Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canadian Home Shopping Club (aka The Shopping Channel) in 1988

 I was fascinated with the most bizarre stuff when I was a kid. I would listen to bizarre music, and I would watch the most bizarre things on television. I absolutely LOVED the shopping channel, at least when Mike Banks was hosting. The Shopping Channel (as we know it today) was called "The Canadian Home Shopping Club" back in 1987 when it first started up. These guys were the KINGS of selling Cubic Zirconia jewelry, scary porcelain dolls, and ugly crap made by Capodimonte.

It's beyond me why I was enamoured enough with CHSC to fill videotapes upon videotapes of their airtime. Perhaps I watched it when I was bored, but if that was the case, then my childhood was extremely boring. I'm honestly surprised that their text and graphic screen format wasn't permanently burned into the screen my parents' television set.

The graphic above shows CHSC's second generation logo. I was lucky enough to find a snapshot of their original logo on the internet:

Some of the early hosts (or sales staff) were Brian Hiltz, Bargain Bill, and Rosemary Frasier. They were all quite boring on air. The only host I genuinely enjoyed was Mike Banks. The guy made the channel genuinely worth watching. He had an array of plush monkeys that he'd interact with named Mischief, Jocko, Vanilla, and there's probably a couple others I'm forgetting. They made the occasional appearance on screen and each had their own "sounds" ranging from Tarzan to the scream of James Brown (taken from the beginning of the song "Gravity")

The peak of entertainment was when Mike was selling Elvis memorabilia. I unfortunately no longer have the video where he was conversing with Elvis during the spoken part of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" which was playing in the background.

Elvis: You seemed to change and you acted strange
Mike: I did???

Funny stuff!

CHSC aired everything in a still-motion format which was apparently required to be exempt from licensing from the CRTC. I clearly remember one specific instance where they broke the rules and aired live video for the sole purpose of showing Mike Banks' bald spot.

For this entry, I went through the hours of recorded CHSC broadcasting that I have, and brought you the most interesting clips I could find. These range from Mike Banks doing his typical goofy stuff to technology that's vastly overpriced and outdated, at least by today's standards. I didn't do any fancy editing on here because there's absolutely no point in doing so.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Winnipeg Radio in 1971

This was supposed to be a blog entry consisting of a small pile of reel to reel tapes that have been sitting in my in-queue box for a few years. Much of it was just recorded music from records which is the boring stuff I usually find. However, I came across a really interesting gem...

This particular tape consists entirely of someone recording "The Top 300 Songs Of All Time"... in 1971. For those unfamiliar with reel to reel tapes, many recorders have three speed settings. The slower you record, the lower the quality, but the more time you get out of a tape. You can get upwards of 4 hours (in stereo) on a single side. If you record in mono on a single track, you can get 16 hours out of a single tape. Cassettes sure as hell weren't able to do that! (As a side note, I have entire recordings of Scruff Connors' radio shows in the mid-90s that I've been meaning to digitize and upload for your enjoyment)

So there's a shit ton of music to be had on this tape. It's all that you would expect from a top 300 list in 1971. However, the commercial breaks are the point of interest on this tape. To put things in perspective, Stairway to Heaven wasn't yet released, the Metric System was still a long way off, and it was a challenge to stick $10 worth of gas in your car.

The radio station was CFRW in Winnipeg, which is currently an all-sports broadcasting station. Back in the 1980s, it was a music station known as 1290 Fox (I have some clips from this period on cassette). But let's take you back to Winnipeg (and the rest of the world) in August of 1971. Unfortunately, the exact date is never given. The thing that boggles me about this recording is they keep on referring to the time as "Ocean time". What the hell is Ocean time? A sunken clock?

I've posted each clip individually with descriptions of what's in each audio clip. I didn't edit them because I'm too lazy to edit 35 audio files. I've also posted some additional explanation and history behind the things in each audio clip. A lot of it has to do with Winnipeg and Canadian history, but some of it also gives a glimpse of what the world was like back then. The ads get a bit repetitive after a while. In my opinion, the crowning jewel of the entire tape was Johnny Cash singing about Pepsi Cola which is extremely rare and hard to find these days.

If you want to go directly to the 15 minute news break, it's here (also on Side B, Break 12)

If you want to download the entire collection, here's the link.


Side A - Break 01
Bobby Bloom for Pepsi Cola / Youth Beat / Ocean In Concert

- Bobby Bloom Sings about Pepsi Cola. He wasn't able to drink it for much longer since he would die three years later.
- The Youth Beat report shows that for the past 40 years, everybody has been wanting to legalize marijuana. Some things don't change. The "Information Canada Bookstore" located at 499 Portage Avenue is now the home of the Winnipeg Parking Authority.
- Ocean was a Canadian Christian band who were a one-hit-wonder with "Put Your Hand In The Hand". The ad tells you how to win dinner with the band at The Old Spaghetti Factory which still exists, albeit at a different location than in 1971.

Side A - Break 02
Polo Park Shopping Mall / Penman's Pep Cats socks / Winnipeg Tribune contest

- Polo Park is still there, Zellers is not.
- You'll get incredibly sick of the sock commercial if you listen to all these clips
- The Winnipeg Tribune newspaper was killed off in 1980

Side A - Break 03
Eaton's Back To School Sale & Disney World contest / Freezie Contest / Weather

- Eaton's went bankrupt in 1999.
- Disney World was as-of-yet not opened, and didn't open until October 1, 1971.
- Freezie appears to be a store-brand slush drink (The 7-11 Slurpee arrived in 1967 and slowly gained dominance)
- The song in the Freezie contest is "The Barbara Polka" by Eddie Osborn
- The Cottonwood Village Mall is gone, and I have no clue where it was.
- There is one Burger Bar in Winnipeg, but it's not located in a mall.
- Temperature was given in Farenheit as Canada didn't adopt the centigrade measurement system until 4 years later in 1975.
- Winnipeg's 24 hour emergency number now belongs to a company called "Prima Ventures"

Side A - Break 04
Red River Community College Trade Improvement Course / Hair The Musical / Penman's Pep Cats

- Red River Community College still exists
- Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall still exists
- Hair The Musical debuted in 1968.
- The songs on the Hair musical commercial are "Hair" by The Cowsills, "Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In" by The Fifth Dimension

Side A - Break 05
Wright's Carpet / Penman's Pep Cats

- Wright's Carpet no longer exists. 1851 Portage currently belongs to Sublime Hair Design
- The song on the Wright's Carpet commercial is "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) by The Ventures
- Northgate Shopping Center still exists (but it really sucks)

Side A - Break 06
Why the hell is this even here? Sure, blame me!!!

Side A - Break 07
Johnny Cash for Pepsi Cola / Tri-Cum / Wright's Carpet / Weather

- The Johnny Cash commercial was recorded in 1970. Johnny enjoyed Pepsi for 32 more years before passing in 2003.
- Tri-Cum (what a stupid name) and 1133 Bird's Hill Road no longer exist.
- 447 Webb Place became the William and Catherine Booth College in 1987
- The YWCA moved down the street to 290 Vaughan St.

Side A - Break 08
The Mamas & The Papas Pending Release / Penman's Fucking Pep Cats again / Floating Ecstasy Waterbeds / Eaton's Back To School /

- The Mamas & The Papas album that was pending release was "People Like Us" which was recorded to fulfil contractual obligations to avoid being sued by the record company. The album was a flop. Mama Cass would die 3 years later from heart failure.
- Floating Ecstasy Waterbeds were made in Winnipeg at 127 Osborne Street which is now a large multi-business building belonging to Wasabi Sushi, La Luna Soul Spa, and Billabong.

Side A - Break 09
Ocean In Concert / Holy shit! It's Penman's Pep Cats! / Red Cross anti-drowning PSA / 

Side A - Break 10
John Wayne in "Big Jake" / Wright's Carpet

- John Wayne died 8 years later in 1979
- The Metropolitan Theatre still exists. It's gorgeous!
- There are no more Winnipeg Drive-In Theatres in existence. Hard to believe there were 3 in 1971!

Side A - Break 11
Freezie Contest / OMG! Penman's Pep Cats! / Ronnie Dyson for Pepsi Cola

- Ronnie Dyson enjoyed Pepsi for 19 more years until his death in 1990

Side A - Break 12
Eaton's Back To School Sale with Charles P. Rodney Chandler / Department of Transportation Changes to Vehicle Registration / Winnipeg Tribune Contest

- Charles P. Rodney Chandler was fairly well-known in radio. He ended his radio career in Edmonton and he apparently moved to Spain. His show is on side 2. Probably deceased by now.

Side A - Break 13
All Elvis's Hits in One Record Collection / Eaton's back to school sale / Chevrolet Year End Savings / Wilson's Back To School Sale / Weather

- I have no fucking clue what that Elvis record collection is since no title is given. There's no notable box set nor compilation from 1971.
- The Chevrolet Caprice was produced until 1996
- The Chevrolet Impala keeps getting re-introduced and is currently being produced
- The Chevrolet Bel Air was produced until 1980
- The Chevrolet Biscayne was produced until 1972
- Wilson's still exists as "Wilson's Business Solutions"
- The song playing on the Wilson's commercial is "Who'll Stop The Rain / Bad Moon Rising" by The Ventures.
- 240 Portage is currently available for lease
- 3279 Portage is now Parkhill Shopping Center

Side A - Break 14
Eaton's Back To School Sale with Charles P. Rodney Chandler / Penman's Pep Cats (in case you missed it) / Duracell

- 7-up is an "uncola" because it used lemon & lime as flavouring

Side A - Break 15
Wrigley's Spearmint Gum / Swabys Jeans / Bruce Cockburn - High Winds, White Sky / 

- Swabys jeans were very popular in the 1970s
- "High Winds, White Sky" was Bruce Cockburn's second album. He wouldn't have a major hit until 8 years later with "Wondering Where The Lions Are".

Side A - Break 16
Eaton's Back To School Sale with Charles P. Rodney Chandler / Oldsmobile Cutlass / 

- The Oldsmobile Cutlass was produced from 1961 to 1999

Side A - Break 17
Wrigley's Spearmint Gum / Penman's Pep Cats (again) / TK's Clothing


Side B - Break 01
Penman's Pep Cats (back for side 2!) / Ocean in Concert / Polo Park Back To School Sale

Side B - Break 02
TK's Clothing / Department of Transportation Changes to Vehicle Registration / 007 & A Man With No Name / Dairy Queen / 

- Thunderball was released in 1965
- You Only Live Twice was released in 1967
- A Fistful of Dollars was released in 1964
- For A Few Dollars More was released in 1965
- Music playing during the 007 & Man With No Name commercial is "James Bond Theme" by Monty Norman, "For a Few Dollars More" by Hugo Montenegro
- "Chad Allen & The Expressions" was the name originally used by the band "The Guess Who". Burton Cummings sang occasionally.

Side B - Break 03
Chevrolet Vega / Eaton's Back To School Sale / Floating Ecstasy Waterbeds / 

- The Chevrolet Vega was produced from 1970-1977

Side B - Break 04
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Eaton's Back To School Sale / 

- National Pride Car Wash appears to have gone tits up in the late 1980s
- There is an Esso gas station currently located at 390 Dawson Road - the car wash is still intact
- J.J. Jeffrey sounds like a fucking asshole

Side B - Break 05
The Ides of March for Pepsi Cola / Gambles Back To School Fashion Show / Big Jake / 

- The Ides of March are still playing, albeit with a modified lineup since a few members have died

Side B - Break 06
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Swaby's Clothing / Penman's Pep Cats (wooo!)

Side B - Break 07
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Promise at Dawn / TK's Clothing

- Promise at Dawn (the movie) was released in 1970. It got bad reviews.

Side B - Break 08
Wright's Carpet / Hair The Musical / Eaton's Back To School Sale

Side B - Break 09
7-Up / Weather

- When was the last time you heard "His Girl" by The Guess Who? It was a single-only release in 1967. I have it on the "Super Golden Goodies" compilation, released in 1969

Side B - Break 10
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Penman's Pep Cats (we missed you!) / TK's Clothing

Side B - Break 11
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Ocean In Concert / Black Sheep

- 501 Portage is currently the home of a Booster Juice

Side B - Break 12
Dairy Queen / News Break / Bruce Cockburn - High Winds, White Sky / Eaton's Back To School / Sports / Penman's Pep Cats (you saw that one coming) / Weather

- Pierre Trudeau was Canada's Prime Minister from 1968-1979. He died in the year 2000.
- Richard Nixon was President of the United States from 1969-1974. He died in the year 1994.
- Kingston Penitentiary operated from 1835-2013.
- Millhaven Penitentiary opened prematurely in 1971 due to the riots, and was intended to replace Kingston Penitentiary.
- The law prohibiting abortions was overturned by the Supreme Court in the late 1980s
- Broadcasting the names of accident victims today would violate The Manitoba Privacy Act
- The Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health was published in 1964 which identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer
- Pipe tobacco has an equal amount of risk as smoking cigarettes.
- Cigars have been identified as MORE harmful than cigarettes.
- You're on your own for the sports report. I hate sports.

Side B - Break 13
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Freezie Contest / Sweet Baby Charlie & Maniacs on Wheels

- The 1963 movie "Sweet Baby Charlie" is also known as "The Sadist"
- The 1949 movie "Maniacs on Wheels" is also known as "Once A Jolly Swagman"

Side B - Break 14
Dairy Queen / Promise at Dawn / Swaby's Clothing / Weather

Side B - Break 15
Roberta Flack for Pepsi Cola / 007 & The Man With No Name / 

- Roberta Flack is still drinking Pepsi as of this writing

Side B - Break 16
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Penman's Pep Cats (one more time!) / Freezie Contest

Side B - Break 17
TK's Clothing / Wrigley's Spearmint Gum / Big Jake

Side B - Break 18
National Pride Car Wash with J.J. Jeffrey / Winnipeg Tribune Contest / Wright's Carpets

And we wrap up this blog entry with "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. What a miserable note to end on.