I don’t know Gerry Forbes well. We crossed paths professionally a couple of times and had lunch once, with another colleague. It was his brother, Marty, who got me out of Wingham by hiring me at CKFM (soon to become MIX 999, now Virgin) nearly – gulp – three decades ago. I don’t know Marty well, either. He left pretty soon after hiring me, but I chose not to take that personally!
I’ve admired Gerry’s career and the way he became an important part of Calgary with good works and great broadcasting. Now, he’ll be inducted into The Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. It happens on May 9 during Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Gerry’s first thanks upon hearing the news was to his co-hosts along the way.
Gerry retired from CJAY 92 in Calgary last year after 25 years with the station. I first met him when he was doing mornings at CHUM in Toronto. I clearly remember driving to Toronto from Wingham to audition with him. They were looking for a woman to do traffic and react to his antics. I was so excited. And it became a huge lesson for me.
I remember that Gerry was supportive and optimistic. He made you feel like he wanted you to get the gig. (Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter.) I was given traffic copy and we faked a couple station breaks. Gerry pretended to come off the back of a song and kibbitz a bit before introducing my traffic report. And that’s when my rookie mistake hit me in the face like a cream pie!
Looking down at the copy, I saw street names I’d never seen before. This was long before I’d ever lived in Toronto – it was still an overwhelmingly giant city to me then, not the familiar quilt of neigbourhoods it would become. Roncesvalles? Strachan? SHIT! I butchered the first name and – realizing it – tried to make a joke. I decided that every street name would be called “Smith” for the day and that’s what I did, with giggles. “A collision at the corner of Smith and Smith is blocking the left lane…” Mildly amusing, unless you are interested in the real traffic report!
I blew it and I knew it. I ought to have looked at the copy and asked someone how to pronounce the names. But I was so nervous, I forgot Broadcasting 101. Mary Garofolo got the gig. Gerry left CHUM for CKFM a couple of years later and that’s where I worked with him and brother Marty.
I may not know Gerry well, but I wish him well. And congratulate him on joining music and broadcasting legends at the upcoming induction. Ted Rogers is in there. So are many others including Gerry and Marty’s Dad. I can’t pass by Roncesvalles or Strachan without him coming to mind.