Previously, in the Gerry Thom radio story, we heard of his early radio days in the Alberta Badlands town of Drumheller. That’s where he got his start, and from there his career followed the familiar arc that most other radio people pursued in the seventies. He sent out audition tapes (back in the days of reel to reel and cassette tape recorders) to the big time stations in places such as Toronto and Vancouver. He was aiming away over his head, as he admits to this day, but a guy has to do what a guy has to do.
From Drumheller it was off to CKFT in Terrace, B.C., all the while sending off those tapes. One of the people he reached out to was a chap by the name of Hart Kirsch, at CJME in Regina, Saskatchewan. His thoughts on that Kirsch character? “A lot of people will tell you the same as what I am saying; he was a tough chap to work for but was very astute in programming a Top 40 radio station. He would critique what I was doing and tell me to keep in touch as he might be looking to hire me one day.”
Which brings us to the fall of 1972, when Kirsch called with a job offer, Thom said yes, and it was off to Regina from Terrace. What happened next is best described by Thom himself: “He flew me out there, put me up at a hotel, at 11th and Broad Street in Regina. Three of us were there and we were all given air shifts. There was a Tony Merchant talk show then one of the other guys did 10am to 1 pm. I did 1 to 3. When the dust settled I was the “swing guy”, and I had the chance there at CJME to make a lot of mistakes and not get fired for doing so.”
Thom tells us the Regina job was a wonderful experience but also a harsh introduction to Saskatchewan winters.
“I learned quite a bit in those old studios at 1717 Rose Street in Regina, and I think the building is still there. I was at CJME for 9 months, one full winter, from October of 72 to June of 73. Got the chance to experience all of the seasons there, and even having grown up in Alberta in Drumheller the Regina winter was a shock to me. I had never seen that much snow or felt that much cold.”
Gerry Thom explained to us he was mostly on air Saturdays and Sundays at CJME, and then did lots of “production” work during the week. He says this was also a good learning experience as he was doing lots of work on commercials and such. He was on air in Regina under his real name of Gerry Thom.
However, the question here now is “When did the legend of Jack Casey begin?” The answer? In Vancouver, at 14 CFUN. Again, in his own words, here is how he got from Regina to Vancouver.
“I left in June of 73 to go to Calgary for $600 a month, over the $450 a month in Regina. When we were that age, and in that business, the idea was just to keep moving up and up, like a shark, from one market to a bigger one.”
From Calgary it was on to Vancouver, first as Gerry Thom, then as Jack Casey. From CFUN it was back east to Winnipeg, as K.C. Foxx, then back again to Vancouver as Jack Casey.
Jack Casey continued to work in Vancouver on radio for a number of notable years, then he gradually drifted into the film industry as an extra and a stand in, and now he is in Washington State, working in the audio visual department of a community college. He may have started as Gerry Thom but we all remember him fondly as the one and only Jack Casey.