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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
'Perseverance wins' in radio broadcasting

By Linda White
Special to The Sun

Perseverance. It's a word you hear often when you talk to those working at Z103.5FM, Toronto's only independent radio station. Beginning with founder and owner Bill Evanov, the "school of hard knocks" is credited with helping many realize their dream of working in radio broadcasting.
As marketing director of three Toronto radio stations, Christopher Randall says "the sky is the limit."

"It was extremely difficult," Evanov says of his start as a sales rep with CHIN Radio back in 1967. "CHIN was a brand new radio station. No one had heard of it ... People were ready to phone the better business bureau or the police on me because I was selling for a radio station that didn't exist."

"Tide changed"

He remembers the first six months as the toughest of his life. "I had no money. Thank God I didn't have a family to support," Evanov says. "Then the tide changed. I had been shy back then. Before I saw a client, I talked myself up for 10 minutes. (CHIN founder Johnny) Lombardi told me perseverance wins and it does. My goal was to double the number of calls the other salespeople made."

Thanks to perseverance, Evanov went on to become sales manager. He stayed with CHIN until 1980, when he left to manage a radio station in Burlington. In 1984, he purchased his first radio station in Brampton, launching it as a multilingual station. Today, he's president of the Evanov Radio Group, which owns Z103.5FM, AM530 and Foxy 88.5FM stations in Toronto and a new station in Halifax.
Bill Evanov is president of the Evanov Radio Group, which owns Z103.5FM, AM530 and Foxy 88.5FM stations in Toronto and a new station in Halifax.

As marketing director of the three Toronto stations, Christopher Randall is assigned the task of helping to attract and retain listeners. One day, he may be taking a lucky fan backstage to meet Kelly Clarkson. Another day, he could be planning shopping sprees, trips to Greece and a high school idol competition.

"My job is very creative. It's about coming up with ideas and implementing them," he says. "There's a lot of variety and every day is different. The sky is the limit. You need an imagination and need to put a foundation under it."

Randall loved music growing up, and even ran the Elton John Fan Club in Canada. He studied marketing and promotions at college and has taken radio promotion and public speaking courses -- all while overcoming a stutter. He credits landing his first job at CFRB to perseverance.
  • On-air announcers are the most prominent of the careers in radio broadcasting. Others find work in operating, programming, production, copywriting, music, regulations and sales promotions
  • This is the first in a two-part series about careers in radio broadcasting. Watch for the second article in next week's Career Connection.

  • Determination

    "I told them I'd work for free. I was persistent and never gave up," says Randall, whose first task was to do a live broadcast from an anti-apartheid rally. He worked as marketing director at a radio station in Hamilton before joining the Evanov Radio Group.

    Earning a living in radio takes determination, agrees vice-president and Radio Group manager Carmela Laurignano.

    "The radio industry is very small and very competitive," Laurignano says. "We've got roughly 20 stations in Toronto. You have to get in it for the love of it. If you're looking for a steady 9 to 5 job with lots of money, this isn't for you. But if you persevere, the rewards are tremendous.

    "For me personally, I've been able to pioneer a lot of things. I'm an ethnic woman who rose to the top in a traditionally male-oriented industry."

    Radio attracts those eager to have fun while lending a helping hand to many. "Operating a radio station is a tremendous responsibility," Laurignano says. "You're serving the public interest. That's why we're involved with things like Student Crime Stoppers ... We offer this connection to the community. Radio is very immediate. It gives you the ability to react right away."

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