The story about a guy named ZACK!
I have had many names on the radio. Shane Hewitt in Fort McMurray. That one was easy, as I grew up there. In 1998 I moved to Sudbury Ontario, and while I was sitting with Terry Callahan, my boss at the time, he asked me what name I wanted to use on the air. I said “Carter”. Terry asked me about a Surname.. and I opened up the phone book (it was 1998, after all) and it landed on R. RIVET, I said. I pronounced it RIVETTE. Terry said, “you know like 80% of the people here speak french, right? That’s RIVVAY, as in french”. Well, I’m not french, although I do love that language and try to learn it. James is my Dad’s name, and so Carter James was born.
I left Sudbury in the fall of 1999 and went to Brockville Ontario. I arrived there to “Cartman” as they thought it was a great play on South Park, and I didn’t really get much of a say in that, and I was there 3 days before I received an opportunity to move again. I ended up finishing 10 weeks in Brockville… and we had a lot of fun in 10 weeks.
After Brockville, I drove to Calgary to be on CJAY 92. I remember driving in to the city, turning on 92.1 and hearing Bob Steele on the air and thinking “what in the world did I get myself into… I can’t do THAT”. Turned out, I could do that. Bob became a trusted friend and I had a great run with Gerry Forbes, Graeme Reaper, Red Dawg, JD Jory Dorenzo and so many more. I did a couple of warm up over night shows, and my Program Director Bob Harris thought Shane Hewitt ran together too much… so he said “Go with Hewitt for now, like Foster Hewitt”. So I did. About a week later, I walked in to the station and Lisa Player was walking out. She said “Hey ZeeMan” and kept walking. With a confused WTF on my face, I went to me mail bunk. We had email then, but didn’t use it for much, and proper memo’s and notes were printed and put into our bunk. In there, I found a Memo that stated, “Shane Hewitt will now be known as ZeeMan, Zack Hewitt on the air”. Bob named me ZeeMan. And it caught on.
I left CJAY 92 via transfer within the company, to do a morning show on the iconic 97.7 HTZ-FM in St Catharines Ontario. What a cool station that is. Again, I arrived to Mornings with Zack and Joe (Joe Cahill, one of the neatest characters I’ll ever meet in my life), and might as well keep going with Zack. I came back to Calgary in 2005 and went to Q107. In Calgary, Zeeman/Zack still researched well with the audience, so there wasn’t much point starting over. A layoff came for a few of us in 2006 and I went back to Fort McMurray for a few months. I stayed with Zack, and with so many Calgary people in Ft Mac working, more people know Zack versus Shane at this point. Back to Calgary later in 2006, and Zeeman was a “no friggen way will you be Zeeman on Jack FM. You can be Shane. Gavin Tucker, my PD, really didn’t like “ZACK ON JACK”, especially after a few of the sales folks thought it was a fun idea. So, as long as I promised to never say “this is Zack on JACK”, I was allowed to be Zack Hewitt. 2007 saw opportunity at X92.9, but I decided that wasn’t for me. I also had an opportunity to go to a new station on 101.5, but I turned it down. Economically, it wasn’t enough. James Stuart, the GM for the Chum station 101.5, came back to me and said one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received. He said to me “I remember back in the big CJAY 92 days, when I (James) was in Edmonton we heard a lot about Forbsie, and Steele and Reap, but it was Zeeman who people told stories about. It was fresh and different” he said. “We’ve been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole on 101.5, and you’re the guy, let’s find a way to make it happen”. Best radio career moment, in my eyes, at the time.
So I went to 101.5, and ZACK! became really all the name was. My idea with that, was that in real life, people don’t introduce themselves comfortably as “Hi, I’m First Name Last Name”. They say “who’s that?”. “Oh that’s my buddy Zack”. So I went with Zack. Energy 101.5 became 101.5 Energy FM, because that’s what out of touch radio consultations who get paid a ton of money thing will create traction on a radio station. Then it became KooL 101.5, and then 101.5 KooL FM because that’s what over priced… you get the idea. What a fun 9 year run that was. #1 in afternoons in the city, #1 with female audience (my target, which is how you get paid btw), and usually #1 show on the station. Erin Wilde (midday host) and I often had friendly competition over whose show was the biggest on the station, and at times she kicked my butt in that too. That’s how Erin and I succeeded, by challenging each other to be better. Then, one day in Feb 2016, when Erin and I had the #1 and #2 most listened to shows on 101.5, an over priced consultant… again you get the idea, decided that it was time for change. This change has worked out really well for Erin and I, I’m not sure if it worked out for 101.5 or not. That’s up to them to decide. Erin moved on to afternoons in the market, and I went into business for myself. I created Christmas Canada Radio, I grew the Beatdown mix show, I started a countdown show, I started my Words Podcast, and I also founded Playdio – Better Music for Business with some trusted business colleagues.
Today, Q107 is home in Calgary. I do a handful of shows per week, as Zack. That’s only because it’s a name. I think once I leave this current show, regardless of if it’s inside Q and Corus, Zack will end. TBD I suppose. But that’s the world of ZACK. And the funny thing is, while it’s all such a big part of me. My name is Shane. And Shane accomplished all of that. I’m proud of that guy the most.
Shane Hewitt’s radio history ranges from CJOK Fort McMurray, Q92 Sudbury, CJAY 92 Calgary, 97.7 HTZ FM St Catharines, Q107 Calgary, KYX 98 Fort McMurray, Jack FM Calgary, Energy 101.5 Calgary, 101.5 KooL FM Calgary.
Born in Flin Flon, Manitoba… then to Port Alberni BC, I mostly grew up in Fort McMurray Alberta in Canada.
I loved hockey, but left the idea of a hockey career behind and went to Red Deer College to study Sound Design for theatre, but his love for music quickly lead me to DJing and radio. SAIT in Calgary in the radio program was my next stop, as a production major and on-air minor. In the winter of 1997, my first commercial radio job came back in his hometown of Fort McMurray AB, doing Country Evenings on 1230 CJOK. In June of 1998, he went east to Sudbury Ontario for Rock radio evenings at Q92, Sudbury’s Best Rock. August 1999, further east he went to 103.7 The River for Afternoon Drive. November 1999, westward bound I headed for evenings at the iconic Calgary’s Best Rock, CJAY 92 as ZeeMan. In 2001, he took over the CJAY 92 midday show.
Learning how to build website basics while at CJAY 92, I created Executive Media Inc in 2001, a small business which took on all print, web, billboards, logo and t-shirt designs for CJAY 92. From this, an extensive list of clients was born with Executive Media Inc. As well as “Zee-Shirts”, and the Vitamin Zee brand of tee shirts.
In 2002 I was part of the DJ team that launched new Urban station in Calgary, Vibe 98.5, while still chairing the rock midday show at CJAY 92. It was an exciting time to be able to do rock radio by day, and still insert my love and experience for pop music into building something new. In September 2003, I took a transfer within Standard Radio to chair the morning show at another iconic rock station, 97.7 Hits FM in St. Catharines, ON. September of 2004 saw me headed back to Calgary and assumed weekends, and middays at Classic Rock Q107 through 2006. Then back to Fort McMurray for mornings at KYX 98 for the summer of 2006, and back to Calgary for Weekends and Music Director at 96.9 Jack FM.
2007, March, I was offered afternoons with CHUM Radio for a brand new license in Calgary, and originally turned down the gig. About a month later, an agreement was reached, and soon after Energy 101.5 Launched in Calgary, and I hosted the afternoon show. Eventually I assumed the Music Director role, and once again was balancing programming and on-air duties. In 2007, I excitedly also kicked off “The Beatdown”, a unique concept for a DJ MIX show, that included a countdown inside it. 9 years later when it ended, it was Calgary’s Most listened to mix show. The Beatdown lived on until 2017 in Red Deer on Big 105. A 10 year run on a show that started in concept in the year 2000. Pretty cool moment for me.
In 2007 when I sat down with James Stuart, and he asked me why I loved being on the radio, he inspired me to start writing about the “WHY”. This has morphed into the fantastic story of “Unlock My Words”, one of a few topics I speaks on today. Taking the stories of how to connect with others, to improve your life at home and in business. In fact, it was these below moments with Phoenix, Bob Steele and Tim Morgan that started the shift of my WHY in radio. “Why have you been successful?” Words. My lightbulb goes off in this video about music, and how radio does music. And it inspired me to create Playdio – Better Music for Business.
The WHY I shared with James was a letter about suicide that I received from a listener one day. And how that listener told me that they chose life, instead, in that moment. I share this story in my speaking events.
Here is a series of clips from the Calgary SHAW TV show TRENDING where ZACK is a guest with friends and colleagues Bob Steele and Tim Morgan. It sums up the “WHY” and what I appreciate most about radio today.