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Welcome to my radio journal. Memories are sometimes fuzzy but the photos help us remember the people and the events.

Many, many people have worked or volunteered at LIFE 100.3 over the years. As with any business, our volunteers and staff come and go, moving on to bigger and better things, while others, unfortunately, were asked to leave for various reasons. Everything you read in this journal captures those magical, fun moments of LIFE. So, if you were part of these good old days, or were our friend on the other side of the radio, enjoy the stories, as I flashback through my photo album of LIFE 100.3.


Monday, August 16 - 1999 - Our first official day on the air. Ah, I remember it well! Ben and Susan were as ready as they could be, but to be sure, I was in the studio that morning. Ben was the guy who "produced the show", starting and stopping the computer, keeping his eye on the clock, sliding in traffic reports when needed.

On the first morning, I was quite literally, standing behind Ben, ready to push a button or delete a file that, through nervousness, Ben may have missed. And that's what happened, as I leaned over his shoulder and reached around his waist, triggering commercials that weren't happening as they should be.

The mixing console was the same one I used in North Bay. It was the donated board from CHUR, so I was very familiar with it. Little did I know in 1993 that I would be using the same board, at a Christian station in Barrie!

After the first show, I asked Ben, "Ok, do you want to do it yourself tomorrow?" Ben asked me to assit the second day too, but in no time, Ben became a pro on the board, running a seamless show, just as he does today.

Brian Leslie was attending Bethel Community Church in Barrie when we met and he was hired as a volunteer to read morning news. I believe he told me he had some news or journalism skills, although to be honest, I really don't remember. The week before the launch Bryan was absent and another new friend, Paul Anthony filled in. Paul was spectacular. Very pro. Paul volunteered, briefly and later left for a retail job in Sudbury. We lost touch. No photos and no audio to remember him by, but I do remember he sounded like a million bucks! After Paul, Brian returned, briefly and was replaced with news provided by The New VR.

Little Dave Watson was our first Music Director - the guy responsible for picking the music, scheduling it and recording it. He was by my side for an entire year, seldom sleeping, always working to make LIFE the best he could make it. A little guy with endless energy.

He was there in June when we painted the studios and offices. He was there by my side for the sign-on and everytime I watch the video of the official launch, there is a scene of Little Dave and I hugging and it moves me everytime.

Dave was friends with everyone. A very likeable guy. He spent long hours at the station, using the sleeping bag stashed in his office for the really late nights.

Stooley McMuffin was a concert fan and he came to our Air Raid concerts.

Before LIFE signed on, there was a concert by Phil Keaggy at Georgian College and Stooley was there. I spotted him and suddenly felt God telling me to invite him to work at LIFE. "That's crazy" I thought. I don't know anything about his skills or if he even ‘wants' to work in radio. I felt God pointing me to talk to him. I did. I bet Stooley thought I was nuts because I said something like, "I think God wants you working at our radio station." Stooley told me he was more interested in video but "keep in touch".

After we hit the air, Stooley showed up as a music and production intern under Little Dave's supervision. One thing led to another and Stooley found himself in a full-time production job for LIFE. A great move! We enjoyed his creative genius until he moved on in 2004.

In the first year, dozens of people came and left LIFE. Some came for ministry, some came for radio. Volunteers, it seems, never last long and this journal would be very long if I recalled stories about them all.

I will never know all the lives that have been touched, changed, encouraged and saved because of the ministry of LIFE 100.3. But I do know of a few.

One day, a LIFE volunteer came to me. She said, "the way you guys talk about Jesus - it's like you know him personally. My church doesn't talk about Jesus like that at all." I explained the concept of being born again, and living for Christ and having a daily relationship with Him. I asked her if she wanted to make Jesus the king of her life - she said yes. And at that moment, she and I prayed together, in the studio of LIFE 100.3!

Laurie MacLeod was our first Promotions Manager. She helped create many of our first promotions "The Secret Phone", the "Sunset Cruise", "My Three Songs" and many others.

Jeannie Coros was our volunteer receptionist, who left shortly after the launch and was replaced by volunteer Marliene Cathline, who is with us today. Marliene is married to Brian, who is not only the Director of Engineering at CKVR/A-Channel, but is also the mastermind behind wiring up the studios.

A little history- back to the 1998. Brian was recommended to us by Mary Lou Bertram who sat on the Advisory Committee in 1998 and 1999. Brian came to the house to talk about "this new Christian radio station". I remember meeting Brian and wondering why, after meeting me for five minutes, he told me on the spot, yes I'll build you the studio." He did. From the ground up. Every wire in place. All as a volunteer. God certainly provides like He promises and Brian was professionally equipped for the job. Where would we be, had Brian not come on board?

Little known fact: The original concept for Slammin' Christian Hits was hosted by Brother Mike on Monday and Tuesday and Pernell Goodyear Wednesday through Friday. At the last minute, we moved Mike C from midday to evenings and Brother Mike to middays.

Pernell Goodyear contacted me in Spring 1999. He was the Youth Pastor at the Salvation Army Church in Barrie. I remember quite clearly his direct tone - There's a Christian radio station coming to Barrie with music for youth? How come I don't know about it?"

Honestly.... I just loved his name! Pernell Goodyear! What's that? It sounded very cool. And important.

Pernell was on the air for a short period in the Fall but the memories are few. One day, there was a resignation letter and his key under my door. He just disappeared without an explanation. I've heard he started a church in Hamilton.

3SN - the loudest show on the planet - hit the air in October hosted by Little Dave and Stooley McMuffin. I remember a visiting pastor, complaining to me about "the awful loud music! Why can't the words be holy and honouring to God" he asked me. "Oh, you mean like 'Echoes Of The Spirit' by Spoken?" And he said, "Exactly! Wonderful words like that!" Well, I laughed and gave him the lyric sheet while I played the song. His face froze. We never talked about the lack of Jesus in loud music again. At least, not by that pastor! Sadly, the conversation comes up too often, still.

Here's another great testimony as to the value of loud 3SN music.

Later that week, two teens came to visit LIFE. We had barely been on the air a couple of months. They brought in two CDs by Marilyn Manson that were cut in half. They told Little Dave and myself that they didn't want to listen to that music anymore now that they've heard Christian music on LIFE. Wow! We taped the CDs to the office wall as a reminder of how God had used LIFE to reach these guys.

The music was good but sales were not. Our sales team in the first year consisted of Heather Waltham, Susan Roffel (also on-air) and Damian Spaulding, coached by Brian Chuipka. As unique and specialized that the Christian format is, getting people to believe in Christian radio was, seemingly, a tough sell. Getting Christian businesses, who earlier had cheered me on, soon backed out of their promise to advertise. So, our first eight weeks did not generate any revenue. Our bank account of donations was running dry. Was I worried? Of course I was worried!

A few months later, the husband of a LIFE volunteer said to me - "Maybe God wanted you to start this radio station just so that those two boys with the Marilyn Manson CDs would come to Christ. And now God's purpose for your station is done. Maybe that's why sales are such a struggle." I'll never forget those words and how wrong they have turned out to be. Why do people say such mean things?


With only four months under belt, we were faced with Y2K. Remember that? Remember how we all bought into the warning that all the computers would die at midnight when the year changed from 1999 to 2000? Now, many years later, we've all forgotten about that little blip of history, but I recall, at that time, we wondered if our little radio station would die after only four months. We hovered over the Internet, watching the activity in the earliest time zone - Australia - to see if life on Australia was going to go black. Hahaha! What more can we say?!

Our first promotion in 2000 was "LIFE Tubing Night at Snow Valley". The pop group V*Enna were in Toronto that week and agreed to come to the ski hill to shoot a video, so that added to the buzz of the event. Mike C, our soon-to-be-famous slammin' evening host, came off the air to party with fans at Snow Valley. I recall the owner of Snow Valley feeling concerned about whether or not "the Christian station" had any listeners. That night almost 500 people showed up! "Tubing Night" became an annual event!

One day, a newcomer paid a visit to LIFE - his name was Woody Woodland. Woody brought along his wife Dawn. Woody wanted to be part of the radio ministry but wasn't sure where he might fit in. He had no radio training and he worked as a respiratory therapist in Toronto. I gave him a tour of the station and to my surprise, his questions were thoughtful and probing. I recall our stop by the music office. I explained how we choose the music, put songs in categories and make a log for each day. Woody looked at the computer program and his wife exclaimed "oh this is so you!" I remember looking back at Woody, thinking, "hmmm this guy is special. But where does he fit in?" Little did I know he would - twice.

In the summer of 2000, Breakfast Club co-host Susan Roffel became "with child" so I called my friend Cherie Baker who I knew from my DJ days at B101. Cherie was a new Christian and eager to grown in her faith. Prior to joining the Breakfast Club, Cherie had on-air radio experience in Ottawa, Kitchener and Midland. From that, she pushed our rookie staff to becoming better broadcasters, especially Ben Davy, who looks back on that year with Cherie, very fond memories.

During Cherie's fill-in tenure, she and Ben hosted LIFE 100.3 "Sunset Dinner Cruise" on Barrie's riverboat - the Serendipity Princess. A tightly packed 250 fans came for the ride, the buffet dinner and enjoyed Kat And Friends performing on board. It was a fantastic event and one that LIFE continues to enjoy almost every summer.

Most people don't know the person behind the scenes of LIFE 100.3 - Maria Enqvist. Maria is our Music Director. She took over from Little Dave in 2000. Maria and I first met in 1993 when she interned at CKOL in Campbellford, Ontario, near Peterborough. Soon after, I hired her in North Bay when I worked at CHUR - the oldies station. Then I moved to Sudbury and brought her with me as an announcer and she morphed into a very proficient Music Director. Then, again, I had a hand in her getting hired in Toronto where she scheduled music for two national satellite radio stations. Needless to say, having worked with Maria at three other stations, I knew she would be a huge asset to LIFE.

Now the funny thing. Maria lives in Winnipeg. Her job is to schedule the entire day of music and commercials for LIFE. Everything you hear - station IDs, songs, features - it has all been scheduled line by line, file by file, by Maria.

The oddest thing of all is Maria has only been in our studios a few times. There are many employees at LIFE who see her playlist everyday, but have never met her. Thanks to the Internet, we are able to have her in this position.

Radio stations play commercials. We sell advertising to businesses and churches. And we too believe in advertising. To get the word out, we make deals with newspapers, billboard companies and magazines.

My friend Pastor Greg Neuman from Big Church in Barrie (previously Word Of Life) told me "You guys need a billboard to let everyone in Barrie know you're on the air. Our church is going to donate the cost of your first outdoor billboard advertisement." Really? I couldn't believe it.

Greg is a visionary. Nothing he does is little. He thinks big and his Sunday sermons are usually about "going big for Jesus" and "we don't serve a God in poverty." (Sorry Greg if I have misquoted you). Maybe that's why he changed the name of his church from Word of Life to "big church".

Greg has been the catalyst for a number of citywide evangelistic projects. So, it only makes sense that it would be Greg who came to me about getting billboards for LIFE 100.3 on the busiest streets. Our first billboard proclaimed the slogan - "You May Think It's About Religion, but really it's about LIFE". I wish I could take the credit for the slogan but we borrowed it from a Christian station in Houston, Texas. You see, there are no new ideas!

The slow sales continued into early 2000. Two amazing things happened.

I was on the air one afternoon and Laurie MacLeod saw my concern that money was nearly gone and none was coming in. While a song played on the air, she had me speak with someone on the phone - I don't know who - who told me to "sew a financial seed and God will repay you ten-fold". I wasn't sure about making deals with God but someone told me to show my faith by taking a risk. We wrote a cheque, as a donation, to a local charity that day. Soon after, the financial problem lessened bit by bit. I believe that our demonstration of blessing someone else was honoured by God.

The second amazing thing was the introduction of Sharathon. After working at WAY-FM, I had decided that asking listeners for money is an unprofessional thing to do. But, if we got listeners to contribute to our ministry each month, like they did at WAY and for other ministries, well, our finances might stabilize. I presented the pros and cons of Sharathon to our staff. They out-voted me and we adopted the concept of Sharathon for the Spring of 2000.

I called my friend Tim Cardascia in Nashville to come and help. When I moved to Nashville in 1996 to work at WAY-FM, Tim was my first friend - and my employee. We were best friends and Tim had logged over 30 sharathons, either at WAY-FM or helping other stations.

Tim came to LIFE to show us how to do Sharathon. He coached our staff and worked on the air. I often refer to Tim as a work-horse because he stays on the air, every hour for the entire two-days. Interesting, no one else on the LIFE staff put in as many hours as Tim, including me. Shame on me! Thanks Tim! You rock!

In July, 2000, Andrew Primmer joined the LIFE crew. He came on board as co-host of 3SN with Stooley McMuffin. The duo were a huge hit! In the early years of LIFE it was not uncommon for me to work evenings or weekends. I would be working in the office during 3SN as Stooley and Prim Dogg practiced their next break. They would start the song in the cue speaker so listeners couldn't hear and practice their words together, back and forth, over the song intro. I recall hearing the same break rehearsed several times over and over and over. Then, when they hit the air, the break was seamless.

When 3SN began, the show started at 8:30, following our Top 20 Meltdown. The show ran til 1:30 - five glorious hours. Stooley and Prim Dogg changed the hours to 9pm til 2am and ran a small promotion, complete with a listener rally in the parking lot all chanting "3SN til 2am! 3SN til 2am!" It was hilarious. The next week we adjusted the hours of the show.

Stooley and Prim Dogg set the bar for 3SN. As personalities they were lovable. They had chemistry together. They bonded like brothers. I have often said, "Stooley and Prim Dogg" are magic. Had Prim Dogg not pursued a career as a teacher I wonder how far this duo might have gone in radio.

It was around this time that Brother Mike left LIFE - for the first time. Rob Ferguson joined us on middays - 10am-4pm. For a non-broadcaster, Rob caught on very quickly. Rob moved to Barrie in the early days of LIFE 100.3. Persistently dropping off resumes and phoning LIFE 100.3 in hopes a position would open up and one finally did. Hired a few days later, Rob Ferguson took over the mid-day show, acting as webmaster, and in-house computer tech, moving on to launch his own business in October 2002.

By August, LIFE was one year old. Whew - one year!

Between 1996 and 1999, Scott Krippayne had a slew of hit songs, like "I Wanna Sing". I also knew Scott from my Nashville days. I invited Scott to perform at our first anniversary party which was held at the Southshore Community Centre in Barrie. It was a wonderful night. Great music, great listeners. Friends and listeners packed the house. My pastor, Kevin Bushey was hoarse with laryngitis but nothing would hold him back from a public prayer to take us into our second year of ministry and I am fortunate to have both Scott and Kevin on video as a memory.


(I know, that's cheesy.)

Tim Cardascia felt called to Canada. We used the immigration process and the same lawyer that I used to work in Nashville, and put it in reverse to bring Tim to Canada - and we were successful. Tim became our full-time Promotions Manager and held down the 10-Noon show each day.

Sometime in the winter, Mike C got restless. His heart was to be in big-time radio and he had made a connection with the boss at KISS 92 in Toronto. With my knowledge, he grew the relationship and was hired away from LIFE. To say that Mike was a gifted an announcer would be an understandment but clearly, his on-air talent was God-given.

I have many fond memories - and a few not so fond, but perhaps funny in retrospect.

More than three times, I got a call on my cell phone - "Hey Scott, I'm locked out of the building and my song is over. Can you come and unlock the door?" What was he was doing outside the building when he was supposed to be on the air? Well, probably getting pizza up the street! I wonder how many times he called someone else, other than me?! I don't want to know. Mike and I have laughed about that many times. Well, Mike did most of the laughing.

One day, ROCK 95 President Doug Bingley came to LIFE 100.3 for a tour. I was proud to show off our little Christian station and Doug had been very supportive, speaking on our behalf, to the CRTC. There is no question that his positive letter of support cliched the deal for us.

So, Doug came for a visit in the afternoon. And as I walked him down the hall, there was a sleeping bag on the floor, with Mike C's head popping out. Mike was asleep. Doug said to me quietly, "so what do we have here?". I said quite embarrassed, "uh, that is my evening announcer." A very humbling moment. Doug's commented was truthful and sincere - "Not the first time I've seen that". I instantly felt at ease.

One day, I made the announcement on my show, "Mike C is getting baptized tonight". Boy did I get an earful from Mike. I don't know why he was embarrassed. Perhaps he didn't understand the significance of his baptism. I can't blame him. Most of us are unaware of our commitment to Christ until we are leading someone else down the same path. Well, Mike was baptized at Calvary church in Barrie and I was proud of him. He wasn't fond of the attention he got at church by listeners. I will tell you - it is hard to worship God when you know people are watching you and you feel you have to be "on" or risk letting them down.

Mike still has fond memories of meeting LaRue. Their song "Waiting Room" was one of Mike's favourites and our contest to take listeners snowboarding with the band and Mike was a huge hit in February 2000.

Losing Mike to KISS 92 was a major loss. He had almost single-handedly, set the bar for Slammin' Christian Hits. Many announcers have since taken the position, but Mike was the first on the show and I am grateful to have had him on the team.

My quest to replace Mike was a bit strategic. I wanted to avoid the natural comparison that listeners would make of Mike's replacement. So, I sought a female voice. I called my friend Andy Wilson in North Bay, hoping he might share a resume that he could not use. That person was Jen Taylor.

Jen had been schooled at Liberty University and she will tell you, "that's where dc Talk went to school". (Brush with greatness but that's her story!) While at Liberty, she worked at the secular station WJJS and Christian Radio SPIRIT-FM in Lynchburg and THE LIGHT owned by Liberty University before that. She had returned to her hometown, Brantford, when we found her, working in a factory, looking for a radio break. We scored!

Jen took over The Slam for six months. Most people don't remember those six months. I don't and I don't think Jen does either. I am thankful she used the Slam to get her foot in the door because now (in 2008) she is part of our management team at LIFE and I can't imagine LIFE without her!

Our Air Raid concert series for youth were promotional anchors on our events calendar. I recall we did three Air Raids - Barrie (#7 November 2000), Lindsay (#8) and Barrie (#9) all within a few months of each other. By August, LIFE 100.3 was two years old and I did what most wanna-be concert promoters do - I booked my favourite band for a concert. Now listen to me carefully - booking your favourite band does not guarantee success.

All Star United was the star performer for Air Raid 10, held at Barrie Vineyard on Patterson Road. Only 250 people showed up. We took a financial bath, but gosh was it good! It seemed that many people did not associate radio songs with the artists who perform them. A problem that exists still. So those great songs, and I do mean "great" (!), were wasted on a small crowd. Still, having a bit of pull as the Station Manager, I brought ASU to my house for a yummy lasagna dinner and got to know the singer and songwriter Ian Eskelin. (Later that night, I somehow ended up on stage singing "Smash Hit". But that's another story for another journal.) I still maintain that Ian Eskelin is one of Christian music's best lyricists. Hmmmm....maybe Air Raid 20? Hello...Ian?

About the time that Susan Roffel was returning from maternity leave, B101 convinced Cherie to return to them. She must have felt like a yo-yo. Little did she know, two years later, I would hire her from them, again, for our Saturday afternoon show!

Susan rejoined Ben on the Breakfast Club but by summer 2001 she decided to begin another chapter of her life.

Tim Cardascia did the same. He caught me by surprise, the day I returned from my summer vacation. Tim and I could not recreate our teamwork magic that we enjoyed at WAY-FM. Tim gave notice, announcing his new job at WJTL in Lancaster - his hometown. It was a tough exit as we were best friends. Thankfully, our relationship was strong enough to endure those last few months and I was thrilled to have him return for Sharathon in 2002. Tim and I remain good friends, emailing our family photos, regularly.

Jen, ambitiously made a double move. She took the co-host position on the Breakfast Club when Susan left, and the Promotions Director position after Tim's exit. Uh yes, Jen is career-driven!

Since the first day of LIFE in 1999, and to this day, "Walk In The Word" with Dr. James MacDonald has been the most enjoyed ministry program on the air. I found the show through Jason Galisinsky who was a Barrie-boy and the producer of the show in Chicago. He recommened it to me. I listened to the demo tape in my car and thought to myself - "this James guy is really direct. I like him. I wonder if anyone will like him?" And that's the truth.


Jen and Ben were a dynamite team on the Breakfast Club. Jen brought us stories about Oprah, Ikea, her addiction to exotic flavours of chapstick, gardening tips and the excitement of the arrival of Krispy Kreme donuts to Newmarket! It was a good ride until 2004 until Jen moved to middays and "host #4" came on the scene!

In the summer of 2002 I filed an application for a second Barrie FM which was tentatively called "Gospel 94". Since a few LIFE listeners (wrongly) feel that LIFE is a "hard rock station" (some pastors call our station heavy metal!), then GOSPEL 94 would target an older audience, playing southern gospel and inspirational music.

The application was presented to the CRTC. Not long after, the CRTC told us there would be a call for applications, meaning they were publicly asking "is there anyone else who would like to compete for a new FM in Barrie?". We felt that the southern gospel format was a narrow slice of the Christian format, which itself is a narrow slice of music in general. We would likely lose to a competing application, and thereby have invited a competitor to the city. With that reasoning we pulled the application and it now rests in my office, waiting a second chance.

The thought of expanding to Kitchener seemed like a good one. There was no Christian radio in the market except for a weekend show on a secular station. We approached Kim Lucas, a listener and friend of LIFE who lived in Elmira and asked her to chair our committee. Kim recruited an eager group of people who would be our hands and feet during the application stage.

The new station would be "all new" and local. Local staff, studios - everything. I had a name picked out, that was to remain secret until the day we signed on, much like the marketing strategy we used for LIFE. Keeping the name top secret created more buzz than I could have imagined!

The hearing was the most stressful thing I have faced in my career. We presented well, until that dreadful moment when the CRTC asked us about "religious balance". This is a requirement they mandate on all "religious stations" to provide information about other religions. Why I have no idea? Why would a Muslim want to listen to Christian radio in the first place? Or why would a Christian want to know about other religions that are opposed to their beliefs? Isn't that like making a rock station play country music? Or a talk station play disco music?

Our answer was, "We are not airing talk shows. We're just playing music, but if we play talk shows, we'll do the balance requirement."

At the CRTC hearing, we competed with other secular broadcasters for the 99.5 signal. Our friends at FAITH-FM were awarded a permanent FM license at 94.3 and we were happy that KW got Christian radio. The 99.5 frequency was given to a country radio station with a footnote - that had we applied for another frequency, they would have been awarded us the license, in addition to FAITH-FM because there was room for two Christian radio stations in KW. We told the Commission at the hearing, we did in fact have a second choice on the FM dial. The statement was ignored.

Soon after the October 2002 hearing Janice and I booked a last minute vacation in the Caribbean in hopes of calming down and forgetting the horrible experience. The vacation did not settle us down. It took an entire year before we could let the experience go.

Mark-In-The-Dark was a young student whom I met while visiting Innisfil Community Church. He was hired to work on the Street Team and later on the air. He lasted only a year before going on the road as a roadie with Hawk Nelson but he turned into a good air personality. His name remains my all-time favourite radio name and, actually, the third announcer I have hired to take on that name. I just love it!

We began the year 30 minutes sooner. Haha!

Ben came to my office. I expressed my concern that the other Barrie morning radio shows were starting at 5:30. Commuters to Toronto were already on the road and we were not on the air til 6am. If we want to bless our listeners, give them the weather forecast and information we need to give it to them when they need it. So, LIFE began the day at 5:30.

For the Spring, we came up with "Beyond Belief - the Radio Reality Contest". Listeners participated in various stunts. The "leg waxing" was done in the studio with all the painful glory from the mouth of the contestant was heard over the radio. Another stunt was "show us your LIFE", asking people to display LIFE signs at their house. Another stunt required our contestant to fish pennies out of the fountain at the mall. As a surprise to the contestant, Jen and I arranged for the police to arrest the contestant on the spot for stealing.

We were blessed to get approval for our first repeater station in Owen Sound. But it wasn't easy. The process began in December 2001. Listeners had heard of LIFE in Barrie but wanted us to boost the signal or start another station in Grey County. "People are hungry for Christian radio", I thought.

I was shocked to go to the fax machine one day and find an angry 7-page intervention letter opposing our application. It was sent to the CRTC and copied to me, by Ross Kentner, the President of Bayshore Broadcasting which owns CFOS in Owen Sound. In his long-winded rant, he attacked our application on every level, seemingly out of desperation to control the airwaves and not let any other radio station in his city.

The CRTC saw favour and granted us approval for our first repeater station.

Our new friend and Peterborough resident, John Sherren, was anxious to have LIFE in Peterborough. He humourously said "I'll build you a repeater station for Owen Sound and that will be my training to do Peterborough". It happened. John, on his own time, built the repeater station in his garage, then carted it off to Owen Sound, on what must have been the coldest day of the year! 90.1 signed on the air March 23.

It was almost as good as the launch of LIFE in 1999. I found myself in a state of amazement as we flipped the switch of 90.1. Now, Christian music will be heard in Owen Sound. We will reach new listeners. Perhaps people will come to know the Lord because of the music we play. It was a moving moment. More than ever, the "ministry" in "radio ministry" was alive.

My wife Janice joined me for the launch, and Lisa Morgan and of course Don Cowan the "captain" of our repeater station.

Feeling better with the launch of our first repeater, we reapplied for Kitchener, using the second choice frequency they CRTC asked us about. FAITH-FM wrote the CRTC an intervention letter that you can read on the CRTC website. Their challenge killed our application and totally caught us off guard. We had prayed together in our hotel rooms just six months earlier - now they were opposed to us.

Disappointed and not willing to pick a fight with the CRTC or our friends at FAITH-FM, we took that as a sign from God, that perhaps the KW market belongs to FAITH-FM, not us. We let it rest. Still, to this day, rarely does a month pass by when a KW resident asks if we would consider reapplying again because people enjoy our style of radio. We remind people that FAITH-FM is on the air and doing a great job.

With Kitchener now just a bad memory, Woody Woodland submitted his resignation. He had hoped to be part of the new FM in Kitchener. With that vision now up in flames, he felt that his time at LIFE was done.

In all fairness, I should say, Woody was still living in Brampton, commuting to LIFE each week to host the Top 20 and "Music Notes". He was a loyal employee and it saddened me to think he was leaving us, albeit on good terms.

In August, our midday announcer and webmaster Rob Ferguson moved on to start his own business.

Brother Mike returned to the midday show. Mike was always a part-time announcer, and truth be told, his shows were always recorded because he had a full-time job at a factory in Orillia. He would come to LIFE from Orillia twice a week and record two or three shows at a time. To be honest, it burned him out.

Lisa Morgan made a short stay at LIFE 100.3. She was our fill-in slammin' announcer and co-hosted our Top 20 Saturday Slam show on Saturday evenings. It was sad to see her move on. She moved to Ottawa for school in August 2003 but we have always kept in touch. She has since returned to Barrie and hosts the midday show on KOOL-FM.

New blood came in.

Steve Jones joined LIFE 100.3 in August 2003. He attended Western Academy Broadcasting College in Saskatoon. While living in the prairies he was Music Director and midday host at 93.3 CJOK in Ft. McMurray. When we met the first time, in 2001, he as the morning personality at CJYM in Rosetown, Saskatchewan.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the saga of Steve Jones. Steve was contemplating a career in Christian radio. LIFE needed a Promotions Manager and I was hoping that Steve Jones would be our guy.

Sometime in 2000, we met in Barrie over the course of a weekend. We went to a LIFE event in Alliston, he came to my house for dinner and accompanied me at church. All was good. When he returned to Saskatchewan I sent him a job offer, which he turned down. He turned it down! I was perplexed! We vowed to stay in touch.

Later that year, CHRI in Ottawa was looking for an afternoon announcer. Station Manager Bob Du Broy called me asking if I knew anyone. I recommended Steve. Steve moved to Ottawa. In 2003, I had a health issue related to stress and decided to come off the air. Steve was hired as my replacement as the afternoon announcer, allowing me to focus on programming and other management assignments.

Where the Owen Sound repeater station was fairly easy to construct, Peterborough was not. We had many delays, partly financial due to poor fundraising by our Peterborough crew. But the issues were also technical. Technician John Sherren suggested the tower site we selected was not adequate. He thought our signal would be swallowed up so we ventured to reapply for another site that would give us better coverage. John was right. In November, the juice for 89.3 was turned on, bringing Christian radio to Peterborough and reaching as far as Havelock and Cobourg, which would not have been possible had we stayed on the smaller tower.

As the launch took place, I got the same "ministry feeling" I experienced in Owen Sound. This is ministry. Our radio station will bring God's message to a new community. It will touch hearts. It will bless the city of Peterborough and cities and towns across the Kawarthas. Radio is like a friend to a listener. That is what I hoped LIFE would be to Peterborough.


In February, we took Jammin' Jeff to the Bayfield Mall in Barrie for a live broadcast that lasted a week. It was a five-day fundraiser of food for the Barrie Food Bank, with Jeff vowing to stay at the Mall all week. During the day, he filed reports and at night he did the whole show from the Mall.

We loaded him up with video games and movies to pass the time. Guests would stop by to visit. It was a great promotion and the Food Bank was the beneficiary.

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt 2 hit the air in February. For about eight weeks we had listeners looking for crazy-hard-to-find items, many of which were part of LIFE's radio history. When it ended, all the teams brought their "stuff" to Barrie Alliance church, to check in, get their points and find out who won. The prize was a hot tub from our sponsor in Orillia.

Our Barrie competitor - ENERGY-FM changed their radio format from "youth" to the original CHAY adult format. Teens had nowhere to go and they came to Slammin' Christian Hits. Our evening listenership jumped to 40% in Barrie. Jammin' Jeff our evening DJ was pretty thrilled!

On the lighter side, Ben and Jen's April Fools prank had listeners shaking their heads for weeks - Michael W. Smith's "Friends" was repeated for three-and-a-half hours, while Ben and Jen "unknowingly" announced different songs that they were hearing in the studio!

But the big drama was not on the radio, but behind the scenes. We moved LIFE.

After five years, we decided to leave the leaky roof on 14 High Street (which the landlord told us was "impossible to fix") and move to 115 Bell Farm Road. Now anyone who has moved knows the turbulence of the activity.

Several locations were sought. My favourite was on Wellington Street overlooking the 400. I loved the visibilty from the 400 and the view from the building overlooking the busy passing traffic. I even took a piece of broken drywall from the Wellington Street building and prayed over it in my office, asking God to give us the location. We tried many creative financial paper shuffles but in the end, Wellington was just to expensive. We ended up on Bell Farm Road. There was a reason. The landlord offered us $30,000 in leaseholds which no other landlord had done.

For Bell Farm, we called upon Stooley McMuffin's dad Cecil Cockram to do the design and construction. Len Morris our engineer handled the tech side with voluntary assistance from John Sherren. Rob Ferguson, oversaw the computer wiring.

Almost each day Ben Davy and I visited Bell Farm, watching the construction take place. The office stud were first and in two days, they were done. Looking through the rooms, imagining what it would look like upon completion was a special time.

When the project began, all we had was a big 2,800 rectangular room without walls. We built the facility to suit our needs. That was the exciting part. The down side was - it cost us. Still, we chose a funky colourful carpet to reflect "the"creative side" of our business and each room was designed just as we needed it to be. As we plugged in the new station, less than ten seconds of silence occurred.

The next day, I went back to High Street for a final inspection of the old studio. It was errie. Not in a scary way, but the silence of no music, no voices, no phones ringing - it was all very odd. I took in the empty studio in deep thought.

Almost all of my dream ideas were put into the new facility. Others were not. And since 2004, many "should have done it like this" ideas have been noted and are waiting to be used.

Bell Farm Road hit the air on the May long weekend. The financial burden of relocating and renovating was vast. We estimated $50,000 for the move - that include no upgrading equipment - only renovations. When the last bill was paid, it had cost us $100,000!

Jen came off the Breakfast Club to focus on promotions and we needed a co-host. I'm not sure who first mentioned bringing Woody Woodland back but I'm glad the did. Ben and I agreed that maybe it was time for the Breakfast Club co-host to be a guy. In the past, we had Susan, Cherie and Jen. How about a guy? All the other Barrie stations had the male/female combo. Let's shake it up!

Woody and I met to discuss the seemingly ridiculous idea of moving him to Barrie for a part-time co-host position. I did what all managers do with potential employees - I wined him and dined him - well, without the wine. I recall one evening at dinner at the Outback in Barrie, I presented an offer to Woody. It was all I could do, but I figured it wouldn't be enough. I was prepared for Woody to say "no thanks". But after he read the offer he said, "Gee Scott, I can see that you really want to do this. I like it". Holy cow - ! He accepted!

Now the theatrics!

Ben and I planned for Ben to announce "his idea" on the Breakfast Club and to call Woody at home and offer him the job. Woody would say no. Then, Ben would call back each day for a week with a better offer. We played it up big-time, so much so, that listeners knew it was a gag, but didn't know where the charade would end up. On Friday, Woody accepted the job!

He quit his job found another RT job in Barrie and joined the Breakfast Club! We announced Woody's return to LIFE 100.3 at the 5th anniversary party.

We almost settled on Shaun Groves but for some reason, Mark Schultz was hired to be the main performer at the LIFE 100.3 5th Anniversary Party. Mark was the perfect choice. His music is in the middle of the bullseye for our listeners. His songs are melodic and powerful, the lyrics are profound. Yes, Mark is a great story-teller.

At the time, the Canadian band Bevacqua were on our charts and I had become good friends with Joe and Daphne. I invited them to be the opening act and enjoy the incredible exposure of playing before Mark and being part of our anniversary concert. As always, they were fabulous!

The anniversary concert was more than music. It was a celebration for many of our former employees to return and celebrate with us. Susan Roffel - Ben's original co-host - shared the introductory spotlight with Mike C - the original Slammin' host.

The show was held at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church in Barrie. It was a perfect night.

As Fall rolled around, we prepared for the prize that all radio stations dream of awarding - a car! But our car was more special because it was a classic car. It was the famous "The Thing" by Volkswagen. A listener literally gave us the car in return for a tax receipt! What a blessing!

At the time of the draw, I was taking photos in the crowd. On site at the Bayfield Mall, all qualifiers were present, and part of the reverse draw. There were 100 keys in a container. The contestant would be called up, select a key and try the ignition of the car. If the car started, the won! The problem with this concept is, if someone's number doesn't get included, you have to do the draw again. Or face embarrassing situations, including angry contestants who want to sue the radio station and everyone else. So, while there is room for administrative error, Jen Taylor felt that it was secure.

I was positioned in the crowd taking photos. We enjoyed the first dozen or so numbers, with the typical sigh - "oh too bad". As we got past halfway, Jen and I exchanged glaces of worry. Jen recalls, "As we got to the 89th qualifier I started to panic. What if the winning key had been used but didn't work? How will I salvage the contest? Thank goodness Jammin' Jeff could tell by looking at the keys left in the bowl that the winning key was still in there - so I could relax and just wait to see who wins!

Jeff could see the remaining keys and gave Jen a smirk of confirmation. Finally, the contestant started the car - the panic was gone. Ahhhh! A winner!

In November, Kalan Porter had won Canadian Idol. His home is Medicine Hat and we knew he was a Christian through our friends at Christian radio ALIVE 99.5 who confirmed his participation in youth group activities. On Canadian Idol he sung "I Can Only Imagine" and won the crown.

The record company was taking Kalan on a promotional tour of radio stations and we were able to convince them to bring Kalan to LIFE. It was a bit of an exception because "the tour" was secular. Remember, Canadian Idol is a mainstream competition. But knowing his strong faith we thought he would enjoy being part of LIFE.

In the studio, things got tense. He was an amateur interviewee and didn't have much to say. When Ben asked him about his favourite Christian artists he froze. "I can't think of any" he said. Ben and I felt uneasy. Ben said "how about the Newsboys or Delirious?" Kalan replied, "oh Delirious - I've heard of them".

To this day, I don't know what happened. If he didn't listen to Christian music? Who knows but the interview tanked.

LIFE 100.3 is not unlike any other radio station where people come, gain experience and move on. I can usually sense the restlessness. And I know that once someone has decided to pursue other work, it is best to let them do so and not confuse them, or even worse, make them feel bad about wanting to leave.

In all my years of radio and supervising over 100 people in that time, I am rarely surprised by a resignation. Except for Stooley McMuffin.

Stooley came to me in November with his resignation that totally caught me off guard. I knew he was restless but I didn't think he'd stay in radio, let alone move to Vancouver. Stooley's new job was not one step up the career ladder, but probably three. It was a great move for him and I was happy for him. In fact, after he moved to BC, we continued to hire him as a freelancer and you probably have heard his voice on LIFE many times since he's left. He remains a good friend of the station.


As 2005, we introduced the "Raise The Roof" contest. What was expected to be "the best contest" yet, didn't turn out as we had hoped. Listeners called in to qualify when they heard us "raise the roof" with an explosion. The phone lines went nuts. One winner was awarded a new roof, new windows, and a big screen TV valued at 25,000 from Integrity Home Improvements. Listeners told us it was their favourite contest ever.

Jen wanted a contest that mirrored TV's "Home Makeover". We drew the winner's name, then quietly, early one morning headed to the winner's home with a megaphone, jumped out of the van infront of the winner's house to announce very loudly "Congratuations - you've won the LIFE 100.3 Raise The Roof contest!" Woody, Jen, Stef and myself were there. It was actually quite exciting.

The winner was screaming and crying. Tape was rolling. The whole thing was caught on the air. It was brilliant! So far, so good. Then things took a turn for the worse.

The sponsor had issues of unreliability. The contest winner was unhappy with the prize. Our "best contest ever" had unraveled and fell apart. Jen and I were on the phone with unhappy listeners who demanded information about our sponsors. While we could not speak on behalf of the sponsor, we had to do damage control for our own image. Almost everyday for five months, we had to deal with the fallout. But better promotions lay ahead.

Spring - For years we thought the "Gospel Greats" southern gospel show on Saturdays were loved by a faithful group of people. But after ratings came out in 2004, the gospel listenership had petered out and at our regular listeners didn't stick around. Still not ready to drop the show totally, we moved it from 10am Saturday to 7am Saturday. The few gospel fans wrote me nasty emails. The regular listeners thanked us for moving the show to an earlier hour.

Christy Burton joined the LIFE team January 2002. At last we would have local news, tailor-made for LIFE. Previously we had an agreement with The New VR TV in Barrie who provided news for us, but many listeners commented to me that it was "sensationalized" and inappropriate for Christian radio. Christy's journalism background was a plus and she became "our news voice" for about four years.

We also added a 12 Noon newscast Monday to Friday and it became the biggest success story in Spring ratings.

In May, LIFE 100.3 welcomed "AJ The Wonderdog" to our 7-midnight Slammin' Christian Hits show. AJ has been working the evening show at JOY 1250 in Oakville. Prior to that he was on-air and Promotions Assistant at The Zone 92.9 in Cambridge. AJ is a graduate of the Radio Broadcasting course at Humber College in Toronto. He was still pretty green but I could see potential in his skills. We made a big hairy deal about his arrival and played it up to the max!

In his spare time he loves skiing and baseball and pitched for the Barrie Baycats last summer.

AJ's first day is May 9. His first show on LIFE 100.3's "Slammin' Christian Hits" is May 16.

Things were positive in the sales department. Erik Snow was on staff, servicing Barrie and area. He was a great team player, well liked and it was sad that he moved on to other pursuits.

One night at home I was on the Internet, googling and surfing. I end up in Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunuvet Territory. I wondered "what kind of radio do they have up there? How many people live there? Is there even a McDonald's up there?" And can they hear any Christian radio?" I started to feel led by God to follow it through and see if it was possible to have a repeater station of LIFE in Iqaluit, to minister to the Inuit. I called my friend John Sherren our technician and we flew north.

Not liking winter, we picked June for our exploratory visit. Good thing we took winter coats. When we arrived the snow was blowing sideways. Our Iqaluit contact Chris Keats picked us up at the airport.

I was taken to Iqaluit Pentecostal church to share my vision for radio. Little did I know I would be speaking through a translator. And, without the help of our street team, I hauled the LIFE booth on the plane and set it up, after which, the people at IPC bought all our buttons, stickers and tshirts.

John and climbed to the roof of an 8-storey building where we thought our transmitter and antenna would be located.

All seemed well.

After our application was sent to the CRTC, we got the bad news. No go. The CRTC said, that even though we would not be taking paid advertising, the donations we might get, could upset the radio economy and hurt the local secular station.

I couldn't belive my ears. I made an appointment with the CRTC - in person. I asked them, "do you really think a little Christian station in Ontario with a 50 watt repeater station is going to upset the radio economy?" They said, "the local station CKIQ said it would".

What a joke! And how disheartening. I really thought we had that license in the bag. And now, residents in Iqaluit cannot have Christian radio locally.

Later that summer, we moved on. We gassed up Peterborough's Island Queen for a LIFE Sunset Cruise on the waters of the Otonobee in Peterborough. We enjoyed food, music by Bevacqua and great company.

Air Raid 13 - October 13 - Timothy Christian School, Barrie. Over 800 kids jammed the auditorium to see four bands - 4th Avenue Jones, Dizmas, Hawk Nelson and TFK. All four bands were amazing but Hawk Nelson showed everyone they had the goods!

Jason Dunn was hardly the same guy who fronted Swish at Air Raid 9. Hawk gave Christian radio a "punk-pop" sound - talk about being in the right place at the right time. (Oh ya - finally a concert where we actually made a profit!)

By winter it was time for another concert. Our contacts brought us a concert with dc Talk's Kevin Max. Kevin has, perhaps, one of the best voices in Christian music. The fact that he is also a bit "eclectic" made the promotion even more fun.

The show was promoted as "Christmas with Kevin Max".

Kevin came to LIFE and hung out, did interviews, read stations IDs for future use. During his visit there were many surprises. Kevin has always been outspoken and somewhat of a loose cannon. I'm sure it is a characteristic that makes his manager very uncomfortable.

At the show, he didn't sing one Christmas carol. He made embarrassing comments about Jen, asking him to read station Ids. Jen smiled from her seat in the crowd and politely thank him for his wonderful help.

When Woody returned Kevin to the Toronto airport, we paid for his meal and of course his manager's. Kevin then ordered liquor. Woody was not too afraid to comment, I can't pay for liquor. We're a Christian station - we are listener supported. Our donors would not appreciate us if we paid for artists to drink."

If there is a Christian rock star in the category of, say, "Michael Jackson" - Kevin would be it. Weird? Oh yes. Great singer - absolutely. Would we book him again? Uh, no.


Winter and me are not friends. Being asthmatic makes it difficult to breathe in the bitter cold, but really, I just don't like the cold. So the irony would be that our next repeater station would be "north" - in Huntsville.

Huntsville businessman Jim Alexander got the ball rolling. He planted the seed for a repeater by guaranteeing the financial investment for whatever fundraising did not bring in. Never before did we have a guarantee.

For construction, again, we called up on John Sherren to build the transmitter site. John was now an expert.

Most of the development of 98.9 was problem-free. The only glitch was some interference on household radios immediately within one mile of the tower. These radio could only pick up our station 98.9 which dominated most of the FM dial, blocking most other stations. While that sounds like a good thing, it is unfair, and in the spirit of broadcasting John made filters for all the radios that were affected. Fortunately, it was only a few.

When 98.9 hit the air, it was the best-sounding repeater station of the three.

On Sunday January 22, just moments before we turned on 98.9, I realized, "here I am, freezing on the top of a hill, in northern Ontario, in the middle of January! God must have a sense of humour!"

Although the Peterborough repeater station is a "repeater station", we want to be part of the Peterborough radio scene. What better way to be seen that with a transit bus that is wrapped in the 89.3 LIFE logo?!

Jen Taylor booked the bus, covered it from top to bottom with our logo and photos of the artists we play on LIFE. Gideon Courtney made the design.

The LIFE bus in Peterborough, promoting 89.3 was a huge hit. It roamed the busiest streets in Peterborough for over a year.

Dan Zorgel was our LIFE sales monster and fundraising guy for a number of years. We met before the start of LIFE while Dan was a youth pastor at Bethel Community Church. He helped generate some buzz with the youth groups prior to our launch.

Soon after the launch, Dan approached me about selling advertising, unsure of it was something he'd enjoy. A year later the job morphed into full time. When our Peterborough committee failed miserably in generating funds for the 89.3 repeater station, Dan jumped in, making frequent trips to Peterborough, speaking in churches and finding the $50,000 funding we needed to launch.

At the time, Dan and shared similar work habits - we both worked well into the night. It was not uncommon to get a phone call from Dan at 11:45pm asking me for my opinion about an idea he had for a client. Without any care for the clock, Dan and I would be in regular contact, passion for LIFE driving us both.

In May, we brought our youth concert series, Air Raid 14 to Newmarket. This time, we partnered with CMC who bought the tour. With the expenses to worry about, we simply put our name on the show and enjoyed the music. The concert was held at Newmarket Community Church - the church facility that was once used as "a strip club".

The church loves doing concerts and they were fabulous to partner with. The show was headlined by Kids In The Way, with Hello Kelly and The Silent as support acts. Attendance was fair - 150. While the promotion was exciting, the actual night was probably the least memorable Air Raid.

Meanwhile, in June, we staged a "school's out" concert in Huntsville. Faith Baptist Church was the host, with a flatbed truck in the parking lot for staging, provided by our friend Rob Alexander. The youth concert featured: The Bright Side Of Sorrow (my son Brett on drums); A Shade Away, Momentus (the Anberlin soundalike from St. Catherines) and Hello Kelly as the main attraction.

To add to the fun, we brought in a jousting inflatable so teens and a batting cage.

It was a great show. Free, too. It helped us break into Huntsville. My only regret is that the show was not an "Air Raid" show, for reasons I cannot explain.

One of my most fondest memories of LIFE 100.3 was the day Geoff Moore came to Barrie and help us with "A Day Of Compassion". For a day, LIFE turned the airwaves over to Compassion to generate child sponsorships. Thankfully, over 100 kids were sponsored by our listeners. But most of it had to do with Geoff Moore. Geoff came on the air with us all day, talking about his experiences in third world countries and talking about the kids he had met and the lives that were changed because of the work of Compassion. Geoff is a dynamic speaker and the day wouldn't have had the success without his help.

Geoff hung out with our staff in the board room, roamed the halls and had lunch with us. The whole day was a bit surreal.

For me, things only got better. We customized the "Top 5 at 5" with five "Geoff Moore songs" and between each Geoff talked about his memories. One of the songs was "Rescue Me". It was not written by Geoff, but it holds significance to me because it was the song that turned me on to Christian music in the first place. As Steve played each song, and Geoff reflected on each, I sat in the studio listening, watching and basking in the moment of "the guy" who started me on my Christian music journey in 1991, talking about his songs, in the radio station I started.

Naturally, I recorded the hour and when I went back to listen, the file had been wiped and all I have to show for it, is this photo of Geoff, with Steve Jones.

It remains my favourite day at LIFE 100.3.

Zoltan Foxx had been hosting our Saturday night loud show, 3SN, since May 2005. In the past Stooley and Prim Dogg established the show and certainly laid their "fingerprint of fun" on the show but with Zoltan, 3SN spun in a different direction - more musical, more information, more listener interaction and less "dumb". I was pleased with the direction. In fact, I felt very proud of the show. So it came as a surprise when Zoltan, after only a year, resigned in May 2006. Zoltan moved on to manage the Christian rock band Worthless Without.

3SN needed a new host and Josh Miller was excited to take over. Over the summer it seemed that the magic of a co-host was missing. We ran a "DJ Search" contest to find the perfect co-host to work with Josh.

Applications poured in and we whiddelled them down to four finalists. The four joined Josh on the air to do "DJ stunts" - writing "the Sweet Zone" music news feature, interviewing a rock star, writing concert reviews, etc, which ran for six week. Then, a finalist was eliminated each week until there was one remaining. Steedan Crowe as the winner.

It was a great promotion and brought some of the missing buzz back to "the loudest show on the planet".


On Boxing Day of 2006, we had computer problems. Our new automation system was causing problems on the air, so I ended up in the studio doing a live show, as opposed to a "recorded show", which we often do, to save time.

Well, I had so much fun going live, I decided to do it for another week. I had not done a full-time live show since the day we signed on LIFE, and before that, probably 1992 was the last daily show.

At the end of the first week of January, I decided that I miss being on the air, so I stayed on. Jen's shift got shortened and I took the 10am-Noon show, Monday thru Friday, and "live".

As the Station Manager, I usually deal with future projects both big and small, and a lot of people issues. You wouldn't think there would be personnel issues in a "Christian" environment, but there are, unfortunately. So, I deal with that a lot. Going back on the air each day required me to shuffle my office time commitments.

Now I'm on the air full-time and live. The "live show" takes a lot more time. I can record a two-hour show in less than 20 minutes, allowing me to do other things in the office. Going "live" simply eats up time but it's been working well. In fact, over 2007, there were only two days that the live show was a burden - the rest of the time, I can honestly say, is a fantastic experience. More fun now, then years ago.

For the first time in years, we exceeded both Sharathon goals. Blowing the roof off the proposed $22,000 monthly and $80,000 One-Time was a morale boost for our staff and our listeners. It suggested to us all that God is blessing our work. And it put us on track financially for all the exciting things we wanted to do in the second half of the year.

As we began to prepare in early January through to the last minute of the second day of Sharathon, I sensed "success". And while reaching our financial goals are important, the entire Sharathon came together easily. It was almost too easy. Honestly, it was just plain easy. Praise God.

Just after Sharathon we launched our Spring contest "Don't Say Hello, Say I Listen To LIFE". Confession time - another great idea that was not our's.

As a kid in the 70's, I grew up listening to 1050 CHUM in Toronto. They ran the "I listen to CHUM" contest a few times and it made a big impression on me. I tucked away the idea and pulled it out in March 2007. As with any radio station, we want people to talk about us - that's how we build listener loyalty. Well, having our listeners answer their phones "I listen to LIFE" is the best endorsement. Listeners signed up on our website and we phoned them at random times, hoping to hear "I listen to LIFE". We scored about 50% success. Very nice.

One year later, CHAY in Barrie took the idea from us. At least they could have waited 30 years before stealing it like I did from CHUM!

It occurred to me that Steve Jones had become more than just an Asisstant Program Director. He had become the "go to" guy and the "problem solver". The staff found Steve approachable. One day I called Steve into the office and commented "it is now impossible for me to deny you the position of Program Director". He looked up at me as I said, "I think you should be doing it - if you want to". He accepted. For two months we planned how we were going to switch our duties and announce it to the staff.

Since he was getting married in May, it seemed best to delay his promotion until after the honeymoon.

Upon his return, he became Program Director and within a week, the changes were noticable to all. He was more serious, more professional, put in longer hours and I sensed a deeper thought process. He was no longer a DJ - he showed commitment to being "in charge". It was a turning point for me, too, as I could finally focus on big picture stuff, leaving the day to day programming to Steve.

Also that Spring we met Gary Hooper from Toronto. Gary is a senior, well-known, brilliant radio engineer with tons of history. We hired him to resolve our on-air computer automation problems which at the time were reaking havoc for our staff. Songs were cutting off in the middle and starting new songs, at any time, usually when we were least prepared. He recommended and executed an electrical upgrade providing us with reliable power in times of black-outs, which, unbeknownst to us, was never connected properly. The combined projects were costly, but unquestionably professional. Thanks to Sharathon the entire bill was covered.

Woody Woodland suggested we produce a program to honour the 25th year since Keith's death in July. The program was written and produced by LIFE staff, for More Radio productions (a company I have after hours). The program was distributed to 16 radio stations in Canada with tremendous feedback.

Wiped out an exhausted, I took the entire month of July for a vacation. I'd heard of other business people doing that, and I consulted with three for advice on how to, or not to, stay in touch with my job. We decided that Steve and Jen would handle all business and only contact me with financial weekly updates or staff changes.

I spent the first two weeks with my wife Janice on a trip out West. We cruised from Alaska to Vancouver for one week and spent another week sight-seeing and visiting our son Brett in White Rock, BC.

The second half of the month was spent mostly on my bike, eventually clocking 3,200 kilometers of riding over the summer.

The month off was too much. It was hard to get back to routine. I vowed to never take a month off again, but you know what happens when you say "never", right?!

Our morning show enjoys the company of character Jean-Guy Laboutine who is the Breakfast Club butler. Although Jean-Guy only does cameo appearances twice a week, he has developed a following. And for others, we get listener calls that range from angry to bigoted about his role on the show. Jean-Guy's character is French Canadian.

Some listeners think it is racist for him to be on the show. I'm not sure why they don't feel being "male" is a problem. The funny thing is, the actor who plays the role of Jean-Guy really is French Canadian. So, I'm not sure who has the last laugh but hopefully they continue for a while!

And 2007 also brought us tons of outdoor promotion. With the power boost to the south, we got our signal into York Region - Newmarket, Aurora and some people have testified to hearing LIFE down to the ACC in Toronto. Shhh - don't tell the CRTC! Actually, cloudy days help bounced the FM airwaves long distances.

The new listeners in York Region and traveling south on Highway 400 gave reason to share the joy with everyone and billboards and bus shelters with LIFE advertising were position across Newmarket for most of the year.

Putting together a concert is exhausting work. Jen Taylor handles it. Agents who don't phone back. Artists who don't use contracts. Rock stars who want to much money. In the end, we usually love money. Why do it? Well, we love working with young bands and giving them a platform to perform. And we love the exposure for LIFE among music fans. And, we believe it's good ministry.

We took Air Raid 15 to Huntsville. On the bill were Silverlane - new friends with one hit song on the Slam "Last Fight". Next was Remote Control - more new friends. In fact twin brothers, and the younger brothers of Francois from Hello Kelly. Their songs were also new to the Slam. Worthless Without had been performing for almost two years with their hardcore angst and of course the headliners - Hello Kelly - well known to LIFE listeners.

Huntsville assistants warned us the we may not have good attendance in the summer but we did ok. Almost 200 fans came out. We were encouraged. The bands played well. Alright! (Oh and the addition of Dance Dance Revolution was pretty cool, too!)

Season 3 of "LIFE 100.3 Karaoke Superstar" was a monster hit. In 2007 we added a semi-final at the Bayfield, where five contestants were selected to play at the finals at the Orillia Opera House.

The Opera House was fabulous! In a historic kind of way, I could imagine the voices of famous performers who once sang there. It added magic to the show. If you've never been backstage, it oozes history, of autographs and graffitti around the old bricks.

Me, Steve Jones and Woody Woodland were the judges for the show. Ben Davy hosted, Jen Taylor and AJ The Wonderdog directed.

Of the five performers, I was sure Ed Seymour from Wasaga Beach was going win. His version of MercyMe in 2006 made him a finalist, but in 07 Andy Taylor poured it out and he was the winner without question!

In Fall 2007, we returned to the radio BBM ratings. It had been two years since our last report and it was time to get an indication of listenership.

To help build excitement and grab as many listeners as we could, we created the "Say My Name" contest. Another idea I heard on a secular station, many years ago, and I had stashed the idea away in my dusty radio promo waiting for the right moment.

In September 2007, we launched it. The contest began with registration. Listeners entered their name and also their friend's name, giving them two chances at the grand prize. When we announced the pair of names, only one listener needed to phone the station and both of them would qualify for the grand prize. Sort of like working on the buddy system. The benefit to LIFE was people calling their friend's to tell them "hey I heard your name on the radio - you better call back to confirm!". It worked! We registered nearly 200 contestants to win a trip to Mexico. Everyone met at the Bayfield Mall.

Building on the "fly to Mexico" idea, we set up 200 chairs in rows, like on a plane. Ben and Woody dressed up like pilots. Hollee Rock from the Street Team acted as a flight attendent. Garth McCrea acted as the security guard with a wand in his hand, checking for the usual things you can't take on a plane.

Jen, Steve and Megan signed in the qualifiers. One by one, Ben and Woody called out seat numbers, eliminating people one by one. "Sorry, you have to leave. Your luggage is over the limit", Woody said. Another qualifier was eliminated by Ben, "Sorry you have to leave because you didn't get your shoes checked through security". It was a fun afternoon. One person remained - Jen McBride - the winner.

Although it was really nothing more than a draw to win a trip, the 'show buzz' was strong and listeners commented that we put a lot of fun into the contest.


Happy new year! It was a great to be still on the air. The two hour air-shift that started my day was always a delight. I seem to have caught the new bug of listener interaction with lots of phone calls each morning from across Central Ontario. Many of the calls were "regulars" and often there were great testimonies. Seems the more I played "Tattoo" by Jordin Sparks, the more critical people were - "why are you playing that song?! It's not a Christian song!". My answer was always the same: she won American Idol and every secular station was playing "Tattoo". How would it look if the Christian station didn't support her? Shame on us!" So, we played "Tattoo" and judgmental emails flowed in. Spiritual song or not, we stood by Jordin Sparks and cheered her on!"

The Slammin' House Party was held at Lion's Gate Hall in Barrie on February 15. It was a night designed with enough activity to tire out every ADD slammers. We had boxing on the Wii, one-on-one basketball, music videos, Christian DDR, junk food and a live concert with Remote Control.

As the snowiest winter on record blew through Barrie - and records were set - LIFE's contest was Renovation Transformation. Simple and easy. The artist of the day was the cue to call in to qualify to win a bedroom makeover.

Preparation for Sharathon began in November. Each year we elect a team captain who oversees each area of Sharathon and this year it was me. I had my work cut out for me. In 2007 we exceeded both goals and it was probably the smoothest Sharathon to date. This year - 2008 - with no staff changes, everything was looking good. As the team brought together all the prep and everyone's part was in order, Janice and I decided to sneak out of town for a week in sunny Cuba. We needed a week without activity, which most of our vacations are not. Sitting by the beach and doing a bit of biking each day was very calming and upon our return, we were ready for Sharathon.

It turned out to be a sensational Sharathon! We exceeded the $22,000 monthly goal and the One-Time $80,000 goal was pushed to $108,000. Absolutely crazy! Thank you listeners - thank you God! What can I say?

Sometimes things happen that I cannot explain and that would be the case with Hollee Rock. She began as a co-op student from Barrie North and ended up with three co-ops and a part-timejob. In fact, she aggressively, yet professionally weaselled her way into the co-host position of 3SN, but only for a couple months. One day, she submitted a resignation without explanation and without notice. And she was gone.

Josh took 3SN on a solo ride. Then, again, suddenly, another resignation - Josh gave us two weeks notice. He moved on to a new job at Z103 in Toronto. (The same station I worked at in 1997 for a very short time.) I'll miss Josh - he was good guy, a great team player and certainly likeable.

The most stable team we've enjoyed on 3SN remains - Stooley and Prim Dogg, but I look forward to another exciting team, and I wonder - where will we discover them?

Ratings came out April 7. A huge deal for radio people. Ratings are, in a sense, our final exam from listeners. If "the numbers" are up we interpret that as our listeners liking us. If the numbers are down, it means something is wrong - the music is misguided, the DJs are boring, the contests are boring. However, this April brought us great news - 65,000 total weekly listeners - an all-time high for LIFE 100.3! And, 21% more than six months earlier! (BBM Spring 2008 Full Coverage, 12plus cume)

In April, Steve Jones, Junky Rhodes and I flew to Nashville for the industry conference "Gospel Music Week" usually referred to as GMA. A week of late night concerts, early morning radio seminars, record company schmoozing and artist interviews. Five exhaustive days. Exhaustive, but much fun. Nashville is Music City USA, no question. And while I didn't thankfully reminisce too much about my old address in Brentwood, the trip was a nice reminder of the how Americans are more open about their faith compared to the legalistic attitude I find with my Canadian friends.

During the week, I was reunited with Michael DeAngelo. During my employment at WAY-FM in Nashville, DeAngelo was our afternoon DJ. He was fabulous! Turns out he is now running a state-wide traffic service, which provides traffic updates to stations all over Nashville and beyond. And - he runs it?! I guess he does! Well done!

But back to GMA.

The big show was by Casting Crowns concert, which included all the Nashvegas bells and whistles. It was extremely professional, obviously constructed for the radio industry and with the lyrics projected on the screen of the Nashville Arena, I sang along with songs that don't normally excite me, all of which helped to reignite my fire for Jesus!

At the live telecast of the Dove Awards I was thrilled to watch three American Idol performers share the stage with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith! I can't imagine how thrilling it must have been for the rookie Idols - Mandisa, Phil Stacey and Chris Bligh - to sing along side these veterans!

After the Doves we were bussed to a private concert at the Sheridan hotel - the reunion concert of Degarmo and Key, with a special appearance by Jason Dunn of Hawk Nelson! What a shock to see Jason, introduced by Dana Key, to sing "Destined To Win"! What a hoot! (Gasp!) It was definitely the evening highlight. D&K are truly music pioneers but they didn't seem to perform with passion or the thrill of a reunion. Maybe they weren't as excited as the fans.

Every evening was a sprint from one concert hall to another. I split with Steve and Junky who went to an adult showcase in favour of "The Peanut Butter and Jelly Jam", blasting out the beats from the roof of a church! Yes, the roof! Six hiphop artists each took a short set with the highlight being a 20 minute unforgettable freestyle rap by Red Cloud!

Sometime between the shows we found a couple of hours to wander the parks near the hotel and enjoy the Nashvegas sun. Wow - what a trip!

Slammin' contests are a challenge. Seems like our young listeners don't participate in any contest that requires more than phoning in or emailing an entry. Trivia doesn't work. Jumping through a contest hoop doesn't work. So, AJ brainstormed "Wonderdog's Wakeboard Weekend Adventure" which sent 10 listeners for a weekend in the sun with water-skiing, a pro wakeboarding instructor and other fun stuff. The custom-made contest for the Slam was smokin'!

Air Raid 16 was June 21, 2008. It was the biggest, most expensive and best show of the first 16 shows! Stellar Kart were the main attraction and these guys were not only cool guys, fun, silly, but showed their love for Jesus without dampening an excited crowd.

In the afternoon we took LIFE contest winners out go-karting in Barrie with the band.

Opening the show were our new friends - Silverlane and After The Anthems.

But the highlight for me was the appearance by Red Cloud. I mentioned before that I saw his show performance in Nashville and based on that show, I included him on the Air Raid bill. I knew once concert fans saw him, they would be talking about him for awhile because of his special gift to free-style rap, off the top of his head. Funny? Oh ya!

Before the show, he was pretty nervous because he was traveling alone from California without a band, a manager or anyone to assist him. His booth was nothing more than a table and all the other bands had crazy big merch booths.

We took Red Cloud into the line, before the doors opened and he did his free-style to warm up the crowd. They loved it! But behind the scenes, he was still pretty tense. On stage, he did his thing - very interactive. He won everyone over! When we chatted between after his set he was calm and happy. I'm glad we included him and I wish he had the name recognition to draw his own crowd.

About 300 kids came to the show. We lost about $6,000 - the most yet. True. Concerts are huge money-losers but if we really believe in ministering to youth, we gotta do ‘em.

In June, Slippery John took over 3SN. It was a short career. I discovered John Galloway at a church I was speaking at and I had a feeling that he'd be a good addition to our line-up. He said he had been thinking about broadcasting as a career - which I loved! One of his passions is swimming, so we thought - slippery when wet - let's call him Slippery John. We brought him in, trained him, did a cool photo session, re-designed the 3SN website - and then four weeks later he gave notice.

I'm not sure how we missed it in the interview, but it turned out that Slippery didn't enjoy loud music. Oh well. Good guy, not the right fit. Cool name though, dontcha think?

As the warm weather blew in, I was back on my bike. I know it sounds like a hobby, but I find when I ride I can clear my head. And since my cell phone has a built-in dictaphone, I can make notes while I ride. So by the time I come home I've got about a half dozen things I want to do. In June every year is the Heart And Stroke ride in Toronto. It begins at the CNE Prince's Gates. The Gardiner and Don Valley are shut down - as in "no cars". So 13,000 riders have the entire DVP to themselves! What a ride! Each year I do the 55km ride from the CNE to York Mills and back. My buddy Rob joined me this year and, aside from his chain busting loose, we had a great day.

A bike doesn't take my mind off of radio, but I come away with fresh ideas and feel better about life. And LIFE. I set a goal of riding 3,500km during the season. The goal was combination of last year's 3,000 and a little fact that the Tour de France is 3,500km, so that seemed like a good number to work with!

As July began, we welcomed Tim Van Dyk to the LIFE production department vacated by Josh Miller. Tim had radio experience at KAOS in Fort McMurray and UCB in Chatham.

Over our nine years, LIFE Sunset Cruises have ridden the high seas in Barrie, Peterborough and Gravenhurst. It had been a while since a LIFE cruise sold out in advance so we were grateful for the success in August in Orillia. Jen, Steve and I hosted the evening with Karaoke Superstar winner from 2007 Andy Taylor as entertainment.

Andy Horrocks, his producer, joined the show and it was great getting to know him. Gosh the nite was great! The BBQ steak fumes wafted on board as 100 happy listener gobbled them down.

The last promotion of the summer was a partnership with World Vision who helped LIFE bring Avalon to Peterborough and Barrie for concerts. It was a bonus that World Vision helped organize the music end, leaving LIFE with the marketing side. And, our listeners love Avalon! Both shows were well attended and World Vision was thrilled with the number of child sponsorships.

Steve and Jen are real troopers. As Managers, they've both picked up the vision I laid down and are able execute everything with little input from me. For me, behind the scenes is where I spent a lot of my time. And with the business year ending on August 31st I have the two summer months to prepare a new Business Plan that is actually a grand master plan for the next 12 months. With the help of almost everyone on staff we conceptualize a full year of contests and programming features and special events and wrap it all up in a presentation which I give to the Board of Directors in August. The business plan is one thing - that's the fun part, but add to it financial budget (after figuring out the budget!), plus employee performance reviews, establish a rate card with sales and give them some incentives - Whew! It's just a mess of paperwork.

I took the summer off the air, so I could get the paperwork done and still enjoy the hot weather. I'm usually pretty good at balancing my schedule but the summer of 08 was a confused mess. After getting it all done, Janice and I took our summer vacation in September with a two-week cruise of the Mediterranean in Europe.

This vacation wasn't a "let's relax" time. It was sightseeing - 9 ports in 11 days. From Paris, to Lisbon, to Casablanca and the rock of Gibraltar to the French Riviera to Pisa - my goodness. I remember waking up one morning and saying to Janice - "Are we in France today?" And she replied - "No Italy". And I said - "oh, Italy. Ok". It was a bit like being a rock star - waking up in a new country every morning and after a while becoming exhausted from the traveling, the history and the site. Which sounds ridiculous - I know.

I think being on the top of the rock of Gibraltar was the best - seeing the Mediterranean Ocean, Africa, the Atlantic and Spain all at once was pretty cool. And walking the exciting La Rambla (a famous street) in Barcelona with the buskers and vendors and cool shops and bikes - I'd like to go back there for a week and see it in detail.

After the whirlwind two-week tour of Europe was done, it was back to LIFE and back on the air and our Fall contest - the return of "Don't Say Hello, Say I Listen To LIFE!" and the "You Tube Challenge" - which Jen had all set to go while I was away.

One of the most fun things to do in radio, (for me), is to visit other radio stations and see how they do things.

In November, Janice and I took a trip to Charlottetown to celebrate the launch of Christian Radio CIOG. The station is owned by Jeff Lutes who also has a station in Halifax and Moncton. His local PEI manager is Richard MacKay.

The station is small with a wee bit of space at the back of the Canadian Bible Society store. There isn't much room. In fact the production studio is also Richard's office, which is also across the room from the Bible Society office. The weirdest thing is that CIOG cannot go on the air live from Charlottetown. No live Djs! Their programming comes from Halifax with a few added segments for local content.

After our visit to CIOG, we visited OCEAN 100.3 and K-ROCK owned by mainstream Newcap. Both studios are on the main floor, side by side, with full windows overlooking a busy intersection on University Avenue, so fans can see the jocks at work. It's an amazing view from both sides and the studios were nicely designed. Most of their equipment was the same as our's at LIFE 100.3 although, (ahem) I think our Stream Team can take their Street Team. Hahaha!

Every year the LIFE 100.3 staff Christmas Party is a big do. Well, at least to me. We try to go out of our way to thank the staff, and their spouses. This year Bob Cates - the juggler, illusionist, comic was the main entertainment.

Crystal Summers put together a Christian version of "Don't Forget The Lyrics". It came down to Woody and me, and thank goodness the song I selected was "I Can Only Imagine" or I would have lost! Hahahah.

We do a gift exchange, play games. We brought in Allan Beard who roams the room from table to table doing card tricks and transporting coins from hand to hand and other unbelievable stuff. A good time. Actually, a great time.


When 2009 kicked in I was totally engulfed in the mid-life crisis that would not end. Is it ok to admit that? By the age of 50 I found solace in olympic-style boxing. I joined a band, got a tattoo and bought a sports car. And in the winter of 08/09 I was diagnosed with depression. How does a Christian get depressed if Jesus is your saviour? As the President of LIFE what on earth do I have to be depressed about? Click here for the story.

I came off the air for three months to deal with my unstable emotions and to attempt to correct my sleepness nights.

The band, you asked? Based in Huntsville. A worship band that does the occasional gig at different churches. I play drums.

The tattoo? Well, it was somewhere on my bucket list and after years pleading with my wife, she consented. I truly believe that when we get married, our bodies become one. I definitely wanted Janice's consent before tattooing my body. I chose a piece of clip art of a guy on a racing bike like in the Tour De France. The artist was amazing and I'm thrilled with the outcome and - it's kinda fun. I'm just keeping it a secret from my Pastor so please don't tell!

While I was off air and off work and who knows where, 2009 gave us the perfect promotion - the movie "Fireproof" with Kirk Cameron. It's a movie about a failed marriage, forgiveness and Jesus. We got the rights to the movie and scheduled five dates at key churches in the LIFE listening area. Excitement grew, the tour calendar got longer and we ended up screening it at 15 churches, some sell-outs, requiring second showings! It was the right movie at the right time both promotionally and spiritually. And it swallowed January!

Another two new DJs were interviewed and passed the Steve Jones bootcamp. Andy Dynamo came to us with his 70's hippie hair and gentle spirit. And I'll take credit for finding Zack Gill, who sat two pews next to me at church. Both guys were signed up to the Midnight to 2am show once a week.

On the contest side, Jen scored a fabulous deal with "Thrive Africa" for a listener missions trip. The destination was South Africa - two winners and their guests went along with Ben and Jen.

A suitable prize for Christian radio. It's fun to give away trips to the Caribbean and computers and cars - but a missions trip seemed to perfect to pass up!

By March, it was Sharathon time. Tim Van Dyk was the only new employee who had never experienced Sharathon, so the experience of the rest of the staff was locked in. Production is a key ingredient to Sharathon, providing information and entertainment. The 2009 recession was in full swing. I was concerned that we might be forced to add a third day to Sharathon to help us reach our goals. But, to my surprise, we hit the goals only halfway through the second day.

So, let me understand this again. A recession. Listener donations - more than 1,200 in two days as our volunteers at Phone Central went crazy! In one hour we took 80 calls! Once we hit the goals, we felt our needs were met so we closed down Sharathon early. And as Ben Davy said to me - "there's no point in lining our pockets". Well said. Just over $22,000 was reached monthly and $104,000 One-time. Praise God for providing!

The only wrinkle in Sharathon was the unavailability of our Sharathon software creator, who locked us out of using the software, wanting more money for use in 2009. So at the very last minute, our daughter Crystal Summers created a program in Excel that actually did the job - everything we needed - without all the confusion and unnecessary meetings. Another major blessing!

Ben Davy loves April Fools! A couple years ago the Breakfast Club introduced a new computer system that malfunctioned and played the same song by Michael W. Smith over and over all morning. People were freaked out.

This year we changed the format to all southern gospel for the Breakfast Club and renamed the station "The All New Gospel 100.3." Steve joined Ben and explained the "new format" and took cranky listener calls. I was flooded with emails from angry people, half of whom clued in to April Fools but complained anyway. The angry emails were embarrassing to read, knowing they came from Christians, who lacked the courage to even sign their name. And, as someone who suffers from depression, the timing of nasty emails was unfortunate. I responded to some listeners rather harshly.

Nevertheless, I continue to be surprised by Christians who, without checking their facts, tear a strip off other Believers.

April 24 was a day that I had been waiting for, for years. It was an unofficial CKLC reunion. Noreen Jackson had worked at the station for 40 years and CTV, which bought out CKLC, was retiring her. Right. She actually told me she didn't want to retire - but it was mandatory. Well the reunion was awesome and I got to visit with guys I had not seen for 25 years. Our morning guy from the 70's and 80's - Greg Hunter was there; Jim Eylot and Gord Taylor who were DJs back in the day; a bunch of sales people and some other younger people whom I didn't know. I was sorry that Steve Jordan was not there. Steve was my best friend in the 80's and I was really looking forward to hooking up. The festivities were held in a pub/grill - a typical party-type place for mainstream radio people. Somehow I felt out of place, now returning to Kingston as a Christian. Still, it was a great night. I won't comment on who looks old - or not!

Summer 2009 was wet. It rarely got hot giving more reason to scoff at the global warming believers! Hah! This summer we returned to Orillia for another sold-out Sunset Cruise. Weather is such a variable factor and rain can ruin an outdoor event.

However, rain or shine, we still cruise. Chris Bray performed worship songs and his two big radio songs "Finally Let Go" and "Called". I became acquainted with Chris through his producer Andy Horrocks. Chris was awesome and I hope we bring him back for upcoming events.


I play drums in the band Ascension. The band is based in Port Sydney so it's a hike northbound for me for the practices, but it's good fun. And I like being a member, instead of a leader. We recently got some press in the Huntsville Sideroads magazine. Click here to read the article.

We also played at Gospel Music Day at the Fairgrounds in Huntsville on August 15. Since it wasn't a church gig, but a real outdoor, general public show, it felt like real rock and roll! Haha! I got one of my "bucket list" experiences at that show. Nice.

In August, LIFE 100.3 turned 10 years old! Wow! Ben Davy and my wife Janice Baird are the only original people still with LIFE today. In celebration of the event, we threw a concert with Lincoln Brewster at Emmanuel Baptist Church on August 21st and invited Jody Cross, Paul Turner and Luke Langman to open the show.

Tickets sold out two months early! That took off some financial pressure.

Lincoln and the boys flew in from California and sang their hits "Everlasting God" and "Love The Lord". Everyone sang along. The air was electric!

There were so many great moments! The red carpet leading to the photo wall for fans to get their souvenir picture, the limo ride with Ben and Woody and the contest winner, the 24-page program designed by my daughter Crystal Summers and Gideon Courtney.

For me, the highlight was a surprise "tribute video" which included an assortment of greetings from the LIFE DJs, other radio people from my past who work in mainstream radio and more congrats from Canadian artists. The 9 minute video tribute is here.

Crystal was on stage to present me with a framed photo gallery of LIFE history and said she wished her brother Brett could be there too, but, unfortunately he was living in Nashville. And then - Brett walked out on stage! I thought he was waiting for his green card and couldn't cross the border! Somehow they managed to keep his visit a secret and kept me from running into Brett backstage. Haha.

I love seeing LIFE 100.3 in public places - Christian music at mainstream events - we're bringing Christian music to the world. We got great visibility at Barrie Speedway September 5. LIFE signage was everywhere - you couldn't miss us! LIFE radio blasting across the grandstand and the speedway announcer gave us tons of plugs.

A picture is worth a thousand words and a billboard is worth $1,000! Ya, billboard advertising is expensive. If, as Christians, we have "this great message for the world", shouldn't we tell people? It costs money but God is providing that money. So ...Ta-da! The "I Heart LIFE" campaign was born and selected high-profile billboards were booked in Peterborough, Owen Sound and Barrie to get the word out.

In October Steve Jones and I flew to Calgary for Canadian Gospel Music Week. Christian artists and Christian radio people hung out, went to seminars and fostered new relationships. It was great to see my radio friends again.

The highlight was a performance by To Tell, featuring Zach Havens. To Tell's hit song was "Closer To You" and they (Zach) were showcased in a cross-Canada talent search. Zach had to find all the energy and passion and rock it out for one song and impress the judges. He was amazing and that was probably the highlight of the Calgary trip.

Season 4 of Karaoke Superstar was presented at the Orillia Opera House. It was a great year! And the Opera House is a fantastic venue! As I pulled into the parking lot about 6:30, the LIFE Street Team tent was lighting up Mississauga Street. Fans were grabbing their seats on the main floor, filling the entire orchestra section. Everyone came!

As I took my chair at the judge's table, a cold Coke was waiting for me. Ahhh. I knew it would be a great night!

After a reminiscent slide show of Karaoke Superstar auditions and trivia, Ben Davy introduced Aleysia who came out first to sing a Natalie Grant song. Next it was Levi. Levi's got that "I-just-fell-out-of-bed" kind of "How To Lose A Life" sound. A very cool tone. I can hear him recording songs for LIFE.

Ed was next to sing a Nicole C. Mullen song. "Redeemer" - a big song. But Ed's got a big voice. Unfortunately, it was an off night for Ed. I've seen him sing many times before - he's a pro performer, but the magic wasn't there last night. Miranda was next, nailing a Natalie Grant song and Cherie wrapped it up with a note-for-note version of a Francesca Battistelli song.

Backstage during intermission Woody, me and our special guest judge from Atlanta John Waller compared notes and wrestled out our choices and the rationale for who deserved the Karaoke crown. Two of the three judges picked Miranda to win.

Great to have John Waller in town, singing "The Blessing" and "While I'm Waiting" from the "Fireproof" movie.

The Americans have thanksgiving in November. I'm not sure why. Maybe the pilgrims arrived late in the U.S. Who knows. But once upon a time, when I worked at WAY-FM, my family learned how to celebrate Thanksgiving "the American way". There's a difference? Oh ya!

My American friends plan a "feast of all feasts"! Dianne was the host - a good friend from Nashville. She invited 20 guests - friends, bands, friends of bands, people who think they're friends of bands and me, with my wife, our son Brett who lives in Nashville and his wife Gretyl.

Dianne had so much food it had to be cooked at the neighbour's house! We ate and ate. Got to know some young bands. Some of us shamelessly compared our tattoos. Ahem. And we were blessed. Not just by the company and the food and the hospitality, but by the sincerity of gratefulness on Thanksgiving, which in Canada, we seem to simply see as a day off work.

Meanwhile, (too soon) I was back in Canada. As the chilly air blew into Barrie on December 12, 40 qualifying contestants converged on the Bayfield Mall - our hot spot for grand prize contestants. Prior to Saturday, listeners called the LIFE-lines at the sound of the jet. Then, on four consecutive Fridays we announced ten names, bring us a total of 40 qualifiers.

Much to the chagrine of our lawyer, we have played Musical Chairs many times to determine grand prize winners, but only after signing waivers that eliminate any liability to LIFE in the centuries that follow. Haha.

My part was simple - to watch the event from the side. In doing so, once again, I was so proud of my staff, executing to the tee, the entire performance, from registration, to chair "pushing and shoving rules" to the very pro-hosting by Ben and Woody. What a staff!

The only new and really notable event was the number of broken chairs, damaged by eager contestants who lept, charged and kamikazed their way to an available seat. One fellow ended up on the floor - with the busted chair still under his bum!

Another climatic contest!

The following night was the LIFE 100.3 Christmas Party for staff and close friends.

The evening opened with traditional Christmas music played on the harp by Martha Dalton. Appetizers and a yummy buffet were catered by Georgian College. Live performances entertained us by Karaoke Superstar Finalist Levi denBok and my new fresh discovery from London - To Tell.

Later that night, we played our version of "Are You Smarter Than A LIFE DJ" hosted by Crystal Summers which asked contestants questions about radio, LIFE and other radio things.

Then the gift exchange and the Most Valuable Player Award, always a secret ballot voted by staff and awarded to Junky Rhodes, who unfortunately was not in attendance to accept his award.

We really blew the budget on this one. Next year it will be sandwiches in the studio! Merry Christmas everyone!


Happy New Year! The LIFE promo department fired up the event listing with three shows - Air 17 February 13 and two Air Raid pre-shows performed one month before.

The first show was in Newmarket January 15 at the Valleyview Alliance Church. Ryan Bordihn was the opening act along with his fanbase. Then The Light Division, who are on the roster for Air Raid 17, hit the stage, playing most of their CD tracks. Good spirit. Good venue. Definitely a church audience.

The second pre-show was January 16 in Peterborough at The Bridge/Youth For Christ. Here We Stand was the opening act from Lakefield. They surprised us as we expected a rock act and they performed all familiar church songs. The Bridge is a youth centre in downtown Peterborough that is a hangout for mostly non-church kids, so the worship music emptied the place out, except for the parents' of the Here We Stand.

Then To Tell featuring Zach Havens hit the stage doing tracks from his EP including the radio- hit "Closer To You". To Tell is one of the performers at Air Raid 17.

Now the pre-shows are done. Now all we need is Group 1 Crew to get to town to headline Air Raid 17!

About the first of February, we brought in our favourite interior decorator - Laurie Lamb from Interart Interiors - and asked her to liven up the offices with some new ideas. The demolition crew came in and in a matter of one day, offices were upside down, paint was mixed and the remodeling began. The next time you're in town, please ask us to give you a tour.

February 13 was Air Raid 17 - no doubt the biggest, the best, the most fun Air Raid ever. The Bat-light was situated in the soccer field at Mapleview Church to shower the snowy sky with beams of light. In line, 1,000 kids gobbled up the free hot chocolate as they waited for the doors to open and the first 500 fans snagged coloured concert flairs.

At 7:30pm LIFE's Woody Woodland appeared on the jumbo video screens and welcomed the Levi denBok Band, The Light Division and To Tell. My kid, Brett Baird handled FOH (front of house sound) for the first two bands. Not a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it! Just before 9pm, Group1Crew and their road manager were pacing backstage like a kid taking a driving test. Why? Because To Tell had gone five minutes overtime. Personally I think G1C were feeling a bit upstaged by Zach's blindfolded piano playing. Regardless, G1C's manager demanded To Tell finish the song and get off - and skip the final song "Closer To You", which is To Tell's biggest radio hit. Me, very upset.

During intermission LIFE premiered the new Street Team video, then the stage lights went back on, the video screens lit up and Group 1 Crew took over - Manuel, Blanca and the other guy, plus three back up musicians and lots of recorded tracks to make it sound hot. Manuel talked about how much they loved Canada, except for the snow and then added "well at least we get to leave tomorrow!" Typical American comment. I wasn't surprised. At least we didn't get the "We're in Canada, eh? Haha!". Swell. Happy traveling.

A long line of fans met Group1Crew after the show in the lobby for autographs. A sell-out Air Raid and I think Mapleview may be our new Air Raid home!

March is Sharathon month. Every year we try to hold off the contests and really draw all the attention on Sharathon. Being listener supported, 35% of our income, comes from two days of Sharathon. The great thing is that our staff hasn't changed in years, so Sharathon preparation was quite easy.

Our theme this year was "God Of This City". Everyone loves that song. It speaks to everyone in every city. This year we invited churches to come as a team to answer phones. So each shift represented people from the same church. It gave the church a lot of recognition and new people were introduced to Sharathon.

Last year, the goals were made in the middle of the second day. In fact, if you remember, we closed Sharathon early because God provided for our needs and asking for more didn't feel right. Then a few people mentioned, "maybe God wanted to bless you in abundance and you stopped it from happening". So, this year, we hit the goals early and continued til 7pm as usual and the phones kept ringing all afternoon. One hour we had 96 pledges! God really blessed us. Monthly total $23,870 and One-time $123,940. Wow! Big WOW! Now we can dream even bigger!

And, we did a little redecorating before Sharathon - the lobby was changed; we added a TV slide show of LIFE events, the halls were redesigned with wild colours, photos were moved. It's quite a showpiece and I think donors feel they're investing in a ministry that is exciting and active!

A "LIFE-long" dream came to pass, thanks to our Sharathon donors. At last, 2010, LIFE was seen on local transit buses on busiest streets in Owen Sound and Barrie. These "wraps" were designed by our staff graphics designer Gideon Courtney, produced in vinyl by the transit company and all that's left is for us to pay for it. It's like renting a billboard by the month. 12 months per bus, two cities. Moving billboards! And, the "I Heart LIFE" campaign rolls on!

Canadian Music Week is a big conference held in Toronto each May at the Royal York. Mainstream radio managers, recording artists, artist managers, record labels, and wanna-bees all come together for a week of seminars, speeches, awards, late night music showcases - and general schmoozing. This is professional schmoozing, too.

With that understanding that we in Christian radio can learn from our mainstream counterparts. Steve and his wife Shauna Jones, Junky Rhodes, me and my wife Janice attended the radio industry awards. It was an honour to hear speeches from the giants of Canadian radio and music and, for me, I still like to keep one foot in the door of mainstream radio, just to see what I can pull out.

Most people at these conferences run into old friends, and as they talk, they look behind them to see who else might be hiding out - so no one is really listening - everyone is looking for the next handshake. Me included.

When I started in radio, it was the late 70's. Radio was still wild. Budgets were fat. Jocks were underpaid and almost everyone was a heavy drinker or druggie. No - not everyone, but many. Since the 90's things have changed and more and more radio people are getting in shape. Well, the younger people are - the older people just burn out and fade away! Haha.

I try to hit the gym a few times a week and my church friend, now army officer, is my long-distance trainer. Dan stopped by LIFE with some training tips!

Our newest employee is Jake Wilson. Jake lives in Barrie and is taking the Police Services course in Orillia full-time, but part-time he hangs out at LIFE. For several months he volunteered on-air and at events - including LIFE Day At Bulldog Gym in Barrie.

Then May 15, Jake took over 3SN as the new permanent host. Yes, we've had a number of permanent hosts but Jake loves loud music. He's even the lead singer for the screamo band "Behind! The City".

In January Jen discovered the Christian movie "To Save A Life" - a movie dealing with high school issues like cutting, suicide, drugs, peer pressure, drinking. It had limited theatrical release so we contacted the producers, acquired the rights and brought to the movie to church movie screens in 20 churches in our listening area. Thanks to the churches who partnered with us. Great movie! See the trailer here.

Well, til now it had been 33 years in radio. On the air, or programming or both. And I felt fried. I felt my radio passion drying up, which I thought would never happen. Not to me! I hadn't been able to kick the depression so our Directors granted me 13 weeks of a sabbatical to allow me some quiet time to reconnect with God, bike, let my brain buffer and rediscover beauty.

As the leader of LIFE, I know I need to stay connected with the Lord, but at times, I feel the least connected. Whenever I say that, a boatload of people loan me books and videos and DVDs and tell me to go to healers and attend retreats, and conferences - "it'll change your life" - they all say that. I'm sure they're all great but I need to find what's right for me. I got into a daily devo called Experiencing God and I let the spirit move me from there.

I traveled to Nashville to see my son Brett's production studio, Ottawa to ride the Rideau bike lanes and visit HOT 89.9, started writing a book about Christian radio, had 5 revelations and visited friends at Christian radio UCB in Chatham.

After 13 weeks we'll see what new vision the Lord has placed on my heart. It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to be radio expansion. I am open to anything. Even - (gasp) if it's not radio.

Meantime, back at LIFE, where I am (supposedly not listening, monitoring or working) the staff has launched the "I Heart LIFE" bumper sticker campaign.

The car stickers cover Central Ontario and eventually one winner goes on the Music Boat Cruise in the Caribbean next Fall. Alright!

Listening rarely to LIFE during the sabbatical meant I missed the premiere of a lot of great music, but I read the news in the paper that the Simcoe County Board of Education, without any research, decided to remove "God" from the board's moral code. I freaked! This seemed to be another example of people feeling threatened by Jesus - or maybe convicted. I made a call to Jen at LIFE and by the end of the week there were several billboards across town, with rugged Jesus staring down and letting everyone know "Jesus is still on the radio!" I love it.

Speaking of Jesus, I guess I was feeling overly spiritual because I took an afternoon to get inked, yet again. This time I was being a little more bold and chose the scripture verse "It is finished". A great final statement. They said it would be really, really, really painful on the ribs, but it seemed to fit best there, so here it is. Designed by Gideon Courtney and inked by Andrew Batten. Nice work.

I'm sure you've seen the movie "Rocky" movie. Remember the scene in the first movie where Rocky is working out and running through Philadelphia? "Eye of the Tiger" is playing and as the song climaxes he finishes his run by leaping three at a time up the steps of the Arts Mueseum. Well during my sabbatical that's what I did. Janice and I flew to Philly to sightsee and hooked up with my good friend Tim Cardascia. Tim and I worked together at WAY-FM and again at LIFE 100.3 and he is now at WORD-FM in P.A. It was a stifling 100 degrees or more and Tim took a video of me running up the steps - several times. Here are me and Tim. Click here for the actual video!

A couple of days later I was able to scratch a "to do" off my bucket list and that was to see the site of the original 1969 Woodstock concert. There's a monument that was erected a couple of years ago and behind us is the area is rear stage right, looking up the hill, which is still mowed and preserved for visitors.

As my sabbatical came to an end of August 3, so did the final words on a book I wrote. Yes, me, an author! The book is "Good to Great - The Christian Radio Version". The book is written for people working in Christian radio, recounting some of my best radio memories and how those days has inspired me to keep pushing forward.

So what else came of these 13 weeks? I managed to conquer "sleeping in"! Now waking up earlier for the first time in my life, (with the help of a few friends and my psychologist) I found a way to do daily devotions and journaling by not overplanning my time but rather "pacing myself". That's the key - stop doing everything and only do what you really want to do that matters.

All this time, LIFE 100.3 had been running nearly seamlessly and in good hands. AJ The Wonderdog was riding the Ferris Wheel for four days, again, but this time not in Barrie - he was in Peterborough, meeting and greeting our fans who listen to LIFE at 89.3!

While the Wonderdog rode, I ventured to Belleville, home of another Christian radio station - 102.3 UCB. It was my final More Radio seminar for the six employees at UCB. I offered ideas and left behind a reminder of our calling to Christian radio. It’s always a treat for me to see how other stations run the show.

After the seminar, I decided it was time for one more change and that was to discontinue the publication of More Radio magazine, which is owned by my company More Radio, This trade magazine was introduced in 2004 and distributed to Christian radio stations across Canada, with a mission to connect radio with artists. I had released 80 issues over the last seven years. The magazine found great success and it was a heartache to stop the publication but, honestly, it had become a burden to assemble. I began to loathe the first week of the month as the editing, gathering of articles and proofing of stories for the print deadline. Perhaps had a key advertiser not pulled out, I might have continued but regardless, I feel it was a good contribution to the Christian radio industry.

September 1 is a date that signifies a new business year for many businesses and ministries, and that is also true for LIFE 100.3. The kids are back in school and we’re ready to unleash a slew of ideas to the radio. In the sales department, we also started strong. Advertising campaigns were very positive and things were looking very good thanks to the guidance of Sales Manager Cathy Faubert. Half of the money that we make at LIFE comes from commercials and pays the rent and salaries.

LIFE's employees were brainstorming creative ideas for the next 12 months of radio fun. Same radio station, new ways to secure listener loyalty and we wanted a plan that started September 1. Thousands of those "I Heart LIFE" stickers were now plastered on cars thanks to "Sticker Clinics". These clinics were mapped out in dozens of cities in our signal area, making it easy for listeners to get stickers and register for the Fall contest. The idea being, we called out license plates and contestants phoned in to verify their plate, and qualify to win a trip on the Christian music boat cruise in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, being an employee, I could not win, but I thought my license plate said it all!

Hard to believe that we were up to number 18 in our Air Raid concert series. With "16" (Stellar Kart) and "17" (Group 1 Crew), we were using bigger P.A. systems and adding little extras gimmics to make the concert more of an experience. While "16" was packed and "17" was sold out in advance, "18" was even bigger on November 13th at Timothy Christian School.

We teamed up with Everyeye Media - a concert promoter in Toronto. They offered us Superchick with Manafest - we added Hearts In Stereo from Ottawa. It was their show in terms of booking the band, the P.A., the venue and the personnel. The gimmic this time, was "the Experience" whereby fans could pay $30 and get advanced entry, go to the green room early, hang with the band, get autographs and “free stuff”. The "Experience" sold out 100 in advance. In total 857 paid to be come.

AJ and Crystal hosted the show. At 7:25 we rolled out the new LIFE Street Video, then as Hearts In Stereo hit the stage with their cover of a Black Eyed Peas song, we threw out jumbo LIFE logoed balloons to bounce across the crowd. Manafest was at the peak of his game and Superchick brought along the best light show to any Air Raid! Ooooh what a night!

In November, after five years of hosting "Slammin' Christian Hits", AJ The Wonderdog moved to 10-Noon middays - the shift that I held for a few years. He also began to develop the fundraising department which up until then, did not exist.

We split the days of Slam and gave Junky Rhodes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Evan Duran the shows on Thursday and Friday. I discovered Evan in Port Perry at Victory Church in 2009 when I was speaking one Sunday morning. Evan, at the age of 16, had a great radio voice and it caught my ear. I invited him to come to Barrie for a radio tour. (Actually, I was waiting to see if he would accept the invitation, and if he did, we would audition him.)

Well, he came for the tour, passed the audition and began a volunteer position on the weekends. Evan travelled from Sutton to Barrie for every show. Now that’s commitment! And, AJ is probably thinking that it will take two guys to fill the his shoes! Well, maybe he's right!

In December I flew to Nashville to get some answers to a dream that has been on my heart since 1996. It is a place there called Rocketown - a 35,000 square foot youth centre that hosts concerts, a skatepark, a café, Bible Studies, an art studio, breakdancing lessons and other programs.

The Rocketown vision is to build relationships with the unloved teen misfits of Nashville who the church generally snubs, show them love and introduce them to Christ. I spent two hours with their staff to see if it is viable to start "a Rocketown Barrie". Will this happen? I don’t know. We’ll see.

My favourite radio event is the end-of-the-year countdown show. When I was in Grade 7 I discovered top 40 music on 1050 CHUM and faithfully listened to their epic Top 100 of the year. There’s something compelling to me about hearing all the best songs in a row, the artist interviews and reflecting on the events of the year. Again this year on LIFE I hosted the Top 50, written by Steve Jones and produced by Tim vanDyk. And for the record, here’s my personal Top 5 faves:

1. Down And Out/Hello Kelly w/To Tell
2. Impossible/Anberlin
3. Avalanche/Manafest
4. Before The Morning/Josh Wilson
5. Lifetime/Kris Allen

For 2011, click here.