Two years after joining Mike FM (CKDG) as a big-name personality on its afternoon drive show, Paul Zakaib and his on-air alter-ego Tasso Patsikakis are once again looking for work.
“It was a good two-year run,” Zakaib told me on the phone. He described his departure as the end of an experiment that failed to meet the station’s hopes. Mike FM owner Marie Griffiths offered him a different job that he wasn’t crazy about, so he left. His last day was Sept. 30.
Griffiths didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. I’ll update this post if I hear from her.
James Foster, who was Zakaib’s producer and news anchor, has taken over the job of afternoon drive host.
Zakaib isn’t bitter about the departure, but seemed resigned to the fact that things just wouldn’t work at the low-budget station. Its equipment is basic and outdated, and didn’t afford him the flexibility needed to produce a complex show filled with humorous skits. This was particularly true after co-host Patrick Charles left the station a year ago.
CKDG-FM and its sister station CKIN-FM are commercial ethnic stations operating out of a tiny studio space on Parc Ave. in Mile End. CKDG tries to make money for the station with English-language morning and afternoon drive shows. The hiring of Tasso and Patrick was supposed to spark a boost in audience and advertising. It now seems evident that that didn’t happen.
(CKDG-FM doesn’t subscribe to BBM’s ratings measurement system, so it’s impossible to know beyond anecdotal evidence whether the show did indeed have more listeners and if so how long that increased listenership lasted.)
So now Zakaib joins people like Ted Bird and Ric Peterson and Patrick Charles and Chantal Desjardins who are without jobs in radio despite being veteran broadcasters. And that’s not counting all of those who are underemployed or not being used to their full potential.
Zakaib told me he wants to go back to something he did a while ago: freelance, doing voice work for animation and commercials. As a man with many voices, it’s what he does best.
“I’m trying to get back into that field,” he said, lamenting how much has changed with technology since the good ol’ days.
What about an Aaron and Tasso reunion? Well, Zakaib called up Aaron Rand’s show on CJAD recently, just for fun. He said he might do so again, out of nostalgia.
If there’s any justice in the world, CJAD will free up a few dollars to get him to contribute to Rand’s show on a regular basis.
But nobody’s holding their breath waiting for that to happen.