One of Guelph’s most trusted and familiar voices is signing off the air for the last time Friday morning.
“I will miss going to work in the morning and just goofing around on the radio,” said Neill Clemens, news director and radio host for CJOY and Magic 106.1. “I have never worked a day in my life – not here anyway.”
Clemens started his radio career in 1972.
“I spent a little bit of time up in Wingham then my first real job was in Woodstock,” he said. “That’s where I married my wife Pam and we moved here in September 1974.”
He said a lot has changed over the years and some things have remained strangely familiar.
“I started covering one Trudeau and ended covering another Trudeau,” he said. “I started in Washington with the inauguration of Richard Nixon and now I find another president who may get himself kicked out of office if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth.”
There were many interesting local stories as well.
“I spent a night out at the Guelph Correctional Centre during a prison riot,” he said. “For years I reported on city council and the school boards. When the people you used to cover at school board meetings now have schools named after them it’s probably time to get out of Dodge.”
Dave Hannah, Clemens’ radio co-host for the past 25 years has many fond memories of their partnership.
“We are buddies on the air and off the air,” said Hannah. “We spend weekends together with our families.”
He recalled a fundraising campaign they took part in for the United Way during the mid 1990s.
“We said if we raised enough money we would both shave our heads,” Hannah said. “We ended up raising more than $14,000. I had never seen Neil without a beard then I saw him without a beard and without hair. My poor daughter was two at the time and she was traumatized.”
Hannah joined many of Clemens’ radio colleagues, family and friends for a surprise retirement barbecue at the station Wednesday afternoon.
Magic 106.1 host Lisa Richards said it was Clemens who hired her 20 years ago.
“I ended up working in the newsroom with Neil and this guy has become like a dad and a brother,” she said. “I am going to miss you.”
Mayor Cam Guthrie said he began listening to Dave and Neil in The Morning when he married his wife Rachel 18 years ago.
“Every morning we wake up to you guys and I think there is going to be a void here in Guelph when that voice is not on the radio especially in our household,” he said. “You’ve made a difference more than you might think.”
Clemens’ wife Pam said she is looking forward to having her husband to herself.
“We go out for walks and there are all sorts of little old ladies who come up and tell me ‘I wake up with your husband every morning’ then they laugh,” she said. “Neil has often told me ‘When I grow up I am going to get a real job.’ I am thinking now that is not going to happen.”
Clemens said he is looking forward to spending more time out on the water at the family cottage with their three children and eight grandchildren. He had some parting advice for his colleagues.
“I read something on a board in front of a school driving back from the cottage one weekend,” he said. “It said, ‘If you don’t think your ship is coming in swim out to it’.
If you don’t think this is it find something else to do because this is the greatest job in the world.”