It’ll be weird not hearing Tootall’s voice on the radio. You won’t notice it at first — after all, everyone takes vacations — but eventually, a subtle void will develop, a silence where there used to be this calm voice welcoming you to the Electric Lunch Hour and
The man who never tells you his real height or his real age said his final goodbye on the air yesterday. The video is above and the audio is posted on CHOM’s website. It features thank-yous from music director Picard and Bell Media executive and former CHOM boss Martin Spalding.
Here’s what Spalding said on air, reading from notes:
The outpouring has been unbelievable, from the PM to CHOM’s alumni. But most of all the listeners. Because after all it’s all about them.
I think what we want to start by saying is “thank you”. It’s been a great ride for you and for the station. And through all this change you’ve been a constant. You’ve been someone who’s been honest, credible, informative, entertaining. You’ve always been relevant, and someone we could always count on. It’s really rare in this business that you can orchestrate your fate. The reason you have been able to do so is you’re a rare breed of communicator that over a 40-year span has been able to adapt and sound timeless.
Someone asked you if you had any tape from your early years; you said no. I heard some of your breaks from the early 70s. Exactly the same in terms of tone, cadence and delivery. But what I feel really differentiates you from the others is that you never treated what you did as a job. You lived out your passion, and you turned your occupation into a craft. The way you stacked your sweeps so that everything flowed sonically, the fact that you still mix everything manually is still unheard of today. Tootall, both personally and professionally, I’ll miss you; we’ll miss you. And if you ever want to come back, and I’ve said it many times and we’ve said it over the last year, there will always be room for you at CHOM.
Enjoy tonight. The gang has done a fantastic job organizing tonight’s tribute to you, a tribute fitting a man who gave us so much. I’ll say it: we love you, you are and will always be an icon, one of the last building blocks of rock.
And here’s how Tootall ended it off:
There’s people listening who have been listening since I started.
People have named their dogs after me. (Laughter.) Something I’ve realized over the past few weeks: I knew I’ve always had listeners, because you’re on the radio and you’re talking to people and you get ratings coming in and stuff but I never realized that I had so many fans, so many loyal fans. And it’s really hard to think about that.
So I want to wish the listeners, you know … I just want to thank the listeners that have been out there all this time. The amount of texts coming in today, I haven’t been able to reply. I’ve tried but it’s just been non-stop.
So I guess it’s time for my last song isn’t it, before I break down and, yeah?
So merci beaucoup tout le monde. And this city, the city of Montreal is really, really something special.
Do you want to hear my last song? I thought it was kind of nice because the end of the song, it sort of has a little hope. A little bit, I guess. Here we go. And this was a huge song at CHOM when it came out, you know. Big request number. And it’s a road song, the show is over, time to pack up and head out. It’s Jackson Browne, The Load Out/Stay. On CHOM 97-7.
— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) September 22, 2017
The five hours that preceded that statement wasn’t so much a rock music show as it was a parade of tributes from musicians, politicians and former colleagues. It was a testament to how much Tootall was appreciated by this city and this industry.
But it said something more than that, too. Organizing all this required a lot of effort from his colleagues at CHOM, who felt a duty to offer a larger-than-life appreciation for this larger-than-life man. In a world of outsized egos and soulless corporatism, to have a broadcasting veteran be so loved by his listeners, his colleagues and his employer is very rare.
Even more rare than the chance, as Spalding pointed out, to go out on your own terms. Despite its relatively stable roster of announcers, CHOM has a history of losing veteran voices on acrimonious terms — Ted Bird, Pete Marier — or just hoping people would forget about them, like Rob Kemp.
Here, CHOM has ensured to the best of its ability that no one forgets about Tootall.
Individual tributes (audio):
- Mayor Denis Coderre
- Cindy Aikman
- Geneviève Borne
- Rob Braide
- Andrew Carter
- Ken Connors
- Sharon Hyland
- Pete Marier
- Eden Polansky
- Randy Renaud
Though Tootall is an institution in Montreal radio, the coverage of his departure was mostly limited to anglophone media, with stories in the Montreal Gazette and CTV. A smattering of brief mentions on some French websites based off the Bell Media press release.
Two solitudes, indeed.
I was busy at work the night of Tootall’s tribute party at Club Soda. But there was plenty of sharing on social media. Here are some highlights:
— CHOM 97.7 Montreal (@CHOM977) September 23, 2017
— Richard Burnett (@bugsburnett) September 23, 2017
Randy Renaud has been announced as Tootall’s replacement at CHOM. He begins Monday, and will offer a smooth transition with a familiar voice. No announcement has been made yet on Renaud’s replacement, and it’s unclear what this means for Renaud’s Black Cat Alley show.