Broadcasting tower 119 East St., Sault Ste. Marie, ON
location of radio and television broadcasting offices and studios.
S K Y S T U D I O
Recalling those who contributed to Sault Ste. Marie broadcasting…
We remember one, we remember them all.
Issue # 72 November 2018; previous issue dated November 2018
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Josef Erschen, who joined his former colleagues in Sky Studio November 17, 2018 at age 93.
Every time I saw or talked with Joe at the station he was always, always smiling. His pleasant demeanour still comes to mind immediately today, maybe 40 years or so since my last encounter with him.
He was the guy everyone called when something needed fixing. And, he was always prompt and efficient. When things needed touching up or a total painting job was needed, Joe was there dressed in his whites as I recall, and got the job done. Joe's job description from General Manager Russ Ramsay was, "Always have a wet paintbrush in your hand". Joe frequently doubled as late-night camera operator and/or boom mic operator. Humble and quiet, popularly known as "Little Joe" or "Joe the Painter".
My recollection is he always felt comfortable with all of us - to some, broadcaster types seemed intimidating - but to Joe, we were just folks. In turn, he was always pleasant and friendly with all - everybody liked Joe.
His home country Slovenia was occupied and annexed during WW II and as a young man then, that chapter of his life was likely quite difficult. As the Special Announcement points out, he was happy to start a new life in Canada.
Being about 25 years older than a lot of us at the time, our antics must have sometimes seemed weird to him but again, I remember him always being amused at and with us, never judgemental. Seems to me he shared time with us beveraging at The Vic occasionally.
The reference to music in his ‘Special Announcement’ isn’t a surprise and I’m guessing the music - live and recorded - surrounding radio and TV was fun for him.
Joe was a part of the tightly interwoven tapestry of unique people and talents at 119 East Street and we wish him Godspeed to Sky Studio.
‘Special Announcement’ https://www.sootoday.com/obituaries/erschen-josef-1136386
Post Script: A bit eerie - I was thinking of Joe recently as I worked on a Supplementary Sky Studio list to be issued that will add about 30 names missed over the years.
While compiling that list, Joe’s name came to mind and I wondered if he had slipped away to Sky Studio without our notice.
At about the same time as I was thinking that, he was leaving us but, we noticed and remember him, as we remember all.
RAYMOND ‘BUTCH’ BOUCHER
ANGELO ‘SKEETS’ BRAIDO
JOHN DAVID CAMERON (RALPH GLASSFORD)
PEGGI MCNEIL CLIPPERTON
BILL ELGIE SR.
DR. ROBERT EWING
FERN FORTIN (McDERMOTT)
JAMES ‘JIMMY’ FULLER
GORDON ALLAN HILL
MR. JUSTICE PAUL H. MEGGINSON
STEVE PINE (RAY)
Any additions, errors, omissions are regretted.... send information to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: A Sky Studio Supplementary list will be issued by end of December 2018 to include names from a "Gone But Not Forgotten ' list compiled for the 1995 MediaFest Reunion. Background information on those names is currently being compiled.)
(Issue # 71 November 2018; previous issue dated November 2018)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to George Jonescu, who joined his former colleagues in Sky Studio November 17, 2018, age 84.
One of the last grand masters of broadcasting, one of a very few to which the descriptor ‘legend’ could rightfully used and who has left a legacy of entertainment, motivation and memories behind, joins colleagues who have signed off from earth studios.
There will be quite a welcoming by broadcasters from across the country, the big bands will play and studio lights will be bright as George Jonescu steps into Sky Studio bringing his own glow to the stage.
Everyone of the Hyland Radio and TV broadcasting family at Sault Ste. Marie’s radio and TV studios at 119 East Street learned from George. He was a broadcaster’s broadcaster whether it was the classical ‘Masterworks of Music’ on CJIC-FM, the ‘Special Announcements’ just before noon on CJIC-AM, live coverage of high school football home and away football games and on supper hour or late night CJIC-TV sports, he was always the consummate professional.
All of us who were on-air admired his ease of delivery, his mellifluous voice, meticulous pronunciation, enunciation, authoritative style and, for many his masterful ability to adlib.
For an annual Christmas staff party video an ‘interview’ with then Greyhounds star Wayne Gretzky was staged. George asked a ‘question’ that took many twists and turns and went on and on, without a note or script. It was magnificent to see and hear him weave the words. At the end of the question, Wayne delivered his response. “Could you repeat the question?”
His many speaking roles in the community were also legend whether at an arts, entertainment or a sporting event, including many, many awards banquets.
Beyond broadcasting, George played a key role in Hospitality and Travel Sault Ste. Marie (HATS) leaving his career in radio and TV for a couple of years to become its leader.
George has a place somewhere among the longest serving broadcasters in the country being on the air for close to 70 years, a veteran of radio stations in Montreal, Sault Ste. Marie, Barrie and Toronto.
Lloyd Walton, acclaimed producer, director, cinematographer, artist and writer who was in the Art Dept at CJIC-TV in the ‘Golden Age’, gives us permission to use his reflections he provided for a tribute being done for George.
“I first met him when I was a bat boy for the CJIC Micros, the station's softball team. I remember him as being very kind, to me just a kid, and very funny.
“CJIC Radio and TV personalities were regarded as "stars" in the community, and George was a star. He exuded a love and knowledge of the music he presented and when assigned news or sports commentator for both radio and television, he was authoritative. He had a passion for the music he played. He'd be in intense debates about the merits of various musicians and styles which made for entertaining and informative radio.
“While I was a student at the Ontario College of Art I had a summer job in the Art Department of CJIC Radio and Television. Even though I was a student I was very touched by the respect given to me, still a kid, by someone of his stature.
“Over the years our paths crossed a few times. I still always looked to him as a Star. But I was always impressed by the fact that he not only remembered this kid, but confirmed the special bond we shared having worked in the golden days of local radio and television.”
(A print advertisement designed by Lloyd promoting George and John Rhodes is shown below on this page.)
George started, mentored and encouraged many in broadcasting and other fields of endeavour, a part of his lasting legacy.
In December 1975 George gave a hungry-for-radio teenager a part time job on CJIC-FM. Bill Allard, on air as Kris James, is now one of the longest on-air voices in Toronto - 35 years - and a part of George’s legacy. Kris comments, “Another mentor gone. Takes me back to that building on East St. George was the first person to hire me as a 15 yr old still in high school. Never saw anyone better at working a room and he was a master. Just the fact that he did radio for over 65 years is hard to comprehend.”
In the 50s and 60s, many names of note worked at CJIC Radio and TV including Helen Arvonen, a Sault author of international note who was published in the French and Dutch languages, writing 15 novels. Her published works were sought after in the British Isles, France and Denmark. Helen was also a script writer at CJIC Radio and Television in the late 1950’s, working with Grace Pitt, George Jonescu and Rita Tuckett. Helen wrote all the commercials. What an era of 'greats' in one place at one time.
Long time broadcaster and radio stations’ owner in Sault Ste. Marie, Russ Hilderley says he was moved to tears as he wrote us his comments.
“The news of George's passing is suddenly very emotional for me. George Jonescu will never die. HE was the inspiration for me to "one day" hopefully becoming a broadcaster.
"I was in my later teen years, and often listened to "House Party" on Saturday nights on CJIC 1050. I'd crank up the volume of my dad's 1952 Chev. pick up ...."cruising Queen Street" with a chum, looking for "chicks.”
“After closing up "Bars" (Barsanti's Restaurant across from the Carnegie Library and old City Hall) and Piner's on Gore Street....we parked and decided to go see "our favourite DJ George" if we could get in to the Studios on East St. Surprise SURPRISE....the door was not locked....and we climbed the stairs to the control room studio...and peered through the glass. Wow...There HE was live and in the flesh. I stood mesmerized.....he was intro'ing a popular tune called "Hearts of Stone" and "dedicated this marble valentine to........(a female fan).
“I was bowled over by his clever phrasing....and at THAT moment, a spark was ignited in a bonfire somewhere in my brain! The Jonescu effect, eventually led me to becoming SCI's High School reporter on Gerry Pearson's Saturday morning School news roundup (on CKCY).
“As the years rolled by, George continued to "set the standard "!
His clever adlibs were always unique and memorable.
“Remember George's involvement as the "Celebrity Carpets" on air remote announcer? Everybody suspected he had shares in the carpet company! He promoted the products and people associated with Celebrity Carpets SO effectively, it couldn't help BUT be successful.
“An acquaintance (female) years later....who had dated George described him in glowing words, as a gentleman....and a gentle man .
“His leaving the Sault , came as a shock to all of us back then. His departure left a lot of us selfishly saddened. Our mentor at the mic, was "moving on!”
“Sky Studio now, has a star's brilliance casting a Jonescu glow on the rest of us , when our time comes.”
James Warner Smith, a well known radio personality with Rogers Radio posted this info quoting a ZOOMER radio Toronto spokesperson, Frank Proctor saying, “George passed away early Saturday (November 17) morning. There will be a special “I Remember George “ program next Sunday (November 25) evening which I’ll host along with George’s son Robin. I hope you will join us.” http://www.zoomerradio.ca/
“Special Announcement” obituary link https://www.adamsfuneralhome.ca/obituaries/george-ronald-jonescu/29629/
Many comments and reflections on Facebook
Randy Russon, Sault This Week
Sootoday, Sault Ste. Marie; OrilliaMatters, Orillia; Bradford Today, Bradford
Sault Star, Sault Ste. Marie
Post Script - the ‘I Remember George’ special on ZOOMER Radio November 25 was a beautiful four hours of gentle reflection lead in large measure by his son Robin, whose wit, voice quality and delivery style echo George.
Sault resident and part time sports broadcaster in the 70s, Frank Donnelly was able to get through on the phones to recall George’s time here doing high school and Steeler football play by play.
Michael Allen posted this on FB: “I worked for George doing Sports at CJIC in Sault Ste. Marie back in the 70's. He did Sports, a Talk Show and a show called "Masterworks of Music". Commercials and Voice Overs for Kodak in the U.S. on the side. Many people talk about his voluminous knowledge of music but, for me, it was the VOICE .... that AMAZING, made for radio VOICE. Heard him on ZOOMER recently and it hadn't changed a bit. One of the best in the business ..... a life well lived.”
I added this to the ZOOMER Facebook in an effort to represent his years in Sault Ste. Marie:
“Of the 25-ish years George spent in broadcasting in Sault Ste Marie, it was my pleasure to spend 10 of those with him during the 1970s in AM, FM and television.
“It’s been referenced but I’d like to amplify George’s capacity, generosity and interest in nurturing talent of all kinds… junior broadcasters – he started and advanced many careers; athletes – he encouraged many, helped match their abilities with scholarships and as a result helped launch many sports stars; in addition to broadcasting and sports, anyone needing advice or a hand, George was there.
“CJIC was a launching platform for many broadcast legends, including … Mac McMcCurdy, President, Standard broadcasting; Don Simms, CBC; Harvey Kirk, CTV; Eric Thorson, CFRB and many more. Then, along came George in the mid 50s, and another legend was on his way. George in turn, nurtured another generation of broadcasters including one of the longest on-air voices in Toronto today I think – Kris James, of his 43 years broadcasting, 35 of them in TO – was hired out of high school in Sault Ste Marie by George who recognized a young student’s talent and a hunger for the business.
“For an annual CJIC AM, FM and TV staff Christmas party, a pre recorded video ‘interview’ with then Sault Greyhounds hockey star Wayne Gretzky was staged. George asked a ‘question’ that took many twists and turns and went on and on, without a note or script. It was magnificent to see and hear him weave the words. At the end of the question, Wayne delivered his scripted by George response which was…. “Could you repeat the question?” A funny bit, and it was all George.
“There’s a written tribute to George, some comments about him, some photos of his time in Sault Ste Marie and links to news stories on my website www.artosborne.com
“It’s of significance that almost 40 years after leaving Sault Ste Marie George’s reputation and giving nature are still held in high regard and still talked about. He’ll be talked about in glowing terms for some time to come. That’s what happens with legends.
“From Sault Ste. Marie, thank you George for all your help, contributions, entertainment, community giving and, the memories.”
Additional posts are here: https://www.facebook.com/114114771541/posts/10156481002841542/
From Sault Museum archives
Shingwauk Chiefs Basketball team with coach Don MacGregor -back row, far left - and team manager, George Jonescu - back row, far right.
Print advertisement designed by Lloyd Walton (above)
Sault Star photos below.
(Issue # 70 November 2018; previous issue dated October 2018)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Bob MacDonald, who joined his former colleagues in Sky Studio November 4, 2018, in his 69th year.
I and many others have lost a close, personal friend from years ago and now hold tighter to the memories shared with him as we all take another step along a shared path. It’s always shock and sadness when someone steps into Sky Studio and I’m very saddened to advise of the loss of Bob MacDonald, CJIC TV technical operator and later weatherman and CJIC 1050 Radio afternoon drive announcer.
From his time in CJIC Television as a telecine operator, I had the opportunity to take that talent and put Bob on our on-air team at CJIC AM Radio part time where he moved to the full time role as afternoon drive (3pm-6pm), a position he held and built audiences for years in the 1970s. He was a key member of our team, an incredible talent and person to be around professionally and socially and when HE went to Thunder Bay we dearly missed him but, all cheered him in his new opportunity that was to last there a wonderful four decades. Thunder Bay and area was a much richer place because of Bob being there on air - entertaining, informing and supporting community efforts.
I recall his last TV weather forecast on CJIC TV when the production crew decided it’d be fun and memorable to have a couple gallons of water drop on him live at the end of his weathercast! Somewhere there are photos of that moment.
In the 70s, tight production of news and jock shows was the thing to do and one Sunday morning Bob was doing the morning show and I was the news guy. After a blistering fast 5-minute newscast that included about 8 audio clips, Bob came on the intercom and said he’d just had a call from JJ Hilsinger complimenting us on the tightest newscast he’d ever heard. Jim recognizing our efforts and taking time to call was typical of him in acknowledging efforts of others and for us, it was a major compliment from a man we admired that we never forgot.
When we worked together Sunday, there was a religious tape broadcast in the morning – Back to the Bible I think - during our shift and while that was on the air, we’d leave the studios to go to Muio’s restaurant for breakfast with a ‘transistor’ radio to listen and be sure the tape didn’t break. The sound of the radio often caught attention of those coming in to Muio’s noticing these two guys listening to a religious show while enjoying their bacon and eggs.
Socially, when I had a Volkswagen bug with the hand brake in the middle by the four speed transmission, Bob was passenger as I parked on an incline to answer the call of nature. As I was taking care of business I heard the car rolling down the hill. Bob purposefully released the brake to see how fast I could get back in the car. We laughed about that one for years. Bob had innumerable shared fun times with many, and gave us all many good memories by which we can fondly recall him.
At The Vic beverage establishment, Bob had a ‘skill’ of taking a draft glass in his teeth, lifting it without hands and pouring it down in, I think, about 6 seconds. Always the performer, Bob did it to entertain and amuse, something it seemed he was put here to do. He gave us so many laughs and grand times.
His time in the Sault Opera with his powerful voice under the direction of Arno Ambel is well remembered by many and by us in the studio when he’d do an impromptu rehearsal at work.
In 2012 I was on a Red Cross volunteer deployment in Thunder Bay, Bob heard I was there, found out where I was and came to see me. It was our last time together and I’m so grateful we had those final moments.
It's heartening to see the respectful acknowledgment provided by Thunder Bay media to these passings of those who have been in our lives for so long in such a meaningful way: https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/longtime-broadcaster-bob-macdonald-dies-1111063
And, it’s also gratifying to see community-based social media sites pay the same respect: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThunderBayMemories/permalink/2185347955013579/
Special Announcement https://www.sootoday.com/obituaries/macdonald-robert-bob-1119823
CJIC 1050 TOP 50 music chart January1973 (above)
and November 1974 (below)
(Issue # 69 October 2018; previous issue dated September 2018)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Gerry Clifford, who joined his former colleagues
in Sky Studio October 4, 2018, in his 72nd year.
Jeff McNeice, Rogers Senior Announcer at Sault Ste. Marie’s Country 104.3 posted on the station’s Facebook that, “…we’ve lost a leader…. he taught me to have fun and enjoy each day.” Jeff also posted, “Such a sad day in radio history. Gerry hosted us at his home in the SOO back in 1990. He managed the radio stations here for years. I have known him since the early 70's. Nobody set such a great example, the standard. The place we all needed to reach. Gerry made radio FUN!.. I played many parties at his place and did tons of remotes and on locations for Q104. Gerry is solely responsible for me remaining at Country 104.3. I called him one night in frenzy after being offered the am gig at CFYN AM 1050. Thank you for everything Gerry. You have signed off, but you are not forgotten my friend!”
The post is accompanied by some photos. https://www.facebook.com/country1043
Gerry also logged time at CFRA, Ottawa and CHRO, Pembroke.
On the obituary condolences Len Robinson says, “I remember him well coming from CFRA. He was a breath of fresh air radio in those days and a wonderful guy,” and Jayne Brophy adds, “As Manager of the Pembroke Mall, I worked on many promotions with Gerry when he worked for CHRO.”
The ‘Special Announcement’
(Issue # 68 September 2018; previous issue dated August 2018)
This edition of Sky Studio dedicated to Albert Jones.
The Sky Studio TV control room and studio shines brighter with the arrival of a master switcher, editor, performer, creative and promotional legend, with musical skills and a huge personality that warmed you just by being in the same room.
Dear friend and former colleague Albert Jones left us for Sky Studio where broadcasting magic goes on forever.
Behind the glass in the control room Albert had a crucial hand in creating memorable and award-winning commercials, productions, such as the Miss Bon Soo pageant and various Christmas specials, telethons, news features and the famous annual staff Christmas party videos.
Many will call to mind Uncle Albert in his Mouseketeer ears as he hosted a kids show on CJIC-TV for three years (followed by five more as Uncle Albert’s Movie Club) and a late night movie, the latter sponsored by the steelworkers union.
One of many favourite stories involving Albert is the time the last reel for the late night movie was not available and he went into the announce booth to narrate his recollection of the ending from watching the movie before, knowing full well that viewers that watched the first couple of reels would be desperately wanting to know the outcome.
Albert’s career in broadcasting also included a role as promotions director at CJIC Radio where he worked with programming and the sales department to develop contests and promotions amusing/attracting listeners and sponsors.
One involved Bicks pickles with Albert coming up with the idea to ride around town on a Honda motorcycle and people spotting him could get free jars of pickles.
In conjunction with the television art department, Albert also handled the creative content of the CJIC 1050 top 50 music chart that had a weekly circulation of several hundred at the then many radio, TV and record stores.
He accompanied long-time friend and TV colleague, producer director Jerry MacDermid on what were called ‘combat missions.’ Those trips to Europe with the Department of National Defence resulted in stories on Canada’s role in NATO illustrated by interviews with local/district reserve and militia soldiers stationed there. In addition to the actual television productions, many fun and memorable stories came out of those times with the troops in Germany that continue to make many laugh decades later.
Producer Wendy Hamilton who worked with Albert on many projects says, “I don't think of Uncle Albert as old, ever. He is eternally sharp, literate, and bursting with creativity. He represents all that was good about local television in its prime.”
Wendy has been instrumental in creating a series of community oral history interviews that are available on the public library website, including this one with Art Osborne talking with Albert.
(near the end - at about the 1’08” mark - is a poignant sign off)
The ‘Special Announcement’
Saultonline news item
Sault Star news item
From Shaw TV-Sault Museum video production
(a click on each produces larger image;
look for/click on > to go to next image)