Saturday, August 13, 2011

"You're Gone!"

Too often I forget about the inter-connectedness of things in this world of ours. Today was one of those times when it really hit home. Ted Tevan died.

You might not know who Ted Tevan is/was, but there are many of us who do. Ted was a legend in the Montreal radio scene back in the 1970's. Generally considered a Canadian pioneer in sports/talk radio, Ted's late night open-line radio show, Sports Rap, was an institution back in the day. It was a few hours almost every night where anything could happen - and usually did. Ted had his own style, his own way of doing things, and we couldn't get enough of it.

I was just a West Island kid in those days, so I'd risk the wrath of my Mother by sneaking a radio under my pillow to catch Ted's antics into the wee hours. It didn't matter that I wasn't a huge sports fan - I just wanted to hear Ted cut off some hapless caller with his usual "You're gone!".

But Ted was a little more than all that. You see, back in those days, he was also part of my Dad's circle of friends. They were a weird collection of Montreal car salesman, radio jocks, and pro athletes who all liked to drink beer at the same West Island haunts. How they got together is a tale I wish I knew..

So the story goes that my Dad had this running gag with Ted (likely made funnier by a beverage or two). My Dad would cajole Ted to "put him on the air" as co-host of Sports Rap. This was always funny to me because (1) my Dad was a car salesman, not a radio guy and (2) he knew very little about sports. Ted would, of course, tell my Dad to bugger off and buy another round. And then my Dad would feign his disappointment and anger - presumabley to gales of laughter from the rest of the bar.

Around and around went this schtick. Months passed, until one day Ted Tevan called my Dad's bluff. Instead of the usual "bugger off", Ted said "yes". He offered my Dad - who you'll remember had no radio experience - a weekly guest commentary spot on Sports Rap. All my Dad had to do was fill 5 minutes every week or so with 'something controversial'. And like that, the persona of 'O.J. Godin' was born - my Dad's not-clever morphing of his actual initals, E.J., into something more sports-like.

In months to come, I'd make sure to listen in on Wednesday nights sometime after 11pm to hear my Dad try to be controversial and get the station's phone lines lit up. Sometimes it worked (he managed to tick off Ken Dryden once) and sometimes it didn't. I never cared how good my Dad sounded, because he was still my Dad. And Ted was always the consumate pro in filling in the rough spots, anyways.

But my other memory of that time was Ted Tevan, himself. I remember him being such a kind fellow to me and my siblings - all of us always a little star-struck in Ted's presence. I used to love being the guy who answered the phone when Ted called our house. Ted would recognize my voice on the line and, without fail, would use his bestest, deepest radio voice, "Do you know who this is, young man?". And I'd rely back, "It's Ted Tevan and you're gone!".

It's been over 35 years since I last talked to Ted. And I really hadn't thought about him since my Dad passed away almost 4 years ago. Hearing today of Ted's passing saddens me, of course, but it also brought an unexpected smile to my face thinking about a time when Ted and my Dad, O.J., ruled the airwaves - at least under my pillow.


Carmi said...

What a wonderful window into Ted's world - and yours and your dad's. What strikes me here is just how human this medium has always been. While most listeners are quick to think of radio announcers as some kind of untouchable demi-Gods, you illustrate here just how everyday-ordinary they actually are. And that they become elevated by the skill with which they create magic in our ears.

Ted was an icon. But he was also your dad's friend. And his ability to become an icon was based on an incredible connection to real people like your dad. And Ken Dryden - who was and is a real guy who just happened to be wickedly good at keeping pucks out of nets.

He ruled the airwaves under countless pillows during those seemingly magical years, and I'll admit that despite the sadness I feel upon his passing, I'm glad to have the opportunity to feel now what it felt like then. Thanks for sharing this.

Kid Dork said...

Very nice piece. I had never heard of Ted, or this rapscallion O.J. Godin, and I'm somehow robbed of something that sounds awesome.

Sonny Drysdale said...

So that's why you always sound so calm, cool and collected on those extended Geek Corner after-school specials. I had a feeling it must run in the family.

Crazylegs said...

Carmi - Thanks for the words. It genuinely warms my heart to know there's another Montreal Kid who remembers those evenings listening to Ted. Seems like such a long ago, eh?

KD - Thanks a bunch, man! While my Dad and I had kind of a weird relationship at times, I truly miss the days (nights?) of Ted and O.J. There are some tapes still hanging from those old shows. I think I need to track them down.

Sonny - Alas, my Warholian 15-minutes on the GC after-school special is more a result of being around talented guys like The Kid. Well, that and the steadying presence of a silver flask in the parking lot, if you catch my meaning.

Carmi said...

Thanks, Kevin. It felt like a lifetime ago, but the online discussions that have ensued since his passing make it all feel like it was just yesterday. That such powerful experiences and memories can spawn from a "mere" radio show is an amazing reminder of just how profoundly these kinds of things are.

The theatre of the mind, indeed!

I've added you to my blogroll...don't want to miss a word :)