O’Day Brain Surgery

Well, a little bit of a scare for one of our 4 “stars” of the documentary but Pat O’Day pulled through brain surgery this past Friday and the tumor was benign.  I knew there was no way Pat would miss our premiere, whenever it may be!

Details on the surgery and how Pat was still doing interviews less than 24 hours before the operation, in the article below:




We decided there was something noticeably missing from our documentary – the perspective of a female DJ.  Though there were only a handful of women active in rock radio in a major market during the 60’s and 70’s , we have found one who definitely qualifies.  Meg “Megless” Griffin did the free form thing at legendary New York City station WNEW during its glory years and she went on to spin tunes at WPIX, K-ROCK and now still plays what she wants on three different Sirius satellite radio channels.

She was hired as one of the first VJ’s on MTV but quit one week in because they wanted her to give up radio.  She has been honored by the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame.  Her close friendship with Howard Stern has lasted almost 40 years since they both began their careers in White Plains, New York.  In short, we think she has some stories to tell and can’t wait to sit down with her in The Big Apple in early July.  Stay tuned!

Cross Talk

Got back into the swing of shooting in 2012 as we had a great interview with Alan Cross last week at his home.  Alan spent 25 years on-air at CFNY and is perhaps best known for hosting over 700 episodes of the series, The Ongoing History of New Music.  Alan was possibly the last person hired by David Marsden before leaving CFNY and he had some great stories for the film about what it’s like to work with, and for, The Mars Bar!

Alan has posted a short piece about our interview here:


Producer/Director Roger King takes in the action as Alan Cross gets “Schmoozed” (the dog’s name is Schmooze).


Sojourn to Seattle

We are back from a week in the Pacific North West.  This was Pat O’Day territory.  As Charles Cross, the well-known Seattle music writer, told us, there isn’t a generation in Seattle that doesn’t know Pat O’Day for something.  Whether it’s his legendary on-air and then management stint at radio powerhouse KJR or his dance and concert promotion business in the 60’s and 70’s, or his 47th year in a row doing the TV play by play for Seattle’s Sea Fair, or as part owner and chief spokesman for The Schick Shadel Hospital (“Give us 10 days and we’ll give you back your life”), O’Day is a Seattle legend.

We spent 2 days on the San Juan Islands, where O’Day now runs a successful real estate business and a solid 5 hours at O’Day’s beautiful home on the water, running down all the stories from a life of peaks and valleys.  We covered O’Day’s relentless promotion of the local Seattle music scene which laid the groundwork for the grunge scene that would come decades later, his friendship with Jimi Hendrix, an attempt on his life early in his radio career, his brush with the mafia during his concert promotion days, his alcoholism, anti-trust lawsuit and Chapter 11 flirtation, and his time in Russia, helping to train the next generation of DJ’s.  And this only scratches the surface!

We spent time at The Space Needle, the Hendrix grave site, Pioneer Square, the always enticing Pike Fish Market, Kerry Park and the oldest Japanese restaurant in Seattle, to name a few locales.  And the aforementioned Schick Shadel Hospital where we talked with some addicts who are literally learning to get sick of alcohol http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPfL4LGALx4&feature=related.  The biggest challenge is going to be condensing O’Day’s story to bite size pieces in the edit.  His life could be a film on its own!


Left to right: Kevin MacKenzie (Sound Engineer), David Cain (Director of Photography), David Jermyn (Production Manager), Roger King (Producer/Director).  Middle: Pat O’Day


The Mars Bar

We have been shooting our interviews with David Marsden at The King Edward Hotel in Toronto.  We had wanted to shoot in the hotel bar but there are clearance release issues with the hotel.  Plus, a waitress I know there tells me that a businessman reserves the table we had in mind every day between 12-7 pm.  Sometimes he is joined by others; sometimes he’s alone.  He drinks an average of 5-7 martinis a day while doing business.  His bills range from $200-$500 daily. We were tempted to stop work on I Am What I Play and immediately begin the documentary on the guy with the permanent table at The King Eddy!

We shot over 6 hours of interviews with Marsden and there are still stories I realize we didn’t get to yet.  We did cover a lot of ground though.  From his days as mouter-mouthed David Mickie at CKEY in Toronto – and the hosting of 2 TV shows to go with the radio work – to being a major part of the free form radio movement in Montreal at CKGM-FM (now CHOM-FM) and in Toronto at 70’s powerhouse CHUM-FM, the stories just flow, with playfulness and good humor.  The early days of FM radio, the FLQ crisis and John & Yoko’s bed-in in Montreal, the gay club scene in 1960’s Toronto, and of course the creation of CFNY and the alternative rock format for which Marsden is best known.  These are only some of the topics covered during our lengthy sit-downs together.

And the best part is – Marsden is STILL doing the free-form thing, on 94.9 The Rock, Saturday and Sunday nights – and at www.marsdenglobal.com

You will love David Marsden on camera!  He is truly full of life.

Director Roger King with David Marsden on location at The King Edward Hotel, Toronto.  In background, sound man extraordinaire, Kevin MacKenzie.

David Marsden in The Marsden Theatre at 94.9 The Rock.  DOP David Cain climbs new heights to get the shot.

Charles and the Charles River

I suppose the first entry on this “I Am What I Play” blog should have coincided with the first official day of shooting.  We confess that we have already shot some days with David Marsden in Toronto.  I’m not sure if we count the day back in March when Marsden was inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcasting Hall of Fame (http://bit.ly/9TpzuY).  We were there with our camera but at the time, the budget for our film wasn’t even finalized – we just knew we had to capture this event anyway.  So, it didn’t really have that “official first day” vibe to it.  So was the official start of shooting the first interview day with Marsden last month?   Our DOP, David Cain (http://vimeo.com/channels/davidjcain) expressed surprise that I had scheduled 3 hours for the interview.  “I’ve never shot an interview that lasted longer than an hour.  Three hours is a long interview!”  The sound man concurred.  I explained that our subjects are rock radio DJ’s.  They know how to talk.

Among many claims to fame, Marsden is best known as the creator of modern rock station CFNY.  We spent 3 hours with him on a September afternoon and only just got to the point where he is about to join CFNY!  I rest my case.  We also have shot an evening at Marsden’s radio station, 94.9 The Rock, where he hosts The Marsden Theatre, every Saturday and Sunday evening (www.marsdenglobal.com).  We will schedule more with David in November and we shall blog in detail about the magic of Marsden.

But some might say that the real shooting begins when you leave the comforts of your hometown and hit the road – or, in this case, the airport, U.S. visas and carnet in hand.  We spent a week in Boston (aka Bah-ston) October 9-16 and explored the life of one of our four guys – the legendary Charles Laquidara (WBCN).   He was charming and a fine storyteller, weaving tales of a struggling actor in Hollywood making it big on Boston radio, complete with several false firings and a couple years of cocaine-induced inactivity.  Also met the unforgettable Oedipus, former WBCN Program Director, and the man who hosted the first punk rock radio show in America.

Attempts to land an interview with the enigmatic Peter Wolf of J Geils Band proved unsuccessful.  In the late 60’s, Wolf had been the overnight DJ on WBCN before leaving to pursue J Geils full-time.  In came Charles Laquidara who eventually moved to mornings, where he would remain until 1996 when he completed a smooth segue to sister station WZLX in order to make way for Howard Stern on WBCN.

With the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, Woody Allen served as the inspiration in that shooting was always wrapped up in time to watch the games (Woody shuts down production early on New York Knicks game days).  Cold Sam Adams on tap of course!  This director was therefore less than enthusiastic when pressured to rise at 5:00 am one morning so that our esteemed cinematographer could be at the ready on the Cambridge side of the Charles River in order to secure his money shot time lapse of the sun coming up over the pristine buildings of downtown Boston.  In retrospect, I’m of course glad Mr Cain pushed for this.  Laquidara was after all a morning man.

I feel like we finally got a sense of Boston – the city that, according to Laquidara, requires three GPS’s to navigate.  We settled for one $100 purchase at Radio Shack on Day 2, making our Production Manager, David Jermyn, a happy man.  Breakfasts at Buddy’s; Beers at The End of the World.  A little city and radio history in between.  Back in Toronto now.  Seattle and Pat O’Day await in December.   But more updates to come between now and then!

Former WBCN morning man Charles Laquidara (“The Big Mattress”) and Director Roger King “on the set”.