n 2017 I had a book published called Rock ‘n’ Radio: When DJs and Rock Music Ruled the Airwaves (Vehicule Press), my tribute to the halcyon days of Top 40 rock radio in Montreal. The book also chronicles the early days of FM radio in Montreal, specifically CKGM-FM, later re-branded as CHOM-FM in 1971, which after 52 years is still a force on the Montreal radio-scape. One of the station’s most recognizable personalities is former morning man Terry Di Monte who began his first stint at CHOM in 1984 and “retired” in May, 2021. Di Monte connected with a ton of people during his radio career – and one of those people was a young pre-MP, pre-PM Justin Trudeau. Di Monte and Trudeau have some history that goes back to Trudeau’s adolescence
After the World Health Organization declared covid-19 a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020, the entertainment business was effectively shut down. Concerts, live theatre, museums and cinemas were among many of the estimated 12 million people associated and employed with all aspects of the performing arts, now suddenly cut adrift. With estimated revenues of $1 trillion annually, the business shifted online. Some were able to adapt and wait. Others simply had to change course. And find completely different sources of income.
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was hardly an out-front presence of the group. And he liked it that way. Of all the group members, Watts was the only one who the audience was least physically familiar with. Playing with a seemingly constant impish grin or alternatively a tight-lipped look of determination and concentration, he looked as if he’d easily play an elderly Gimli in a Lord of the Rings film.
Matt Cundill Interviews Ian Howarth in this SoundOff Podcast
Ian’s live interview on NTV – The Powerstation!
240 pp 8.5″ x 5.5″
In the age of podcasts and streaming, you could be excused for forgetting that commercial radio still exists. Indeed, it lumbers on, mostly for audiences either too entrenched in their habits to change them (listeners of classic rock, CBC, AM talk radio), or who don’t know any better (Top 40 pop). When I listen to local classic rock station CHOM, large chunks of the commercial breaks are devoted to the corporate owners’ satellite network and to hawking ad time on the station – not a good sign. Into this twilight era, like an only-slightly-premature obituary, comes local author Ian Howarth’s Rock ‘n’ Radio, a passionate paean to the golden age of the airwaves here in Montreal.
When Howarth, early in the book, uses the phrase “one of the most exciting eras in Montreal AM radio,” you get a strong sense of his overall tone: very specific, very enthusiastic, and very nerdy. He profiles the DJs and station owners – mostly men, along with a few women who tolerated the era’s Mad Men-like gender politics – who dominated the airwaves of English-language radio from the fifties to today, though the focus is mainly on the commercial and cultural heyday of the sixties and seventies.Review by Malcolm Fraser is a writer, musician, and filmmaker based in Montreal.
Growing up in Montreal during the mid-sixties, I was a huge follower of my city’s English-language radio stations, especially when it came to Top 40 Music. I devoured all the elements of three AM stations; CFCF, CKGM and CFOX; the music, the weekly hit lists, and of course, the patter and crazy antics of their resident DJs. Ian Howarth’s Rock n Radio is a solid gold mine of insights and anecdotes from that era. The book’s conversational tone and accessible style made it a fun and absorbing read for me. As much as it is a fantastic trip down a groovy memory lane, its author also reveals that our favourite radio jocks often lived with high levels of job insecurity, where creative reinvention became the key to career survival. That these one-time Montreal icons opened up to Ian Howarth so honestly is a tribute to his skill as an interviewer. I would recommend this fascinating book to anyone who, like me, grew up with a transistor radio soundtrack to homework and bedtime.Review by Norm Horner
Before CDs, Napster, iTunes and music streaming apps, there were 45s, LPs and radio. Ian Howarth’s “Rock ‘n’ Radio” takes us on a nostalgic trip back to a time when colourful DJs and savvy Program Directors ruled the English airwaves in Montreal. Ian‘s research and anecdotes tell the story of the early days of Rock ‘n’ Roll on Montreal AM radio from Dave Boxer and Buddy Gee to FM’s Terry DiMonte. It will take you back to a time when you skillfully turned the dial on your transistor radio from CFCF 600 to CKGM 980 to CFOX 1470 to try and catch your favourite song. A great, insightful read that will have you asking “How’s your bird (the old oiseau)?”Reviewed by Alan Takenaka
Wow. Ian Howarth has just released a wonderful, well written, and researched tribute to the mostly 60’s/70’s DJ and radio station scene in Montreal.
The book unveils how important the DJ’s in Montreal were to baby-boomers who turned to music for fun, protest and liberation. The book harks back to the days when a transistor radio was your ticket to the world and “album-based” FM radio was a novel low budget experiment. Howarth ties the Montreal scene to DJs south of the border like “Cousin abrucie.” Very well written and packed with information, the book could not have been easy to organise. I like how Ian Howarth put it all together. He also covers the clubs where the DJs introduced The Stones, and local bands like The Haunted (check out their song “1-2-5”), Mashmakhan (“And As the Years Go By”). This book is a must for all baby boomers who loved listening to the radio during the 60’s and 70’s.Reviewed by Christopher Viereck
Terry Dimonte Interviews Ian Howarth
C.P. Rodney Chandler - 1969
Roger Scott - 1969
Ralph Lockwood - 1975
Terry di Monte - 1990
The Del Cappos didn’t last long and, while attending Monkland High School in Montreal’s west end, Hill joined a band with guys a couple of years older, who were playing club gigs. It was a step up from the weekend church basement circuit and Hill found himself playing much more often, getting home at 3 a.m. and getting up for classes the next day. The band, Dave Nichols and the Coins, wanted to hit the road. But Hill was still in school and was not inclined to make the serious move to full-time musician. It was a wise decision, despite the disappointment of his band mates. “I enjoyed that band,” says Hill. “We were making pretty good money for the time and I thought we had a great sound.” Then he got a call from Dave Nichol’s younger brother Allan. He wanted to start up a new band, one that would soon have Hill putting aside any regrets about leaving his former band behind.