Ian Howarth is a former high school teacher who now works as a freelance journalist, and now has written his first book, Rock ‘n’ Radio: When DJs and Rock Music Ruled the Airwaves.
Rock ‘n’ Radio illustrates that Montreal was at the epicentre of the rock radio revolution in Canada, eventually attracting talented DJs from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Their personal stories and the inevitable collision with the power of alternative FM rock radio in the late 60s take the reader through some of the best rock music recorded and the social changes that percolated in the background.
The period 1926 to 1949 can be considered the Golden Age of radio when it was the hearth of the North American family. Much to everyone’s surprise, it survived the incursion of television to live another Golden Age—the 1960s and 1970s when rock ‘n’ roll music seeped its way onto mainstream radio, pushing aside Perry Como and the Dorsey Brothers for Elvis and The Beatles.
The new golden era of radio spawned what would eventually be called Top 40 AM radio, whose premise was built on the philosophy: play all the hits, then play them again. Pioneer Top 40 DJs like Alan Freed in the U.S., widely recognized as the man who coined the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll,” spawned a new breed of radio personalities—the fast-talking salesman who delivered the goods. Hundreds of radio stations in North American gave up their entire programming day over to rock music. And with that came a legion of young, hungry Top 40 DJs such as Dave Boxer, Ralph Lockwood and Doug Pringle, looking for jobs at stations across Canada.