“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
People still love radio. It is a medium that can stand the test of time when done well and especially when its focus is tremendously local. Look no further than a recent announcement by Vista Radio, which has made the listening public in North Bay overtly excited.
A familiar voice will be back on the airwaves tomorrow. Just three weeks after his last show on Rogers Radio KiSS 100.5,
Kevin Oschefski has headed down Main Street and will make his on-air debut with Moose FM on Wednesday as their new afternoon announcer.
After more than 20 years with the same company, Oschefski says it was time to move on.
“It was not an easy decision,” he says. “It was a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of conversations with my family. I had been there 24 years and in radio, people tend to jump around a lot and I didn’t. I loved it there and so I stayed. But there were a lot of changes made, they decided to take things in a different direction and I didn’t agree with that direction. That’s not to say that what they decided was wrong, it just wasn’t right for me.”
In November of 2020 Oschefski was moved off the morning show on KiSS and into the afternoon slot, which was part of a larger overhaul of mass changes made by parent company Rogers Sports and Media.
“I tried that for a few months and I just wasn’t happy, I didn’t enjoy it and the turning point for me was when one of my kids said to me one morning ‘why are you always upset now? Why aren’t you ever happy?’ and I replied that it was because I really wasn’t happy and I realized that I needed to dig deep and try and make a change. And it was hard because there was a real comfort zone there.”
Oschefski says he wasn’t just looking at continuing his radio career.
“I was looking at jobs completely outside of radio. I even briefly entertained the idea of going back to school which, well can you imagine me sitting in a class? Good on those who are able to do it because I don’t know if I could have survived that! But it just crossed my mind that I needed to do something else.”
A conversation happened between Moose FM General Manager Peter Hobbs and Oschefski.
They discussed their philosophy of the radio industry and Oschefski says he realized “We were on the same page.”
“What I was doing wasn’t feeding my soul anymore,” says Oschefski. “I’m all about the small-town local radio and with some of the changes the emphasis was more on the polished sound more so than the small-town aspect. At least that’s what I took from it; some may differ in that opinion though. But after a lot of talks and soul searching I just said ‘I’m going to give this a shot and see how this goes.’”
Although he was with the same company for over two decades, Oschefski did have a variety of roles during his time there and he says he never entered the business with the end goal being an on-air personality.
“I got into it because I love music and I just wanted to have a job where I could get into free concerts and be given free CDs back when they did that,” he says with a laugh.
“I never had any dreams of being on-air because I didn’t have a typical radio voice. But I ended up getting hired in Promotions and it was awesome, I loved it because you get to work with both sides of the business; the sales side and the programming side. You have your hands in every aspect of what’s going on.”
Oschefski says it was a role that brought along a lot of good memories and many laughs, especially when the old Rogers studios location on the overpass was being renovated after they acquired CHUR and Oschefski had to share a portable with former morning show hosts Peter McKeown and Dean Belanger. He says, “I don’t know if we actually got any work done during that time, but it was a lot of fun sharing that ‘office’ with those two guys.”
And as the Promotions Manager for three stations (CKAT, CKFX and CHUR) you had to be prepared for some unexpected surprises.
“We used to be able to have enough prize winners that we could send a busload of people to all the big concerts in Toronto and Ottawa. And one year we sent people to go see Edge Fest and when they stopped in Gravenhurst for a washroom break, they accidentally left one younger kid behind. So I get a call letting me know and I just decided that I would jump into The (101.9 FM) Fox truck and drive down to the Tim Hortons he was at and pick him up. I got there and said, ‘lets go to Edge Fest and see what happens.’ We get to the Molson Park grounds and I didn’t have a ticket, but we show up in the vehicle with the logos on it and they just waved us right through! Next thing you know I’m backstage and I get out and I’m standing right next to George Stroumboulopoulos and we just start chatting and all I could think was ‘somebody is going to realize we aren’t supposed to be here’ so I got the kid into the concert and back with the right group and then I just high tailed it out of there before anyone could notice.”
Life could have been a lot different for Oschefski. A career in radio all spent in North Bay was almost derailed by a job opening that came up with the station 97.1 HTZ-FM in St. Catharines. Oschefski was dating Josie who would become his wife a few years later, but at the time she was living in Welland, Ontario.
“They are THE definitive rock radio station. When AC/DC would play in Toronto they would stop by HZ-FM. So I loved that radio station and always thought,'if I could work at that station, how cool would that be.’ They were hiring and the General Manager of that station actually originally hired Peter McKeown who was my boss at the time.
"So he put in a call and I got an interview and it was unreal. The station is actually inside of an old mansion they call “The White House of Rock” and I get there and the GM’s office is this big amazing space and I’m just beside myself thinking ‘how cool is this?’ But then the Program Director took me on a tour of the building after the interview, and about halfway through that tour something just didn’t feel right. It was just a very different vibe from what I was used to. They didn’t just portray the Rock n Roll lifestyle, they LIVED it and that just wasn’t where I was in my life.
"You know on Fridays I’m watching Wheel of Fortune, I’m not out at the bar. So I drove back to North Bay, called Josie, and said ‘I just didn’t get a good feeling and I understand if that means we’re done because this was the opportunity for us to be together and to her credit, she said if it isn’t right it isn’t right and I don’t want you to come down here and resent me because you don’t like the job.’”
It all fell into place as Josie eventually made the move up North and they have created a wonderful life together in the Gateway City, but Oschefski says, “That really was the first tough decision, the big ‘what if’ of my career but in hindsight, it truly was the right move for me.”
What was the right move was transitioning from the promotions department and into an on-air role. Oschefski started out doing pre-recorded overnights from midnight to 4 a.m. on CKAT and says, “I got control of the sign out front and so I would change it to read ‘Kevin Oschefski – 12 a.m. – 4 a.m. on CKAT!’ and I highly doubt anyone read that and said ‘wow I better tune in at 2 a.m. to hear Kevin!’”
He worked his way from that overnight role into filling in on the morning show when Belanger would have time off, to getting an afternoon role so that he could be groomed for an eventual morning show slot, with a big opportunity happening when husband and wife morning show duo Dan and Jamie were leaving EZ-ROCK for a job out west.
“There were really good friends of ours,” says Kevin. “On their last night in town we had them over and as the night was going on and as more of the wine was going down the conversation just turned to ‘maybe I should apply for the morning job.’ So I went in and applied and they said ‘we’re going to put you on afternoons and see what you can do.’ So I did that for a few months and then they gave me the gig. I was a nervous wreck but I was so excited and had no idea what I had just stepped in to but let's have some fun.”
What’s expected out of a morning show personality has also evolved during Oschefski’s time in the business.
“When I first started it was all about the big voice, but it stopped becoming about the ‘game show’ personality and started to become about real people who tell a real story and I guess that’s how I found my way into it, is because I’ve always been a bit of a storyteller and my favourite humour is more observational humour rather than the set up of the joke before delivering the punch line. The best compliment you get is after you tell a story and somebody stops you on the street and says ‘we laughed at that because that is totally our family,’ and that is what you want, you want people to be able to relate.”
Oschefski says he tells younger people in any field that it’s a matter of putting in your time and showing you are committed to doing the work.
“I felt the same way when I first started out that where I am I’m never going to get out of this spot. But when you don’t expect it something will open up, opportunities are going to come along and they did for me.”
Oschefski says once he landed the morning show job, he wanted to use his platform to make a difference in the community
“I always thought that if I got on the air, I would use that platform to do some good and make a difference in some ways. I like to think that I have in some regards, there is still a lot that I can do. Anything like the Longest Morning show, you do it because you see the little kids who need the wheelchair ramp and you just think ‘how can I not do this?’ especially as someone with their own kids, anything you can do to help kids I was game for.”
Oschefski says he laid to rest any second thoughts about leaving a place he’s come to know like the back of his hand. “In the two weeks between leaving Rogers and coming over to Vista I thought there was going to be a moment where I would have woken up in the middle of the night and just said ‘oh my god, what did I do,’ but that never happened and I truly believe that that is a good sign,” he says.
It’s also a good sign for the listeners in North Bay who have been hitting social media with nothing but love and support and anticipation for Oschefski’s first show, tomorrow at 3 p.m.
“It’s very nice,” he says. “It’s more than I would have ever thought and it is overwhelming really. I don’t think I’ve ever come home any time and said ‘yeah I had a good show today’ because I don’t ever really allow myself to feel that, which my wife says is my flaw. It is really nice to read those comments but in my head, I’m thinking ‘boy I am really going to have to deliver!’”
“I hope that I’ve done something that matters, I still have lots to go, but I hope that when I look back on my career someday I can do it with pride and I hope my kids can be proud of that too.”
If you have a story suggestion for the “Jobs of the Future” series, send Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.