Brent Loucks is not calling it a retirement.
The alarm clock will buzz at 4 a.m. for the final time on Feb. 4 as Loucks says goodbye to nearly 40 years of hosting CKOM’s morning show and 50 years in radio.
“It’s just time. My wife and I, she has a busy business and we just find that the 4 a.m. wears both of us down and we want a little bit more of a normal life,” he said.
But Loucks isn’t using the word “retired.”
“Retired to me has a negative connotation,” he said.
“I want to still be active in radio and working for this great company.”
Loucks took time to look back on a career spanning 50 years.
The early days
As a teenager, Loucks had a love of hunting and fishing and wanted to become a conservation officer.
He had started making inquiries to schools in Western Canada when a Grade 12 high school teacher changed his career trajectory.
“One day I was jacking around in class and this teacher, as I was leaving class that day, he said, ‘Do you ever think about getting into radio?’”
“It had never crossed my mind,” Loucks said with a laugh.
He reached out for advice and started looking for a radio school. Loucks’ older brother then contacted him.
“He left home when I was only one. He joined the Canadian Navy, and he and I really didn’t know each other that well,” Loucks recalled.
“He reached out and on his own, found a school in Minneapolis — Brown Institute — and he called me one day and he said, ‘Listen, why don’t you apply to this radio school? Come live with us. We’ll get to know each other.’”
Loucks spent a year in Minneapolis connecting with his brother and learning the tools of the trade.
“I graduated in the spring of 1973 and I’ve never looked back.
“I’ve been just so lucky.”
Coming to Saskatoon
His first job was at CFRY in Portage La Prairie, Man., and by the early 1980s, Loucks’ career had taken him to CMJE in Regina.
Rawlco, the station owner, had just bought CKOM in Saskatoon and the company moved Loucks and two others to the city in 1982.
Loucks had never been to Saskatoon in the four years he had been living in Regina.
“I always thought, ‘Well, Regina is the capital, that’s as good as it gets.’ And I came to Saskatoon and I just fell in love with this amazing city right from the get-go.”
He has fond memories of his first days in the Bridge City.
“I remember having dinner at the Top of the Inn. It was a snowy night looking out over the river. I just loved it.”
Two years later came the chance to host the morning show. Loucks said some luck played into his chance to take over for Jerry Steen, who had moved to a new Rawlco radio station in Calgary.
“Someone said, ‘Well, Loucks is a pretty good news guy, but I think he’d be a great morning show host,’” he recalled.
“I look back over the years to think what good fortune I had. There’s thousands of talented people out there. I was just lucky enough to be the right guy at the right place at the right time.”
There are many memories to look back on after 40 years, and one Loucks recalled is the time “Wild Bill” Hunter had Saskatoon buzzing over the possibility of the St. Louis Blues moving to the city in 1983.
“I got to go on a trip to New York City to Long Island,” Loucks said.
“We thought Bill was coming then to have his meeting with the NHL Board of Governors. He didn’t make the trip, so I ended up with a free trip to the All-Star Game.”
Then there were the promotions. One is slightly reminiscent of The Amazing Race.
“One of our first promotions was around the world scavenger hunt and I went on an around-the-world trip in eight days,” he recalled.
“There was a dung beetle that we had to find. We had sand from Bahrain and the desert.
“It was just an amazing experience.”
Loucks said he didn’t see himself as a newsreader, just an average citizen who was hurt by the pain and uncertainty of the events.
“The outpouring of support that we saw for the families after the Humboldt tragedy, it made me so proud to be part of the media community, so proud to be part of this province and this country, how people just showed so much support.”
While Loucks might not miss the alarm clock going off at 4 a.m., he will miss his listeners.
He said the outpouring of texts, comments and emails he received after making his announcement has been incredible.
“I’m just blown away by the comments I’ve received from so many people thanking me for being a part of their mornings for all these years.
“And that connection with the listeners, I hope I never lose that.”
Loucks credits his connection with his listeners as part of his longevity in the business.
“I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t confident I could present the information that would appeal to our audience,” he recalled.
“(My boss) said to me, ‘Listen, you’re an interesting guy. If you find something interesting, odds are most of your audience will find that as well.’”
Loucks won’t be completely disappearing from Saskatoon’s airwaves.
He will continue to host two shows on the weekends — Wine Talk and Money Sense — plus special events and guest hosting.
“I just am so blessed with my management here, as they did with me on my morning show all those years, they basically said, ‘Hey, whatever you want to do, if we think it’s a good idea, we’ll go with it.’
“So, I’m excited about the future possibilities here.”
Loucks said the last 40 years in Saskatoon have been an “absolute wonder.”
“I’m going to miss it. I realize that. But, hey! Time marches on.
“And as my brilliant wife, Penney Murphy, says, ‘Change is good,’ and I want to believe that.”