How radio helped John Tory get elected Mayor of Toronto

Steve Kowch hired John Tory to host a talk show on CFRBFrom where I sit On the Kowch, John Tory’s campaign to be Mayor of Tory started five years ago with a text I sent him suggesting it was time to take me up on my offer to host a talk show on Newstalk 1010 in Toronto. John had just lost his bid to win a seat in the Ontario Legislature in a by-election on March 5, 2009. Within minutes  of losing, I sent him the text.

The next day he resigned as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and then took some time off to lick his wounds, explore the lay of the land and contemplate his future. We finally met a few weeks later in my office at Newstalk 1010 where I was the Operations Manager.

“John, it’s time to stop kissing babies and everyone’s ass to get elected. It’s time to kick ass on the radio as a talk show host. It will allow you to maintain a high profile to keep the door open for another bid to be Mayor of Toronto,” I told him.

John Tory on CFRB

John Tory on Newstalk 1010

John had worked in a radio newsroom at one point in his career. He loved radio and he understood the power of being a host on Canada’s largest newstalk radio station. So On April 23, 2009 we announced John would host a weekend talk show on Newstalk 1010. It was our way to test the waters, make sure he was up to the challenge of hosting a talk show and find out if listeners would tune in to his show.

We need not have worried. He was a natural. He knew how to listen to the callers and John wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions on the radio. He knew all the movers and shakers in the city who lined up to be on his show. It wasn’t long before I started using John to replace vacationing hosts over the summer.

One day, while replacing John Moore on the afternoon drive show, a tornado ripped through the north end of Toronto. John did such a good job quarter backing our coverage the station won a breaking news coverage award.

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I was so impressed with John Tory’s on air work, I decided he should be included in my plans to revamp programming on the radio station. I recommended to senior management that John Tory replace John Moore in afternoon drive. I wanted John Moore to host the morning show.

Management accepted my plans to have John Tory host afternoons and John Moore to host the morning show. Before it was a done deal management had their own idea about revamping the radio station. I was fired along with 10 other staff members. Two months later the station announced on October 5th that John Tory was the new afternoon drive talk show host and John Moore would become only the fourth host of the morning show on Newstalk 1010 in 60 years.

From where I sit On The Kowch, it was disappointing not to be there with Tory when the announcement was made or to work with him.  A few months later, Tory kept a death bed promise to  an old friend and agreed to chair the regional think-tank CivicAction Toronto. Combined with his high visibility job as a talk show host, Tory was front and centre on the important issues of the day facing Toronto. News makers lined up to be on his show that became must listening to a large Toronto audience who would vote for him in the 2014 municipal election.

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media 

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email steve@kowchmedia.com

 

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