Now that Bill Rowe has finally, and mercifully, relinquished his full-time preacher role behind the afternoon mike at VOCM (the radio station some cynics have dubbed the Voice of the Cabinet Minister), and joined the ranks of other retired giants of the open-line show circuit (the journalistic depth of those who’ve sat in that seat of bombast is rather startling), it turns out that “Snook,” of all people, has been given a shot at the job.
Yes, that’s Snook, a.k.a. actor Pete Soucy, now taking the calls of everyone from politicians seeking free air time to professional whiners to souls bored in the mid-afternoon looking to make regular offerings to their own version of “Chapel For Shut-ins.”
(OK, OK, before I’m threatened with a public whipping at the hands of Marg and her band of callers, or even worse, a tongue lashing, I do concede there’s always been the odd few minutes of importance emerging from the hours of bluster, some of those occasionally worthwhile contributions delivered, in fact, by good friends of mine.)
In any case, I’m sure Snook or Pete or perhaps one of Soucy’s less famous characters won’t have to dig too deeply for topics over the next little while, given that a provincial election campaign, a nectar of the gods for the open-line show addicts, is well underway.
But there might be some identification problems for Pete/Snook.
“Good afternoon, you’re on the line.”
“Snook, buddy, how ya gettin’ on?”
“The name’s Pete, or Mr. Soucy, whichever you prefer, but I’m not Snook.”
“Go way, b’y, don’t go gettin’ stuffed shirt on us; you’ll always be Snook.”
“Excuse me …”
“Come on, now, Snook, give us a ‘rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright on’.”
“Sorry, the name’s Pete.”
“How’s Dougie? He tokin’ up in the control room?”
“I’ve never heard of a Dougie, as you so quaintly put it.”
“OK, have it your way, Snook, b’y. But here’s what I wants to talk about anyway, Snook: what kind of an arsed up choice do we have this fall? I gotta ask ya. First off, you got Kathy. Now don’t get me wrong. Seems like a fine person and all. Bright and all. Did her thing for lots of women’s rights and all that sorta feminist thing years ago. But I can’t make head nor tail of where’s she’s comin’ from. Like her compass has gone haywire, my son. All over the map. Like a spintop, she is. And she made a real balls of that coast guard thing.”
“Watch the language now, caller.”
“Jes, Snook, b’y. Since when did you get all religious?”
“The name’s Pete. And language control’s my new game.”
“OK, Snook, b’y. But she messed up. Ya gotta admit. In any case, you got me off my line of thought … think that’s what they calls it. Aside from Kathy, you’ve got Yvonne. Now, again, Snook, my son, Vonnie seems like a genuine article. Got some smarts, too. But she’s no leader, b’y. And even for me, she’s a bit rough round the edges, if you get my drift. Premier Jones? Nawww. Opposition crackie? I get it. She’s good at that, no doubt about it. I know she had old Danny pissin’ mad a few times. But Premier Jones? No way, b’y.”
“I’ll have to cut you off if you keep up that kind of reference to excretory functions, caller.”
“I don’t know what that means, Snook. But, give us a break, b’y. I’m on a roll. Anyway, I know my time’s about up. And I have to say something about Lorraine. God almighty, you got to hand it to her, Snook, b’y. Been tryin’ for years to help out … how would you say it? … the oppressed, the downtrodden. You OK with that vocab, Snook? That good ’nough for ya?”
“Yes, fine, fine.”
“And Lorraine was a nun, too, b’y. Had the good sense to get out, though. Not a good place for a woman wantin’ to speak her piece, that papal church isn’t. And I like the cut of her jib, b’y. But Premier Michael? Nawww. Can’t see it, b’y. Besides, Newfs are ’fraid of lettin’ the NDP anywhere near the throne, them being half-cracked socialists and all.”
“Well, thanks for those spell-bounding words, caller.”
“There ya go, again, gettin’ holier than thou. I liked you better when you were Snook. Come on now, for old time’s sake. Give us one last ‘rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright on.’”
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.