Doug Thompson headshot

Anyone who knows their movie history, knows that rant comes from Peter Finch’s newscaster/commentator character Howard Beale in the movie “Network”.  Credit where credit is due.  Those words actually were written by the author of “Network”, Paddy Chayefsky.  Where am I going with this you may well ask?  Well, see I LOVE A GOOD RANT!  And that “Network” rant is one of the very best.  There are plenty more out there.  Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly trying to record a quick promo and not having the time…or Orson Welles losing his patience with a British director on a series of TV voice overs.

Speaking of rants…there can’t be many people in the free world who haven’t seen or heard at least one of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s rants.  Thanks to Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel’s late night television talk shows, millions of Americans are aware of the rantics of RoFo, most of them happening during a state of what Ford describes as ‘drunken stupors’.

Despite doctors warnings that a major rant could make your blood pressure go through the roof and cause you to have a stroke or heart attack, I say ‘phooey’.  I often rant (in the privacy of my own car at least) at the idiot who cuts me off in traffic (more often than not, it’s a BMW driver, but that’s a whole other rant).  I also rant at the car radio when the talk show host mispronounces simple words like ‘picture’.  One Toronto radio type continually says it as ‘pitcher’.  A newscaster for the same news/talk station insists on pronouncing ‘To-ron-to’ as ‘Tronto’.

It drives me crazy.

I’ll also rant at television news commentators when they mangle words and I’ll yell at the TV screen when the Chyron (on-screen printed identifier) prints something really stupid, or a person misspells a location, city or someone’s name, then doesn’t change it even if the story goes on for several minutes.


Where have all the editors gone anyway? Oh yeah, they’ve been ‘made redudant’ by the ‘bean counters’.  In my humble opinion, ranting is good for the soul.  It lets you vent and get it out of your system (if I ever should have a heart attack while ranting, you can come to my hospital room and tell me ‘Told you so’).

Aretha RocketsThe subject of ranting got me to thinking about the recent altercation between the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and an employee at the Johnny Rockets restaurant in Niagara Falls, New York.  For those not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, Aretha had given a sold out concert and had the munchies, so she popped into a Johnny Rockets restaurant on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for a take out burger.  Problem was apparently, she sat down to eat it in the restaurant.  Some nameless employee started ranting on her that she couldn’t eat IN if she ordered TAKE OUT.  The day after it happened, I happened to be listening to the Larry Fedoruk afternoon radio show on 610 CKTB in St. Catherines (Ontario, Canada for those not in the know).  Larry’s one of my all time fav talk radio hosts.  Always interesting.  I listen as often as I can.).  Anyway, a listener called in, said they’d eaten at that same restaurant with some friends and the same thing happened to them.  Not a great way to treat customers I’d say.


Unfortunately, Reet’s Rockets run-in was not recorded (as far as we know), but there have been many rock and roll rants that have been preserved for posterity.  Let’s take a look at a couple of these.

THE TROGGS.  I loved these guys.  So raw and powerful on record.  Of course, that sound was created by a talented manager/producer by the name of Larry Page.  Page found and produced the hit “Wild Thing” (written, incidentally by Angelina Joli’s uncle, Chip Taylor, brother of Jon Voight).  At this point, the Troggs had left Larry Page and decided to produce themselves.  This 1970 recording session at Dick James Music studios in London has lead singer Reg Presley trying to get drummer Ronnie Bond to play a specific pattern.  The only problem is, Reg doesn’t exactly know how to get Ronnie to do it.  This outtake was so juicy that DJM eventually released it on a 45 vinyl single.  It was also included on a Troggs CD box set.   It’s in two parts, so sprinkle a little fairy dust on your computer and crank it up *(but not if there are children nearby).  “Duba, duba, duba chuh.”  Lots of ‘F’ words in this one.  Not for the faint of heart.

Part One

 Part Two

BUDDY RICH.  Legendary big band drummer.  Leader of his own band.  A drumming hero of Neil Peart of Rush.  In this rant, Buddy was recorded on his tour bus in the 1980’s berating his musicians for their lack of professionalism.  There are several Buddy rants if you keep listening.

PAUL ANKA.  I have the utmost respect for Paul Anka.  He’s a survivor.  Anybody who can have # 1 hits in four separate decades, as well as writing hits for other artists such as Buddy Holly (“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, Tom Jones (“She’s A Lady”), Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley (“My Way).  Paul wrote songs for Annette Funicello as well as the theme song for “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”.  Anka took a page from Buddy Rich’s rant book and berated his musicians…but he did it ‘His Way’.

Casey Kasem wife and childrenCASEY KASEM.  American Top 40 countdown co-founder and host for several decades, who recently passed away amidst a feud between his second wife of 32 years, actress Jean Kasem and the children of his first marriage.  When said children wanted to be with him at the end of his life, Casey went missing from a Santa Monica nursing facility, then found in Washington state.  His kids got a court order and were with him in the hospice until his passing at which time they relinquished Casey’s body to his wife.  Then the body went missing – rumours were they were sent to a Montreal funeral home.  This was such a sad, ignominious end for a true radio legend.

I spoke with Casey many times when I was working for ABC/Watermark in Los Angeles on the Ringo Starr 24 hour radio series “RIngo’s Yellow Submarine”.  Casey came in every week to record his weekly syndicated countdown show, “American Top 40”.  At the beginning of the Ringo series, I’d driven down to Newport Beach and bought a small ships bell that Ringo would ring occasionally in the show.  It sat on my desk and Casey rang it everytime he came into the office I shared with Watermark’s Marketing Director.  Casey even asked if he could have the bell Casey Kasemwhen the series was done.  He said he wanted it for his son’s room.  This was a guy who was making millions from AT40, his NBC TV network voice overs and commercials as well as his cartoon voices.  The bell cost around 30 bucks.  Guess who got the bell in the end?  Yeah, you guessed it.  I wonder if his son still has it?  Around the end of the RIngo series, there was an opening for a writer on AT40 and ABC/Watermark President Tom Rounds recommended me.  I had to submit a written example of several song intros /backsells, plus an interesting story about a current hit or hitmaker for Casey to tell.

I did all that and was duly interviewed for the better part of an hour by Kasem himself.  An offer was made a few days later, but in the end I decided to return to Canada, where I was already making more money at Telemedia Network than AT40 was offering.

In this rant, Casey obviously has a burr in his saddle.  To be fair, he was a very busy guy, running from session to session.  According to one of the engineers who worked with him regularly, he only occasionally had a short fuse, most times he was extremely professional.  At one point in this rant, Casey mentions the name Don.  He’s referring to his AT40 co-founding partner Don Bustany.  As Casey so famously used to say in his signoff, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”  And maybe occasionally the delete button.

Here’s a bonus for those who’ve stuck it out thus far.  It’s everyone’s favourite Star Trek captain pitch man, William Shatner.  This is by way of Howard Stern’s morning radio show (you can hear Stern and Robin Givens laughing throughout most of it).  Shatner’s in a recording session and the director interrupts to try and get a specific read out of him.  Chaos ensues.

Alright, that’s it for me.  I’m getting in my car now.  I hope someone actually tries to CUT ME OFF so I can rant.


Doug’s column appears here every 4th Monday.

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DBAWIS_ButtonDoug Thompson has spent his entire adult life in broadcasting, both in Canada and the U.S. and has won 152 awards for his work.  He worked with Canadian actor John Candy for 17 years, writing and producing commercials, specials and several weekly radio programs.

Currently, he’s writing and producing the second season of a television program for the Hi Fi channel in Canada called “Hi Fi Salutes”, a series of short biographical documentaries on Canadian musicians, producers and record industry pioneers.  One of those programs recently won a Platinum Award at the World Film Festival in Houston.


  1. Did your editor miss this or am I not understanding something?

    “between the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and an employee at the Johnny Rockets restaurant in Niagara Falls, New York. For those not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, Aretha had given a sold out concert and had the munchies, so she popped into a Johnny Rockets restaurant on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for a take out burger. “

  2. David Lennick Says:

    Somewhere I have a copy of Tom Lehrer’s rant against Australian critics. This was pressed on a 7-inch disc.

  3. I’d loooove to hear that.

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