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V9N3 - Sept. 27-Oct. 18, 2010:


Spotlight feature:
Don Percy
Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Master of the Morning
May Be Down, But He’s Not Out

Don Percy

Don Percy didn’t get to be the Master of the Morning without facing a little adversity along the way. That’s why this latest setback doesn’t seem to bother him one bit. At least, you wouldn’t know it if you talked to the man.

Percy got word in mid-September that his popular morning radio show on 1290 CFRW in Winnipeg would be gone before the end of the month, replaced by network sports programming based out of the United States.

“That’s what happens when you have corporate-owned radio stations,” Percy said with a sly grin. “Even if you make your station a lot of money, and I can guarantee you, I made CFRW a lot of money, you can still be gone tomorrow because some guy in Toronto always knows best.”

OK, so let’s be honest, Percy has faced lots of adversity.

Still, the 73-year-old honored member of the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame knows he’ll be back on the radio in Winnipeg, and probably soon, because he still sounds just as good as he did 54 years ago when he showed up at a small radio station in Chatham, Ont., to begin a career that now seems without end.

“I read a newspaper ad looking for a ‘junior announcer’ at CFCO radio in Chatham,” Percy said, nursing a Caesar at Earl’s St. Vital one day this summer. “I applied and got the job. My parents drove me to the front door of the station, watched me walk up the stairs, gave each other the 1956 equivalent of a high five and left me there.

“I was 19, I was out of the house and they had their lives back.”

It was quite an auspicious debut in an industry that would “put up with me,” for the next 54 years.

The little Chatham radio station paid 19-year-old Donald S. Percy $37.50 a week to clean wire around the studio and operate the board for other announcers. He worked six days a week and on his day off, the news director would occasionally let him read the news; “That was usually at 4:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday,” he laughed.

“I lasted almost a year in Chatham and, of course, as any young man would, I thought I was ready for the big time,” he said. “So I got hired at CHOK in Sarnia in 1957 for the whopping amount of $45 a week.”

He needed in the raise. In Chatham, he picked up a partner.

“There was this woman in Chatham,” Percy said, his eyes twinkling. “She was a six-foot redhaired beauty who drank and already had two kids and for reasons I didn’t understand, liked me.”

So Don and Lenore move to Sarnia and Percy’s career – and the learning curve that goes with any career – took off. He not only got the all-night shift, but was also the colour commentator on Senior ORFU football broadcasts of the Sarnia Imperials.

“It was kind of the golden age of football in Sarnia,” said Percy. “It was a great opportunity for me, but it wasn’t the biggest opportunity I got there.”

That came the day the morning man went on holidays.

“In those days, the morning shift was the worst shift of all,” he recalled. “It was the birth of rock ‘n roll and Top 40 radio and the announcers who were the stars, making the big dough, were the jocks who worked afternoons and evenings. That’s when the kids listened. Nobody wanted the mornings. You had to get up at 3:30 a.m. It was an awful shift.

“So the morning guy goes on holidays and they put me on the morning show and when the guy came back, they put him on afternoons and left me in the morning. That would happen three times in my career and every time it just got better and better. To this day, I tell the people who take my spot on holidays, ‘Don’t be too funny,’

“That’s the break that started what I laughingly call a career.”

And what a career it’s been. Percy went from Chatham to Sarnia to North Bay to St. Thomas to Richmond Hill to Toronto and then started heading west. And it wasn’t even 1970 yet.

“I never intended to be a gypsy,” he said. “But as I look back on it, that’s what I was.”

Percy was eventually fired in Sarnia for some long forgotten dispute and wound up in North Bay. From North Bay he ended up in St. Thomas doing mornings but Lenore wanted none of that and she took the kids to Toronto. Don followed, and eventually wound up on CFRB, Toronto’s legendary news and talk station, but first things first. In 1962, he found himself selling fire detection equipment door to door.

“I was the top salesman in the company,” he said proudly. “I sold one. The rest of them didn’t sell any.”

Not long after that, he was back in radio, in Peterborough, Ont., the start of a lifelong love-hate relationship between Percy and the Waters’ family, the people who owned the original CHUM network of stations.

From Peterborough, he moved to CFRB in Toronto, but of course, it wasn’t long before Percy was back on the street, looking for a new gig.

“In 1968, a crazy person named Johnny Lombardi owned the ethnic station in Toronto, CHIN,” Percy recalled. “He hired me and it was a nuthouse. Old Johnny fired people every couple of days and then when he realized he’d fired somebody he needed, and usually liked, he’d hire them back. I was fired two or three times.”

Just to be safe, he took a part-time job as public relations director for the National Soccer League and even did a Canadian movie with Leslie Nielson and Donnelly Rhodes. “It think 50 people saw it,” he said, laughing.

Still, Percy had no security in his life. Lombardi fired him again in 1969 and this time, Don was actually distressed.

“I was riding home on the subway one night,” he said. “Johnny was firing me every couple of days, at this point I had six kids and I didn’t know what to do. So as I’m riding on the subway, a fellow sitting across from me is reading the Globe and Mail. I noticed that on my side of his Globe was an ad for a radio instructor at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.

“I thought, what the hell and I went home ang applied to Howard Duff, the dean of arts. I eventually got the job and my life changed completely.”

Percy was now a school teacher. It was 1970 and he was making a whopping $11,600 a year in Thunder Bay and he had no idea that things would get even better.

“Fred King at CKBR in Thunder Bay called one day to ask if I’d be interested in doing the morning show,” Percy said. “I asked the school and they thought it would be a great idea to have their radio instructor actually on the radio, so I started doing mornings at CKBR. I’d work radio from 6-9 and then go and teach. At that point, I was making $12,000 a year at the college, with no chance of being fired, and another $5,000 a year on radio. Nobody in Canada was making $17,000 a year in radio in 1970.”

By 1975, he was making $40,000 a year teaching and doing the morning show when one of his closest friends, a former Thunder Bay sportscaster named Peter Young, called him from Winnipeg. Young was now the TV sports anchor at Winnipeg’s CKY and he called to say that something was brewing at CKY radio.

“Brian Phillips was doing the morning show and it was going nowhere,” said Percy. “So I had a talk with Aldon Diehl and Gentleman Jim Jackson, who were running CKY at the time. The college had a ‘return to industry’ clause in the contract, where you could return to your industry for a year, kind of like a sabbatical. I asked if I could use the clause to move to Winnipeg and they agreed.

“So off I went, at $22,000 a year at CKY in 1975. And in six months, I think I had a nervous breakdown.” By this time, his marriage to Lenore was over and he had the same money problems most men face after a marital collapse. Then, one morning, while on the air, he got a call from his sister. He wasn’t going to take the call until after the show, but his producer said that his sister insisted. Percy was told, on the air, that his mom had died.

At the time, he didn’t think he could continue, but with the support of the station, he soldiered on and stayed with CKY until an offer came from Edmonton’s CFRN in 1981.

It was going to be a tough market to crack, but with a new partner, glamorous Winnipeg TV star, Lorraine Mansbridge, he was going to give it a shot. After all, he’d done everything he could in Winnipeg. He was now “The Master of the Morning,” and he’d been the key to turning a radio station that was doing $900,000 a year in advertising in 1975 to a station that was doing $4 million a year by 1981. It was time to move up and move on.

“Edmonton’s population at the time was 500,000, but it was growing,” Percy said. “There were stars already entrenched there, stars like Bob Bradburn and Wes Montgomery and they had big audiences, but Edmonton was going to grow to a million people and I had a chance to build my own audience.

“Then along came our friend Pierre Trudeau with his national energy program and Edmonton died. People were leaving and not going back. Lorraine got a TV gig and I had six good months in Edmonton, but after the national energy program started, I spent the rest of my time trying to put my career back together.”

That would not be easy. In early 1984, Percy and his bride took a little vacation in sunny Mexico, but on Friday night, Feb. 15, 1984, he jumped into the front seat of a Mexican taxi that was, in essence, bound for the hospital.

“The last place you’d expect to have an accident is in a taxi,” Percy recalled. “But it was horrendous. I spent the next year and a half recovering.”

Percy broke just about every bone in his body and at one point, nearly died. He spent four months in hospital and there were serious concerns about his long-term recovery, but there has never been any quit in this guy. He recovered, went back to work and in 1986, CHUM Toronto’s Terry Williamson came roaring out to Edmonton with a contract in hand.

“It was an interesting situation,” Percy said. “It was perfect for me and I agreed to go, but Lorraine wouldn’t. That was the end of that.”

With his second marriage finished, Percy moved to Toronto to ply his trade on what he called “the worst format in history” – favourites of the 70s and 80s. He lasted nine months and for the second time in his career, he was fired by a member of the Waters’ family.

He moved on to CISL in Vancouver where he worked on an oldies station and stayed a couple of years.

“Things were going very well until my son Willy showed up across the street,” Percy said laughing. “He was more talented, taller and better looking. I was done and Willy has become one of the most successful morning men in Canadian history.”

On Labour Day 1991, Don returned to Winnipeg’s CKLU, and in early 1992, at a party, he met a woman he called, “a very pretty young girl.” Linda Brown was 22. Don was 54. They hit it off.

With his life back on track, Percy moved to CKY in 1994, just before CKLU went broke. He co-hosted a cooking show on TV with his radio pal Lee Major and also hosted the wildly successful CKY television show of the1990s, Headline Sports. He was almost 60 and had never been more successful or in demand.

He did the morning show for 10 years at KY-58 before the entire staff signed off in 2004. AM radio was dying and CKY was flipped to the FM dial where it became 103-CLEAR-FM. Percy was forced to stay with Rogers for three months while his contract wound down (he took a lot of long lunches) and then moved on to 1290-CFRW.

These days the Master is off the air, the victim of a Toronto-based corporate decision that seems to have forgotten that an all-sports format devoid of local content, has already failed miserably in this market. Still, its unlikely he’ll be absent for long.

Don Percy is a personality to be reckoned with and has a style and a sense of humour to match. On-air or off, the Master of the Morning is, indeed, still the master.

For Don Percy, age is meaningless. He’s 73, sounds 25 and he and Linda are still madly in love. Fact is, Don Percy is a personality to be reckoned with and has a style and a sense of humour to match. On-air or off, the Master of the Morning is, indeed, still the master.

(Read more in the Sep 27-Oct 18/2010 issue of Senior Scope)


Top Three Reported Scams

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (Phonebusters) reports the top three scams complained about this August were Prize or lottery, Service (mainly lower interest rates), and Emergency (Grandson scam).

Prize pitch scams involve the use of phone, email, text message, fax, or mail to advise you it’s your lucky day and for a small fee you can recover your million dollar lottery win. Of course there is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow and whatever fees you pay disappear with the fraudster. These scams can be recognized by the fact that in Canada you don’t have to pay fees/taxes to recover winnings, and if you didn’t buy a ticket you didn’t win anything.

Offers by third party companies to reduce your credit card interest rates for a fee may come at a high cost and no gain. Many victims pay upwards of $600 to have their interest rates lowered only to find out this so called company has no power to persuade the credit card issuer to lower rates. If you have concerns about your credit card interest rates or how to better manage your finances contact a reputable financial advisor.

The ‘Grandson/granddaughter scam” has been around for some time, however many seniors continue to fall victim to this scheme. Fraudsters cold call potential victims and convince them it’s one of their grandchildren calling for financial assistance. The pitch often involves a story where the grandchild has been arrested and requires money for bail or other legal fees. If you receive an unexpected emergency request for financial assistance take a minute to ensure you know exactly who you are dealing with.

For more information on these and other scams visit

Cst. Ben Doiron
Winnipeg RCMP
Commercial Crime Section

(Read more in the Sep 27-Oct 18/2010 issue of Senior Scope)


Estate Solutions
Ensure your legacy’s used for what you intend

What a testamentary trust can do for you

BRIAN G. KONRAD CFP, Financial Consultant

Have you ever thought about how your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance, as opposed to how much they will receive? Are you comfortable with them receiving a large lump sum all at one time with no conditions attached? Will they be mature enough to handle the proceeds? Will all of the intended beneficiaries receive their inheritance if you are in a blended family? These are issues that can generally be addressed with a testamentary trust.

Briefly, here is how a testamentary trust works:

• The trust is established in your last Will and testament. It does not come into existence until the date of your death.

• The trust is a separate taxpayer, so it will file its own tax return and, therefore, the income may be taxed at a lower rate than if received by the beneficiary directly.

• You must appoint a trustee of the trust, who may (but need not be) the Executor of your Estate, and who can either be a trusted individual, or perhaps even a corporate trustee.

• The terms of the trust can provide when your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance, or it can give the trustees complete discretion as to when to payout the funds.

Here are a few examples of when you might consider using a testamentary trust:

• If you have minor children and you do not want them to receive their entire inheritance at age 18 or 19. If there are no conditions placed on their inheritance, they will be entitled to the funds once they attain the age of majority.

• If you are in a second marriage, and you want to leave your assets to your second spouse so that he or she can use them for so long as they are alive. Upon your spouse’s death, the assets will revert back to your children from a previous marriage and not go to the children or heirs of your second spouse. (If you do not put any conditions on the inheritance you leave to your second spouse, they will be free to leave the assets to whomever they choose, which may or may not include your children.)

• If you have a child who qualifies for social assistance due to a disability, it may be better to leave the monies for them held in trust so that the receipt of these proceeds does not jeopardize their ability to receive social assistance. The rules regarding this type of planning differ between the jurisdictions, so be sure to consult with us to review your financial planning options.

• If you have heirs who are in a high income tax bracket and who want to minimize tax. (If the inheritance is received by them directly, they will have to pay tax on the income at their high marginal rate.) When the proceeds are instead left to them in trust, the amount of tax paid on the income can be minimized.

The uses of testamentary trusts are varied, and in some cases, the issues can be complicated. Be sure to speak with us to ensure that you are leaving your inheritance in a way that is designed to achieve your desired objectives and minimize tax at the same time.

Financial Consultant
(204) 489-4640 ext. 246

This report specifically written and published by Investors Group is presented as a general source of information only, and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. Prospective investors should review the annual report, simplified prospectus, and annual information form of any fund carefully before making an investment decision. Clients should discuss their situation with their Consultant for advice based on their specific circumstances. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.
Insurance products and services offered through I.G. Insurance Services Inc. (in Quebec, a financial services firm). Insurance license sponsored by The Great-West Life Assurance Company (outside of Quebec).
™Trademark owned by IGM Financial Inc. and licensed to its subsidiary corporations.
“Having ‘the talk” ©2008 Investors Group Inc. (04/2008) MP1359

(Read more in the Sep 27-Oct 18/2010 issue of Senior Scope)

My name’s Bill and I once wore a bowtie

William J. Thomas

Bowties are back.

Thanks largely to the BBC hit show Doctor Who (think Superman with a scalpel) and its star Matt Smith who wears a bowtie, that particular piece of apparel which looks like a butterfly resting on a man’s Adam’s apple is out of the closet once more. British retailer Topman claimed sales of bowties in April were up by 94 percent.

Does anything travel faster than a fad these days? Like when Britney Spears was photographed getting immodestly out of that car in L.A., sales of women’s underwear hit the pavement only minutes after she did.

Fashion designers are crediting bowties with the return of the preppy look. Toronto’s retrosexuals—young, successful single men who have the hots for Jane Mansfield—are buying bowties by the boxcar.

“It’s something I feel comfortable in,” said one young man, “and I believe it enhances my overall look.” Actually the bowtie makes you look like Colonel Sanders’ illegitimate grandson minus the goatee and a family-size bucket of chicken under your arm.

Nerds, geeks, retros are now sporting bowties because a TV star said they were ‘cool.’ Trust me, any guy who would wear a bowtie would also strap on sock garters. Oh wait, sales of those are also setting records amongst Toronto preppies.

I hope this doesn’t sound bitter but … okay, I once wore a bowtie … very much against my will. I must have been six years old in grade two at S.S. #4 in Dain City when I realized my mother got a big kick out of sending me to school wearing a bowtie and watching me come home with a bloody nose.

I didn’t need the sign slapped on my back that read, “Kick Me!” I wore a bowtie, the sign on the front that said: “Slap Me! I Look Silly.”

I’m looking at my grade two and three class photos as I write this, a tall brunette by the name of Mrs. Leach towering over her students on the front steps of the school, later known as Bridgeview School. Dain City’s lift bridge over the Welland Canal was just across the road. Most of the boys like Malcolm Ferri and Larry Sonnenberg are wearing rugged-looking checkered shirts. My buddy Malcolm Hilton is wearing denim overalls over a checkered shirt which makes him like the Steven Seagal of S.S. #4.

And there I am standing next to Denise Gagnon and I’m wearing a white shirt with a crooked bowtie. The photographer didn’t have to ask the other kids to smile. One look at me and they’re all breaking up. Do I stand out? Yeah, like they took a photo of the school swim team and I’m the only one wearing a snorkel and a mask. I look like a young Pierre Berton with hair.

I wish I could say that was the only time my mother’s twisted sense of humour got me roughed up at recess. Whereas both my older sisters took piano lessons, my mother signed me up for – I wished I could say I was making this up – tap dance lessons.

A woman across the bridge offered tap dance lessons in her basement and I was the only boy among five or six girls wearing tutus or fufus, or whatever those frilly things are called, and I attended three classes. There, I said it. My dancing shoes were black with waxed laces and metal clickers on the heels and toes.

I can’t remember if the third class ran late or my baseball coach came early, but I was on my way home and halfway across the Dain City bridge with my tap dance shoes, when I spotted the coach’s car with three of my teammates from the Humberstone Township Peewees. ZING! There went my tap dance shoes into the Welland Canal.

‘Get in;” said Coach, “we got your gear.”

My first baseman’s mitt and spikes were on the floor of the backseat as I climbed in. There was this uneasy and uncommon silence in the car. Either one of the girls in tap had squealed or the guys had seen me throw the shoes into the drink.

It was probably Ray Arnott, our smartass catcher who asked: “So, where you been Billy?” Then they all broke out in gales of laughter. All but the coach who would later develop a double hernia from suppressing a belly laugh for the ten minutes it took him kto drive to the game at Oakwood.

A month later I accidently shoved the engaged blade of an egg beater up Ray Arnott’s nose as he licked the icing off the bowl for my birthday cake. The bowtie, the tap dance shoes, none of those things were ever discussed again. Eventually I became a well-adjusted, normal human being.

Oh sure there are nights when I can’t sleep I’ll put on my lederhosen with the feathered Swiss Alps hat and I’ll dance the Blue Danube Waltz with my blow-up doll of Margaret Thatcher, the one I bought for half price on eBay. A lot of guys probably do that. Right? At least I finally got rid of my crinoline collection. My therapist was right. It was time.

William Thomas is the author of nine books of humour.
For comments, ideas or a signed book, go to

(Read more in the Sep 27-Oct 18/2010 issue of Senior Scope)




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