With Arms Wide Open: The Armand Bumanlag Story
Tuesday March 1st, 2011
Posted at 2:45pm
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On streets and TVs across Essex County, if you live in the area, chances are you’ve seen him around.
Although A Channel weather specialist and AM800 radio personality Armand “Arms” Bumanlag is seemingly everywhere, it didn’t happen overnight. It almost didn’t happen at all. A career in sales came calling after high school, long before any aspirations in broadcast media developed.
“I jumped around after high school,” said 29-year-old Bumanlag. “I worked as manager of a video game and computer store at Devonshire Mall for three years and was debating moving to Montreal to take an opportunity to head the marketing division of the company I worked for. It was to increase video game sales across Canada, based on the success of our store.”
Despite the opportunity, Bumanlag didn’t feel right about moving and his friend suggested visiting Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, Michigan. Although his previous journalism experience consisted of half a year as a columnist for Holy Names’ school paper, Bumanlag decided to enroll and was instantly hooked.
“I studied hard and stayed late at the campus, learning as much as I could,” said Bumanlag. “I did everything I could get my hands on – editing, producing, directing, on air talent for both radio and TV, assigning stories in the morning – you name it. I was able to land an internship with 89x in early 2004 in the promotions department, hanging out at club nights in the US with then 89X DJ (and current 93.9 The River morning host) Greg Gnyp.”
Bumanlag was supposed to record commercials about his internship when an opportunity arose. Taking a tip from Imaging Producer for 89X Al McKinnon, he applied for an overnight producer position at AM800 CKLW. Three months into his schooling, he was working at the station.
After graduating in late 2004/early 2005, another position opened up. Bumanlag applied for Promotions Coordinator, using the opportunity until returning to the airwaves.
“I had an amazing two year run in that department with the amazing Heidi Baiden – our promotions director,” he said. “When Heidi went on maternity leave, I stepped in and ran the department until on-air openings presented themselves on CKLW and 89X.”
Six months into his promotions director job, Bumanlag started broadcasting on 89X in 2007. He handled Saturday and Sunday broadcasts for about a year. After that, the On-The-Street and Noon Report positions opened up at AM800; Arms got both jobs, replacing Heather Douglas and beginning his rise to local stardom.
“I loved the fact [the stations] were so different,” he said. “89X allowed me to be more edgy – put a bit of rasp in my voice and be more of the ‘Party-er Arms.’ AM800 is more of the ‘upbeat, positive and fun loving Arms,’ so each station brought out a different side of my personality.”
Bumanlag didn’t stop there either. After winning the “Pilot of the Airwaves” Biz X award in 2007 for Windsor’s favourite radio host, as voted by readers, he was approached to write for the magazine. He now has a monthly column. As if that wasn’t enough, when Christie Bezaire moved into full-time reporting, A Channel began looking for a new weather specialist/community events reporter. Bumanlag applied and was hired, adding it to his already busy schedule.
“Lots of people wonder if I’m actually a robot, a cyborg or some sort of urban myth,” said Bumanlag. “I really love Windsor. I really love my job at A and CKLW … I try to take care of myself – rest when I can and continue to maintain my personal life. Everyone from my girlfriend and my family have been so supportive with doing both.”
When not conceiving a story at his condo, Bumanlag is usually busy with charity work. Helping events ranging from the Relay For Life to the Big Brothers & Big Sisters gala, it’s his family that inspires him.
“Growing up, my brother was diagnosed with autism,” said Bumanlag. “In the 80s there wasn’t a lot of help for it. Now in 2011, there are so many people who need a helping hand with issues and disabilities and disease. It’s vital that the media continue to highlight what people are going through and how we can help.”
Having a hard time finding support in Windsor when his younger brother was diagnosed at four years old, Bumanlag’s family pulled together. Bumanlag said his parents taught him patience, compassion, sacrifice and to treat others as equals no matter their situations. These lessons have shaped his drive to help and he’s experienced many emotional moments as a result.
“Meeting some of the kids who have cystic fibrosis and their parents was emotional – seeing the face of the people you’re helping is powerful,” said Bumanlag. “Also, reading the names of cancer survivors at the Relay For Life while they light the luminaries – I was teary-eyed. I’ve lost family members to cancer and know how hard of a battle it is.”
As for the future, Bumanlag hopes to continue developing his hosting and broadcasting skills with AM800 and A Channel; being a voice Windsor & Essex county residents trust. His long term goals include hosting a local TV talk show, “Like a local Late Night a la Johnny Carson,” and produce, direct or even write for TV.
Growing up across the city, Bumanlag wants to stay in the area. Feeling his experiences here have shaped him, they’re also things he’d like to share with future generations.
“I loved the fact I could stay here in my hometown with my family, friends and loved ones,” said Bumanlag. “It’s a tough business to get into – lots of moving from market to market – but I’m fortunate to stay here in Windsor. I want to stay in Windsor and raise my own family here, I love this city.”