‘Monty in the Morning’ quickly becoming a welcome voice in Sarnia market

Sarnia has a new "morning man."

His name is "Monty" as in "Monty in the Morning," and he occupies the covetous early morning spot on County 103.9 FM (and CHOK AM 1070).

Monty as he shall be referred to throughout this story (with the following exception), is actually Nick Montague, a native of Orillia who last worked the morning show at Moose 99.5 in Bracebridge, one of a network of stations owned by Haliburton Radio. Monty came on board as this area's country station in October.

And he likes it.

"For starters this is a much bigger place than where I was—probably twice as big," said Monty. "But it still has a smaller town feel and that's a good thing."

Monty has spent most of his working career in radio, although a significant first job was as a medic with the Canadian Forces, not altogether surprising given that he grew up in Orillia, which is not far from Camp Borden.

He even earned some money (and a few bruises and scrapes) as a professional bull rider, which helped pay some bills in his younger days (remember, radio is not known for its high pay scale).

But radio is his true love. Even before his five years in the military, Monty had caught the behind the microphone bug, his first job being as a roller rink DJ. 

It was watching his father and brothers working at their cattle farm, standing in pools of blood as they made dog food, that got Monty thinking about a decidedly different sort of career.

The military was a good option at the time, but when he decided the Canadian Forces wasn't going to be a lifetime one, it was off to Humber College and later CFTR in Toronto, part of the Rogers empire (the station has since been rebranded as 680News).

"That's where I picked up some of my best bad habits," says Monty, referring to a style that he says he's carried with him, even today.

One of those is what not to do.

"You need to not think in a straight line," says Monty, a reference to the idea that listeners need to know that anything can happen at any given time. "You don't want your listeners getting bored. That's critical."

Monty says most of the material he uses is what he writes himself, a testament to the experience he has under his belt, not only as a radio host but doing voice overs for commercials and even voice work for cartoons.

"I've been able to incorporate a lot of that into what I do now," says Monty, who credits others in radio for helping him grow over the years.

One of those was Jim Brady, who Monty would stay even past his overnight shift just to hear him. And learn.

"This is a guy who would bring in 30 to 50 sound effect cartridges. He had a wonderful set of characters," said Monty, referring to Brady (the on-air persona of Jim Felton, who retired in 2008 from a station in Toledo. Ohio).

Monty has also worked in Newfoundland, Drumheller, Calgary and Vancouver.

Today, in addition to doing the 103.9 FM show, he also does an "oldies" retro show on the same station, "Back in the Day," which airs Sundays between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

A true "country fan," Monty says he was probably in his early teen years before he even knew there was any other kind of music. "I grew up in the front seat of a one-ton pickup truck," he quips.

While adapting to changing technology in the world of radio is an ongoing thing, one thing remains.

It's Monty's sign off signature–"Come get me mother. I am done."

And yes there's a story to that part of the morning man's life.

"I used to use it when my mother would actually come and get me after a shift," he says. "And then, when I was living in Toronto and she was worried about me, she knew when she heard that line how long it was going to take me to get home. And then she'd call to set her mind at ease."

Monty's mother died in 1996, his father in 2002.

He tears up (just a little) at the memory.

"It became a habit until she died and I still carry it with me."

Monty in the Morning can be heard on Country 103.9 FM weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

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  • Corry VanHooft

    Great story ,we enjoy listening to Monty in the morning

  • Teresa Mitchell

    I listen to Monty’s show every morning – love his humour and trivia – you never know what he will say and makes me laugh – welcome to Sarnia !!

  • Steve Jacob

    I really miss Dave Burgess on the Talk Show. I wish CHOK was more exciting. The talk part of the morning was starting to get good, but now it’s flat. Monty’s good, but he’s leading into dead air. Sue can’t pull it off alone.

  • Gayle Hutchinson

    I am so totally in agreement with Steve Jacob “I really miss Dave Burgess on the Talk Show. I wish CHOK was more exciting. The talk part of the morning was starting to get good, but now it’s flat. Monty’s good, but he’s leading into dead air. Sue can’t pull it off alone.” Sue is boring! Dave was the spark of the show. The one with a mind of his own and the opinion to go along with it!! How refreshing! You may not have agreed with everything he said but at least it wasn’t like a “love fest” where everyone agreed and got along. My philosophy … if we all had the same opinion life would be really boring! Now that’s just reserved for Sue’s show. Wake up Sue and bring Dave back … your listeners deserve that! I might just return to listening to the talk show if you did.

  • Laurie Andrews

    A friend of mine told me about Monty’s show, and I’ve listened to it for about a month now. I’m in the office usually by 6 am and I love his show, his comments, and sense of humour. But then at 7, some lady named Sue comes on from 7 til 9, and she has taken over his show with way too much talking. She cannot keep up with Monty’s humour and as Steve and Gayle mentioned, there is dead air after Monty says something as it seems Sue either isn’t listening or doesn’t understand. I also don’t listen to the Talk Show. I have tried, but it is boring. The purpose of a talk show is to get a response from the listeners and engage in debate and conversation, and Sue does none of that. I turn off the station once Monty’s show is done. Unfortunately I do not think the management at CHOK will do anything about it and are alienating their listeners with Sue. Too bad, at least I get to enjoy an hour or so of Monty’s show without her.