I’m sure if Bob McAdorey was still around and had heard he was being honoured along with somebody called “Deadmou5, he would have probably said, “sounds about right.”
Mac, who grew up and went to high school in Niagara and eventually retired a place in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was among 7 groups and individuals honoured Saturday as he was inducted into the Niagara Falls Arts & Culture Wall of Fame. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 69.
McAdorey’s radio career began in the ’50s at CHVC near the falls. He went on to be one of the top jocks at Toronto’s 1050 CHUM, introducing The Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens among many career highlights.
Frank Shuster was among the other inductees Saturday as was Honeymoon Suite; past honourees include James Cameron and Barbara Frum, all with a strong connection to this famous border town community.
I had the great privilege and joy of saluting Bob at the event along with my ol’ pal Elaine Loring. Elaine worked with Mac for many years at Global television; both shared the daily “Entertainment Desk” series that was the stations long-running showbiz series before things there went all ET Canada.
Way back when I was working at TV Guide, the highlight of my week was joining Bob for five minutes on air every Friday as we ran down the coming week’s TV highlights. Bob was so smooth and assured on air I often forgot we were on camera. He was that rare bird, a true broadcaster, somebody who had a tremendous connection to his audience by just being themselves. Philbin has it, Letterman, Craig Ferguson, too. It’s an ability to make viewers feel they really have invited the person right into their living rooms.
Not that the performer is all the guy you see on TV. Ferguson, Letterman, Carson, Conan all had or have dark sides they don’t show viewers, no matter how intimate that TV relationship always appears. Mac was apparently the same way, although I honestly never saw that other side of him. To me, he was always the coolest guy in television.
His on-camera ease was, like those other guys, hard earned as well as a natural gift. Mac fussed over scripts, kept producers on their toes and liked things buttoned down. That he made it all seem so nice guy natural on camera is all the more admirable.
I think he would have been touched by Saturday’s straight ahead grass roots salute. The Niagara Arts & Culture Wall of Fame in located in Niagara Square, the town shopping mall. The Niagara Falls Concert Band, in their red jackets, warmed up the gathering crowd with show tunes. A town Crier in full regalia rang his bell and threw himself into his Hear Ye’s. The mayor was there, the local member of parliament, the provincial MPP. All three made short speeches and then stood for 90 minutes while the event played out.
When it was time to honour Bob, Elaine went up and nailed her speech. I swear it was like back-at-Global times, like the red light went on and her voice just went right back to that precise and professional pitch. (She comes by it naturally; her dad, Rex Loring, was a golden throat CBC announcer for years).
I said a few words, and was touched later when a couple of people in the crowd approached to say they knew Bob, shared similar hobbies and were happy he was being given his due.
Fellow honouree Joel Zimmerman, a.k.a. DJ/performance artist Deadmau5, was not at the ceremonies but sent a surrogate in a Deadmau5 head and ears. His father, wearing a “Dadmau5” T-shirt, was there and gave a very funny acceptance speech. Rosie Shuster, daughter of Frank, sent regards.
Afterwards me and Elaine enjoyed a bit of a Ferris Bueler’s Day Off goofing around the falls. It is off-season there and the chill and rain put a damper on the horseshoe view but it was a day to remember nevertheless. Elaine (who I’ve known since we both had summer jobs at an Ontario Place restaurant back in the ’70s) even brought along a Three Stooges mask (one mask, three heads) so we could recreate the “slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…” Niagara Falls routine. Bob, I think, would have said “sointenly!” to that.