Big Daddy Dave
Photo courtesy of Kevin James Day
And JR country
What was your first ever paid job?
It was at age 14 when I started working in radio at CHML/Hamilton in 1954-56. I worked there after school and on weekends for 3 years in the 'record library' before moving to BC.
What do you collect, and when did you start?
Juke box records, all speeds...started when I was 5. Then I moved on to cassettes, to VHS movies, to CDs and now DVDs!
What musical instruments do you play and were you ever in a band?
Always an aspiring piano player...never good enough to be in a band though, or even be heard by anyone else!
In August of 1957 - As part of an employee holiday replacement scheme, CKNW turns over the reigns to the UBC Radio Society. 10 students operated CKNW for three weeks. One student did eventually join the On-Air staff��.Dave McCormick.
CHML Hamilton ON; DJ, music director & co-program director CFUN Vancouver 1958-62; middays/music director with legends Ron Jacobs and Robert W. Morgan, KMAK Fresno CA 1962-65; drive/MD original Boss Radio KYNO Fresno 1965-66; middays/PD KOL Seattle 1966-67; evenings/PD/MD KMEN San Bernardino CA 1967-72; CKNW evenings & CFMI-FM Vancouver; created and hosted 1,000 award winning and world-wide syndicated documentary series �Discumentary� 1972-86; first hire CJJR-FM Vancouver/PM drive 1986-96; CKBD Vancouver midday host 1996-current; BC Broadcaster of the year award early nineties; four times BC Country Music Association Country Broadcaster of the Year; 1998 inductee BC Country Music Association Hall of Fame.
Credit the province 93 John P. McLaughlin edited
He's among the most venerable personalities on Vancouver airwaves today, a Disc Jockey's �DJ� whose love affair with radio goes back to the last days of big band and the dawn of rock 'n' roll.
At a pre-show press conference with Garth Brooks a couple of weeks back, he was the only questioner Brooks recognized by name. He's Dave (Big Daddy) McCormick, the drive-home man on JR Country.
"Oh, I've interviewed him several times," McCormick says. "See, I knew Garth's manager, Pam Lewis, before Garth was discovered. I went down to Nashville in '86 when JR first started and Pam was handling a lot of new acts at the time, trying to get some deals. �
"It was easy to get the first Garth interview because I had requested it. She was knocked out. So she's always been nice to me. I didn't mind interviewing her up-and-comer acts. She'd say, `Dave, I need a favor.' Nice guys win in this game."
McCormick has been in the game since he was a teenage radio operator working after school and weekends at CHML in Hamilton.
"That was a trip, running a station for eight hours, a 15-year- old kid. This is before rock 'n' roll came along. I was into country roots and the blues stuff, what became rock 'n' roll. The Crows, Hank Sr., I was a Bob Willis freak -- I was a stone country fan in the early '50s."
McCormick lost the job when his father was transferred to the coast though he never lost his enthusiasm for radio. After high school and a stint at University of B.C., including working on the campus station, he became part of local radio history at CFUN.
"They weren't very old; they weren't a rocker yet. The station was all over the place in those days. I turned it around and started rocking a little bit there and got some ratings and in the summer of 1960 a whole bunch of us turned that station into a rock 'n' roll station. Brian Lord, Brian Forst, Al Jordan and myself. We were the Good Guys at 1410. We were a really fun radio station, you ask anybody who remembers. I had 100,000 members in a thing called the Hi-Fi Club.
That led to a 10-year radio stint in Fresno, interrupted with a year in Seattle, before McCormick was lured back to Canada and sister stations CKNW/CFMI, where McCormick helped develop his �Discumentary� idea.
These were hour-long shows focusing on particular artists or themes using music, research material and bits of interviews.
"We borrowed stuff, we traded stuff. When you think back, a lot of them didn't have interview clips in them. You just don't get Eric Clapton. In the beginning we did everybody, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Marvin Gaye, whatever. I was quite flattered � the format was stolen left and right all over the place. We did hundreds of those shows."
After 14 years at CKNW/CFMI there was a general firing -- not unusual in radio -- that included McCormick. A new country FM station CJJR feathered his fall.
�"I was hired before they even went on the air. I never missed a payday.�
Credit� the province 89 Bruce Mason edited
He can't remember who gave him the nickname, Big Daddy. But it stuck. And an entire generation has grown up with the voice of Big Daddy Dave McCormick, from rock, to talk, to country.
A pioneer in the heyday of '50s AM radio, McCormick has played his own tune, keeping complete control of his work, perfecting the good-natured intelligent interview style that's helped him survive in the tough local market.
8:00 a.m. "Hang on," says Big Daddy. It's a phrase which figures prominently in the off-air vocabulary of the veteran broadcaster. The familiar voice returns to the phone with DJ directions, "four blocks off Granville, three records away."
8:10 a.m. The McCormick home is comfy-Kerrisdale, a jeans and sweatshirt, chess set and antique furniture, kind of place.
"The board belongs to my wife Sandy," explains McCormick, as he opens the screen door, points a long finger to the chess figures lined up in front of the living room window.
8:15 a.m. Sandy and the kids, Ryan and Austin are finishing breakfast. It's the second marriage and second generation of children for McCormick. His eldest daughter is a police officer with the Vancouver horse patrol. "A good cop," he says with pride, "and my son's a struggling artist."
The younger kids listen to Dad on the radio when they're not too busy.
Sandy plays a big role in his success. His feature All Star Country is Canada's only daily syndicated country radio series, aired on 65 stations nationally. A former Province writer, she edits his copy.
"She tells me when it's trite and gets me to stick to real life stuff, like if the musician cuts his own lawn."
They met and married a decade ago when she was writing a story on media personalities.
9:00 a.m. McCormick and I enter his office, THE ROOM, a place where everyone who ever loved a record should spend some time. An old Olympia typewriter sits on the desk. Any space on the wall not stacked with records has photos of his favorite interview subjects. The most telling is a 14-year-old McCormick at his first radio job in Hamilton, Ont.
"I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," he laughs. "It's the only real job I've ever had."
There are 45's from the '40s, 78's from the '50s, records that were used on the �Discumentary� series that made him a household name, albums that were brought back from stints in Seattle and California and raw tape for his current Countrymentary projects.
A 19-year-old McCormick, who skipped classes at UBC so he could spend time at the Radio Society, was hired as an all-night man at CFUN in the late '50s. "We taught the city how to rock," he recalls.
1:00 p.m.� Time for work. The car radio is on 'JR Country.� "I'm part of the Woodstock generation but I heard it all and met everyone back then. Country is the most exciting music now. its poetry, and people who can't get over a hillbilly bias are missing the boat."
2:00 p.m. "Hang on a sec," he tells a listener with a question about a long-ago concert in the Kerrisdale Arena. For the next four hours he will hover (or stand still) like a hummingbird, quickly fielding contest calls, slipping on sunglasses to glimpse at a monitor that lists the latest traffic information. He still loves his work, snapping his fingers to the beat, eyes closed, sifting through the decades of memorabilia in his mind. Air traffic controllers should have it so easy.
6:00 p.m. The evening is for family, the hot tub, or the tree fort he's just finished building.
11:00 p.m. The day ends back in the office, flipping through the photos of the 40 interviews he conducted in four days in Nashville, two months ago. On the weekend he'll tape conversations with Ricky Skaggs, Ian Tyson and a BCTV interview with Bootleg. "I'm a one-man band, writing, interviewing, editing."
"Just a sec," he says reaching for the phone. "People know they can phone at this time. Our lights are the last one's out on the block."
Home: BC Radio History
Hear McCormick and Red Robinson here:������������������ http://rockradioscrapbook.ca/redrobinson.ram