Couldn't miss the chill in the air at the Dave Kines MuchMusic farewell party Thursday night. Kines, one of the real good guys in the biz, was also one of the first to email a "WTF!?" when I was tossed at The Toronto Sun nearly two years ago.
A prudent man, he soldiered on when CTV acquired the CHUM stations and started morphing MuchMusic--arguably the strongest brand in Canadian specialty programming--in with their imported MTV mix. It must have felt a little bit like being asked to coach the Canadiens after being with The Leafs your whole career.
He gamefully stuck his toe into the CTV pool before announcing late last week that he was getting out while the getting is good. They'll miss him and he was given a proper send off after nearly 25 years (dating back to The New Music at City). The lavish bash was held at the Circa Club on John St., just a video tape's throw from the CHUM/City, er MuchMusic, uh, CTV West...you know, 299 Queen St. West.
The joint was packed with old friends, many who also have moved on to new gigs. Denise Donlan, just announced as the new head of CBC Radio, gave Kines props. There were video shout outs from everyone from former VJs Erica Ehm, Christopher Ward, George Stroumboulopoulos, Rick Campenelli and even Ed The Sock. Insight Productions head John Brunton, CHUM FM morning man Roger Ashby and several record execs were in the house.
Kines was hailed as a savvy boss who trusted his associates and stayed out of people's way. He was also lampooned as an AV geek, a Dexter-look-a-like and as someone who wore flesh-coloured lederhosen, stuffed phallic junk down his junk and had a habit of disrobing at inappropriate moments.
Not mentioned enough was the fact he nurtured and prodded the MuchMusic Video Awards into the best damn award show/live party in Canadian television and one of the most admired live music events around the world. He was given his own MMVA Award last night, and he earned it.
There were the usual, "We're sure he won't be away long!" speeches. Kines is not tipping his hand; hopefully he'll take some time off and do nothing for a while. My bet is the dude will be part of the new, whatever that is. Kines was always ahead of the curve when it came to technology and content. He's likely looking for a new stream; the old TV pond seems pretty fished out these days.
And that was what seemed to be hanging over this party. As great as the mini burgers and chip cones were, this was a room full of frightened people. Not just because this was another reminder that the old Moses Znaimer CHUM/City era has been snuffed out like yesterday's reefer. That has sunk in. The elephant in the room last night was the economy. The markets have lost 40% of their value in one year. As industries disappear in Ontario, the ad biz is a bust. Those network licences to print money have been revoked and the repo man will be back next week for the cameras.
Not one to dally in a finite world, Kines took a look around and split. Hopefully, he'll show us all a sign to what lies ahead soon.