The Lifestyle Digs

The Time I Won Tickets for Whitney Houston

When I was a teenager, the popular music radio station in the Vancouver area was 14 CFUN. It played mostly soft rock music. Easy listening hit songs of today and yesterday.

The morning show in the eighties and early nineties featured popular deejay Fred Latremouille and his wife Kathy Baldazzi. Fred was known for his quick wit, and he hilariously did prank wake up calls. People would contact the morning show, provide a little background, and ask for a prank call on someone they know.

I particularly remember the call where Fred pretended to be a city bylaw officer. He called a woman who owned a horse and told her she’d been reported for not picking up the horse shit when she was out horseback riding. He told her the horse needed to wear a diaper when she was riding on the streets!

The Latremorning radio show ran a lot of contests, most famously trips, where lucky listeners would join them on a vacation that was usually somewhere fun in the sun. Sadly, I was never caller 14, but not for lack of trying to win a trip!

NAME THAT PERSON!

On the morning show Fred and Kathy had a contest where they played a short audio, and listeners phoned in to guess the celebrity.

I had just woken up thanks to my clock radio, and was still in bed when the contest came on.

It was a woman’s voice saying: “What a face.”

Right away I recognized that annoying voice – Ellen Travolta.

The sister of one of my favorite actors! Yup, I’ve been a big John Travolta fan since the Welcome Back, Kotter days.

Ellen Travolta played Scott Baio’s mother on Happy Days and Charles on Charge. One of her lines was to pinch his face and say: “What a face.”

Even though I recognized her right away, she was only a small bit actress. Would other listeners know the voice?

Apparently not. People were guessing all over the place.

Mary Tyler Moore.

Shelly Long.

Florence Henderson.

I was frantically dialing, but I kept getting a busy signal! I didn’t even hear what the prize was, but the day before it had been tickets to the Whitney Houston concert. It was extremely likely they were giving out the same prize all week.

Redial.

Busy signal.

Redial.

Busy signal.

RING, RING, RING…

Finally the phone rings! I know from listening to the station that they have three lines for callers. Fred was on the line with someone, so that meant there was still another caller ahead of me.

But what’s this? There’s been over a dozen guesses by this time and now Fred Latremouille is giving the current caller a bunch of clues.

Her brother was in a famous movie about dancing.

Her brother played a sweathog on a TV show.

I’m screaming into the ringing phone to stop giving clues! The caller guesses Kirstie Alley.

The next caller makes a wrong guess.

Fred answers the phone and he sounds pretty bored by now. “CFUN”

“That’s Ellen Travolta!” I yell.

The applause machine goes off. “Congratulations,” says Fred. “You’ve just won two tickets to see Whitney Houston!”

WHITNEY HOUSTON CONCERT

It was 1991. I was working at Silverwing Holidays at the time and invited my co-worker, Addie, to come because she was a big Whitney Houston fan.

A group named the Seven Ups was the opening act.

Never heard of them. Of course, we were all there for Whitney! She came on stage and was amazing.

I remember she just started singing a song, a capella. She paused to take a breath, and a woman in the audience screamed: “We love you, Whitney!”

The crowd laughed. Even Whitney giggled, halted the song, and said: “Thanks. That was nice.”

She did a great show, and I was glad I had the opportunity to be at her concert. Whitney was an amazing singer.

ENDINGS

What happened to all the people mentioned in this article?

Sadly, Whitney Houston who had substance addiction issues, passed away on February 11, 2012 at age 48.

1410 CFUN radio changed to a talk show format in the mid 1990s and I stopped listening to it. I prefer tunes to chatter.

Fred and Cathy jumped ship to another radio station in 1993, taking most of their Latremorning listeners with them.

Fred Latremouille passed away in 2015 at age 69.

Ellen Travolta is 81 and occasionally acts.

My former co-worker, Addie, broke up with her boyfriend in 1993 and moved back to Ontario. We exchanged Christmas cards and letters for a couple of years and then lost touch. This being before cell phones and the Internet became a thing. I haven’t been able to find her through online searches, perhaps she married and changed her last name. If anyone knows Adele Eccles, help us get back in touch!

SILVERWING HOLIDAYS

Silverwing Holidays is where Addie and I met.

The company was a tour operator specializing in air and hotel packages to Reno and Las Vegas. They had a catchy jingle on TV and radio ads: “I need a vacation, gotta get away, give me some fun in the sun to take these blues away.”

In the summer of 1993 the company made a fatal error of changing their computer systems and flicking the switch without giving the majority of the staff any training.

Everyone was just sitting there looking at a computer they didn’t know how to use.

People were quitting, there were no new hires, travel agents couldn’t get through on the phones, and bookings severely dried up.

What’s a travel agent going to do? Phone a competitor where they’re answering their phones and buy tickets for their clients elsewhere.

I worked in the accounting department and it was pretty clear how the company was doing financially. At the end of their line of credit. Big stacks of unsigned commission checks for the travel agents sat on chairs in the Vice President’s office. I jumped ship about a year after the computer switch, meaning about three of us in the accounting department left around the same time.

About 6 months after I quit, Sunquest Vacations, based in Ontario, bought Silverwing Holidays, and they became known as Sunquest West. A few years later another company bought out Sunquest. The building I worked in was shut down.

Whitney Houston put on an amazing show and I’m very glad I was able to hear her in person. Did you get the opportunity to see Whitney Houston in concert?

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