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THE MOJ: New radio home will provide a pinch-me moment for this B.C. boy

“The Moj” soon to be broadcasting BC Lions games on radio station CKNW
Bob “The Moj” Marjanovich and Giulio Caravatta will now be broadcasting BC Lions games on radio station CKNW. courtesy Bob Marjanovich

If you’ve been around for a while, pinch-me moments don’t occur that often.

When I was younger, they seemed to happen a lot more.

I remember one night in the mid-90’s, I was writing for Sports Vue and had my regular seat in the press box at then-GM Place for a game against the visiting Montreal Canadiens.

Sitting next to me was a semi-retired Jim Robson. He had stepped away from his regular play-by-play duties on CKNW but was still doing some games on BCTV. That - coupled with the fact that it was Montreal - made it a very memorable night.

As a kid growing up in the ‘70s, the only Canuck games you could watch were on Saturday nights. Everything else was on radio and you listened to Robson paint that incredible picture to you in the way that only he could.

When the Canadiens paid a visit to Vancouver in the ’70s, it was like the Beatles were in town. There was a buzz in the city as ‘Les Habitants’ were hockey gods. In fact, the Canucks could only manage one solitary win against the Canadiens in the regular season up to the end of 1978-1979. If you’re wondering about that head-to-head record, it was 1-35-7.

It was a decade of dominance.

I remember one night — Nov. 24, 1972 to be exact thanks to — when Vancouver’s Gerry O’Flaherty scored 28 seconds into the game.

“Tonight’s the night we finally beat Montreal!” I thought to myself.

The Canadiens won 9-1.

I remind O’Flaherty, who regularly attends games at Rogers Arena as a Tampa Bay Lightning scout, about that game every so often.

So yes, watching Montreal play while chatting with Robson throughout was one of those pinch-me moments.

Another one occurred when Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur paid a visit to our MOJO 730 studios in 2004. Lafleur was on a tour promoting men’s health awareness. I told him how my late father, who passed away in 1983, was a huge Habs fan while I was on the Canucks bandwagon. The Canadiens dominance – and my frustration – made it impossible for us to watch the game in the same room I told him. I’d watch upstairs while dad would be downstairs.

Interviewing Lafleur was a surreal moment and I wondered what my dad would be thinking with his kid chatting with his favourite player all those years later.

A nice sidenote to all of this is that a couple of weeks later a big manila envelope addressed to me showed up at our downtown Vancouver studios.

It was from Lafleur.

It was a personalized autographed glossy with a small note ‘apologizing’ to me for causing all that despair when I was a kid.

Class act that Lafleur.

There have been other special moments but another one will occur on Friday night when the B.C. Lions play host to the Edmonton Elks at BC Place.

As many of you have heard by now, the Lions broadcasts have returned to CKNW 980 after an almost 20-year absence.

‘NW is still the ‘Top Dog’ in the market and is truly a legacy station.

Having the ability to call Lions games on CKNW will be yet another surreal moment for this agent, and again, I wonder what my dad would be thinking.

Frosty Forst in the mornings, Jack Webster and then later Gary Bannerman, afternoons with Rick Honey, sports with Big Al Davidson – the crew at CKNW were the Canadiens of radio when I was a kid.

And of course, there were the Canucks games with Robson and the Lions games with Jim Cox.

In fact, my first-ever time on the radio was as a call-in on Forst’s show.

In the summer of 1975, the movie Jaws was released. ‘NW was running a promotion in which they would have recordings of local celebrities say a few words hinting at who they were. Guess the celeb and you’d get tickets to the movie.

Somehow, I got through. Frosty introduced me, ran about a 10-15 second clip of the celebrity and asked me who I thought it was.

I had no clue and froze for what seemed an eternity.

“Umm. I don’t know,” I said.

“Take a guess,” replied Forst, probably giving his producer the stink eye in the process for putting a 10-year-old kid on the air.

What came out of my mouth next was a classic.

“Your secretary?” was all that I could come up with.

Forst laughed and let me go.

A couple of days later, someone guessed correctly that the ‘Jaws’ that were speaking to me belonged to World Champion figure skater Karen Magnussen.

My dad would listen to CKNW incessantly on his transistor radio whether he was at home or at his woodworking shop in Surrey. I still vividly remember him smoking his late-night dart in the furnace room (my mom wouldn’t let him smoke anywhere else in the house) with that transistor radio glued to his ear listening to the 10:55 PM sports to get all the hockey scores.

Heck, I still remember the ‘Roving Mike’ with Bill Hughes and Hal Davis with the 8 a.m. news and his classic sign off of ‘have a good day now, do ya’ hear’.

Later on, it would be the likes of Neil Macrae, J. Paul McConnell, Jim Hughson, Tom Larscheid and Dan Russell that would keep me entertained.

So yes, when we go on the air this year with CKNW, it will be another surreal moment for this kid from New Westminster.

It will truly be humbling to be calling Lions games on a station with such a rich history of legendary broadcasters. All of the aforementioned set such a high standard and our team of Giulio Caravatta, Rob Fai, Mike Whittingham and Trevor Martins will do our very best to maintain that standard.

Somewhere, my dad will be listening.

And how do I know that?

Because we buried him with that beloved transistor radio of his.

I better have a good call.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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