After 45 dedicated years in radio and 41 years at the Peak FM, morning host John Nichols or better known as “your morning friend and go to person” is celebrating his retirement.
John remembers his first day at the Peak as clear as a bell and it just so happened to fall on Ground-Hog day back in 1971. “What impacted me the most was how small the original location between first and Second Street was with only four rooms with just five employees. As well, there were no windows other than the one at the front of the station. So, it was a little claustrophobic to say the least. What impressed me though was how welcoming the listeners were. But alas, Wiarton Willie didn’t show up to welcome me and I can’t remember if he saw his shadow that day or not,” says John.
Back in 1964, John was part of a Rock “n” Roll band called The Randells singing and playing the organ. They played at all of the hot spots in the Midland area.
John was one of the very first to be accepted to go through the Career Academy in Toronto back in 1967. “My love of music got me into radio,” says John.
“As I was listening to the new songs coming out on CHUM-AM at the time, I heard an advertisement for Career Academy and after the audition the Academy said ‘ya, we’ll take you’ – this was the beginning of my career in radio and television broadcast,” says John.
Over the years, John’s main function at the Peak was to look after the morning show which is a disc jockey type show from 6 to 10 am. “I like to think of myself as that go to person, particularly in the case of winter storms and the weather person who lets everyone know if the buses are cancelled,” says John.
At 9 am John also hosts an interview program called Chats. It’s broken up in two parts with a couple of guests each day such as a resident in the community who has done something neat, a book review or an interview of a small business owner.
John’s time at the Peak has been very rewarding and he will miss it immensely. “There are many great memories over the years, not to mention the great staff that have become family to me,” says John. John’s biggest learning curve during his time with the Peak has been the rapid advancement of technology and computers.
“I had to learn everything on the fly so it was a pretty steep learning curve especially since being introduced to the first computer and later learning that yes, in this time and age, most households own a computer. In radio, technology has advanced so rapidly that keeping up with it has been quite a challenge for me,” explains John.
Over the years, John has received the Order of Collingwood, the Companion to the Order of Collingwood and the Province of Ontario Volunteer Award as well as a host of others awards. He has and will continue to be very involved in the community as a volunteer and “go to person.”
John currently volunteers as a Land Steward on the Bruce Trail with the Bruce Trail Conservancy, and the Community Christmas Cheer which collects food and monies for the less fortunate as well as the Collingwood Hospital Foundation Christmas draw, now in its 33rd year, just to name a few.
“Introducing the Christmas draw has been the most rewarding experience for me. It was by chance that it happened, all from a beautifully, handcrafted, doll-house donation in 1980. A big thank-you goes out in memory of Gerhart Brueske who started this; his thoughtfulness has helped so many. He walked into the station one day and he had a picture in his hand and he said ‘hey John, I’ve taken this picture to all the service clubs in town and asked if they would like this doll house to raise money for a special cause and no-one would take it’, explains John. With a target of raising $1,400 that year, we hit it with two days to go. Today, we accept several donations from local businesses and raise at least $40,000 annually. That’s an astonishing $700,000 over the 33 years,” says John.
John grew up on a dairy farm in Midland. He describes it as ‘hard work and early hours’ – definitely an upbringing most suited for the career choice John chose as the early morning show host at the Peak. “We started at four in the morning milking the cows and lots of times during the summer during harvest, we wouldn’t get to bed until 10 o’clock at night making for a long day,” says John. John has been happily married to his wife, Marie for 43 years. They have two beautiful daughters that John is very proud of, Shana, who lives on Long Island and operates her own Autism clinic, “Aspire”, and Jennifer, who has a dance studio, “The Extension Room”, on Eastern Avenue in Toronto.
There will be a listener appreciation day, all day, on Monday, December 17th at the Red Hen Restaurant in Downtown Collingwood. John’s retirement is planned for Dec 21st and will be going out in celebration of their 33rd annual Peak FM Collingwood Hospital Foundation Christmas draw which all began from the doll-house donation.
The new host for the morning show will be John Eaton, the current Operations Manager. Welcome aboard, John Eaton, and a big thank-you for the many memorable years of hosting the morning show, John Nichols! You will be missed!