Monday 30 December 2013

A well deserved honour: Dick Irvin now a Member of the Order of Canada

I was absolutely delighted to learn that legendary broadcaster Dick Irvin has been named a Member of the Order of Canada.

More than a year ago I got a call from Don McGowan, for years the ever so entertaining weather forecaster on the old Pulse News and the host of a variety of local TV shows. Don asked if I would contribute a letter as part of his push to have Dick named to the Order. I happily complied, indicating to Don (now a resident of Brockville, Ontario) that there could not be a better choice.
Dick Irvin

Dick, now 81, remains a resident of West Island Pointe Claire. He can still be seen at many community events, often sharing his golden voice and encyclopedic knowledge of professional sports with adoring audiences. For decades Dick was the sports director for CFCF Radio and TV. He handled play-by-play duties for Canadiens hockey games on radio and worked as well on Hockey Night in Canada. In 1988 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His late father, Dick Irvin Sr., was a legendary coach for the Canadiens.

I will forever be appreciative of Dick for how he treated me as a young teenager in the very intimidating Canadiens press box. I started off there working for the old Sunday Express and not all of the veteran media there welcomed me warmly. But not Dick. He would take a seat with me in the press room, treating me like one of the boys and always had time to share his thoughts.

Dick was also the author of several books and for many years managed the very successful Sports Celebrity Dinner, benefitting the two local children's hospitals.

Way to go Dick!

Monday 23 December 2013

Next Call with Sol: Boxenbaum rocks his way back to the airways via online station

The new look Boxenbaum
Former CJAD talk show host Sol Boxenbaum will make a return to  radio  via internet station He starts on January 6, 2014   Monday through Fridays from midnight to 2 a.m.
“I will be playing music from the 1960s, give or take, plus lots of Quebec artists both on CD and in studio,” he says, noting that he still hopes to catch on with AM600 when it goes on the air next fall.    
For a number of years Sol developed a cult following overnight on CJAD. For the insomniacs, he was a constant companion. As a professional dealing with  gambling addiction, Last Call with Sol became a place to call for people in trouble. On air they received free counselling. But the show turned out to be just about anything people had on their minds. The lines were constantly ablaze. While the program has been off the air since 2010, Sol had one brief foray on an internet radio station. Now he will do so again.
For anyone with internet access, this is no different than listening to the radio. Just log on to the website and listen. It should be fun if you are up at that time.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Herzliah and UTT students experience memorable presentation

Although I was not able to make it personally, I am hearing very good  things about a program last week which involved  Herzliah High School Secondary I and Talmud Torah Grade 5 and 6 students. They  were treated to what is being described as "an extraordinary and most memorable presentation" from 10-year old author Tommy Glatzmayer. He is working at raising awareness for a very rare medical syndrome called Cornelia de Lange. 

Tommy’s sister, Melanie, was born with this syndrome, but the family went through a very painful journey before anyone was able to give them an actual diagnosis.  During this entire half hour of listening to Tommy, the students were absolutely captivated by this family’s story of love, courage and strength.

The auditorium was filled with laughter as the students interacted with Tommy and Melanie and their two pet rats.  The students had an opportunity to view an interesting video about rats and then had a delightful time watching an actual rat race. “This program was really inspiring and touching”, states Secondary I student Hannah Kalin,. “Everyone in our audience was fascinated by this story and by their pet rats.  I think Tommy and Melanie’s positive attitude profoundly touched my classmates. They will be talking about this event for a long time.”

Seen here (left to right) in the back row: Secondary I student Matthew Mann, Meran Asefa, English Teacher and Student Advisor, Melissa Sculnick and Hannah Kain.  Front row, Melanie and Tommy Glatzmeyer, holding their two pet rats with student Ethan Kovac.

 The Glatzmayer family was invited to share their story with Herzliah students through our unique Secondary I Student Advisor program.  This program, overseen by Assistant Principal Shelley Mann, is designed to facilitate the transition from elementary school to high school and to give the students an opportunity to learn new and important skills and values.  Ms. Mann elaborates on this support program, “Our students meet regularly in small groups with their teacher as a facilitator to learn about important study and organizational skills. Much time is spent on the importance of getting along with peers and the unacceptable behaviour associated with bullying. This program reinforces these important values that we teach every day”.

When Tommy was six years old, he came home crying because his sister was being teased.  He decided he wanted to write a book.  Since June 2010, 7, 000 copies of this book have been sold and in 2013 a second book, under the same title,  Melanie and Tommy have two pet rats and one Syndrome,   was released.  Tommy was also honored with the 2012 the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award for his important role in creating awareness for this very rare congenital disease.

Tommy’s explains that his sister is a wonderful person and lots of fun.  He wants people to know that people with differences should not be bullied.  Tommy's message to the students was simple yet powerful: "If you see someone different smile and say hi." 

More About Cornelia de Lange Syndrome

Cornelia de Lange Syndrome is diagnosed by clinical features. Children with this Syndrome often have long eyelashes, bushy eyebrows and synophrys (joined eyebrows). Their hairline may be lower than other family members, and they may have more body hair. These  features are often less obvious in males after puberty. Children are often shorter than others in the family. None of these features may cause a problem for the person concerned; they are just clues for a diagnosis.

Children with CdLs may have gastrointestinal tract difficulties. Most  will have learning problems, although there have been children with CdLs reported with normal or only slightly below normal intelligence. Language delay is a frequent finding. Speech can be very minimal, or even absent. Hearing loss is also associated with CdLs, varying from mild to severe. Eye problems may also be present.The jaw may be small and cleft palate is common.There can also  be problems with the upper limbs. 

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Habs need an enforcer if George Parros cannot return: I have the answer

Will George Parros ever return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup? The highly educated tough guy suffered his second concussion of the 2013-2014 season in a fight last week against Eric Boulton of the New York Islanders.
Parros has only been used sparingly by head coach Michel Therrien, but having a player with his pugilistic talents in the lineup against the rough and rugged teams like Boston and Philadelphia represents a major plus.
Will Parros be back? I am sure he does not want to end his career on this note. Then again, he has a degree from Princeton and can probably go on to enjoy a very successful post-hockey career before his brain turns to mush.
What should Habs GM Marc Bergevin do? There do not appear to be any enforcers down in Hamilton, where the team's minor league affiliate plays. My suggestion is to go out and get a tough guy now and place him on the Hamilton roster. If Parros calls it quits, bring him up immediately.

So who should that player be?  My vote goes to Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond,a six-foot-two, 210 pound forward from Levis, Quebec who played for the New Jersey Devils and the Calgary Flames.  He is now with the Pittsburgh Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Check out these career stats.   What could be better than a French Canadian enforcer on the Habs?

Let's go out and get Pierre Luc.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Will Impact and Alouettes broadcasts move to TSN 690? This and more from Chris Bury

I had a chance to sit down this week with Chris Bury, the boy wonder news and program director at CJAD and TSN 690. Only 36 years of age, he got his start in the business back in 1998 as a producer for the show anchored by the late Mark Rennie. He continued to work full-time while studying for his Journalism Degree at Concordia. “It took six years, but I got my diploma,” he says. 

Bury made a smart career move, accepting an offer to join the now defunct 940 News. Eventually all-news switched to news talk and Bury was gaining invaluable experience as a then very young program director. He’d move on to Q92 (now TheBeat ) and CBC before coming back to CJAD three years ago. “It was quite surreal to be given this job and the very office that was used by the late and legendary Gord Sinclair,” he said.
Bury (second to the right) with McKenna, Price and Starr.

While the father of three’s CJAD duties were time consuming enough, last summer Bury was handed the TSN 690 portfolio. He had to make some difficult decisions, letting go the likes of Ted Bird, Ric Peterson, Chantal Desjardins, Sharman Yarnell and reducing Suzanne Desautels’ footprint at CJAD.  Sportscasters Rick Moffat and Abe Hefter were morphed into the newly dubbed TSN Sports Centre. Moffat still does weekday sports, spelled by his new permanent backup Conor McKenna, but has become a regular part of the Elliott Price-Shaun Starr morning show. Mitch Gallo does sports updates for  both stations. Gallo, like so many others trained by Mitch Melnick, has become a very entertaining person to listen to.

 For the near future, Bury says he does not have any drastic changes planned for Montreal’s all-sports radio station.

Will the Montreal Impact and Montreal Alouettes broadcasts move from CJAD to TSN 690? “We are talking to both teams about that right now,” he says. “It is clear that TSN 690 is all sports and CJAD’s primary business is news and information.”

Bury is pleased with the crossover arrangements he has made with CTV Montreal: Lori Graham and Christine Long contributing to the Aaron Rand Show on CJAD and Brian Wilde, Randy Tieman and  André Corbeil becoming part of the Canadiens broadcasts.

"I am happy with TSN 690," he said. "This is a station I always listened to, starting when it was THE TEAM 990. I listened to Mitch Melnick for many years." 

This was my first chance visiting the Bell  Media studios, which became home to CJAD, CHOM and Virgin Radio well more than a year ago and then TSN 690. It is home to the Bell Media French sister stations as well. The TSN 690 and CJAD crews are right next to each other.

Bury also shared with me the fact that longtime promotions guru Matthew Wood has become his assistant program director. 

In my case, I have had the privilege of watching Bury grow in the business. Wearing my other hat as a communications expert for first the Canadian Jewish Congress and then (and now) the English Montreal School Board, Chris and I have spoken regularly during his various incarnations. He has done every task handed to him very well, always rising to the occasion.

Sunday 8 December 2013

A classy event by a classy guy: Bews is in the news at CTV

Wayne Bews has only been the retail sales manager at CTV Montreal for three months, yet the former TSN 690 boss is already impressing everyone around him. 
The ageless Mutsumi Takahashi and Wayne Bews.
I enjoyed an extraordinary relationship with Wayne during his TSN 690 tenure. He was the sales manager at the old CKGM when they made the switch to all-sports radio and became THE TEAM 990. When his mentor, original program director and station manager Lee Hambleton passed away, Wayne stepped into his role while retaining his regular duties. It is very clear that had it not been for Wayne's leadership, THE TEAM 990 would not have survived long enough to win the rights to broadcast Montreal Canadiens games and stay alive after owners Bell Media announced their intenyt to close the operation down and replace the rechristened TSN 690 into RDS French-language radio.

The all-sports format has been a dream come true for arm-chair jocks such as I. Now that TSN 690 is secure and partnered with former Astral stations CJAD, Virgin Radio and CHOM, the future looks very bright. Bews was rewarded for his good work with the CTV Montreal appointment. Last week he showed what a classy and creative guy he is by organizing an unprecedented afternoon cocktail for the station’s main advertisers.  Not only were there drinks and hors d’oeuvres, but the event took place in the actual CTV Montreal studio.
Bews and Randy Tieman.
I thank Wayne for the invitation, wearing my Suburban Newspaper hat and my other one from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB). At the EMSB, we have enjoyed a solid partnership with CTV for years via joint promotions and advertisements.

Wayne has clearly earned the respect of his new bosses, for advertisers were ever so delighted to get a chance to mingle with senior CTV executives and a number of on air personalities. There was an endless lineup at the anchor desk to get a photo taken with Paul Karwatsky and Mutsumi Takahashi, two of the nicest people you'd want to meet.  Next was a trip to the makeup room in order to record your very own holiday greeting. I was enjoying the banter too much with individuals whom I normally do not get a chance to spend such extended time with.

News Director Jed Kahane,  Executive Producer  Barry Wilson,  Manager of  Creative Services/Marketing/Community Relations and Com Gerry Dixon and Promotions Boss Jason Devine were joined by Rob Lurie, Cindy Sherwin, Caroline van Vlaardingen, Randy Tieman, André Corbeil, Christine Long and Maya Johnson.
I get my chance at the anchor desk.

I was happy to meet Spiro Krallis, the founder, owner and  president of sandwich chain Dagwoods. What a business he has built! Julien Hecht, the former GM of The Suburban and the voice of countless radio commercials, was doing the rounds. I recommended to Spiro that he consider a new round of advertisements with Julien raving about their special hot sauce. I also had compliments for Scott Reid, the marketing director for Scores Restaurants - another one of my favorites.

Bravo to Bews!

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Another successful Viennese Ball of Montreal is in the books

For over 50 years, every November, the Austrian Society of Montreal holds its signature event, the Viennese Ball of Montreal, celebrating the splendor of the Viennese ball tradition during a glorious evening of lively music and dance, elegant atmosphere and a magical debutante performance. A night full of excitement, including dancing till dawn, good food and champagne, prizes to be won, great entertainment, and of course, all for great causes!  Over the years, the Ball has brought together people of many different nationalities and cultures with one common desire: to keep the Viennese Ball tradition alive.
Opening waltz on the dance floor after the call for "Alles Walzer" 
Austria’s rich and varied cultural history plays a central role in determining a theme for every Ball. This year’s theme is the wonderful, multi-faceted City of Vienna. Trendy clubs, ‘young’ galleries, modern architecture and stylish shops are as much Vienna as the State Opera, the concert halls, the large museums, the splendid buildings and the nostalgic souvenir shops. From classical music to compositions of the 20th century, from traditional Viennese tunes in wine taverns to electronic and hip hop, and with street parties until dawn, Vienna’s image truly reflects “from classic to cool”.
 The Ball took place on November 16, 2013 at the Hotel Marriott Château Champlain   under the patronage, and in the presence of the guest of honour, Austrian Ambassador to Canada Arno Riedel, as well as the Austrian Consul General in Montreal Ulrike Billard. Member of the Vienna Provincial Legislature and Vienna Municipal Counsellor Elisabeth Vitouch, as well as Manuela Figar from Vienna’s Press Service which supports Viennese balls worldwide, flew over from Vienna to attend.
The Ball opened with an Austrian Champagne (“Sekt”) reception and a wine tasting event sponsored by the Austrian Trade Commission. Head Table guests entered the Ballroom to the tune of Austrian composer Michael Zehrer’s Faecher Polonaise.
Debutantes and escorts.
Opera McGill singers Chelsea Mahan soprano, and Dimitri Katotakis baritone, sang the national anthems and performed a coquettish scene from Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow accompanied by McGill’s Rich Coburn. 17 debutantes in identical white gowns and glittering Swarovski coronets, accompanied by their white tied dancing partners , were officially presented to visiting dignitaries before performing their opening waltz to the tune of Johann Strauss Jr.’s  The Emperor’s Waltz (Kaiserwalzer) played by the new Pronto-Musica orchestra directed by Austrian Maestro Alexis Hauser, also Artistic Director of the McGill Symphony Orchestra. The group also performed Kreisler’s “Liebesleid und Liebesfreude”, and after the official call of “Alles Walzer”, had everyone twirling to Strauss’ traditional “Blue Danube” waltz. Harold Birkens' Orchestra, alternating with the Peter Freeman Band, provided music for traditional and modern ballroom dancing until 2.30 a.m.
Music by strolling musicians added a special touch to the 5-course gourmet dinner, based on Viennese classics and contemporary fusion cuisine. The Grand door Prize - two plane tickets to Vienna’s neighboring city: Prague, courtesy of Air Transat was won by first-time guest Jean Pierre Bourdeau. Bidding was active at the silent auction, open throughout the evening and the Casino was jumping all night with super prizes being drawn every few minutes. After its successful premiere last year, many dancers took part in the “Midnight Quadrille” to the music of Johann Strauss Jr.'s “Annen-Polka” under the guidance of dance instructor Carole Brown from Arthur Murray. The evening continued at the rustic Heuriger wine tavern from midnight to a record 4.30 a.m. serving Austrian Goulash soup, sausages, beer and wine and featuring lively Viennese music and songs with guests performing.

West Island gang from left to right: Michael Habrich, Zachary Marquis, Niklas Lorenz, Daphne Kullmann, Jennifer Hillebrand, Zachary Battah, Nicolas Barkun, Stefan Nettel, Jean Chammas,  with Ball Committee member Birgit Klema  Erdan (whose daughter Leyla Erdan was an usher at the Ball)
As in previous years, all proceeds from the Ball go to deserving causes related to youth initiatives. The primary beneficiary is SOS Children’s Villages, the largest orphan-focused charity in the world, founded in 1949 by an Austrian doctor to help children who lost family and home in the war. The Schulich School of Music of McGill University is also an important recipient in the form of bursaries for the study of music in Austria. The Ball also supports General Romeo Dallaire’s Child Soldier Initiative, Leave out Violence - L.O.V.E. - the leading youth violence prevention organization in Canada, and DSQ (German Language Schools of Quebec) which offer German courses for all ages. 

Ball President Harold Scheer,   President and Chief Investment Officer of Baker Gilmore & Associates Inc from NDG and Master of Ceremonies Gunter Voss from Kirkland.