Westminster. The station developed personalities, and stole the occasional one or two from other stations. Bob Hutton ruled the morning drive airwaves in Greater Vancouver from 1955 to 1973. He was a tough act to follow, but Brian (Frosty) Forst continued to dominate the ratings right up until he retired in 2005.

Other disc jockey personalities included Norm Grohmann, Rick Honey, Wayne Cox and Jack Cullen, whose Owl Prowl every evening dominated the ratings. Cullen had remarkable connections in the entertainment world and remarkable collections of albums and old-time radio shows.

“These people were top performers. Legends in their own time,” says Ashbridge.

The station’s evolution moved more and more to talk, but not away from personality. Jack Webster, followed by the likes of Gary Bannerman, Rafe Mair and Art Finley, elevated Vancouver talk radio to levels it had never reached before, or since.

The sports department was full of hiss and vinegar, too. For decades sports director Al Davidson alienated every team in town, but everyone tuned in to what he had to say. “Al was larger than life,” says Ashbridge.

Once the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL, NW chased its radio rights and brought over Jim Robson to do the play-by-play before eventually giving way to Jim Hughson and John Shorthouse. The station even bought the team and Hughes was its president for a while. New Westminster native Jim Cox, who worked his whole career at NW, did the B.C. Lions play-by-play.

Right place, time

The station’s backbone, though, was the newsroom headed up by Warren Barker. With him at the helm, CKNW became far and away the top dog—as CKNW billed itself—not only in the ratings but in the news game. No one came close to touching the resourcefulness of the likes of George Garrett, John McKitrick, Maury Hesketh, Carl Waiz, Jack Kyle and Ashbridge, to name just a handful.

“You were working with the best and learning from the best. Warren led by example. He was the hardest worker there. He wouldn’t ask someone to do something he wouldn’t do, and he wouldn’t ask them to do some of the things he was willing to do,” says Ashbridge, who started at NW in 1965. “He was certainly a great influence and inspiration.”

After 50 years in the business, Hughes retired his microphone in 1994. Not bad for a guy whose dream when he started was to be a booth announcer.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was in the right place at the right time,” says Hughes. “We’re really living in a different age. Newspapers have gone through a real bloodletting, radio and TV, too. The Internet has changed everything.”

Ashbridge is retired from NW but hasn’t put away the microphone. His mellifluous tones can still be heard announcing goals and more at Canucks games and he also does Crimestoppers public service spots.

“I look back at it and I don’t make comparisons. I was there in the good times. In fact I’m proud to say I had a hand in the good times.”

ggranger@newwestnewsleader.com

http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vanc ... 17614.html
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Re: CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby talker2002@gmail.com » Sat Nov 20, 2021 11:09 am

It should be noted that the earlier statement, " His mellifluous tones can still be heard announcing goals and more at Canucks games and he also does Crimestoppers public service spots," is erroneous. Mr. Ashbridge stopped doing those jobs several years ago.
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Re: CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby radiofan » Sat Nov 20, 2021 11:46 am

talker2002@gmail.com wrote:It should be noted that the earlier statement, " His mellifluous tones can still be heard announcing goals and more at Canucks games and he also does Crimestoppers public service spots," is erroneous. Mr. Ashbridge stopped doing those jobs several years ago.


Note: The two newspaper stories are from 2011, not today.
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Re: CKNW Vancouver - Bill Hughes Roving Mic #15,000 - 1994

Postby talker2002@gmail.com » Sun Nov 21, 2021 5:41 pm

Radiofan,

Please note the article I referenced is dated Sat. Nov. 20, 2021, 11:46 a.m. Not the newspaper stories.
Have a good week.
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