I’ve been catching up on a few things of late, and someone told me that Don Taylor had some nice things to say on the day I entered the Hall. Among other things he said, “our friend, Dan Russell….I listened every night on my way home after we finished Sports Page. We were like rivals. Sportstalk and Sports Page. I don’t think I ever (told him) that we listened every single night.
“And a must read is his book. It is really, really, good. It’s great.”
Taylor’s co-host Rick Dhaliwal also had nice things to say about the show. That is, until Don talked about how good he thought the book was, prompting Rick to say, with a chuckle, “other than the part where he ripped me”.
Thank you to all those who sent congratulatory messages in the past few days, regarding the BC Sports Hall of Fame. On the front page of this site you will see the speech that I made (via video) that played inside the Hotel Vancouver ballroom. I was only initially given 60 seconds to make that speech, but thanks to Chris Brumwell and Jason Beck at the Hall, they graciously allowed three minutes. I tried to thank a few people in the speech, but I also told our viewers what my biggest regret was during the three decades of Sportstalk.
This is a big week in my career – arguably my biggest — as this is Induction Week for the BC Sports Hall of Fame. It kicks off on the afternoon of May 31 with the Honoured Members Reception at the actual hall of fame at BC Place Stadium. And then the next evening, June 1, its the big Induction Gala at the Hotel Vancouver. By the way, this year marks the 52nd Induction Gala for the HOF.
Recently we gathered some old Sportstalk memorabilia and had it delivered o Jason Beck, the tireless/professional BCSHOF curator. Included for the display, that’ll be set up inside the hall, was our Sportstalk diary (taken from June 1994), microphone, mixer, tapes, pictures, the Dan Russell trivia game, and of course our book. (And no, they will not be playing an endless loop of the iconic Sportstalk theme song for those perusing the display – although not a bad idea, right?) The hall will display all of this for the next year before returning the items to me and making way for the class of 2024.
Unfortunately I’m not able to attend in person due to family reasons, but I have recorded a speech that will played at the Induction Gala. Also, I have three special guests set to represent me on both May 31 and June 1. All three are apropos to my career. I will reveal who they are in my next posting.
Many will not speak that night as the hall has altered its format in recent years due to a number of inductees speaking for too long, stretching the evenings proceedings to a much later hour. So now curator Beck pre-interviews all the inductees and his team produces a PowerPoint video for each, covering their story in about 60 seconds. They’ve told the inductees they’re not required to speak – but if they wish, to please keep it to one minute.
Naturally, as a broadcaster I want to speak. I need to speak. It’s in my actual DNA to speak. And because one minute is barely enough time to say hello, my video speech will be a little longer. Furthermore, there are just so many to thank. Especially all my listeners who followed me from station to station.
I will be sure to post the speech and other Hall of Fame moments on this site in the next few days.
Once again thanks to all those who have made this week possible. All those listeners, my support team, JP McConnell for nominating me, and the selection committee for choosing me.
After going hard for nearly a year in an attempt to get the word out about the book, you may have noticed I’ve scaled right back at the start of 2023. My thinking has been — what a great response to the book, in terms of reviews and media attention (I don’t think there’s ever been a BC based book that has received more media attention), but I didn’t wish to keep hammering people over the head trying to promote Pleasant Good Evening.
Right or wrong, I go back to what I wrote on New Years Eve – “…I feel word of the book existing has reached most of who the target audience will be and if some of those people still have not read the book they may do so in the future.”
Naturally the media interviews have also quietened, as they should. However I did, just a few hours ago, pre-record an enjoyable discussion about the book and much more with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on their podcast, which will be released on April 7.
Incidentally, during that wide-ranging interview we talked about broadcast pioneer Red Robinson, who passed away a few days ago at age 86. Quite rightly there has been an outpouring of responses for this Vancouver legend.
As it turns out, despite our quarter-century age difference, Red and I, in addition to both being trailblazers of sorts in our respective careers, shared at least four other things in common.
1) We both started on CJOR in the Grosvenor Hotel – Red in the 50’s and me in the 70’s
2) We both wrote a book – Red actually wrote two, including The Last Deejay.
3) We both site Al Jordan as our broadcast mentor (see the “Available at Woodward’s” chapter in my book.
4) We both ended our radio career at CISL 650
I wasn’t close to Red, but we did meet a few times and, despite not being a huge sports fan, he was very complimentary about Sportstalk. The last time we met was during our time at CISL where I once asked him to lunch so I could pick his brain. Not about on-air broadcasting per se, but to tap into his great knowledge of radio advertising. For, as effective as he was on the air he also was highly successful for a long time with his ad agency (Vrlak-Robinson) starting in the 1970’s.
During my final chapter at CISL I had purchased my airtime and needed to sell advertising to off-set the costs and pay myself a salary. Happily we were extremely successful initially, but unhappily I could see that while securing advertisers was hard enough, renewing them was proving to be much more challenging. That reality essentially spelled the end of Sportstalk in 2014, as I decided I didn’t have what it took to sell/renew enough advertisers while also hosting every evening.
The next quarter of 2023 may spike a little more interest in the book as yours truly will be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame at the end of next month.
I will share more about that experience and honour as that time draws nearer.
Career wise – even though I am officially retired – this has been an amazing year, with two significant achievements. The first was the releasing of the book in May and the second was the news that yours truly was named an inductee to the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Translated into sports terminology, its been a “career year”!
I’ve been asked which of those two means more to me? Honestly, they must be bundled together as both are crowning achievements given that the content of one clearly led to the other. But if I was forced to choose, the book was my biggest ever project and the one that I am most proud of.
The goal of the book was to capture the Sportstalk legacy and create a permanent record of a trailblazing show which captured the attention of so many BC sports fans for so long. But the subplot of my memoir was my relentless (unsuccessful?) pursuit to become an NHL play by play broadcaster.
Perhaps this Amazon reader review put it best just a few days ago; “…Meticulous detail of a young boy’s dream pet feels but turns into a mainstay for Vancouver sports fans”.
Timing being everything, Sportstalk hit the airwaves at the exact right time and filled a huge void that, even as I look back now, surprises me wasn’t filled before me.
The reviews and reactions have been great, as it concerns the all-important content of the book.
However, the actual process of starting a book from scratch as a self-publisher, and going through all of the labour-intensive steps was a huge eye opener, even for someone who had interviewed more authors than any other Canadian broadcaster. Making every decision means exactly that as a self-publisher. This included everything from title of book, cover design, what kind of paper, font size, layout design of chapters, promoting, setting up media interviews, all social media, etc. Staying with it and seeing it through to it eventually becoming a national best seller was extremely gratifying.
My team was nimble to say the least. But I had great help from Gregg Drinnan as my editor (long before it got to Tellwell Publishing) and my sister Cathy Russell, who greatly and enthusiastically helped with so many aspects, including photos and this website. And then, once it got to Tellwell, their professional team worked with me to push “Pleasant Good Evening” to the finish line. So once again, BIG thanks to Gregg, Cathy and Tellwell for everything they did!
I will probably take a step back now from heavily promoting the book because I feel word of the book existing has reached most of who the target audience will be and if some of those people still have not read the book they may do so in the future.
My plans now are to add more content to this site, especially in the audio vault. And I will update this blog from time to time. I’m also considering a podcast as my 2023 project. One that will combine what is happening today with the large archive of Sportstalk audio I have saved over the years.
Best wishes to you in 2023. Happy New Year!
Our last posterboard for Gift of Sportstalk was to remind those who received Amazon gift cards in their stockings that they might want to use it to gift themselves a copy of the book.
Merry Christmas to all former Sportstalk listeners and current readers!
The Gift of Sportstalk campaign is winding down. It has been a fun project, with about 30-40 different poster boards daily posted. My thanks to all those who were quoted in the testimonials and, once again, to my daughter Palita for her amazing artwork. The advantage of releasing the book last May is there were many testimonials to choose from, accumulated from media reviews, Amazon reviews, etc.
One definite drawback to being only available on-line is the shipping time so close to Christmas. Amazon has been delivering “Pleasant Good Evening” in two days for soft cover copies (much longer, for some reason, for the hard copy versions). But now, about a week out, its touch and go as to whether the book can be under the tree by December 24. It just depends on where you live.
However, one thing that I know is that many people receive gift cards for Christmas. And we will begin a very short campaign on Christmas nudging those who receive Amazon GC’s to use them for the Gift of Sportstalk.
I have mentioned before, including at the end of the book how big a help Gregg Drinnan, (a former sports editor in Kamloops and Regina) was when I wrote the book. Since he retired his has authored the highly popular “Taking Note” blog, and one of blog traditions, as one of the most ferocious readers I know, is to annually compile The Bookshelf.
Here is what he wrote about Sportstalk book. Below that are the full links to all the books Gregg reviewed for this years serving:
Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk —
For the better part of 30 years, Dan Russell ruled the late night airwaves in B.C. While doing so, he kept a diary, program logs and audio tapes. He puts all of that and more to great use in this book, which chronicles his life and career on and off the airwaves. Yes, there is plenty in here on Brian Burke and the Vancouver Canucks, too. No, Russell doesn’t pull any punches.
(Disclaimer: I was involved in the editing process with this book.)
Great sales is what most authors hope for, but for me I am most proud of the great reaction I’ve received for “Pleasant Good Evening”.
I’ve been blessed with so many positive reviews. They all mean a lot, especially the ones from former colleagues. Case in point this one from highly respected broadcaster Tom Marc, who professionally delivered the news for decades on CJOR, CKWX, and CKNW.
We ended up giving away four books on Twitter for the Gift of Sportstalk.
The last two were BC based winners. One from Kelowna and the other from Burnaby.
I should say a couple of things about the book availability because I have had, as you might expect, people wondering what bookstore they can find the book in. The answer is “Pleasant Good Evening” is only available on-line.
Had the book been taken on by a “traditional publisher” (example: Harbour Publishing) that is one of the things I’m sure they would have facilitated. But as a self-publisher there were lots of considerations to take in. Yes, we could have ultimately made it happen, but it would have created a lot more work dealing with different stores, managers, pre-printing strategy (gambles?), shipping arrangements, buying insurance for books (that might not sell), etc.
My understanding is the bookstores offer the shelf space. That is their risk. And even the kind of shelf space – prominently displayed, or tucked away in the back on a lower shelf – is an issue for many authors. And if the book doesn’t sell, they are all returned.
The print-on-demand system the online model offers I felt better suited my needs, as my calculation was that loyal Sportstalk listeners would want it because they heard about the book (likely on social media) and seek it out in order to read so may behind-the-scenes stories about the show they regularly listened to.
Sure, in a perfect world I would’ve also liked to have the book available leading bookstores, but the amount of work that would’ve entailed as a self-publisher versus the very low return the bookstore model pays out to authors wouldn’t have made that worthwhile.
What’s with our randomly picked winners so far? Two books awarded. Neither of them being shipped to a BC address. Both winners are based in Alberta. Mike Shaw in Okotoks, and Dustin Forbes in Lethbridge.
Speaking of things in common. Like myself, Forbes graduated from BCIT broadcasting and both have WHL ties, as he is the play by play broadcaster of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Like I said, they are random draws. We are giving away another book today, and perhaps tomorrow.
By the way, we may have to revise our two-day delivery on our social media campaign. Close to Christmas and the Amazon people are getting backed up.
So if you are thinking of gifting the book for the big sports fan on your list, I would strongly suggest doing so today to make sure it arrives on your doorstep, ready to wrap, by Christmas.
Tonight I stayed up late once again (Asia time) to speak with Cleve Dheensaw for the Victoria Times Columnist. We also started our conversation at 1am and before we knew it an hour had passed. He’ll be posting his book review soon, and we’ll then post it on this site.
Cleve and I share a few things in common. Both of us grew up listening to faraway radio signals, mainly California, thanks to the late-night AM Radio signal skip. (You can Google that if you are not of a certain vintage.). We also first followed (he the Victoria Cougars, me the New Westminster Bruins) and then covered the WHL for many years.
And lastly, he and I now belong to a special club, as we are two of the most recent inductees for the BC Sports Hall of Fame – Dheensaw in the Class of 2020, and yours truly will be in the Class of 2023. (Incidentally, he is the only media member in the Hall who spent his entire career as a media member outside of the Lower Mainland.)
The longest interview I’ve done for the book took place tonight, which my time actually started at 1.15am and lasted until nearly 3am. It was with Prince George broadcaster Hartley Miller for his podcast called “Hartley’s Cat Scan” – (clever name, because the WHL team that he covers is the Cougars).
Part one of the interview is now posted in the Audio Vault. I say part one, because he did what I sometimes did when I was doing Sportstalk – and that is, while I have the guest on the line (pre-recording) it would be great if I could obtain more content. So watch for part two to be posted in about a week.
As you might expect, an interview that long covers many topics, as you can hear. It was very casual, with no edits. Just a conversation between two radio types who first hit the airwaves in their respective markets around 1979.
The “Gift of Sportstalk” campaign is (seemingly) going very well. I don’t know what it will mean in terms of actual book sales, but I do know we are receiving great responses to the posts we have sent out featuring a different testimonial every day, and real spiffy artwork from my daughter Palita Russell (yes, I am biased!).
We have a Twitter campaign going right now across Canada, and its creating many impressions.
We also have a smaller Instagram “Gift of Sportstalk” campaign also running.
And this week, with Christmas creeping closer, we are going to give away a handful of books to lucky followers on my Twitter account.
Please give me a follow @DanRussellST.
Random, unrelated question. If either, what will happen first in my lifetime?
The Canucks winning a Stanley Cup or the Canadian men scoring a World Cup soccer goal?
Yes, I’m still trying to figure out how Canada didn’t score in a game against Belgium that they dominated. Perhaps in a couple of days they will score against Croatia? (It says here they will!). Perhaps in the next 8 years the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup? (It says here, I won’t hold my
More random thoughts. This week marked the 8th anniversary of the passing of Pat Quinn, who I would say is the most important figure ever connected with the Vancouver Canucks. I often think about what a Quinn manufactured ’94 Cup would have meant – and among many other things it would’ve lowered the hockey pressure in the city significantly. Its hard to articulate, but the difference between winning at least one Stanley Cup in your long history and not winning
one is large. (Example, the Calgary Flames have one and no one there asks if they will win one in their lifetime. Another example is the NY Rangers, who had to hear “1940” chants for so long. Toronto, of course, is another team currently going through the same.)
Like all BC hockey observers I continue to miss Pat. If you just want to hear his voice again, head over the audio vault, as there is a reminiscing interview I posted with him.
Having tried (with mixed results) during the Father’s Day season to do some
limited advertising on Instgram, Facebook and Amazon, today we decided to do our best to help Elon Musk feel better about all his recent tough days at Twitter!
Anyone familiar with all these platforms have seen promoted ads. Honestly, I never thought I would ever have the need to employ their services. Essentially all the platforms make promoting easy by simply “boosting” one of your posts.
The Gift of Christmas campaign made that a no-brainer, so we (once again my eldest daughter Palita and I) made one ad, navigated our way through the steps, and within minutes the promoted ad was up and running. It is scheduled to run for the next 17 days to Twitter accounts all across Canada.
The testimonial ad-copy we used for the boosted ad was an excerpt from the highly credible IndieReader review. Here’s what the ad looks like.
Speaking of book reviews, here’s another thing I knew nothing about a year
ago (and am only now skimming the surface). Its about Goodreads. Honestly, I had never heardnof them, but they say “Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.” So, at the urging of Chelsea Rutherford at Tellwell publishing, she recommended months ago that I get set up with an account, etc. Honestly, I haven’t been too active yet, but the book is there. And just this week we received this book review from a ferocious reader, David Stanger.
Today I received a nice email from the former co-owner of Boston Pizza George Melville, who I consider amongst the finest people I met during my Sportstalk years. He is also one of our cities most giving people, as you can see in this BC Business magazine link.
In his email to me he had so many nice things to say about the book, and the memories it sparked – especially during the decade or so that Sportstalk originated from the Andy Moog & Friends golf tournament in Penticton.
And, about that BC Business magazine article – look at what made the interview box at the bottom!
With the help of my eldest daughter Palita we are planning a Gift of Christmas
campaign that I will attempt to promote on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Each day between about November 17-December 23 we will post a different poster ad, which every day will include a different testimonial from someone who has read the book, including some in the media and others who posted a review.
I really enjoyed the interview with Bob Marjanovich. He tried to set the record
straight about a passage in the book that did not flatter him. I’m glad he did, although he did invoke a third party into the story, which was a somewhat heated debate one night in 1994 at the Shark Club. I had lots of great reaction from the interview.
You can listen to that entire interview right now in the audio vault.
Boo! (Gotta put one boo in after a wonderful month of cheers.)
Regarding upcoming interviews. Last night I recorded a segment with former
partner Brook Ward, who is hosting the Vancouver Giants weekly show on Sportsnet AM 650 (airing every Monday). Hard to believe I’ve now known Brook for well over 40 years. He told me yesterday that he while he thought he might get a mention in the book, but wasn’t expecting a full chapter – “My Friend Mr. Canada”.
On Tuesday I’ll join Bob Marjanovich for his Moj on Sports podcast. This will be the first time he and I have had an interview and I’m looking forward to it. His most recent interview was with former NFLer Mitch Berger, also part of the class of 2023 for the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Also, the second part of my podcast interview with Bob Mackin will be released on Sunday for Breaker News. I always have a special place for Bob and his father Bob Mackin Senior, who was the former program manager at CJOR and the first to ever put me on the air (as an occasional all night disc jockey – 2 until 6am in 1979) and was ahead of his time when he created My City (internet live streaming) Radio in 2000.
A reminder, (almost) all of our media interviews are located in the audio vault on this website.
I must say this has been an incredible year (a career year?) in terms of response
to both the induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and earlier this year with the launch of the book. I had thought the book was the crowning achievement, but as I absorb the most recent news, I believe it’s the combination of both.
Yesterday I was invited back on the Jack FM morning show with Drex, Lena and Bob Addison. Its my second time on with them and I loved it and I understand why their breakfast show is so popular. Its fun and its got a great pace.
Steve Ewen (for Postmedia in the Province and Vancouver Sun) wrote an amazing story about my induction news. (You can see his full story on this site now located at the top of the media tab.)
Steve is also one of my favourites. He’s been a workhorse for decades. I sat near him at many WHL games at the Pacific Coliseum. He always greeted me the same way – his term of endearment — “hey, f***** Dan Russell is here tonight”.
Here was the headline from his story:
B.C. Sports Hall of Fame: Dan Russell talk of the block as new class of inductees named
Longtime, pioneering sports radio show host to join hall with the others including Vancouver Canadians owners Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, ex-Canucks defenceman Dennis Kearns, former NFL punter Mitch Berger
By the way congrats to all those going into the Hall, including the four mentioned in that headline.
Additionally, I was really pleased to see the 1971 Richmond Roadrunners going in to the Hall as well because as a ten-year-old I attended all their home games at the Richmond Arena that year, including their exciting league playoff title against Burnaby Cablevision.
But the real highlight was making the trek for all seven games of the Minto Cup which took place at the bigger Queens Park Arena versus Peterborough. QPA was packed for every game, especially for Game 7. Richmond won that classic series and I believe they were long overdue for the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Incidentally – just as he did when my book was launched — Don Taylor sent out an amazing tweet (which created all kinds of likes and retweets) congratulating me on the news. He followed it up the next day on his CHEK TV show.
Not only did he weigh in, but he also asked co-host Rick Dhaliwal (who proceeded to list off names that should be in), Jeff Patterson (who was complimentary, despite – as per a passage in the book — our past differences), and Tony Gallagher (who amusingly went out of his way to essentially say he never/seldom listened to Sportstalk).
I received so many personal notes as well, including from Jim Robson, Ray Ferraro, John McKeachie, George Mellville (Boston Pizza co-owner), Stan Smyl, Richard Brodeur, Cliff Ronning, Lowell Ullrich, Carl Valentine, Gregg Drinnan, Janet Brown, Jody Vance, and many others.
My apologies, but this will be a rather large entry today.
The call I referred to on October 9 was extremely special, but it had to be kept confidential until today. Tom Mayenknecht, the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, tracked me down to inform me that the selection committee had chosen yours truly to enter the Hall as part of the Class of 2023. As it happens, Tom had placed a similar call to me years earlier on behalf of the Paul Carson broadcast awards when that body gave me a Lifetime Achievement award.
It was great to get this news specifically from Tom, given his knowledge and passion for the local media. He was most kind of the phone, expressing for several minutes many compliments
as to what I had accomplished and how thrilled he was for me to be receiving this honour. In fact he may have been more excited than I was. Probably because, at that time, it hadn’t sunk in. It still hasn’t really, but I can say its extremely humbling, for a few reasons.
First and foremost I feel it puts a permanent stamp on the legacy of Sportstalk — a show I created, nurtured and solo hosted for 30 years, filling a void in the marketplace, becoming a gathering spot for a sports fans (namely Canucks fans) on the radio dial every night.
Yes, its my name going in to the Hall. And yes, some of my other achievements are also part of that – lead play by play broadcaster for WHL on Shaw for 12 years, radio voice of the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds for three years, host and fill in play by play broadcaster on CKNW Vancouver Canucks games, columnist with the Vancouver Sun, etc. However, it’s Sportstalk that put me on the radio map and what I’m most proud of.
And I’m proud we did it was a very small team over 30 years. Essentially three producers (Scott Woodgate, Bob Addison, Heath Morgan), many great guests (including regulars Brian Burke, Rod Beaton, Harry Neale, George McPhee, and others), loyal post game panel partners and fill in
hosts (like Brook Ward, Lee Powell, Dave Jamieson, Doug Eberhardt, Stu Walters and others) and most imperatively, a large and loyal listener base.
You might have noticed that management didn’t get mentioned there because, as I believe is well documented in the book, Sportstalk had to fight through many obstacles over the years to maintain its spot on the dial in a format I insisted on (thus our fairly long odyssey of stations).
As I portrayed in the book Sportstalk grew and thrived often without management support. In short there were many obstacles on that front.
But to be fair, Ron Bremner (actually his 12 year old Sportstalk listening son Mark, during my CJOR years) was a driving force for my biggest move to CFMI in 1989. Even after I rejected the first two offers from CKNW he kept asking me if I would consider coming over. Eventually I did, landing on sister station CFMI, which was my favourite of all Sportstalk stations.
Credit to CJOR GM Harvey Gold, the one who initially asked me to host a show. (He also chose the name Sportstalk.) During our Sportstalk 10 th anniversary special he paid me a great compliment, remembering me “the hardest working person at the station”.
I should say that even though CKNW program manager Tom Plasteras and I often disagreed (again, documented in the book) I always knew he had tremendous respect for Sportstalk and I often felt badly to spar with him knowing the Vancouver Canucks and others were pressuring
him, and he often was forced to come to me with news he knew I wouldn’t want to hear. Looking back, I wish I’d taken my foot off the gas a few times when it came to Tom, because he is a fine person who has a great ear for radio.
And the last management person I’ll mention today is JJ Johnson who became CKNW station manager. JJ was extremely supportive, most illustrated after CKNW lost the hockey rights and he battled – not wanting to lose Sportstalk — to sign me to a long term extension.
While beginning to absorb the Hall news, the first things I thought was how Jim Robson — my idol and the biggest reason I wanted to be in broadcasting. I knew Robson was inducted in 2000 and realizing that I’d be in the same BC hall as Robson is more than surreal for me. Robson is my favourite media category inductee, but I salute all of the others, including two other CKNW alumnus – JP McConnell and Tom Larscheid.
And speaking of JP – it was he who was the driving force behind my induction. McConnell not only nominated me, but he filled out all the paperwork required, solicited many letters of support for my consideration, and (as I’ve come to learn) lobbied hard on my behalf.
If you’ve read my book you will understand why his tireless work on my behalf is even more special, because he and I didn’t have a great relationship in my early years at CFMI/CKNW. But – thanks to him mostly – we put all of that aside and are now good friends. I’ve told him that just being nominated by him was a big enough honour.
Like Tom Mayenknecht, I think JP was as happy as I was when I called him the next day to share the news.
Today marks the 38 th anniversary of Sportstalk debuting – a date that is as
significant to me as my own birthday (which was three days earlier). On Twitter and Facebook I shared excerpts from Chapter 10 – The birth of Sportstalk – about a nervous host and what would be a short lived Vancouver Canucks coach, Bill LaForge, as my first guest.
About the interview that night, I recall LaForge being highly confident for a man who had never coached in the NHL before. I also recall that even though the LaForge decision was a disaster for the Canucks, his hiring by Harry Neale was not highly questioned at the time.
As it turned out the franchise didn’t learn from that mistake. History repeated itself when Pat Quinn hired Tom Renney also out of Kamloops and also without NHL experience.
One more thing about this date. As significant as the debut was, the Sportstalk show that I might be most proud of in our entire history was the 10th anniversary special we presented in 1994., narrated by my mentor – the great Al Jordan.
In the audio vault on this site you can hear at least one hour of that three hours special. We plan to post the other two hours in the future.
Received an interesting call today with news I can not yet share. Perhaps in the
next few weeks. Stay (blog) tuned?
We now enter the fifth full month of the book being available, and am wondering if we will get another surge of sales for the Christmas season? Just as I thought it was the perfect Father’s Day gift when we launched, I feel the same for Christmas in terms of gifting the fan of sports or sports radio.
The IndieReader review came in, and I couldn’t have been more happy. They gave it a 4 star out of 5 rating – which affords it special status on their website, etc. Here is what it said:
For 30 years Dan Russell helmed the talk radio phone-in show Sportstalk. Broadcasting out of Vancouver, Russell became a local radio legend and, at one time or another, all the great and the good of Canadian sports paid a visit to his studio. Throughout the years Russell kept copious notes and a detailed broadcast diary and it is these he has been able to utilize while writing PLEASANT GOOD EVENING, allowing pinpoint accuracy to dates and events and remarkable insight into guest appearances from the likes of Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and, of course, Wayne Gretzky. Unsurprisingly, given the obvious skills of communication he parlayed into his long career, Russell is an affable and effusive guide to his own personal history. PLEASANT GOOD EVENING is well written and extremely detailed. Russell doesn’t take himself too seriously. There is always space for good humor or a wry aside. He is wise enough to know that a talk radio show needs good listeners and, vitally, great callers, and Russell is generous in his praise for the contributions to the show that the general public made. In many ways the Sportstalk audience became an extended family.
For his thousands of regular listeners and anyone with more than a passing interest in Canadian sports, and most especially the NHL, the book will be a goldmine of trivia and behind the scenes detail. It is packed with revealing anecdotes, many of which are being told for the very first time. The superstar status of Gretzky in particular is illuminated by numerous recollections of his many appearances on the show. More casual sports fans may struggle to recognize some of the less famous supporting players but even these add understanding to the way the world of a professional sports figure works and their relationship with the media. And as a specific case study in successful sports broadcasting PLEASANT GOOD EVENING is a valuable insight into how the media and the professional sports world co-exist symbiotically.
Full of anecdotes and presented in a conversational style, sports broadcaster Dan Russell writes with great charm in PLEASANT GOOD EVENING, his witty and insightful memoir of thirty years behind the mic. A must read for Canadian sports fans.
Another new book experience was getting reviewed by IndieReader. (Have I mentioned I am a rookie author, who is learning everything as I go?). In the case of book reviews it is common for people to pay for them, which is what I did with IndieReader. However, I am told – heck even they said so – that they don’t pull punches. We submitted the book for review a couple of weeks earlier and will get the results in the next few days.
IndieReader’s reviewers are tough, but fair
Our Reviewers won’t judge your book as compared to other self-published titles, but against other books, period. Our ratings are based on the following criteria, although reviewers are able to award partial stars (i.e. a 1.3 or a 4.7), rather than rounding up or down to a whole or half number.
One of the new things we’ve done for the book is to register it on Goodreads. I was advised that we should have a presence there, which sounds logical given it’s the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. I will try to learn how to navigate around the site to see if it will expose the book to an audience outside of BC.
Here is the link to my Goodreads account:
Here was a “big gulp stat” I was shown today. It came via a tweet from a best-selling mystery novel author name April Henry. She tweeted the following:
“OMG In the Penguin Random House/S&S antitrust trial it was revealed that out of 58,000 trade titles published per year, half of those titles sell fewer than one dozen books. LESS THAN ONE DOZEN.”
Trade titles? What about self-published books?
I’m happy to say, based on that harsh reality stat, “Pleasant Good Evening” is doing very well.
But what that stat illustrates more is just why the BC and Canadian publishing industry has had such a tough time in recent years. It punctuates just why it was so challenging for me to find a traditional publishing house willing to take my book.
Perhaps I should start by apologizing for some of the large gap between blog entries. The initial purpose for this was to keep a running diary as to what was going on behind the scenes with the book. And after it was launched I tried my best to maintain a social media presence (on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) plus fulfil any mainstream media requests that came our way. My fear has been to not cause overkill, which is why I’ve backed off a little bit on social media. And truthfully, I don’t really know where to take things now. I could not be more pleased with the reaction the book initially got, the large amount of media interviews, and now I’m super pleased with the incredibly kind reviews the book has received from readers on Amazon.
Over the past few days I have been interviewed by Kelly Moore (CJOB Winnipeg) and John Ackerman (CITY News 1130 Vancouver). Both interviews are available in the Audio Vault. Kelly and I have been friends since the late ‘70s. We first met while both of us were covering the BC High School boy’s basketball championship – he for CKWX and me for CJOR – and became lifelong friends. Together both of us have probably combined to call play by play for nearly 2,000 WHL games (Moore was long-time voice of the Kamloops Blazers and I was for three years the voice of the New West Bruins, for three years the radio voice of the Seattle Thunderbirds and for eleven years for the WHL on Shaw). I even did colour occasionally for Kelly when the Blazers were in the Lower Mainland, including one night when the Blazers were shelled at Queens Park Arena, giving up ten goals, which caused Kamloops coach Ken Hitchcock to punish his players by making them walk across the Patullo Street bridge at 11pm on a Saturday night.
Once Kelly invited me to do colour for a Kamloops game against the Victoria Cougars and I was super excited to do so because I had never worked a game in the old Victoria Memorial Arena. With great anticipation I took BC Ferries to the provincial capital and checked into the hotel where Kelly was staying. Three hours before the scheduled gametime we learned the game would be postponed as the Cougars had bus problems the night before and couldn’t get back in time.
I never did work a game in that arena – though I listened to many in the past off Victoria radio with Jim Leith calling games.
Both Kelly and John asked great questions during these two interviews. Ackerman, who grew up (as I did) in Richmond, said he was a little nervous doing the interview, but I couldn’t tell. He broke the long interview into four separate parts and even wrote a print review of the book, which you can also find on the site.
Perhaps I should also confess one other reason I was frustrated for having to wait so long for the hardcopy version. Two weeks before the book came out I notified about 30 people in my inner circle not to buy the book as I would be sending them a hardcopy to them, thinking I could do as the book came out.
Today I will begin placing orders for those people. My first two will go to Gregg Drinnan and Roy Kendal – two of the only people who knew about the book before it was announced and helped me in considerable ways. Gregg was the person who worked with every chapter in the book with me. I would send them one at a time and he would give it the book its first professional edit. Roy helped me recall many of the stories that were included in the book, often by just triggering one memory which allowed me to research that particular event in my journals, etc. and write about it.
Other’s I am sending books to include Brook Ward, Jim Robson, Tom Larcheid, JP McConnell, John McKeachie, my former broadcast partner Bill Wilms, family members, producers and many others.
Today is Father’s Day and also the same day (much to my chagrin) that the hardcopy version of the book is ready to sell on Amazon. As I’ve stated before, I had no idea that when one releases a book that the hardcover would not be available at the same time as the paperback. Or more to the point, even before the paperback, as it was in years gone by.
Why that is remains a mystery to me. The publishing people at Tellwell have not told me the reasons, or if they did, I was unable to absorb. On the surface it makes no sense. Not to me, anyway.
Months and months ago I planned a mid-May release for a couple of reasons, one of which was I thought the book would make a perfect Father’s Day gift for the BC sports loving dad or grandfather. I do know for a fact the book was a popular gift today because I heard from many who either received them or bought them as a gift. I may wonder for a while if the hard copy being available would have made a difference in terms of sales. But that hardcopy ship sailed (sail not sale!). The good news is the hardcover keepsake version is now available.
Today is the 28th anniversary of the Vancouver Canucks seventh game loss at New York City. Chapter 30 of the book is titled “Seven hours after game 7’s”. I was always certain that this chapter would be liked by many and disliked by others because of my contrast between the likeable 1994 group and the not so likeable 2011 team.
Interesting to me is how that 1994 team was the 24th edition of the Canucks and there’s now been another 28 years since.
Regarding Vancouver’s long drought, I think what hurts the most is how many teams that came into the NHL after the Canucks who’ve now won multiple Cups. The most recent example is this years final. Tampa and Colorado will have a combined total of six titles after this series is over.
When I think back to ’94 I sometimes visualize what that scene might have looked like on MSG ice if it was Trevor Linden who was handed the Cup and handed it off to the likes of Dave Babych, Pavel Bure, Greg Adams, Kirk McLean and down through the line, until it got to be Pat Quinn’s turn to lift the Cup.
I’m sure you can visualize it too. His smile would have been a picture for the ages.
We have started a week-long Father’s Day ad campaign on Amazon, Facebook and Instagram today. Just dipping a toe into those waters for the first time. I’m not sure what to expect, but I did want something out for Father’s Day.
The book continues to be a national best seller on Amazon. Depending on the day it can be listed as number one in three categories.
Jason Pires from CTV News send me a nice tweet showing a picture of the book on his device as he took it on vacation with him. Perhaps a summer reading ad campaign might follow.
Pleased to have been part of the Drex morning show on Jack FM today with NoFunBobby (Bob Addison) and Lena. Addison was Sportstalk producer for 12 years. Interview was deepest yet regarding the sour part of my three-part relationship (too close, combative, just right) with Brian Burke.
Everything is new to me – in terms of the entire book writing process. Case in point, marketing a book. Initially we took many steps to insure people knew about the book when it was launched, but now we’ve entered a new phase where I’ve decided to invest a little advertising money, only because I have thought for the better part of two years that “Pleasant Good Evening” would make a great Father’s Day gift.
So with that in mind, along with my Tellwell marketing guru Chelsea Rutherford, we’ve decided to test the waters with an ad buy that will show up on Amazon, Instagram, and possibly Facebook as well.
My thinking is that Instagram is where we will catch young people looking for an idea for their dad or grandfather. And Amazon is where we will catch anyone who has already decided to buy a book and are searching for the perfect one for their dad.
Its not a lot of money, but Chelsea has taught me about setting a “bid price per click”. This is something I knew little or nothing about before. IE: commit to paying Amazon more per click to ensure that your book is the one that pops up as an ad when the person searching puts in similar key words in the search bar that are the same we provide.
For me its more interesting and not about money. I just want to see what happens. We will start that process today. I will let you know in this blog how that goes.
Sportstalk may have been Canada’s longest running show of its kind, but my longest running best friend is Mike Milholm, who I have known since Grade 8. I write about him in the book, because among other things, he served as my colour man on mock radio broadcasts of junior hockey games and as our entertainment director during all of our Roadtrips of a Lifetime. Regarding the book, his arrived on June 3 and here’s what his wife told me yesterday.
“I came to bed at 11pm last night and Mike was still reading. He has read half the book already and just got it yesterday afternoon. This is a man who does not read. This from a man who has not read more than 20 pages of a book in the past 20 years and by 9 PM usually falls asleep.”
Have had many media interviews since announcing the book. One of my absolute favourites was being on TSN 1260 with Dave Jamieson yesterday. (You can find that interview in the Audio Vault.) Dave once was a guest host for Sportstalk in our CFMI days. I have not been in close touch with him in recent years, but closely monitored his Twitter feed this past year as he has been courageously and openly battled cancer. He has been an inspiration. Now he is back on the air. He told me just before he started our interview that he absolutely feels stronger, but being back on the air was also great for his mental health.
“When you have 90 percent of a large project completed, finishing up the final details will take another 90 percent.” – quote from a NY Times column from June 2. I feel that one sentence sums up my book writing experience perfectly.
In late 2020 I had completed a large part of the initial manuscript and sought the advice of book agent Robert Mackwood (an old BCIT classmate, who for many years escorted authors into my Sportstalk studio as part of their book tours) and he told me, “congrats – now the hard part begins”.
Inside I kind of laughed that off, but Mackwood was right. Going in, I thought the manuscript would be the hardest part. But the real workload began afterwards with substantive edits, choosing pictures, getting permissions, writing captions, interior design, website design, marketing strategy, etc. Even now, a half month after the book has been released, we are still going hard in terms of interviews and marketing strategies.
When we were planning the book launch there were two dates I had in mind. Release it sometime in the Fall, in time for the Christmas rush. Or during the NHL playoffs so we can reach our former listeners during the best time of the year to watch hockey and also to have the book available for what I (bias opinion!) believe is the perfect Father’s Day gift for the sports loving dad or grand-dad.
I am planning on a bit of a marketing push for Father’s Day, using social media. Details to come soon.
New month, still no hardcover available. Even though I have not seen any numbers, I’m super pleased with the reaction the book received in its launch month of May.
But no hardcover available yet is a source of disappointment. I really had no idea that was even a thing. I just assumed if your book is being released it’d be available in hardcover, paperback and eBook. (I knew an audio book, if done, would be an add-on.)
It’s a pretty stark example as to how book writing industry has seemingly changed. Not that many years ago the books always came out first in hardcover, and then months later you would hear that same book was now available in paperback.
I’m still not entirely certain as to why this happens now. All Tellwell publishing has told me is this: The standard distribution window is within 4-6 weeks from the time we have distributed it (May 15) to give time to retailers to pick up titles from our main distributor, IngramSpark and list them on their sites.
The end of an amazing month! The incredible push to the finish line in the first half of May, and then the release of the book in the second half.
All I can say today is, thank you! I’m equally gratified as I am humbled in terms of the reaction for Pleasant Good Evening – A Memoir.
Here’s hoping June can be just as gratifying…
In addition to a video of me opening up my book for the first time, I have posted three more Memoir Moments. One of them was in tribute to this years Battle of Alberta as I recalled the Oilers/Flames series Sportstalk covered (and drove to, because the radio station didn’t want to buy airline tickets) in 1988. Today we sent out our media packages to about 90 different email addresses across Canada. It did not go well.
The other new Memoir Moments are about regular guests on Sportstalk and our love of horns.
You might have thought the author would be the first person to actually handle his or her own book, and in many cases it probably is. But today was my first day after Amazon delivered a pair of paperbacks to me. I can’t describe the feeling it is to touch your own book. Surreal may be the best word. Lots of things went through my mind – namely that from start to finish it was nearly over two years in the making. Even though the manuscript had been essentially completed nine months ago there is something way different about seeing your words on the computer – even laid out as an ebook – than it is in print.
I did make a video tape of my book unveil. You can find it in the Audio Vault in Memoir Moments.
Also today I was a guest on Clay Imoo’s podcast for about 30-40 minutes.
Today we sent out our media packages to about 90 different email addresses across Canada. Hopefully a few people will review the book and/or feature Pleasant Good Evening in an interview. I think there will be interest in Alberta and Ontario, and other parts of western Canada where I broadcast many WHL games for over a decade. And perhaps in Ontario because of the size of the market, possible interest in the Brian Burke chapters, and the fact that well before Toronto stations adopted this format our show was growing and growing in BC. It remains to be seen if those assumptions are true.
Meantime I did the Toddcast Podcast yesterday, and it has been posted in the Audio Vault. Another lengthy interview – this one over 30 minutes. In addition to the book Todd wanted to know my favourite TV shows, my favourite music and if I have had a near death experience.
I’m hearing from many former listeners who are telling me that they have just received the book, or have ordered and are excited to get it. Here’s a little secret. Many people will actually touch the book before yours truly. But I have now ordered a couple of copies for myself and now find myself excited to touch the book (maybe tomorrow) for the first time.
However, it is still only available in paperback. I watch the Amazon site every day to check on the hardcover. It has popped on the site and off the site a couple of times, at an inflated price than our suggested retail price, from third party sellers I believe. I’m anxious for the hardcover, as I have made a list of friends and family to whom I am personally sending (what I hope will be keepsake) hard copies to.
I also want to share what my good friend Dave Doroghy posted today on Twitter:
Amazing promotional coverage seldom seen in the past for other book launches. You have not only “blown the doors off with the earned media you have garnered” you’ve blown off the HINGES too. I’m impressed Dan. Good for you. You deserve the recognition.
I appreciated those words so much, but here might be the most amazing thing:
We have not yet even sent out our media package. Our initial plan was to do that on May 24, after the long weekend – and its still our plan.
This is the weekend in which the Vancouver Sun and Province started its 5-part excerpt series. The first excerpt was duplicated in both the Saturday and Sunday papers, and then from May 23-26 the Province will print four more.
In the Sunday Province they used the headline “Sportstalk Go Ahead”, which was one of the five or so finalists I had a year ago for the title of the book. But hopefully you agree that Pleasant Good Evening was the best/most natural choice.
Now into a new phase, its pretty fun to hear from people who are reading the book, as I try to wrap my head around so many people now looking at words that I painstakingly looked at so many times – so many times — in the past year.
Here is one tweet I received from a listener named Jason Toscal which made me feel real good:
If anything, I don’t think I hyped your book enough in the countdown! Only on chapter four (slow reader) and already I can say it’s top shelf! 👍. Not much of a reader; takes a lot to hold my interest, but your book’s even exceeding expectations!
“Available at Woodward’s” was a real hoot! 🤣 😂. So many great behind the scenes stories, that’s what I like the most, and with every chapter having me LMAO at various stages, lol
Can’t wait for Burkie!
So gratified as to how much media interest there has been. In the last couple of days I have done interviews on Radio NL (our former Sportstalk affiliate in Kamloops), C-FAX (our former affiliate in Victoria, and the Healthy Living Network with Christine Blanchette. And today I will be joining Gloria Makerenko on CBC Radio; to be heard in the afternoon drive slot.
The funny thing about all these interviews is that they have taken place before we could even send out our media package, which is set to go after the long weekend, May 25.
Also, I have for the first time become familiar with Amazon bestselling rankings. As I blog today the book has been available for three days and here is where Pleasant Good Evening ranks.
- Best Sellers Rank: #67 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
I had a great chat with my marketing partner, Chelsea at Tellwell, and she tells me she has seldom seen anything like that – especially #1 in three categories.
Chelsea has also helped launch the Amazon Author Central Page, which should be up and running in a couple of days, and has organized a mass mailout to about 1,700 email addresses I saved and have recently harvested in preparation for the book announcement.
Remember, today was supposed to have been the release date. In many ways we are ahead of the game, but every day is a track meet to keep up. A fun track meet.
Whoa! Overwhelmed. So many things happening at once. I can’t keep up, and I will miss telling you stuff here. It starts with me being a rookie, combined with having to guess many times as to what is happening. Example, I pushed hard hard hard for a May 20th release. Evidently too hard. Because the book was available on Amazon yesterday, and maybe earlier. I didn’t know. First time I heard was when I got a message from South Korea from a former listener who said they had ordered.
And then yesterday, the 17th, TV hockey producer Greg Shannon wrote me a message to say he had devoured the book in a day and a half. What? So he had the book, on Kindle, two days ago. I swear I thought the author would know that, LOL. But its all good, except now I am trying to figure out when (and why) the hard copy of the book is not available yet on Amazon. I had been told it takes a little time for other sellers to list the book, but that Amazon would be first. My presumption was that first meant all three genres.
Hey, these are great problems to have. I mean more than great, because my biggest fear ten days ago was that the book would not be available on the 20th, which I was stressed out over because five days of newspaper excerpts in the Vancouver Sun and Province begin on May 21. Meantime, I should do an entire new blog on media interviews. Blown away. Each one has been great, and I loved them all equally. Taylor & Dhaliwal show, Global News with Jay Janower, CKNW afternoon show with Jas Johal, SN650 radio with Mike Halford & Jason Brough, Radio NL Kamloops with Paul James….and more coming.
If there is a few days of gap time between blog entries it is because everything you have read until now I have sent to Chelsea and Vlad (my outstanding marketing and website team at Tellwell) and they have been posting for me. I believe they will had over the keys to the website in the next couple of days. But then – I will need to learn how to drive the website car. Hopefully I can at least get my “L” pretty quickly.
It has always amazes me the difference between radio time and TV time, in terms of interview length. The interview with Jay Janower on Global News flew by. I believe I was on for six minutes, which for TV time is significant. However, when I look back to doing three hours of Sportstalk each night it seemed like I couldn’t say hello in six minutes. But that’s the norm, and I totally get it.
Interview requests continue to come in. Tomorrow I will be on CKNW for the first time since I wasn’t, LOL. Jas Johal has kindly invited me to join him from 5-5:40pm. I’m so much looking forward that.
Meantime, because I’m such a rookie, I really don’t know all about how the book actually gets to Tellwell onto Amazon, only that they told me it will. I feel bad that I have pushed the hard to make sure it is ready for May 20. I hope they understand there was a pressure timeline to coincide with excerpts running in the Vancouver Sun and Province, and now more pressure as so many seemed to be anxious to buy. I keep saying my fingers remain crossed because so much of this part of the process is out of my control. Those who know me understand I am not the best at not being in control.
After signing off on all aspects of the book with Tellwell Publishing – interior, exterior, pricing, distribution, etc. – we now await the final steps. I’m told their team needs 24-48 hours to get it ready to send to Amazon in time for May 20 release. (Fingers remain crossed.) Meantime, tonight at 10:20pm my time (8:20 am PT) I’ll be appearing on Global News with Jay Janower.
I am super excited to join Jay for a few reasons. I’ll start with how he once served as a vacation ‘guest host’ on Sportstalk — so I am keen to hear if he’ll share how that felt. Also, and its too humbling to share here, but a few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere, Jay posted a tweet that nearly brought a tear to my eye. It was about my career and the impact ST had in the market, etc. He absolutely did not have to do that. But when he did, aside from making me sheepish, a sense of great pride washed over me. Seldom, as you will read in the book, did we ever have time while doing the show to think about what impact ST was having. And then, in retirement, it was kind of an out of sight, out of mind feeling. Inwardly satisfied, but not giving it too much thought. Until that special Janower tweet, which many people read and reacted to. (By the way, I also have interviews coming up this week on CKNW and AM650. No one has even read the book yet!
The first radio interview will be Monday at about 5pm with Jas Johal on my former station, CKNW.)
Today was a deep breath day. I finally got some sleep, but I was still arranging interviews when I woke up. Our next one will be with Jay Janower from Global News on Sunday (tomorrow) at 820 am. I am also super excited to talk to him. More on that later. But today I had a pair of two-hour marathon FaceTime calls that were absolutely wonderful. The first was to John McKeachie in Vancouver and the other was with JP McConnell in France. Both of these Vancouver media giants were so nice to me, even though both wondered how I kept the book a secret so long? (Yes, I do write about both of them in the book.)
After I hung up the second phone call I thought, how lucky am I to have had listened/admired both of these great broadcasters while growing up, then worked with both of them in my career, and now have them congratulating me about the book and my career. Hard to put in exact words. Let me settle with one. Grateful
To say I was blown away by the book announcement would be an understatement. After posting the tweet around 1:20am my time I literally could not sleep, because every time I hit refresh on Twitter there were dozens and dozens of new messages from listeners and fellow media members. Many were from a who’s who of Canadian media folks, messaging to congratulate me on the book. Honestly, it may have been the most professionally gratifying 24 hours I have ever felt.
And things started happening quickly. Many days ahead of us sending out our pre-planned media packages I began to get interview requests. The first one came from Ryan Henderson, the producer of the Taylor/Dhaliwal show on CHEK TV. “Can you come on tomorrow at 10.20am”, he asked. That meant after midnight my time, with virtually no sleep, for my first book interview. Incidentally, while no other Canadian broadcaster interviewed more authors than yours truly (hundreds), it was a strange feeling being on the other side of one. Fortunately I had already set up a remote studio in my home, with a book cover backdrop, new lighting, etc., but wasn’t expecting to use it right away. The interview was super fun, but I felt like I was blushing throughout as Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal were so incredibly flattering. I marvel at the technology. When ST started there were virtually no cell phones, no email, no fax machines, etc….and here I am, many time zones away on a Zoom hookup doing a TV remote interview from my iPhone.
After posting two teasing tweets, today was the day of the big book announcement on Twitter. And despite all the planning I found myself staring at the screen not initially able to hit send. I started pacing around and asking myself had I covered all bases. Then, after those teasing tweets, which resulted in many people guessing I was going to announce a return to the airwaves, I wondered if I was going to disappointment people? But then I bravely went back behind the keyboard, reviewed my tweet message one more time, took a deep breath, and at 1:20am my time, 11.20am Vancouver time, posted: BIG news! For the past 2 yrs I’ve been writing “Pleasant Good Evening – a Memoir.” Now FINISHED & scheduled for release next wk! Many, many behind the scenes stories. Extremely proud to have finished. Thank you for motivating me J (More details coming) #PleasantGoodEvening
Back in the early days of Sportstalk my cousin Grant often used to come down to watch the program, and he always told me that he got a bigger kick about watching the preparation before than the show itself. He even gave it a name. He called it the Sportstalk Panic Hour. And he wasn’t wrong, as my producer and I would always be racing to gather all the audio clips, the sports recaps from all the late games, write the show, etc. Sometimes I wasn’t even in the studio when the theme song had already started.
In some ways the last few weeks has been the return of the Panic Hour. Not to bore you with the details, but there has been a (bleep) load of logistics to launch this book. You might be asking, what’s the rush? And that’d be a good question. Because when we had the Sportstalk Panic Hour we had a hard deadline. I used to tell my close circle, “9pm comes, whether we are ready or not”. But, in theory, a book has no hard deadline.
So why the panic? The answer is, many months ago the Vancouver Sun and Province agreed to print excerpts from the book for five straight days, starting on May 21. And at the bottom of these excerpts will be a blurb that says, “the book is available now on Amazon”. So to me it became vital that the book was available by that date, thus becoming my hard deadline and the 2022 version of the Sportstalk Panic Hour.
I probably should be too embarrassed to share this story. But today I spent about three hours learning the proper way to write an apostrophe. And three hours might be being charitable — which, at my age, especially given my media career, should be preposterous. Afterall, I wrote the opening of my show for 30 years (okay, on radio no one checks your script), but I also wrote a column in the Vancouver Sun (and other publications). Most importantly, I just wrote a 350-page manuscript – aka, almost 100,000 words. But when the final proofread came back, the Tellwell proofread editor (her name is Sally) put highlights over apostrophe’s (hey, there is one now!) throughout the book, telling me they have to be reversed.
Okay, long story short, when I got back the document, I wasn’t sure if Sally had fixed them or was telling me (in a nice Sally way) that I am an idiot. And I had no one I could check with (everyone in my circle was sleeping). So I had to rely on Google, which for some reason wasn’t easy. Essentially my apostrophe, as an example, looked like this: “I worked at ‘NW for many years….” But in fact it should have looked like this: “I worked at ’NW for many years…..” Did you notice? The proper way has the larger portion of the apostrophe at the top, starting further away.
Anyway, my MacBook Pro (which I’ve been using for two years) has the other (more commonly used) apostrophe beside the right-hand return button. (Go ahead, try it on your keyboard.) Mr. Google eventually told me that to get the one I need, hit all at the same time, “option”, “shift” and (whatever this is) ] and I will get the correctly positioned apostrophe. Also in fairness to me, the manuscript went through two previous substantive edits without my Tellwell editor (his name is Darrin) catching and correcting about 116 of these scattered throughout the book. (Before the bus completely runs him over, I thought he did a great job!)
During one of my cussing moments I decided I also wanted to know who the heck even invented this pain-in-the-butt apostrophe? Mr. Google said: “The apostrophe probably originated in the early 16th Century – either in 1509, in an Italian edition of Petrarch, courtesy of French printer Geoffroy Tory, who seemingly had a fondness for creating linguistic marks, as he is also credited with inventing the accent and the cedilla.” 512 years ago! Who knew? As for the cedilla, I’m happy to report there are none in Pleasant Good Evening. Go ahead, I know you’re going to Google what a cedilla is.
Today I will release the second teasing tweet in my attempt to build some anticipation. It will say: “I promise I won’t make you wait you wait long. In fact this week I will make an exciting announcement. Please, no guessing. Oh, what the heck, go ahead if you have to.” My plan is to put one more teasing tweet out on May 10 and then officially announce the book on May 11. In the meantime we are still working on the website, the pricing, the keywords, categories, waiting for the final proofread, and finalizing our media announcements, etc. It’s a different kind of excitement for me – the veteran broadcaster, but the rookie author. Fingers remain crossed.
My technology learning curve continued today. After recently learning just how great Adobe was, marvelling at the power of Dropbox, and refreshing my editing memory using Audacity, today it was now Soundcloud for this beginner. In short, Soundcloud is the platform that will allow me to post (unlimited) interviews from our deep Sportstalk archives. More importantly, for someone who hosted a three hour show every night, we can post interviews of any length. This should allow for a much better listening experience for those that wish to turn back the tape with us.
Today, just to test everything, I uploaded the first hour of my favourite Sportstalk show ever – which was the 10thAnniversary Special which aired in October of 1994, narrated by the great Al Jordan. I also posted the first of three segments of a Journey Series I did with former NHL great Andy Bathgate. I plan on posting many more in the weeks to come. If you would like to listen, simply go to the Sportstalk Vault tab where you can click the button which will take you Turn back the Tape, which will like directly to our Sportstalk Soundcloud. Please give it a try.
It seems like sooo long ago when I actually finished the manuscript to the book, and in actuality it was last summer. As I look back, the process of writing was joyful at times, often painstaking, and sometimes even therapeutic. But what I found is that you eventually need some fresh eyes to see your product.
Up until last September the only other person who had seen what I wrote was Gregg Drinnan (someone I will talk about in a future blog, because he was such a great help). Gregg saw everything one chapter at a time, but it wasn’t until I turned the entire 350-page manuscript to my editor (who I still have never actually met or talked to) before I got my first opinion about Pleasant Good Evening in its entirety. His name is Darrin, and when he emailed me his initial summary after his first run through, it was a great relief. Here, in part, unofficially is my first book review.
The editor, Darrin, wrote in part: “You’ve delivered exactly what a reader who picks this book up is looking for: great stories, inside knowledge (of both sports and of the radio business), behind- the-scenes intrigue and history recounting of the major moments in Canucks history that you were a big part of. You tell stories with ease, and you don’t hold back your opinions, which is exactly what your readership will expect. The voice is remarkably similar to what I recall of your radio voice — straightforward, skeptical, a little brusque, but mostly respectful and interested. This is a gift most writers don’t possess.” Yes, his words humbled me.
Even though there is still lots of website work to do, as soon as I saw the latest revision, I felt confident that the site will be ready in time. And that is why, as I had hoped, I was able to put out the first teasing tweet about an announcement next week. My tweet said; “Believe it or not…I am going to have an exciting announcement soon. In a matter of days. Not weeks. Please don’t touch that dial. Oops old habit. Umm…stay (Twitter) tuned?” There was a great initial reaction, complete with a good chunk of new followers. But most of the responses seem to predict I was coming back on the radio or starting a podcast. I hope the book doesn’t disappoint those people. I will put another teasing Tweet out on Sunday the 7th and then announce next week.
I came up with two more Memoir Moments, and have many others on my list. But I think it might also be fun if some of my loyal Sportstalk listeners dropped me a line (in the contact page) and let me know if they have a Memoir Moment they think I should cover. Another cool part of this website will be the Turn back the Tape area in the Sportstalk Vault. But here again I’ve been told I have to learn yet another new thing.
The next learning curve will be learning Soundcloud, as I am told that for our longer Sportstalk interviews to be found here they must first go through Soundcloud, as to not crash this website. What’s that old expression? Never to old to learn. That’s been put to the test lately.
As mentioned, everything about this process is new to me. Right now its another calm before a storm, as we wait for website revisions and the final proofread of the manuscript. I plan on putting a teasing tweet out on Friday to let my Twitter followers know that something is going to be announced next week.
Speaking of the website, we have come up with a new concept which is really book bonus material. The concept is called Memoir Moments. Essentially a two-minute video of yours truly reminiscing about something that happened during Sportstalk’s history, expanding on perhaps something written in the book, or something that didn’t make the book. I’ve been writing them and am about to record in our home based Sportstalk studios. So far I’ve come up with one on the iconic theme music, The Pauser, and the Roadtrip of a Lifetime. I plan to have a few ready for our launch, and then add to them.
The big book month begins and the final countdown is on! It feels like everything is coming together, but there are so many moving parts right now. Finishing the design of the Website, waiting for the final proofread to begin at Tellwell, beginning stages of the FaceBook Page design, pre-planning the Tweet schedule for the busy month, finalizing the media list for review copies, finalizing the book announcement email for our mass email list, keywords and categories for web searches, etc. etc. And, quite stressfully, determining the price of the book…for all three genres.
I put out a non-book tweet today because May 1, 1980 is when I became first announcer to be heard (disc jockey) on the new CISL radio station – the same station I ended my career three and half decades later. My cheeky hashtag for this important month was #bookends. The tweet created about 7,000 impressions.
This has been a big day. 817 days after first opening my new MacBook Pro to start writing PLEASANT GOOD EVENING, I hit the send button on the email that sent the entire manuscript and interior design of the book to our publishers at Tellwell. Now I wait for their final final final proofread (will there still be an error that falls through the cracks?). Maybe they will just put it through a spell check.
As I said, this is my first book rodeo. Meantime, while that is happening Tellwell is going to ask me how much should we charge for the book? Did I mention before that as a self-publisher you have to make ‘every’ decision? Still lots to do on the marketing side. I will tell you more about that in the future.
I mentioned earlier how much I have learned during this process, and one of the reasons I have been able to learn so much is because this is a self-published book. And that’s the first thing I learned – self publish means exactly what it says. Yes, you have a team at the other end, but you (me in this case) have to make all the decisions. Book cover, book title, pictures, fonts, colours, and (of course) the entire manuscript. But in addition, before this book my only knowledge about Adobe was opening a file and reading – never editing, replacing text, strikethroughs, etc.
Embarrassingly I had never used Drop box, except about five years ago when another hockey parent sent me a game featuring my sons’ team. Dropbox is an amazing tool, and yes, I wish I had learned it years earlier. I downloaded Audacity again – the same editing software I used during Sportstalk from my home studio, but it had been a few years since I edited. (Not bragging, but I’m good at editing interviews. Okay, that was bragging.).
I’m very excited the Vancouver Sun and Province have asked to print five excerpts from PLEASANT GOOD EVENING. I would have been thrilled had they asked to print one. Big thanks to Steve Snelgrove for asking and organizing at his end. Steve once took tear gas for the Sportstalk team (June Stanley Cup riot of 1994), so he sure didn’t owe us anything. Excerpts will start running on May 21 in the Sun, May 22-26 in the Province. First excerpt will include a passage from the Birth of Sportstalk.
To say writing a book has been a new experience would be an understatement, because I have learned so much about the process. I’m sure every first-time author says that, but how many first timer actually interviewed more authors than probably any other broadcaster in Canada.
Its true, as each year we were sent, on average, about 20 books from different sports authors. Over 600 books were sent my way, and I would say (hosting a three-hour show that was always hunger for content) we must have interviewed half of them. That said, I just didn’t know while interviewing them just how much went into it.
When I first started Pleasant Good Evening – A Memoir I had a book agent tell me that the easiest part would be the actual writing of the book, and I laughed at him. But two years later I have to say he might have been right. I had no idea pictures, permissions, interior design, editing, proofreading, marketing, website design, etc. was so complicated.
Welcome to Dan’s Blog. I have no idea if anyone will enjoy reading about my book writing experience, but I will do my best to document. I am starting about a month before this website and the book will be released. If you got all the way back to here, you should get an invitation to play with the Sportstalk Orchestra. I hope you enjoy the blog – at least some of it!