Station to Station with Joe Pavia

Up and down the radio dial and other stops



Alternate title: Adventures in radio!

Blog: The Jeff Howatt Aircheck Sessions

Without even realizing it former radio news anchor Jeff Howatt helped me through a major on-air news presentation crisis I was going through.

Howatt was the afternoon news anchor at 104.5 CHUM-FM in Toronto, while I was the afternoon news anchor at DC 103.5 in Orangeville, Canada

In my opinion Howatt had the smoothest news presentation on a music radio station with a read that was flawless. He was a pleasure to listen to.

My afternoon newscasts were a disaster. Turning on the microphone turned me into an incredibly anxious person, and I couldn’t make it through a sentence in a news story without tripping over a word or five. Sensing my days were numbered I reached out for help.

An operations manager named Gerald Laing dissected the problems with my on-air sound and got me on the right track. I also began taking private vocal lessons with a vocal coach named Dorothy Leitch. At home my wife Trudy, who is a teacher and reading specialist, worked with me to improve my listening skills and understand what I was reading. Finally on my own I began listening to Jeff Howatt’s newscasts for their instructional value.

The Jeff Howatt Sessions, as I’ll call them, were part of my homework. I admired his work and wanted to listen to what he did in the hope that it would help me improve my news reading skills. In the industry we call this an “aircheck”.

Read more: Blog: The Jeff Howatt Aircheck Sessions

I used to do this when I was a pre-teen. I used to record newscasts and commentaries by another CHUM news anchor, Dick Smyth.

But with Smyth I was a kid playing radio, The Jeff Howatt Sessions helped with the real world problems I was having and may have saved my job.

During my news shift I would record all of Jeff’s newscasts on CHUM-FM, onto cassette and I would listen to them, over and over, on my one hour commute home.

It’s an exercise I did seven days a week for quite some time.

What I listened for

The first thing I listened to was the entire newscast, as I was looking to see if I had the same stories and line up in my newscasts.

Then I would rewind the tape and listen again focusing on the pace of his read, including where he paused from one line to the next in a story, and how long the pauses were between stories. There were also times, and believe me this didn’t happen a lot, that he slightly stumbled over a word. He didn’t focus on the mistake, like I did during my reads, but kept going.

I would rewind again and this time pay attention to the line up of stories and how many there were in the newscast. How long was each story? Why were some longer than others? I also counted the words and sentences in each story and timed the length.

On the fourth listen, I would focus on the writing and how he structured the story. What was the lede line in the story? What was in the body of the story? How did he end the story?

The last time I rewound the cassette was at home where I would transcribe each newscast and read it out loud for practice. I wanted to see for myself what the newscasts he wrote looked like and hear my voice reading what he had written.

I listened to and read enough of his newscasts that I began implementing some of what I had learned in my own newscasts and it turned around what had been a bad on-air situation for me and my listeners.

Jeff Howatt left and me at an RTDNA event in 2008.


Years later I met Jeff Howat at a Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) gathering in Ottawa, Canada.

I explained to him what I had done and how his on-air work had helped me during those troubling on-air times.

His reaction was humble and he said something like, “What are you thanking me for – you’re an award winner?”

Sure, winning a Murrow was great but Jeff Howatt had more of an impact on my on-air performance.

The combination of receiving regular airchecks along with the Howatt homework was a positive turning point in my career.

Continue reading “Blog: The Jeff Howatt Aircheck Sessions”

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Blog: Someone stole my David Cassidy interview

Someone stole my 1990 David Cassidy radio interview and has taken credit for it as their own.

I received a copy of this fraudster’s interview from someone who heard the interview and realized it was mine and let me know.

The fraudster claimed the interview was done in 1990 at a radio station they worked at. While they may have interviewed David Cassidy that year the interview that’s making the rounds on a number of podcast sites is not their interview, but a re-recorded version of mine.

The fraudster edited my interview to make it appear that David Cassidy was a guest on their music show.  They deleted my voice and substituted their own, so that David Cassidy appeared to be responding to questions posed by them.  Most of the questions they used were mine and word for word, Cassidy’s responses were the one’s he gave to me. Continue reading “Blog: Someone stole my David Cassidy interview”

John Majhor radio and tv host

John Majhor was the first famous radio and television person I ever worked with. 

The Toronto broadcaster was well known in the 1970s and 80s for his DJ work on CHUM radio, and as VJ of the first music video show in Canada called Toronto Rocks where he introduced videos and interviewed musicians. It was a show I watched regularly.

John and I worked together at two Toronto radio stations, first at 97.3 CJEZ where he was morning host and later CFRB 1010 where he filled in as a talk show host. Continue reading “John Majhor radio and tv host”

Good News!

The first story in a radio newscast is the most important in a collection of stories read at the time you tune in. Usually that lead story is the most up-to-date, and appeals to the greatest number of listeners.

Think of the inverted pyramid which is wide at the top, emphasizing the big story. That pyramid narrows until it reaches the bottom where the newscast ends with a “kicker” story, usually a lighthearted good news item that is supposed to send listeners off with a smile. That’s what I was taught at school anyway.

A music radio station I worked for early in my career restructured that pyramid and instituted a “good news” policy whereby the top story needed to be a positive story.

Continue reading “Good News!”

Rocketship 7

Actor Dave Boreanaz announced in 2017 that he was working on a script for a movie about a weekday morning tv kids show.

The star of TVs Bones didn’t have to go far to find his inspiration for the project since his father,  Dave Sr was the star of a weekday morning tv show called Rocketship 7.

I have a great minor story line that Boreanaz can use for his movie that focuses on a kid  getting his first big break in television.   Continue reading “Rocketship 7”

Take home pay

I thought I had won the lottery when in 1989 I got my first full-time radio job as a News Anchor/Reporter at 1460 CJOY and CKLA 106.1 in Guelph, Ontario.

At a yearly salary of $15,000 I thought I was loaded, so I made a plan of how I was going to spend my winnings.

Continue reading “Take home pay”

Political handshakes

If you want to know how to properly shake a persons hand, follow the lead of a politician as they have mastered the combination of a good grip, perfect posture, eye contact,a smile and a hello. Continue reading “Political handshakes”

I feel (cough) great!

How ironic that I should finish a session with a trainer at the gym, and then come down with a respiratory infection. I went from the pinnacle of great physical health to the depths of aches and pains caused by picking up “something-that’s-going-around”. That “something” kept me in bed for an entire day. A congested throat meant I needed to delay the next set of podcasts that I’m producing. Being sick also kept me from training for a 5 K race that I have signed up for. But being laid out in bed gave me an opportunity to look back at the six months that I’ve spent in two Wellness Program’s at my local YMCA called Diabetes Fit and Live Smart. Continue reading “I feel (cough) great!”

The Coen Brothers

When I worked as a radio News Director, I used to regularly receive emails and phone calls from people who pitched their ideas to me for a news story. I remember one such pitch involving the Coen brothers and a casting call scheduled to happen in my hometown of Kitchener, Ontario. Continue reading “The Coen Brothers”

Running and thinking

“Good for you,” someone said that to me, this morning, while I was out for my run. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, and while I’m thankful for the encouragement, I wonder what the person really means. Continue reading “Running and thinking”

Top 40 at 40

When I turned 40 I compiled a list of My Top 40 SongsContinue reading “Top 40 at 40”

What I learned from Knowlton Nash

I first watched CBC television anchor Knowlton Nash deliver the news during the American hostage crisis in Iran in the early 1980′s. Continue reading “What I learned from Knowlton Nash”

Growing up Italian-Canadian

Every Canada Day during my adult life, I would call my parents and thank them for moving to this country. Continue reading “Growing up Italian-Canadian”

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