Radio host Jack Antonio remembers listening to a clip of one of his earliest interviews with a musician being played on another DJ’s show.
He also remembers them stopping the lackluster interview short and spending the next 45 minutes of their show trolling it mercilessly.
“The thing they kept hitting me on is how (under-prepared) I was,” he said. “I am friends with those guys now. They have been great mentors to me, even giving me tips on how to approach certain musicians. I actually went onto their show after that and talked to them. I won their respect by owning up to my mistakes.”
On Dec. 16, 2015, hundreds of interviews and a pair of awards later, Antonio’s voice, a “wild backwoodsman persona,” fell off the airwaves once more when his shows Jack’s Trax and Do You Know Jack? were pulled by Yellowknife’s CKLB, which is run by the Native Communications Society (NCS).
The station itself went silent for some time in 2015 when federal funding was pulled, forcing the layoff of staff members and the cancellation of all programming, but breathed anew when the GNWT stepped in first with interim funding then a commitment to budget $400,000 for CKLB annually.
Antonio, or Scott Roos as he is known off-air, was never told directly by the management why his shows were cancelled. He suspects format was an issue – he focuses on metal music, the Do You Know Jack? program in particular rocks pretty hard, and the station’s new management appear to be re-focusing on country music.
Officials at CKLB could not be reached before press deadline.
“CKLB cut free shows from their programming,” he said. “All the work I have done has been for the love of music.”
The Journal was alerted to the change by a Victoria band who so admire Roos’ show they “argued their way on as fans a couple of times.” They did not want to comment publicly on “local affairs,” but felt strongly about the quality of the interviews Antonio conducted with such household names as Michael Sweet, Hank Williams III, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Cochrane, Sass Jordan, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, and Ozzy Osbourne axeman and Black Label Society founder Zakk Wylde. He has also landed interviews with members of global supergroup Def Leppard, metal gods Anthrax and Metallica, KISS, and 90s-2000s grunge grinders Ko?n, just to name a few.
His last show on Do You Know Jack? featured Chris Caffery of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Some, like his interview with koRn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, have been shared tens of thousands of times online. Wylde hinting at a Pantera reunion mid-interview led to a lot of traffic, too.
Roos, who teaches music and leads the band at St. Patrick School in Yellowknife, has never drawn a paycheque from CKLB. He said he does not want to fight the station on the “why” of his shows being cancelled, but would like to continue with the shows somehow. He uses the station’s equipment for his interviews and does not own any recording equipment of his own. With just a few keystrokes he was able to line up a dozen music industry players who, to a person, told the Journal in interviews they were saddened to learn the shows were pulled.
“My first question is why? What caused that? What happened?” a distraught Michael Sweet, founder of Christian metal act Stryper and one-time Boston substitute vocalist/guitarist, said. “It’s sad, man, obviously my opinion is how sad it is. There are fewer and fewer outlets for rock these days and when you see a show like Do You Know Jack? go bye-bye, that’s popular and done very well, it’s just one more big ‘ouch.’ It makes it more difficult for bands like Stryper and any rock band out there for that matter, to continue to get the word out. It’s a sad day, it’s too bad. It’s a bummer, it really is.”
Sweet was Roos’ favourite interview subject, appearing on the show five times, easily more than any other. The feeling seemed to be close to mutual.
“He did a great job, always,” Sweet said. “That’s why I kept coming back to him for interviews. Trust me, not to sound like a jerk, but there are many interviews you don’t go back to, because it either doesn’t work out well, or they don’t know what they’re doing, or they’re not nice or whatever. (Jack’s show) was always pleasant and done so well, I’m proud to hear I was one of his most-liked guests. That’s pretty cool. Hopefully he’s gonna get another show going. When you’re that good at what you do, and you love what you do, doors are going to open. It’s just a matter of time.”
Mississippi-based DJ Jayson Shell, who convinced Roos to do his first show, offered to help make that happen any way he could.
They met on the message board of a long-dead website run by a record company. Shell thought Roos’ comments were funny and insightful so he sent him a message and eventually asked if Roos would be interested in doing a radio show for his station. It took some coaxing.
“Knowing I kind of helped him get it off the ground and promote it however we could, I actually guest-hosted on the show a couple of times, and I probably have a little bit more of an investment than some other people, so it kinda made my heart go ‘well that sucks,’” the DJ at The Indie Authority said. “I told him I would do anything in my power to help (other than financially, because I don’t have any money).”
Shell said he knew a lot of radio station owners who would welcome Roos’ show, but he would need to be able to record the show at home in Yellowknife and send it in.
“I could get him on the station I’m on now in five minutes and they’d love to have him.”
Vancouver publicist Joelle May goaded a still bashful and unsure Roos into his first interview. It was with Vancouver Island’s Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra, who played Folk on the Rocks in 2012.
“The very next interview he did was with Bruce Cockburn,” she laughed. “I’ve hooked him up with probably all of my clients since then, and he started doing interviews with all of his heavy metal heroes after that. We’ve actually become pretty good friends.”
She was surprised to learn the show had been cancelled.
“I thought things were going really well and the show was continuing to grow in popularity,” she said. “I hope he gets to continue it at some point, and not just for selfish publicist reasons.”
Def Leppard promoter Jody Glisman Best, who sent the band’s co-lead guitarist Phil Collen for more than one interview with Roos, was also saddened to hear Jack was off the air.
“(Scott) is a top notch act himself,” she said via Facebook. “A rock star at what he does. I truly hope that he returns to the air very soon so we can continue to work together and get exposure for musicians in support of their releases in 2016. Fingers crossed!”
Another believer, Toronto-based publicist Melanie Kaye, works with acts including Lagwagon, Strung Out, Good Riddance and NOFX. She has most recently sent clients including Luther Wright of Luther Wright and the Wrongs and “psycho-billy” act Gutter Demons to Roos.
“The thing about Scott that I’m sure one picks up very quickly is he definitely does his homework,” she said. “It’s not your typical 10 questions one could ask anybody. He researches who he is going to speak to. Nothing is cookie-cutter about him so I think people really appreciate that. When my clients are doing an interview with him, I do have the sense that they are in good hands and that it is going to be a positive experience for them.”
With his connections to other outlets and the scope of the internet itself, Kaye is confident her acts get the exposure they are looking for with Roos.
“He is sort of linked in with several outlets so there is definitely a sense of bang for your buck when you do an interview,” she said. “So every box is sort of checked, in my opinion.”
That is the appeal for Montreal’s Jon Asher as well, who has known Roos since he started in public relations a decade ago and has been sending him artists to interview for about as long, 30 or more in all.
“He’s always been open-minded and given those musicians a voice to be heard through his radio show,” he said. “It didn’t matter if it was a small artist or a big artist, he supported their music. Even more so for the indie artists, it gave them a place to have their music heard and to talk about their art.”
What they said:
Andy Meyers, The Scenics: Scott had the ability to reach out to a wide range of successful musicians and get them to come on air with him. He had a broad taste – I appreciated that he was a metal-head, but he also enjoyed my band The Scenics’ quirky protopunk records. Great playlist, too!
Brandon Welling, Fingers X’d: He is a wonderful radio host. He really helped us out a lot in Montreal getting airplay. His shows are fantastic and we tune in all the time.
John Gallagher, Raven: Sad to see Scott’s brand of heavy metal mayhem going off the air. I had the pleasure of being on the show a number of times and I am very appreciative of the promotion and respect always shown to me and the band. Hopefully he will find a new outlet for the show!
John Kunz, CEO, Rock Rage Radio: Do you know Jack’s radio show has been one of the highest rated programs on Rock Rage Radio since the station launched in 2013? Do you know Jack sets the standards in his in-depth interview style, leaving the listener and artist satisfied? Jack brings radio back to what it was supposed to be: energetic, informative and entertained.