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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Have you ever ever had a extremely pricey buddy who encompasses all of the traits you’ll hope for — sincere, loyal, caring, reliable, good listener, enjoyable — but can nonetheless drive you bonkers?

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Meet John McKeachie.

Like tens of 1000’s of others, I grew up listening to McKeachie thorough late-evening and weekend sportscasts on CKNW after which religiously watched his late-night highlights on BCTV.

But it was him who reached out to me throughout Sportstalk’s first yr on CJOR. We saved in contact after that, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than our acquaintanceship turned a decades-long friendship. I beloved his appreciation of the printed enterprise, however what actually jumped out to me was his enormous coronary heart. He genuinely cared about folks, about me and in regards to the welfare of Sportstalk.

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McKeach, although, was as impatient as he was persistent.

Once we began eating collectively after our respective shifts, he was at all times anxious to substantiate our rendezvous by calling at 12:07 a.m., one minute after he and Robert Malcom stated goodnight on BCTV, eight minutes after the Sportstalk Orchestra ended our present. The issue at our finish was that we had been nonetheless in debrief mode, assessing what did and didn’t go proper throughout our present, cleansing up our papers and, most significantly, planning the subsequent day.

McKeach didn’t care.

Additionally, although I’m certain he was simply attempting to be pleasant, John additionally had a daily behavior of calling me mid-morning, typically for no obvious motive, and beginning with the dumbest query you’ll be able to ask somebody who simply woke as much as reply the telephone.

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“Are you up?”

“I f—ing am now,” can be my typical groggy response, generally for actual, often for impact.

John McKeachie, a long-time popular BCTV sports anchor, circa 1995.
John McKeachie, a long-time common BCTV sports activities anchor, circa 1995. Photograph by PNG information

I believed the simplest option to put a cease to this might be to ask if he may please wait till 12:20 a.m. and p.m. earlier than calling. My 12:20 rule. Really easy to recollect. So laborious, as I’d discover out, to stick to.

Is telephone illness situation — a.ok.a. PDC — even a factor? As a result of if ever anybody had it, it was McKeach. Initially, by way of any telephone ringing, he and I had been polar opposites. I’m content material to let a name go to voicemail figuring out the individual will depart a message if it was essential, whereas John may journey and break a leg diving to reply it reside. He informed me it was not unusual at BCTV for him to reply a name from a viewer simply earlier than he was alleged to be on the set, discuss to the purpose of just about being late and be fiddling together with his microphone and jacket with the crimson gentle already on. This often occurred and was a part of his on-air attraction.

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“Why do you reply each name?” I used to ask him.

“Since you by no means know,” he would say.

“You by no means know what?” I’d invariably reply.

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

Not not like those that acquire uncommon stamps, cash, hockey playing cards, and so forth., McKeachie collected telephone numbers. I by no means met anybody prouder of the checklist that he saved and continually up to date on his BCTV laptop. He printed a brand new copy each few weeks and at all times saved it in a bulging again pocket. As a result of an important contact checklist is gold in our enterprise, this meant John actually was sitting on a gold mine.

Remotes had been often rewarding however at all times irritating. House base was my area, with a day by day routine that consisted of hours-long present prep and writing in the course of the day, the present itself, and post-game eats with McKeach and my crew at Martini’s on Broadway. We often went to Martini’s 4 instances per week, although John boasted his report was 16 straight days, together with weekends. Their meals was nice, their employees respectfully accommodating, they usually had been open till 2 a.m., typically a lot later for us.

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We principally shot the breeze in regards to the day in sports activities and shared laughs about different issues. The one time we’d cringe can be when somebody well-known died, which invariably would go like this: Slightly reflection in regards to the individual, maybe a couple of five-second pause after which McKeach cheekily asking, “Did you’ve got him in your pool?”

Martini’s is the place we memorized the “McKeachie-isms,” his go-to checklist of phrases. For instance:

Any story he would possibly inform typically was a “good news-bad information state of affairs.”

The “car-accident syndrome” is how he described having to attend too lengthy to be taught one thing essential as a result of “the not figuring out is the toughest half.”

McKeach was by no means out till the wee hours, it was at all times till “100 o’clock within the morning.” Nor was he out for drinks — at all times “cocktails” stated with fervour.

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The over/underneath on the usage of “vis-à-vis” may simply be positioned every evening at 5.5, and taking the over was at all times the protected guess.

For those who shared significantly nice information with him, maybe a brand new contract or an important score e-book, it was by no means “congratulations” however, no matter month, “Glad New Yr.”

Annually as Christmas approached, McKeach proudly proclaimed, “I by no means begin shopping for items till the twenty fourth as a result of that means you’ll be able to spend solely at some point purchasing.”

Throughout my bachelor years, I spent virtually each Christmas Eve at his South Vancouver residence the place, moreover consuming festive drinks, I used to be requested by John and his spouse Sandi to put in writing particular person Santa notes for his or her three younger daughters. All the time the final to depart, I recall going into the chilly evening round 2 a.m. and heading again to my Kitsilano residence the place I’d begin wrapping items for my circle of relatives go to the subsequent day. In any case, for those who wait till Dec. 24 to start out wrapping, essentially the most time you’ll be able to spend on it’s at some point.

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It’s true, McKeach was infectious and I beloved him.

However solely after 12:20 — a.m. or p.m.

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 greatest visitor ever
• Excerpt 3: With ‘McKeachie-isms … you by no means know’: A pricey, maddening buddy to Sportstalk
• Excerpt 4: ‘Critique so stinging, so biting, so sensible’: ‘The Pauser’ known as some pictures on air, and off, at Sportstalk
• Excerpt 5: ‘We related’: Recalling Sportstalk’s evening in ’94 riven by Rangers and riots

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