If the Tallest Show in Radio had grown a beard over the time he’s spent in Osoyoos, it would stretch six-feet, six inches to the floor.
EZ Rock’s Brock Jackson will celebrate his 2,500th local morning show Thursday morning, a span in Osoyoos that stretches back more than 13 years.
Over that time, Brock has become a fixture in the community, helping listeners open their eyes each weekday morning and engaging the community in the big way through the rest of the day.
“I consider myself the big easy chair in Osoyoos,” says Brock in an interview as his big morning approaches. “I love being able to make a difference and be able to get out there and be part of some of the big stories but still live in such a great small community.
At 6’6”, Brock might not be the best fit for a radio booth. But both he and company he works for have made adjustments.
“I fill up the studio, that’s for sure,” he laughs. “They reconfigured my control board in there because when I started whenever I had an interview I had the person sitting right next to me and we had some uncomfortable knee-touching going on.”
He’s also weathered other changes as the industry has gone from the days of the disc jockey to a digital-based system.
“I do have a little bit of creative control, but it’s certainly not like WKRP in Cincinnati,” he says.
What hasn’t changed is Brock’s approach to small-town radio.
“I’ve always tried to maintain a local focus, talk a lot about local events that are going on,” he explains. “And there are some moments that come along where I may be doing a morning show in Osoyoos, population 5,000, but it can have a pretty good reach and impact.”
Brock’s day begins at 4:15 a.m. — when the alarm goes off at home just north of Osoyoos. He’s in the studio by five and on air between six and 10. But his role in a community of 5,000 means his work’s not done when he gets off the air.
“After the show ends, I put on the marketing hat. The morning I get to play radio and the rest of the day I work in the business of radio.”
It’s that mix that has allowed him to remain in the community so long, he says.
“Working in small-town radio is a pretty tough business. There’s a lot of Kraft Dinner,” he says. “ But it’s different for me. So many people that I talk to in radio say I’m so lucky to live in Osoyoos. This is where they all want to come. They want to live here and stay here.”
Brock’s contribution to the community is well-known, especially in local sport circles. A fitness buff, he regularly participates in local fundraising events and has also shared a good chunk of his time with local hockey and youth sports.
“He’s an extremely valuable member of Spirit of the Game,” said Mike Campol, the Society’s president. “He’s always available when we do events and he’s done a lot for us with our social media and our marketing platform.”
Brock also spent eight years as the in-rink voice of the Osoyoos Coyotes and doubled that effort by looking after game-time music duties as well.
“I’m hoping to get him back again, because he does such a nice job up there,” says Randy Bedard, the Coyotes’ owner. “It’s very, very difficult to do both jobs at the same time, so he was a very talented guy.
“And he’s always been very supportive of the hockey club.”
Although EZ Rock’s programming after 10 a.m. comes from its Penticton studio, Brock has had opportunity to come back into the station and provide live coverage of local events.
“When we had the Oliver fire a few years ago, I went back into the studio in the evening and I tried to give live updates,” he says. “People wanted to know what was happening and even if I didn’t have the updated information, they wanted to hear somebody talking about it, someone who could say, ‘I’m here with you and I’m concerned about this just like you.’ “
His Osoyoos stint — five days a week over 11 years — has consumed much of Brock’s radio career. But he actually started on a different path, enrolling at Ryerson University in Toronto with a career in journalism in his sights before eventually moving his studies back to Langara College on the West Coast.
A radio internship as part of that program got him moving in a different direction.
“I was at News 1130 in Vancouver when it first launched, when it flipped over from a music format,” he recalled. “I sort of got the radio bug there.
But I was more interested in the music side of things, rather than the news side.”
That led to more studies at BCIT.
After graduation, Brock headed to Penticton and SUN-FM and EZ-Rock. Except for a year when he and partner Geraldine Manossa spent in Edmonton, Brock has been on the air in the Okanagan.
He arrived in Osoyoos in 2005 and spent three years behind the microphone before a brief sojourn in Alberta’s capital. He was back for good in February 2010.
Over the years, Brock has developed friendships with the “guests” with whom he routinely engages, including wine entrepreneur Bruce Fuller. The pair share a Friday-morning discussion about Okanagan grapes and everything connected to them.
Bruce says his Friday-morning chats were originally informally scripted but now “it’s exactly like we’re sitting in a living room and talking.”
“It just flows,” he adds. “Brock is really easy to work with.”
With 2,500 shows in the book, Brock is asked to ponder how much longer he’ll be on the air in Osoyoos. That, he answers, is up to the Radio Gods.
“In the grand scheme of things, I’m still pretty young. As long as they keep the electricity going into the studio, I’ll keep doing it. It’s a great gig and Osoyoos ia a great community to work in.
“Why would I want to leave?”
Want to celebrate with Brock his 2,500th show? You can tune in Thursday morning between 6 and 10 a.m. on the radio at 102.9 FM, 1240 AM or online at iheartradio.ca.