May 23, 2024

An excerpt from Dan Russell’s memoir, which recounts the highs and lows of internet hosting a call-in radio sports activities present in Vancouver for 3 many years.

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In Nice Good Night — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk, host Dan Russell recounts the highs and lows of internet hosting a call-in radio sports activities program in Vancouver for 3 many years. Right here is an excerpt:

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Present me any profitable enterprise and I’ll discover you a turning level.

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Sportstalk is not any exception.

Ours occurred on June 3, 1987, the day Vancouver Canucks normal supervisor Pat Quinn employed Brian Burke to be his director of hockey operations. That night time we despatched the Sportstalk limo to the Burnaby Villa to ship us the person who would turn into our biggest visitor.

I’m not kidding concerning the limo. For a number of years we had a “contra deal” with a limo firm to fetch our visitors and transport them to and from our studio. That’s till a B.C. Lions participant — whom I received’t identify — gathered a few his buddies and took our limo for an extra-long post-show joyride by Stanley Park, ran up an enormous long-distance cellphone invoice, and neither paid nor tipped the driving force. Sadly, that was the tip of our nice limo deal.

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Burke could have favored his good journey, however he was blown away by the discussion board we provided and the cellphone response. Earlier than sending him again within the limo, I stated one thing alongside the traces of, “It’d positive be cool for those who may come on repeatedly.”

“I’ll come on each week,” he shortly stated.

“Actually?” I stated, not but understanding how a lot Burke was going to adore media consideration.

I wasn’t satisfied he meant each week. However he did. And it was ground-breaking. Each week of the 12 months, irrespective of the place he was, he wouldn’t miss. He might be on a Hawaiian trip together with his spouse, a ski journey together with his children, fishing together with his buddies or wherever his hockey enterprise took him. He by no means missed. Wednesday nights meant the “Weekly Canucks Replace with Brian Burke,” and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than that turned appointment radio. In response to Burke, it was the primary time any government from a significant sports activities group had accomplished a weekly call-in radio present. Good, outspoken, humorous, fast, passionate and constant. As a bunch you search for a few these traits in a possible visitor. Burke checked all six containers.

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“Thanks for having me on, Dan” was the comforting means he started and ended each present.

When Irish eyes were smiling, St. Patrick’s Day 1989: Canucks staff (clockwise from bottom) Mike Murphy, Bob McCammon, Brian Burke, president and GM Pat Quinn and Jack McIlhargey.
When Irish eyes have been smiling, St. Patrick’s Day 1989: Canucks employees (clockwise from backside) Mike Murphy, Bob McCammon, Brian Burke, president and GM Pat Quinn and Jack McIlhargey. Photograph by Ralph Bower /PNG recordsdata

Every so often, when Burke was someplace in Europe, we’d must wake him due to the time distinction. Whereas he was on the air, producer Scott Woodgate would name again the lodge and order breakfast to his room. It was at all times amusing to listen to Burke cease speaking on air in mid-thought to inform us somebody was knocking on the door.

“If that is breakfast once more, I’m going to ring Woodgate’s neck,” he’d say with pretend anger.

It was good radio enjoyable to listen to Burke put down the cellphone, prompting me to do a play-by-play of him opening the door, predicting he’d stiff the room service waiter of a tip, listening to him mumble as he introduced his breakfast tray again to the cellphone, after which asking him to explain to our listeners what Woodgate had ordered. Burke at all times performed alongside so nicely. He was a pure for our medium, and it completely endeared him to our rising variety of listeners. He cherished these sorts of moments as a lot as we did. Additionally, he by no means requested us to pay the room service cost.

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“What began off as an expert relationship turned in a short time into a really shut private relationship,” Burke recalled years later. “I feel he’s an amazing radio persona, and I think about Dan to be certainly one of my closest and finest mates.”

Too shut as it might end up. However not but.

Burke didn’t invent our present, irrespective of what number of occasions I reminded him of that. Nevertheless, he drastically accelerated our development. I used to be in my mid-twenties and starting to take pleasure in what Sportstalk was changing into. Burke provided super entry, together with permitting me to hang around at his workplace and overhear a few of his hockey calls. He additionally helped safe visitors from across the NHL and was at all times suggesting methods to additional increase the present’s impression.

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Unquestionably the primary part of our relationship was a win-win, despite the fact that I used to be sometimes uncomfortable when he would overstep his bounds, not a lot by visitor ideas, however when he tried to change my opinions. Our relationship being what it was, I’d often inform him one thing alongside the traces of, “Why don’t you concern your self together with your last-place hockey membership and let me fear concerning the content material of my first-place present.” Burke’s normal response could be one thing like “F— you.”

Make no mistake — Burke cherished Sportstalk’s bully pulpit the place he was in a position to unfold the phrase based on the Canucks or himself (most frequently that phrase was the identical), however there have been occasions when Quinn would get indignant over one thing Burke had stated. For instance, there was the time when Burke created this nationwide headline: “Burke threatens to combat personal defenceman Doug Lidster.” Properly, that’s the way it was reported. However to place it in correct context, Burke was pissed off with Lidster’s contract negotiations and the way Lidster talked about his choices within the media. That’s when Burke stated, “If I’m his teammate, we in all probability have a combat the subsequent day in observe.”

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Though the media selected to omit “If I’m his teammate” and “in all probability,” I used to be OK with this because it once more raised Sportstalk’s profile by a few notches.

Learn extra excerpts from Nice Good Night — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk:

• Excerpt 1: ‘Sportstalk, go forward’: Beginning a Vancouver radio discuss present juggernaut
• Excerpt: 2: ‘Thanks for having me on, Dan’: Brian Burke as Sportstalk’s finest visitor ever
• Excerpt 3: With ‘McKeachie-isms … you by no means know’: An expensive, maddening pal to Sportstalk
• Excerpt 4: ‘Critique so stinging, so biting, so good’: ‘The Pauser’ referred to as some pictures on air, and off, at Sportstalk
• Excerpt 5: ‘We related’: Recalling Sportstalk’s night time in ’94 riven by Rangers and riots

For extra info, go to

Cover of Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk.
Cowl of Nice Good Night — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk. Photograph by Tellwell

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