Behind The Scenes Of The Open-Line Garden Show

December is always a busy and joyful month for everyone myself included. To add to my joy this it is also the anniversary of the Open Line Garden Show™. It has been eleven years since I first got the phone call. I was driving down the Q.E.W on my way home from work when I was told to be in Greg Slaight's (CKTB Station Manager) office in the morning if I wanted to do a weekly garden show. After a short and very upfront meeting, I was to start my show in two weeks. That first Saturday morning I arrived at seven A.M. where my good friend Les Walton was there to lend support. At 7:30 A.M., I began. Les was in and out of the studio throughout the show, which aired in those days until 9 A.M.. To this day, I am still grateful for his support. The hardest part of the first show was controlling the board and answering the phones. I had to do this all at the same time. In the old days you did not know who was calling; from where or with what questions. By today's standards, it was primitive radio but it was fabulous. Doug Hobbs was my operator that day and for many years hence. The most common question of the day was what is wrong with my Peach tree. It has curly leaves that turn red and fall off. Peach leaf curl and this was in December!

Open-Line Garden Show™ Preparation

Show preparation has always been an on going process. Each day of the week, I read the numerous gardening magazines I get from all over the world and I am always finding a gardening book I just have to have. This has made my office a reference library. A good example of this was just yesterday I was talking to one of my former Niagara College students who was unable to source information on Hydrangea vetchii. It was not in any of his books including Michael Dirr's. I found the information in my library and phoned him with the information. Included in the preparation process are the questions I get from gardeners I meet out in public at malls, garden clubs, horticultural societies and my students. Also part of my show preparation is your letters, faxes, e-mails and the very best are the live samples. The live samples always give me the most information and it has taught the secretaries and receptionists to have great respect for Bruce's mail. They all tell the stories of the weed sample that came in with thousands of tiny spines which were hard to pull out of their fingers and about the bug that escaped and was later found crawling up her leg. I just love it when that happens. The email questions you send me are answered from home usually on Wednesday nights though if necessary questions requiring immediate answers are answered ASAP. All this and the weeks' catalogues, news releases and junk mail are pulled together on Friday night for the next morning's Open-Line Garden Show. Your faxes (905-684-4800) are usually picked up with my mail on Saturday mornings. If you are sending in your club's notice of meetings and events, please give me a few weeks lead time to get them on the air. There is no charge for this service if your club is a non-profit organization like all the Ontario Horticultural Association groups. The mail at CKTB is opened and read. The show notes are then modified to accommodate these letters and faxes. This adds immediacy to the information in the week's show.

Bruce pointing at mail.
Bruce pointing at mail.

Talking to the News Room

At about this time I go into the newsroom and check with that person for any applicable news stories. For example: the people in critical condition after eating Datura to hallucinate. If they live, they will need liver transplants.

Let's Check on Greennotes

Each week I check on my free Newsletter Greennotes. It is available for free in the lobby of the 610 CKTB radio station at 12 Yates Street, St. Catharines Ontario, L2R 6X7 or by sending a self addressed stamped envelope to this address. If you are in the U.S.A., yes, you can receive, my Greennotes free, just use an American stamp and we will get it mailed to you. You can also pick up my free Greennotes at Broadway Gardens; 74 Broadway Ave. St. Catharines ON.

Bruce pointing at newsletters.
Bruce pointing at newsletters.

It's Time To Go See Kevin

Kevin is my new board operator. He is the young man who runs the Wizard. The Wizard is the computer program that fires the commercials, promos, and satellite feeds. Kevin is the person who answers your call. When you call, Kevin will ask you for your first name, location, and question. He will then put your information into the Wizard. It is then displayed, on my computer in the adjacent studio. I then select the call to take next. Usually calls are taken in the order they came in, but calls with similar questions will be spaced out. However, sometimes similar calls are grouped together to form a segment. An example of this is similar questions on roses or maybe African violets. Some other exceptions are if you are calling in long distance on a local line (it's your nickel) instead of using the toll free North American line 1-877-610-2582. The other time you might jump the line is if you are on a cell phone in your car or out in your garden. This gets expensive so we try to help. If you are on the Bell Mobility System, it is free just call #610.

Kevin is also the person who selects the prize winners almost every week. He selects callers at random to win a prize and they must not of won anything on CKTB 610 in the last 60 days. For this reason, and to be sure to get on the air you should always be nice to Kevin.

Bruce pointing at Kevin (Bruce holding camera).
Bruce pointing at Kevin (Bruce holding camera).

So You Have Gotten Past Kevin and You Are On Hold

Yes, you have made it!

I will select your call and say now lets go to i.e. Vince in Markham Good morning Vince. Do not listen to your radio, there is a seven second delay. Listen to your telephone. Now ask your question. You should expect to supply me with additional information in order for me to give you the best answer possible. Once you have your information, you can say good-bye or ask another question.

  • Bruce pointing at his phone.
    Bruce pointing at his phone.
  • Bruce pointing at you – with his eyes.
    Bruce pointing at you – with his eyes.

How can you listen to the Open-Line Garden Show™?

You can listen to the Open-Line Garden Show™ on 610 AM every Saturday morning from 8 A.M. until 10 A.M. year round. In fact I was even on the air Saturday January 1,2000. I thought it would be a slow show but it was busy. You can listen to the Open-Line Garden Show™ on the web at or This will allow you to listen from anywhere in the world. Therefore, there are no excuses for not listening!

Area Coverage Map for CKTB (10 kW / 610 kHz). Clear area denotes clear signal coverage.
Area Coverage Map for CKTB (10 kW / 610 kHz). Clear area denotes clear signal coverage.

So Let's Go to Break

Let us be honest. What do you do during the commercials? I am doing the same thing. I go get a coffee etc. I also talk to Kevin through the talk-back to pass on information, select music bumpers, and check on the information Kevin has put on the Wizard. You can understand why he may have a problem spelling some of the more unusual plant names. So when you hear me coming back from break still laughing you will know why.

Has Anything Ever Gone Wrong?

When you are dealing with highly sophisticated equipment things can go wrong.

A few years back I started the show and the phones would not work...Ahhhhhhhhh!

What did you do? I talked for two hours while the station manager and the technicians were crawling around my feet trying to find out what was wrong. I still do not know what was wrong but it was fixed before the Monday morning shows.

Or there was the time that the callers could phone in but I could not hear them even though they could hear me. So I did the show in with the operator (Lou) telling me what the caller was asking and then answer the question. If you think it is hard for the operator to spell plant names you should have heard him try to pronounce them, when he had no idea what he was talking about. The poor operator (Lou) was frazzled.

Past Guests

Over the past eleven years I have had many guests on the Open-Line Garden Show™ here are just a few in no particular order Roland Barnsley, Marjorie Harris, John Pierce, David Tarrant, Ed Lawrence, Jim Wilson, Trevor Cole, John Valleau and the best guests of all were all my listeners and callers who have made doing the Open-Line Garden Show™ the highlight of my week. THANK YOU!


There is never a poor, dumb or stupid gardening question! If it has to be asked, please just call the show. Everyone is a gardener, even if they only have one plant. However, as was once pointed out by a regular listener, the mould in your refrigerator does not qualify you as a gardener.

Listen and Call

The show airs Saturday mornings 8 to 10 EST on 610 CKTB.

Call in to the show at 905-688-2582 or 1-877-610-2582.

Whitehouse of Rock.
Whitehouse of Rock.

Related Posts

View More Articles