Staying in Touch – Charles Adler

We’re into the 9th month of our new local show. Response has been huge and that is very gratifying. Glad you’re enjoying. And very glad that we are airing the best of the show in B.C, Alberta, parts of Ontario and of course in Manitoba on the weekends, so many who have been with me for many years, can continue to stay in touch with me. We also have podcasts available which cover many of the segments we air live. ( those joining us recently, here’s an abridged written version (Please be grateful when you get a less verbose version) of the monologue I shared after launching the new show.

Good Morning I’m Charles Adler

30 years ago I started my new job in this very same building at Polo Park. CJOB wasn’t the tenant. It was a different radio station. We played tunes lots of them, light rock and less talk unless I was on the AIR…I was never a less talk kind of guy. Fast forward to 6 years later and I am on the move to Calgary. Why? Because I wanted to do talk radio. And there was only one talk radio job in Winnipeg and it was the venerable Peter Warren at CJOB. So I couldn’t stay in the town that had become my home until I was invited to do that job. Well Peter chose to retire in BC. He made that choice ten years after I left Winnipeg and by this point had worked in Calgary and Tampa and Boston and Toronto and so the crew that managed CJOB when Peter chose to hang ‘em up, flew to Toronto to offer me the only job I wanted in the city I was proud to call home. And so in September of 1998, 15 years ago, I came back to the Peg to sit in front of this coveted microphone. 7 years later, the President of Corus Radio in Toronto recruited me to do a national show on the Corus Network, to roll it out on Corus stations across the country. And while that had some appeal, it meant the most special part of radio went missing for my listeners and for me, the ability to touch you every day on what matters to you most.

There were days of course when the events outside Winnipeg mattered most. When world economies are collapsing and big bombs are going off and terrorists are flying airplanes into buildings, naturally we care most about the things that are thousands and thousands of kilometres beyond the perimeter, Portage and Main, The Forks, Polo Park. But thankfully for civilization those are only some days. On most days we care about our own backyard. Our own neighborhood. Winnipeg is my neighborhood no different than yours. So for eight years I was able to live in my neighborhood but couldn’t really communicate with my neighborhood in the most meaningful way possible. Corporations spend serious dollars on research asking questions of their audiences and of those people who aren’t even part of the audience but are potential listeners, prospects as they say in Sales. Well the audiences in every single community where was Corus was broadcasting including Winnipeg told our researchers that the RADIO that mattered most to them was the RADIO that focused like a laser on local. And so our various stations decided that rather than having a national show, they would have local throughout the day and evening. And Winnipeg audiences were no different than the rest and when it came to specific times and specific shows, here in Winnipeg the audience wanted Hal Anderson in the breakfast show and the person in your head right now who had left eight years earlier. And on this first school day of the year for many, that’s the Coles notes version of why you’re hearing change on CJOB today.

Now I don’t want to spend much more time on this show talking about the show. I’d rather, and I know you would rather have me do the show. But I want to get something off my chest. If anyone is concerned that the passing of eight years has softened me, has made me less inclined to offer an opinion, or to challenge conventional opinion, have no fear. My time slots have changed. Not my DNA. Last week on this air the premier of this province said he had some fear about me returning to this slot. He and I have never been on the same page politically and likely never will be. But his job is to do his job and mine is do mine. My job is NOT to burnish his reputation or to polish his trophy. If the public decides it’s time for change on BROADWAY just as they decided it was time for a little change here at POLO PARK, the premier will just have to live with that. If you make change your enemy it will defeat you. But I want you to know that I don’t get up every morning thinking what can I do to help defeat the government of the day? I get up every morning asking myself what can we do today to give Winnipeg the best possible RADIO CONVERSATION ? What I think about every moment in front of this microphone is not Greg Selinger or Brian Pallister. It’s you. It’s all about you. You are my listener, my customer.

As many of you know by now, I am a graduate of Adler’s Tailor Shop. Yes I went to some of those better known schools of higher learning in Montreal and Calgary and Boston. But the things in life that matter most I learned from my father the tailor, doing my homework in his store, doing chores for him in his store, and they including loading the boiler, delivering clothes and sewing up a lot of pants and skirts jackets, and pressing a lot of pants and skirts and jackets. That’s what tailors do and that’s what their kids do. What they do is satisfy their customers to keep them coming back for more. My dad taught me that people want to know that they matter. They live in a world where they are treated like machines. They know they work for people who would to replace them with machines. And so my dad said don’t you ever treat a customer like they’re not important. Nothing is more important than their needs, their desires, and their number one desire is to be treated with respect. And I want you to know folks that respect never meant to my dad agreeing with everything another person says. When you are always agreeing with everyone you meet, someone isn’t doing any thinking. So I won’t agree with everything you or any other guest on this show has to say. And you won’t agree with everything I say.

Our customer will get a quality product with real conversation. If I am not keeping it real, I know you’ll talk back to me on phone, on email, on facebook on twitter and even in person. Winnipeggers are not shy. You were not shy about telling us what you wanted and who you wanted. Thank you for your loyalty and support and for choosing CJOB and for choosing me. I hope that on this day and every day we can reward your choice by giving you the best radio this community has to offer, information, inspiration, and a few laughs along the way.

A Letter to Winnipeg about Potholes from A CJOB listener named Scott

Dear Charles

Having recently had new ball joints installed on my vehicle, (the technician said they wore out prematurely because I live in Winnipeg), I decided to be especially conscientious about protecting my investment. When Brian Barkley recently vented on air about potholes and the state of our roads, I took that warning to heart and made myself a promise that Winnipeg’s roads are not going to damage my new ball joints. In the last two weeks that promise has totally changed how I drive.

I used to drive with my eyes scanning the traffic a half a block ahead, now my eyes scan the twenty feet of road immediately ahead of my vehicle, as if it were a minefield. I sit on the edge of my seat, peering over the dashboard. I am wary of dark spots in the road, crevices between lanes, puddles that could be as deep as Loch Ness. Speaking of Ness, been down that road lately? Ralph Nader’s famous phrase “Unsafe at any speed” quickly comes to mind. Because of the construction it is one lane in each direction, so I end up weaving in and out of the pylons like a slalom racer to dodge the potholes, which on that street border on biblical. At night I have to reduce my speed to sometimes half the speed limit in order to ascertain whether or not the way ahead is safe to proceed through or around. That stretch of Portage Avenue just east of the Empress Overpass has three burnt out streetlights in a row so seeing the road is difficult at any speed over 20km per hour, which is the speed I was travelling there tonight. People were passing me for sure. I’m surprised no one honked at me. We Winnipeggers are so polite. So many people driving down that dark road at 60 km per hour oblivious to the peril their cars could face. Don’t they know these roads are unsafe at any speed?

So far I have managed to avoid all but the smallest of potholes, and my front end thanks me. But I hate driving now, something I used to enjoy. I hate the driver I’ve become. I’m the guy in front of you going 20 k under the speed limit, weaving from side to side, braking for no apparent reason. Maybe I’m proving a point. Maybe I want the police to stop me so I can vent. For now I prefer to just stay home.

We’re all too complacent in this city. We just grumble and nothing changes. What would happen if we had a big demonstration and shut down intersections. I can think of a few that should be shut down for safety reasons, like Ness and St. James.
Maybe everyone should drive like I’m driving.


Health Minister Erin Selby sinks to new low | Columnists | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun

Health Minister Erin Selby sinks to new low | Columnists | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun.

Health Minister Erin Selby sinks to new low

I’ve covered a lot of legislative committee meetings in Manitoba over the past 17 years. But I’ve never witnessed one where a minister stooped as low as Health Minister Erin Selby did this week when she played gutter politics with the tragic deaths of 12 babies at Health Sciences Centre in 1994.

Opposition Tory health critic Myrna Driedger was asking Selby questions during the first day of health estimates Wednesday, a budget-related process where departmental spending is reviewed at the committee stage.

The topic was largely about the Selinger government’s controversial ambulance helicopter program — the subject of a scathing review released last week by Manitoba’s auditor general.

Selby refused to directly answer any of the questions about the program, including why government did not tender the contract and why it ignored the findings of a 2009 feasibility report that called for a needs assessment process.

The rookie health minister repeatedly responded with a handful of irrelevant stock answers that had nothing to do with the questions, followed by partisan attacks against opposition members at the committee table. It was a remarkable level of arrogance for such a new minister and a surprising amount of contempt shown towards the people who pay her salary — taxpayers.

After all, the estimates process is one of the few times cabinet ministers have to answer detailed questions publicly about departmental expenditures and operations. Instead of answering the quesitions, though, Selby responded by accusing the opposition of things like “firing 1,000 nurses” in the 1990s under the former Filmon government, “cutting $37 million from rural hospitals,” and giving an untendered contract to a health consultant more than 20 years ago.

“Previous governments, the previous Conservative government, entered an untendered contract with Connie Curran with the sole purpose of cutting $64 million from health care,” Selby said, when asked why the Selinger government didn’t sign an interim contract with STARS while tendering out the long-term contract. “And we know that that resulted in firing of 1,000 nurses.”

But it was during repeated questioning from Driedger about the age of the STARS helicopter that Selby trotted out the most crass and distasteful response when she made an irrelevant reference to the 12 babies who died during pediatric surgery at Health Sciences Centre in 1994.

“We know how things were done when they were in office, Mr. Chair, they ignored problems — they swept them under the rug,” said Selby. “And it is hard for me to imagine, but they allowed 12 babies to die and still didn’t take into consideration what happened to learn from such devastation that those families went through.”

The pediatric surgical deaths was a horrifying period for the families involved and a very dark time for Manitoba’s medical community. An inquest into the fatalities by then associate chief judge Murray Sinclair identified a number of serious shortcomings within the surgical program, which was shut down as a result of the deaths. Selby’s decision to open a wound from 20 years ago and attempt to profit politically from the misery these families went through was nothing short of despicable.

It’s bad enough the minister childishly refused to answer any of the questions asked of her about the STARS helicopter and why taxpayers are doling out $10 million a year for it, in return for only a fraction of the missions that were promised.

It’s even worse she would try to capitalize politically on the death of infants to do it, especially when the pediatric surgeries had nothing whatsoever to do with an ambulance helicopter 20 years later.

This former CityTV Breakfast Television host is clearly in over her head.