Two unemployed radio guys wrecking the internet
December 21, 2011 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Humble & Fred do a podcast. Big deal, you say? The bigger story is that they're fairly well known mainstream radio guys in the Toronto area, who have been in the business for decades, but after some recent firings have decided to give full time podcasting a try. And they're making a pretty big splash so far.

"Humble" Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson have worked together on and off as the morning radio duo "Humble and Fred" since 1989. They started out at CFNY, moved to the AM station "radio for guys" Mojo in 2001, then the Mix in 2003.

... Then the firings began. Fred was let go from the Mix in 2005. A year later, Howard was fired. The two made various jumps around the Toronto market for a few years (Fred apparently was still being paid under contract with the Mix for 3 years after his firing), with Fred ending up working as a program director at The Wolf and Howard finally ending up at Boom in Toronto. And then... They were both fired again. With no immediate prospects for mainstream radio gigs, the boys decided to try something a little bit different. Lucky enough to pick up a few sponsors to get them off the ground (and putting their own money into building a professional studio), Humble and Fred radio was off and running.

With the help of old Humble and Fred show favourite Pete "Scary Pete" Cugno (also known musically as Peter Bloom, and the voice of the Mini Wheat in the animated Mini Wheats commercials, among MANY other things) and the technical help of prolific Toronto blogger Toronto Mike, the show is now getting close to the 50 show mark. With a mix of hilarious storytelling, fascinating insights into the radio industry in general (and Toronto in particular), and over 130,000 downloads in their first week, the show is definitely taking off. Guests so far have included Alex Lifeson of Rush, Gil Moore of Triumph (and Canada's biggest recording studio, Metalworks), musical encyclopedia Alan Cross (featured on the blue previously), and many other fascinating folks. Regular features also include "Humble and Fred Heritage Moments," which are classic Humble and Fred bits including Mr Goohead (a prank call bit where a confused man calls up various businesses), Uncle Vince's Diary (Uncle Vince is Scary Pete's fictitious, extremely sexually active French Canadian uncle), Toronto radio mainstay Kelly Kutrara doing the news (she is also a regular guest on Tuesdays and Thursdays), Spotify songs submitted by listeners referring to past show anecdotes (hence the VaginaJuice and LickThePooPoo tags) and making fun of Howard dating a 27 year old (he is 51).

What would be an otherwise unremarkable story (two guys setting up a podcast) has garnered quite a bit of mainstream news coverage. A feature in the Toronto Star, as well as appearances on Canada AM and the Global Morning Show have boosted their profile tremendously. They are touting themselves as "The Most Downloaded Podcast in Etobicoke" - another example of their self-deprecating humour, Etobicoke being a small-ish part of the west end of Toronto.

All this attention has included, apparently, the attention of former employers Corus Entertainment. The former employers who had trademarked the name "Humble and Fred" for radio purposes back in 1998, and graciously "offered" to transfer the trademark back to Humble & Fred for $5000. The ensuing controversy (warning, no actual controversy ensued) resulted in an agreement that Corus will transfer the trademark to Humble and Fred if they make a donation in Corus' name to a charity of their choice (they chose the Vaughan Food Bank, as it has close ties to friend of the show Mike Wixson). Thus was born "Humble and Fred's trade-mark registration Christmas fund for the holidays", a fundraising attempt to make enough money to get their name back (though Corus VP Dave Farough, who appeared on the show after they received the offer to sell them back the name, has stated that whatever they are able to raise will be fine).

Humble and Fred are also reviving their annual "Gift of Christmas" show, which is a live broadcast of their show including musical guests. This year's (free!) show is December 21st at Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant in Toronto, and will be featuring Canadian band See Spot Run, Shawn Brady (solo artist and also front man from "the world's most successful U2 Tribute band", Elevation), as well as Peter Bloom and Alexander Quail (and obviously featuring Humble and Fred in all their glory), and will also be broadcast live online from 6-8pm at
posted by antifuse (21 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I never loved them, but they had their moments. The current CFNY morning crew is so friggin bad I can't believe they're even on the radio.
posted by Blake at 7:52 AM on December 21, 2011

Not really a fan but that's a nice story and good for them for finding a way to survive. I prefer NPR & CBC for my radio needs.
posted by Fizz at 8:02 AM on December 21, 2011

The early years of CFNY (even before Humble and Fred), meant so much to me. If I listen to John Cooper Clarke's "Beasley Street", I'm instantly transported back to my teenage bedroom, laying on the floor reading Trouser Press and listening to David Marsden. Hard to believe that was over 30 years ago.
posted by davebush at 8:03 AM on December 21, 2011

I think everyone starting a podcast should be required to read the recent MetaTalk post about them.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2011

For me, old-skool CFNY is The String Band's Toast and Pukka Orchestra's Cherry Beach Express. And The Spoons' Nova Heart. God, I miss it.
posted by sensate at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fizz: they had CBC's Jian Ghomeshi on recently - it was probably one of my favourite shows. Super interesting interview with him.
posted by antifuse at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2011

The Spoons' Nova Heart

Last year at this time I found a used copy of the out-of-print Spoon's compilation and spent a day or two listening to it in the car while running around doing Christmas related errands. I'm not normally overly nostalgic, but damn, the years melted away.
posted by davebush at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2011

(I can't check here at work -- has the Spirit of Radio page been linked?)

Never a fan of Humble and Fred personally (much preferring Steve Anthony with the glorious non-sequiturs of 'Punchline Fridays'), but I wish them well. My days of the Spirit of Radio to New Alternative to New Rock Alternative to New Rock to the Edge are long gone, I'm afraid.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:33 AM on December 21, 2011

The current CFNY morning crew is so friggin bad I can't believe they're even on the radio.
I was recently in Toronto and tuned into CFNY for the first time since Humble and Fred left. I don't offend easily really at all but the current crew was tasteless and frankly mean and nasty. I changed the channel and found Boom and Howard and was pleasently surprised I still enjoyed his style AND they fired him... I think Humble and Fred should call Vinnie White (just fired from BOB in Ottawa) and see if they can join forces [BOB also lost a listener because of this].
posted by mrgroweler at 8:34 AM on December 21, 2011

And don't get me started on the current state of CFNY. Same 10 songs, OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I miss the late 80's/early 90's (I was too young to have experienced the real Spirt of Radio days)
posted by antifuse at 8:34 AM on December 21, 2011

Do do do do do-do-do-do
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2011

Oh and because I liked the guy so much here is a link to his site. Looks like he is taking a break but I always enjoyed his manner [I do not know him beyond listening on the radio] Vinney White And I spelled his name wrong above.
posted by mrgroweler at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2011

Looks like The All-Request Breakfast with Maie Pauts is in yet another incarnation -- anyone know if this one is any good?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:46 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I saw "Humble", I thought "Humble Harve" Miller, who was using that radio name in L.A. as early as 1967 at legendary top-40 station KHJ and for 40+ years since, with one hiatus in '71 when he went to jail for killing his wife (only 3 years, manslaughter, it was a 'jealous rage' situation, which seemed extra weird because he was so-o-o mellow on-air). You don't forget a DJ with a history like that.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:06 AM on December 21, 2011

OH! And for you Spoons fans - Gord Deppe of The Spoons was on the podcast too! :)

Capt. Renault - I don't imagine it will be as good as Maie's breakfast was back in her CFNY days. Boom is... Meh.

Update: also performing at tonight's show will be Howard's 13 year old daughter. I can't find the episode that she sang in, but she sang Zee Avi's "Bitter Heart" and it was... Incredible.
posted by antifuse at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2011

I don't imagine it will be as good as Maie's breakfast was back in her CFNY days.

There was a previous version -- on the weekend, most importantly -- back when Boom was something else. There was something of the old feel, but too much other stuff. Hearing Maie again was wonderful. Unfortunately, the streaming version was absolute kife, and I gave it up before too long. But one can always hope.

posted by Capt. Renault at 9:25 AM on December 21, 2011

And a correction to my brainfart from this morning: it's *songify*, not *spotify*, songs that get submitted by listeners.
posted by antifuse at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2011

This thread is just reminding me how much I miss Martin Streek.
posted by rocket88 at 12:48 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wikipedia: CFNY-FM

In 1980 I could hear CFNY play the song Marquee Moon by Television, and then the song Television by Japan: It was kinda like a college station, but with a decent broadcast signal.
posted by ovvl at 4:12 PM on December 21, 2011

The Spirit of Radio fan site is the place to go to feel really, really fucking old as your rummage around the soundchecks, snips of songs that need to be identified, and the pictures of people at reunions. It's like your granny's attic, if your granny wore granny boots ironically with a ruffled mini-skirt and fingerless gloves. *cough*
posted by maudlin at 6:30 PM on December 21, 2011

to add to the "I didn't like them but..." category, my dad actually went to school with Fred and I remember growing up with constant references to 'little freddie patterson'.although I never liked the music his station played.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 9:15 PM on December 21, 2011

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