On the 13th anniversary of the day he retired from full-time announcing for the radio station, Dec. 15, 2007, Frank Martina was told Tuesday his popular Saturday afternoon show on 107.5 Beach FM will be terminated.
The move ends a 55-year broadcasting career and comes months shy of Martina broadcasting for the same station for 50 years, something simply unheard of in today’s broadcasting world.
The biggest celebrity export from Big Beaver, Sask. – on the Saskatchewan/Montana border, 180 kilometres from Regina, population 10 in the 2016 census – made the announcement on his Facebook page.
“When I retired from full-time radio in 2007, I was fortunate to be asked to return to do Saturday afternoons, and have been doing it for the past 13 years,” Martina, 73, said. “It’s a job I love and in a city I love… so I am a lucky guy.”
Born in Bengough, located just north of Big Beaver, Martina was doing his high school homework in 1965 when he was listening on his cheap transistor radio to the disc jockeys having a great old time on CKCK Radio in Regina. They were having so much fun, Martina thought he could do that. So he entered a CKCK high school announcer competition and won it for the province.
The following year, Martina worked at CKSL in Weyburn, Sask., then moved on to Moose Jaw and Regina before heading west to visit his parents, who had moved to Vancouver.
“It was beautiful there and I chatted with a few people and ended up with a part-time job (CJOR, now defunct), but I wasn’t a big city guy,” said Martina. “I drove through the Okanagan and fell in love with it. Within a month to six weeks, I had a job.”
Martina was hired at CJIB in 1971 (call letters for Beach Radio now), then located on 30th Avenue in the building beside what is now HSBC, up on the second floor above Sears and with the legendary Jackie’s Coffee Shop in the basement. John Wilson hired Martina to be the morning news announcer.
That lasted three weeks.
“I never wanted to be the news guy, I wanted to be the music guy, the in-your-face guy, the guy having fun,” said Martina, who had a blast for the next 36 years in that time slot on CJIB AM and then KISS-FM.
Oh, Martina had offers to move.
He could have taken other positions within the parent companies. Or he could have taken that job as an announcer in Spokane. The radio station execs loved him. The problem was, Martina had to do a phone interview with the Washington, DC-based Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the CRTC of the United States who oversees broadcast regulations.
“The station guys told me they love to hire Canadians because of our accents,” laughed Martina. “When I was being interviewed by the FCC, they asked me why I felt suited for the job as a Canadian ahead of an American, I answered them honestly: ‘Because I don’t have an American accent.’ The call ended rather abruptly after that.”
Martina stayed in Vernon, raised two kids, now adults, and became an institution in the city.
Within an hour of his Facebook post, more than 50 people had offered up their sentiments of best wishes and congratulations on a successful career.
Karl Johnston, general manager of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Okanagan, said the station no longer plays the music Martina loves – classic rock – and wished the veteran announcer well.
“It’s a change to our afternoon time slot, and we want to thank Frank for his contribution to our success over the many years, from when he hosted the key morning timeslot decades ago to after he retired from that and returned to work a few hours on Saturday afternoon entertaining the audience with his favourites from the ‘60s,” said Johnston.
“Frank is a true professional who has cemented his legacy with CJIB and the community of Vernon during an exceptional career behind the mic. We wish him the very best.”
Martina has no immediate plans for his sudden retirement.
“It’s not really a big deal (being terminated),” he said. “It was one day a week and I did it because I love doing it more than anything else. It’s been a helluva ride. I’d hoped to make it to 50 years, but I’m pleased as punch to have done it in a city I love.”