Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Birth of the Boogieman

The question I get asked the most by CHUM fans is “How did you come to be known as 'The Boogieman'?”  Well, as with most of the events in my professional career, it wasn't my idea at all.

The ultra high energy, nearly frantic presentation I used wasn't new by any stretch, any number of Djs had adapted the approach for years.   From Dick Biondi... first in Buffalo, then Chicago... to “The Real Don Steele” in Los Angeles, radio personalities had been tearing up the airways and driving responsible adults nuts since the beginning of Top-40 radio.   Indeed, Toronto had experienced it's own wild man in the personage of Dave Marsden, who as “Dave Mickey” made me look like a somnambulist.  The fact of the matter is, I didn't really care for that kind of radio at all.  I wanted to be the hippest guy on the block.  I've always had a propensity to use “Jive” or street talk.  In the sixth grade I'd refer to teachers as “Daddy-o”, much to their chagrin... especially the women.  Well to the best of my knowledge I'd never heard the term “Mommy-o” so what was I supposed to call them?   "Maam” I guess.  Fat chance!

At any rate my approach on air was “up” but not “frantic, until one day I got a call from Bob Wood.  I was sick with the flu, but had come in to do my shift anyway.   It was a Saturday, so I had a long, 5 hour airshift.  If you don't think 5 hours on the air in a fast tempo station like CHUM was exhausting, try it some time!  Anyway, as my energy was giving out by the second, the “Batphone” lit up, Bob Wood was on the other end.

“Ahhhhhhhh... Scotty...”

I knew what was coming, whenever he used the phrase “Ahhhhhhhh... Scotty...” there was criticism on the way.

“Uuuummmmm... I noticed you energy level is a bit low today, is something wrong?”

“No Bob, other than the fact that I feel like a skunk that's just been run down by Vito Corleone's Cadillac everything is just ducky!”

“Uuummmmm, well.... Could you pick it up just a little bit, the station is starting to drag?”

“Sure Bob”

“Thanks Scotty.”

Now I was pissed.  Not only was I sicker than a dog, but I had to pick up the pace which would probably make me sicker.  A devious plot began to take shape in my mind, if I went on the air screaming like a lunatic at 100 mph, maybe he'd decide he liked me better the old way.   I decided to give it a shot, I cued the op for the next song and let her rip...”


I sat back and waited for Bob to call back and tell me to crank it back down.  Sure enough, seconds later the Bat Phone lit up again.

“Ahhhhhhhh... Scotty...”

“Yes Bob?”

“That's JUST EXACTLY what I want!”

I thought of my experience years before with Lottie The Body.  I should have NEVER tempted fate like that!

As for the name “Boogieman”, I didn't think of that either.  It was pretty common in the early seventies to use "boogie" in conjunction with music, dancing, partying etc.  In fact it still is.  I was on the air one day, and using the word copiously as usual... “We're gonna boogie tonight” “Dis' is the baddest, boogienest jam I have EVER heard”... etc.  when my op, Bob Humenick, piped up over the talk-back.  

“Hey, you're “The Boogieman!”  

“Hmmmm”, I thought. “Boogieman”... yeah that's the ticket!!!  So “The Boogieman” was born.

I originally conceived this persona as a kind of character.  The Boogieman was a somewhat egotistical, but likable dork who had visions of grandeur but a ton of self doubt.  In other words, he was not unlike the teens who made up the bulk of my audience.  I would constantly share with my audience the many ignominies foisted upon me by my employers, who obviously couldn't see what a gem they had in their midst.  On one occasion I was to see how powerful this image had become.

I came up with the plot that I had asked for a raise, but the company didn't believe I deserved one.  If I could convince them what an enormous asset I was, maybe they'd give me some more money.  I furthered the plot along by forming my own fan club, the “Screaming Night Creepers”, and encouraging listeners to send letters to the station to join.  I also put listeners on the air to take the “Scott Carpenter, World's Greatest Disk Jockey” oath.

“Do you solemnly swear that you will always listen to the Boogieman, support the Boogieman, and love the Boogieman forever?”  

All pretty lame stuff, and intentionally so since The Boogieman wasn't supposed to be all that bright anyway.  What happened next was a bit of a shock.  I assumed that a few letters might trickle in, and the whole thing would be forgotten by the following week.  Imagine my amazement when the letters began to arrive by the bagful... hundreds of them... stacked in the conference room.

The phone rang at home... “Ahhhhhhhh... Scotty...”

Uh oh

“Scotty... the station has been inundated with requests for this fan club of yours.  You need to come down and pick up the mail, since this was your idea the station isn't getting involved.  However I expect that every letter will be answered."  

I ordered up hundreds of membership cards, and sent them out on my own time and at my own expense.   I figured I'd done my career some good.

Flash forward years later.  I am now a systems admin at the US Dept of Energy in Washington, DC, my radio years far behind me.  My phone rings and Scott Jackson, a radio personality whom I'd influenced to get into radio years ago, is in town.  He and his wife would like to meet me for lunch.  We have a nice visit, and just before they leave his wife pulls out her “Screamin' Night Creepers” membership card from 1972, over 35 years ago!

If only I'd known then what kind of impact we'd had on so many people.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Best Buddy FARTHEAD!!!

Fart Head as I remember him!!!
Hear Pat read this entry 

I recall the moment as if it was yesterday.  I'd been in Toronto for about a month, and had recently moved into Place Du Soliel.  I'd met a few people, even had dinner with a couple of folks but had not yet formed any firm friendships.   Frankly, I was feeling a little lonely.  Deb had attended a marriage counseling session with me, but her heart wasn't in it and she had returned to Toledo for good.  I knew the papers would be arriving any time now.  As fortunate as I felt I'd been in coming to Toronto, I missed her terribly.

And then...

As I was walking down the hall to my apartment I noticed the door of the place across the hall was open.  The sound of a hockey game could be heard coming from the TV inside.  As I peeked into the door I saw what could only be described as a drunked up, deranged hippy sitting on the edge of a couch with a Labatts 50 in his hand, yelling at the screen like a lunatic!  You've seen those old photos taken in Haight Ashbury back in the 60's of half-stoned weirdos with long hair, beards and a wild expression in their eyes?  That was this guy 100%!  Eventually the ref blew his whistle, and the wild man turned his head.  It must've taken a moment for his eyes to focus on the door, but as soon as he could make out my outline a grin began to form on his face.   His eyes lit up as his smile became bigger and bigger until finally he began to gesticulate wildly with his arm, I could see he was trying to invite me in.

“Whasss' yer namefffph?”

“Ummmm Pat Bergin” I replied

“Bourbon?  Pat Bourbon? BLAH HAAAA HAAAA... Pat Bourbon!!!”

“No... Pat Bergin!”

“OOOOOOHHHHHHHHH BERGIN!!!!! Lessee... BERGIE, that's it BEEEERRRRRGGGGIE!!!!  Here have'a 50!”

His demure and beautiful girlfriend was popping corn at the stove.   She put cinnamon in it, and it had the most delicious aroma I'd ever smelt.  Without blinking an eye she grabbed a 50 out of the fridge while stirring the popcorn with the other hand and deftly handed it to me... she'd obviously done this kind of thing before!  The crazy man on the couch handed me an opener, waited while I popped the top on the 50, then started pointing at himself.  I wondered what the hell he meant.

“You're Bergie... I'm Randy, but you need to give me a name!”  He said, still grinning like a deranged Cheshire cat.   I knew I had to come up with a fitting nickname for my new found BFF.  Something that was not only descriptive, but memorable as well and I had to do it before the game started back up or I would lose him for sure.

“Ummmmmmmm... FART HEAD!!!!!!!”

His eyes lit up even more, you could tell he was mightily impressed by my ingenious nickname... obviously nobody had ever called him that before... I can't imagine why not!

“HAAAAAAAW, HAAAAAWWWWW, HAAAWWWWWW... FART HEAD... GOOD ONE EH!”  he shouted at the top of his lungs, his girlfriend looking on with a mildly maternal look on her face as her man proceeded to go ape shit over his new found friend!  I later learned that Randy was a drummer, and played professionally in clubs around town, his girlfriend Carrie had briefly sung with his band, but was now a full time homemaker.

In the coming months I would meet and become fast friends with Fart Head's other pals... Tony Carr, a former Mr Dominion of Canada and circus palm reader, “Too Tall Mike” a local small-time hustler who spent as much time in the clink as he did at home, Don “Burr Head” Weir, one of the greatest singers I'd ever heard, Owen "The Beard", “John The Boot”, “Accordion Vince”, “Pizza Dave”, and an entire assortment of wackos with whom I would spend many a beer soaked evening carousing, laughing and raising hell.  And right now I was seated next to my new pal Fart Head, watching the Leafs lose as usual, and munching on the most delicious, cinnamon popcorn I'd ever tasted.

Life was GOOOOOOOOOD again!

Monday, October 3, 2011


 "Glamor Puss"... 
Actually these ladies worked at the station, they had zero interest in me.
Hear Pat read this entry 
Got your attention huh?

Here's the part that people have been bugging me to write for years.  They've heard the stories about the debauchery, the all night orgies, the nubile maidens willing to do anything, any where, anytime.  

OK, I'm finally going to spill the beans.  After keeping this to myself for all this time I've finally decided to tell the whole story, so get the kids out of the room....

Are they gone?  OK good, here we go...

Are you ready?

Sitting down?

You sure you want to hear this?

OK, here goes...

It never happened!!

Oh, for sure there were ladies who would occasionally make themselves available to “entertain”, but that's true for almost anyone.  As far as the lines of scantily dressed young tarts waiting at our beck and call, those stories are mostly a bunch of hooey.   At least they are as far as I'm concerned, unless the rest of the guys had something going on that I never knew about I didn't see any of that.

Now it's true that we'd occasionally throw a wild party, and we weren't exactly shy about participating.  It's also true that, due to the endless CHUM marketing, we were exposed to far more ladies than we likely would've been otherwise.  We were constantly on the front of CHUM charts, of which hundreds of thousands were dispensed weekly.  The station was careful to use professional photographers in order to make us look good.  We were asked to appear on TV, at city functions, and promotions... basically we were everywhere all the time.  There were certainly more opportunities than there would have been otherwise.

But contrary to the prevailing view there were very few “hook ups”, either with fans or with the various young ladies that the station would hire from time to time as “CHUM Chicks”.   Despite the politically in-correct name, these were highly professional young ladies for whom we had an enormous amount of respect.  While it's true that we could often be found in the company of gorgeous young models at “The Red Rooster”... the official CHUM watering hole next door to the station... these were people that the station had hired for promotional purposes, in other words colleagues.  We'd sit for hours telling jokes and raising hell, but as far as heading back to someone's pad for a little humpty-hump later... well let me just say, if it happened at all it sure as hell didn't happen for me!

Also, Canadian ladies are actually a bit more conservative than their American counterparts.  Although they seem to have a healthier attitude about relationships and intimacy than American ladies, I never saw any of them wearing see through dresses like I had in Toledo.   They had a maturity about them that was sexy of and by itself.

During my seven years at CHUM I was often seen around town in the company of some of the Walter Thornton Agency models that we'd brought in for promotions.  The fact is that these folks were friends of mine.  Once I got off the air I'd take whomever was doing kiosk duty at the station down to George's to catch Mo Koffman's last set.  We'd order up some Italian chow and drink wine until they closed.  Also some of them would babysit my little, one year old from time to time.  I often joke with Dorian how he was pampered and fussed over by some of Toronto's most beautiful women, and now that he's an adult he can't get a date!

All of us were respectful of the ladies, whether they were in house personnel or fans.  Especially the fans since they were our bread and butter so to speak, without them we'd be nothing.  The women that worked there know the real story and so do the listeners who later came to be our friends, and in some cases CHUM employees themselves.  I'm hoping some of them will read this, and post some comments of their own.   It's time the wilder rumors were put to rest once and for all.  These folks were, and in many cases still are some 35-40 years later, good friends.  One of them is sitting next to me right now as I write this... more about my wife Sandee and her wacko family later.

Now I hope I didn't disappoint too many people with this confession, it would've been easy to let the stories continue on ad infinitum and just wink and say “no comment” when someone asks, but that would be unfair and disrespectful to some really great friends who deserve a hell of a lot better.

The ladies, fans and colleagues, who brightened mine and Dorian's lives and remain our pals to this day.