Broadcasting tower 119 East St., Sault Ste. Marie, ON
former 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.
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Karl Sepkowski
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 24, 2022
Local news broadcasting will never again produce legends and possibly never again will legends come from major market and network news broadcasters. Karl Sepkowski is among the last of an era across the country/world who commanded such attention, authority, audience, and respect. We are fortunate to have lived in the era when such legends, through talent, hard work and a passion for the news business, ensured their community was informed and, along the way these dedicated individuals like Karl made their way to leadership positions. There, they set standards, hired, and mentored others who, in turn, carried what they learned forward and made their way to various broadcasting positions and related professions.
For over 50 years Karl contributed to his community by helping it be aware of and understand developments that affected it. Beyond Sault Ste. Marie, his stories often found a place on CBC, the Globe and Mail and other provincial and national outlets as well as being recognized by an award from the Radio Television News Directors Association, a professional broadcast journalists’ organization he was also President of in the mid-1970s.
One time competitor on the news beat with Karl, veteran Sault Star reporter Elaine Della Mattia, penned an excellent article – link below - tracing Karl’s broadcast career from being an all-night disc jockey to becoming News Director and television anchor. Reflecting on Karl’s mentoring, she notes that, “He often engaged in political debates with younger journalists, offering them stories, tips of the trade and advice from his many years of experience.”
Life-long friend and colleague, Russ Hilderley told Elaine it was Karl who got him into broadcasting. Russ too had a career that was also long, stellar and in his case, culminated with radio station ownership. Russ provided Elaine with some detail on the start of Karl’s full-time career in broadcasting that she includes in her article.
In an email exchange I (Art Osborne) had with Jeffrey Ougler, District editor/multimedia journalist and veteran Sault Star reporter, I complimented him about his on the scene coverage of a trucker convoy as it rolled through the city on its way to Ottawa. My message included an observation that it was the kind of event Karl would have been in the middle of getting interviews. “It's interesting you mention Karl,” Jeffrey replied. “I approached that assignment with Karl in mind and how he would have done it. Stand tall and be confident. I did.” That very clearly shows that Karl’s influence carries on.
Jeffrey also posted this on the Facebook of his retired Sault Star colleague Tom Mills, “I remember my first brush with Karl not long after I arrived in Sault Ste. Marie nearly 24 years ago as a young Sault Star reporter. I'd never encountered anyone more effective working a scrum, asking very tough, informed questions yet always well-mannered. A great journalist.”
Following high school, Russ recalls, “I was privileged to be his Best Man for his marriage to Sheila so many decades ago,” and on broadcasting he says, “To put it in the simplest terms, he introduced me to the ‘passion’ he found, in the career he ‘discovered’ in his teen years!! His passion for broadcast journalism was contagious! I became infected on the first day I walked into his newsroom! It was all-consuming! A cause at times, for regrets but over a lifetime, worthwhile accomplishments.”
Former Sault broadcaster and at one time, radio News Director, Jim Cronin says, “Karl was my boss, my mentor and most importantly my friend. In 1971 he took a chance on an 18-year-old college student who knew nothing about broadcasting or the news business and gave me my break. I will never forget that life changing decision. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed I owe in large part to Karl.”
Another former broadcast journalist, Joe Petrolo recalls Sault Ste. Marie’s great broadcasting corporate change in 1977. “Probably best to begin when Algonquin and Hyland merged and a ragtag bunch of broadcasters were poured into the same pot. A lot of uncertainty and fear when I first walked into the studios on East Street. Karl was already a legend and it was a little intimidating but I quickly learned that there was nothing to fear. Karl was so calm no matter the circumstances and nothing seemed to rattle him. We worked early mornings together and I was in the newsroom ahead of Karl to prepare the first newscast for six. I was on the FM side and Karl on AM. Most days he would stroll in with just minutes to spare but that didn't matter. The audience heard that trusted voice delivering the news of the day and I was fortunate to watch and learn under his leadership.”
Paul Fockler, a long-time broadcast manager with Hyland Radio and Television, then Huron Broadcasting and later radio station ownership, gives us this description of Karl. “He was akin to a shark sensing blood in the water... he had an innate curiosity for news and a nose for a worthy story, and in pursuit of that story, he was relentless. When he returned to the newsroom to punch the keys on his cranky old Remington typewriter, he was energized and enthused. In the end his balanced reporting earned the respect of management, labour and most importantly, the community. Among others in the media, Karl characterized the voice of reason in the Sault. To be fair, the local news coverage overall was exceptional but Karl’s coverage stood out. He also had a keen sense for potential staff for his news department and was an astute recruiter, bringing many talented men and women into the newsroom and mentoring them. Above all, it was always a pleasure working with Karl. He was a hard-working and earnest news reporter - I was fortunate to be a colleague and a friend.”
Sault Ste. Marie’s Oral History project includes an interview with Karl conducted by former colleagues and friends Russ Hilderley, Jim Cronin, and Art Osborne.
(More on Living History Algoma: https://livinghistoryalgoma.com/about/ )
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Paul Leonard
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, September 22, 2021.
A decades long list of broadcasting coworkers, scores of advertising clients, hundreds of players and staff on sports teams, thousands of following fans and other radio listeners will all have kind, personal and often humourous recollections and reflections of Paul Leonard.
Following the 1977 merger of Algonquin and Hyland companies to make Huron Broadcasting, Paul and wife Carol relocated from Queen Street and became part of the 119 East St broadcasting operation, with Paul being CKCY radio Sales Manager. He also had roles reporting sports and doing hockey play by play. Previously, Paul was station manager at CJNR in Blind River when Algonquin Radio and TV also operated CKCY, Sault Ste. Marie, CKNR in Elliot Lake and CKNS, Espanola.
His wife Carol Leonard joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 8, 2021 and now loving husband and wife and a grand broadcasting team are together again.
Wherever he worked, everyone will recall Paul’s daily enthusiasm in all his roles. He smile was always on and there was never a time he was too busy to have a chat, be supportive, offer help and cheer on others.
His morning sportscast was always a commanding performance with his authority of delivery, knowledge of material and the backup resources of the station’s sports staff. His play-by-play broadcasts were engaging, accurate, reflected the excitement of the game and made listeners feel they were in the seat next to him watching the action he so vividly described.
That early morning start to the day was followed by devoted attention during the regular working day to his advertising clients who could always count on him to get the best value for their budget and work with them regularly to get best results. He was never more than a phone call away when they needed him. Paul’s work ethic was highly regarded and respected by everyone, including competitor salespersons.
Working hard was matched by playing hard and Paul was never shy about having a beverage but also generous making sure those around had full glasses too as they enjoyed his sense of humour and camaraderie. He was a joy to be with at work and having a beer.
Long time friend and colleague of Paul is Frank Kennedy of Blind River who recalls getting his broadcast start from Paul around 1970, “Paul Leonard hired me when I started working for CJNR. Every evening at 6:30 pm we used to air the World Tomorrow, with Garner Ted Armstrong. I had just introduced the program and hit play on the tape recorder. There was no World Tomorrow. I hadn't turned off my microphone yet, and I screeched to the engineer: “Jesus Christ, where in the hell is Garner Ted Armstrong!!” Suddenly, realizing my mic was on, I went into a panic mode and got the program on air. I saw Paul the next day, and he said that was a pretty good comment when my program didn't start but recommended to me the next time it happens I should just say, ‘One moment please.’” A perfect story to show how a dynamic and energetic Paul was also a gentle soul in his guidance to others.
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Homer Foster
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, March 31, 2021.
Most residents will immediately associate Thessalon, Ontario born Homer Foster with the Sault Star newspaper where he spent decades as an editor, writer and mentor. You’ll read about that chapter of his life in the Sault Star stories about him below.
Many others will associate Homer and his long time involvement with and dedication to city planning, something he discusses with former colleague and Sault Star columnist, Tom Mills in a video Oral History interview, link below. The engaging discussion intermingles his journalism career and his volunteered civic contribution through the Sault Planning Board.
But, not many will think of Homer as a radio reporter, which is how his career in news reporting began in the 1950s at Soo, Michigan’s WSOO. (check at about the 10-minute mark of the Oral History video, to hear how his Air Force experience on a public address system influenced his career choice.)
The station owners at the time were Stan R. Pratt and his wife Anne Osborn Pratt, who was granddaughter of the then former Michigan Governor, Chase S. Osborn. Stan and Ann also owned the Soo Evening News newspaper. Homer talks about how Stan Pratt saw the wisdom of having Sault, Ontario news content and newscasts to attract listeners and compete even more with CJIC radio.
You’ll hear in the Oral History how Homer describes going back and forth to Soo, Michigan every day, seven days a week on the ferry boats to report Sault, Ontario news on WSOO. He talks about becoming so busy he needed an assistant and found one in Lionel McAuley, who was later attracted by CJIC radio to head up its news department, based on his experiences in broadcast journalism at WSOO.
Much of the city’s news direction and influence as well as the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s planning and growth came from Homer Foster, a journalist and community leader of the kind who will likely not come around again. Add in his WWII service and Homer truly earned and deserved his role as one of the Greatest Generation.
Sault Ste. Marie, Oral History of Homer Foster
in conversation with Tom Mills:
Sault Star tributes:
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Mike Belec
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 14, 2021.
Mike Belec is shown in the upper right picture on a page from a CJIC Radio and TV inhouse yearbook. He worked in the Telecine Department in the late 1950s and early
1960s with others shown: Dennis Lefave, Bob McKibbon, Ray Boucher, John Holt and Albert Jones.
His father, Wilf Belec, was a long-time sales representative for CKCY Radio.
Co-worker Dennis Lefave – top of yearbook page, middle photo – tells us, “We did work together for a short period of time. My recollection is that he was a positive person with an open greeting and ready smile when we came on shift together or we relieved one another! Thorough in his work responsibilities, but also a “fun” guy both on and off the work scene! Always enjoyed Mike’s company! Sad to hear of his passing.”
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to John Bell
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 10 , 2021.
Soo, Michigan long-time radio broadcaster John Bell started with area media in 1986 and in 2005 after almost 20 years at YES-FM and its sister station Talk Radio 1400, moved to rival 1230 WSOO-AM as afternoon drive host. A news report at the time detailed the move by adding, “He'll also be anchoring the station's local newscasts at noon, 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and will be the Saturday-morning host starting at 6 a.m. Bell's daily shows will include music, news and weather, as well as live studio guests. Ontario Sault broadcast legend Karl Sepkowski will continue in his current news duties at WSOO's sister operation, WSUE-FM.” John was originally from Minnesota.
Then General Manager of WSOO-AM and WSUE-FM, Tom Ewing said at the time, “The outspoken Bell will bring his strong local news and sports knowledge and dynamic personality to the 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. time slot on WSOO, Sault Ste. Marie’s original hometown radio station.”
Keith Neve, Chief Operating Officer, Sovereign Communications owners of five Soo, Michigan stations tells us, “John succumbed to congestive heart failure after complications with diabetes January 9/10 in Traverse City.” He’d been in a care facility in Charlevoix due to his frail condition.
"John was a larger than life person who had a zest for life and a laugh that was infectious," adds Mark SanAngelo of Sovereign. " He was a great broadcaster and had an amazing career. Thanks for all the great sports games you called and, for all the laughs and good memories we have from working with you."
The Twin Sault’s longest serving broadcaster, Lou Turco extends his condolences to John’s family and notes, “JB, as he is known to many of us, and I go back to 1991 and, during that time we shared wonderful memories. It was John who afforded me the opportunity to keep doing what I still love doing not once, but twice First, on KNOW 1400 and then, encouraging me to consider Oldies 93. In addition to his love of local radio, he loved his family and always talked about them on the air. His interest in community events was for both sides of the St. Mary’s River. He will be missed. R.I.P. ‘Mick’.”
Sault, Ontario listener and well-known in the area when he was Air Canada General Manager, Tyler Wilson, posted on Oldies 93 Facebook, “I remember John calling the Sault football games on this side of the river. He also had a knack of putting his spin on his newscast which I always thought was brave and well done.”
Posts to WSOO radio’s Facebook included comments such as, “...one of a kind, so special to so many…always enjoyed listening to him on radio and calling games…sad day for broadcast radio…it was great listening to you... rest in peace John Bell.”
(at time of this circulation the Obituary had not been posted to the above site)
Johnny M. Bell (John), 65. Sault St Marie, MI. January 10, 2021. Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, MI. Cause of death: heart failure.
Johnny Bell was preceded in death by his mother, Annetta L. Korus (Charles), and his father, Johnny N Bell (Shirley). Loved and dearly missed by his friend and companion Fran Heath. He is survived by his four siblings Anita Adriaens (Tom), Jimmy Bell (Allison), Dan Bell (Laura), Jeff Bell (Jodi), his 13 nieces and nephews, Uncle Bob Bell (Linda), Aunt Karlyn, and step-father Charles Korus (Donna).
John worked for over 30 years in radio broadcasting, most recently at WSOO in Sault St Marie, Michigan. At WSOO, John was the afternoon drive host, news director, and Soo Eagles play-by-play announcer with ESPN-1400. John enjoyed announcing Soo hockey and sports most of all. He was a local radio and sports broadcasting legend known as the "King of Kilowatt." His commitment and love of radio were renowned.
To his family, Mick (a childhood nickname) was a man of many and unreserved opinions. He shone brightest through his deep devotion to and love of family and by his non-stop humor, wit, and often un-airable wise-cracks.
However, his highlight each year was the annual 4th of July celebration at his sister Anita and husband Tom's cabin at Tank Lake in Northern Minnesota, his home state.
We love you, Mick, and believe you are at peace with our mom and dad and, now we say a sorrowful goodbye to you, our dear brother.
A private service will be held at Morningside Memorial Gardens in Coon Rapids, MN, at a still-to-be-determined date.
An onair tribute by Lou Turco is planned Saturday January 16, 2021 on his Weekend Club show at approximately 10:35 AM with Fran Heath as his guest on Oldies 93.
Oldies 93 Newberry can be heard online
and through your online radio app, such as TunedIn
Issue # 88 January 10, 2021 previous issue dated December 19, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Marlene Mervyn
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 2, 2021.
Marlene worked at Lake Superior Cable with colleagues who included Marg Ramsay, Patti Page and others. All remember her west-end heritage pride and her athletic activities – running, cross-country skiing and tennis.
Many will recall her husband Ross who was an avid runner and lead community efforts in anti-drug education which were recognized in 2012 by induction into the Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame.
Their daughter Victoria was at university and then worked in Ottawa during Marlene’s time at the cable office but tells us she does remember her mom’s enjoyment of the people she worked with and the work they all did.
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Carol Leonard
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, January 8, 2021.
Her family says, “Carol showed her love through action. Her home and her heart were always open to anyone who needed her.” To anyone knowing Carol Leonard from her time in radio sales at CJNR in Blind River and later at CKCY, she’ll be remembered with as much kindness as what she radiated to her coworkers and clients. Following the 1977 merger of Algonquin and Hyland companies to make Huron, Carol and Paul relocated from Queen Street and became part of the 119 East St broadcasting operation, with Paul being CKCY radio Sales Manager.
Lou Turco, sales colleague and morning announcer at the time with CJIC and CKCY, and his wife Sandra both remember Carol as always smiling, being a positive support for Paul and dedicated to her family. Sandra notes, “Lou had the honour of working with her as well as Paul. Our memory of her is being kind and always friendly in the workplace as well as at company functions." Lou adds, “She was one of those individuals that one only has positive thoughts of when you think of her.”
Mari Eagle-Nichols, radio sales secretary, remembers Carol as many do, “quiet and patient.” Another recalls she was a dedicated and reliable sale representative and could be counted on to get the job done.
Starting in Blind River, Carol worked with husband Paul who, in addition to radio sales, had roles reporting sports and doing hockey play by play. He was station manager at CJNR in Blind River when Algonquin Radio and TV also operated CKCY, Sault Ste. Marie, CKNR in Elliot Lake and CKNS, Espanola.
(Issue # 86 December 19, 2020; previous issue dated December 9, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Nellie Black
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, December 13, 2020.
“An incredible person to anyone who met her in her work, church and community and a dear friend to so many,” is how the obituary announcement describes Nellie, who is remembered by her radio, television and cable colleagues from 119 East Street and 672 Queen Street East.
During the 1970s she worked in traffic and billing in television with Ruby Newell, Nancy Pedinelli, Connie Garside, and Carmel DiPietro, in radio with Fran Aronson and Gail Allen, and Nellie also worked with what was then known as, Lake Superior Cablevision with Evelyn Fullerton. Her official title was Systems Supervisor/Computer Division of Huron Broadcasting, which in broadcast language meant Traffic Manager of Television.
Those involved recall the late 1970s as challenging times for broadcasting at 119 East Street - new owners, a new company, new management introducing a twin-stick operation (operating two separate television stations in the same facility --CBC and CTV), the introduction of the Columbine computerized traffic system, with many new employees coping with sub-standard technical equipment frustrating for the Engineering Department and end users.
Recollections are that it was Nellie's task along with the others, to coordinate all of these elements on a daily basis. It was akin to herding cats in a house-of-horrors! But Nellie was always there making the best of things with her cheerful disposition and smile.
Those close to the scene remember it seemed it was always Nellie who appeared in John Meadows office to inform the Program Manager "we have another problem". (see staff/position lists below)
There were problems. Managing a traffic department for one television station is a big job. Two stations were almost impossible, given the new software and computers simply were not up to the task. But Nellie and her group prevailed.
Because of the constant "computer problems", Nellie introduced a novel backup system to ensure against total disaster. Backup was done twice daily. Noon and 5:00PM. Each lunch-hour one person in the traffic department was responsible for taking the large spool of magnetic tape containing the backup and carry the heavy load in a fabric shopping bag during lunch. Another person was responsible for the same routine at 5:00PM. taking the tape home for safekeeping for the evening, all in the department rotated this procedure on a regular basis.
Long time Hyland Radio and Television/Huron Broadcasting employee, Dianna Malysh says, “Until very recently they kept the tradition of getting together for lunch on all of their birthdays. I am sure they have great memories to share. Nellie always looked great and took pride in her appearance. She dealt with a couple health problems; always remaining thankful for all her blessings. She loved life and was so proud of her children and grandchildren. She will be missed and fondly remembered by everyone who was fortunate to call her a friend.”
Nellie Black was a highly respected and beloved member of Huron Broadcasting and deserves a special place in the Sky Studio.
(Issue # 85 December 9, 2020; previous issue dated December 1, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Andy Mantha
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, December 7, 2020.
The obituary announcement reminds us, “Andy was born in North Bay and made Sault Ste. Marie his home. He was a member of the Sault Greyhounds and played in one of the first games in Sault Memorial Gardens when it opened in 1949. He provided colour commentary on the radio broadcast of the junior Greyhounds for many years and was a proud and intensely loyal follower and season ticket holder of the Greyhounds before and after his association with the radio broadcasts.”
Long time sports writer Randy Russon says, “Andy was a real gentleman who was always nice to talk to and interact with. He was not shy to give his commentary on the Greyhounds and the way the game was going during the play-by-play broadcasts with Harry Wolfe on CKCY. But he always offered his commentary without demeaning a young player. As a young broadcaster who started working part time at CKCY in 1975, I remember meeting Andy for one of the first times, in the old media room, before a Greyhound game and he went out of his way to introduce himself to me. He was kind and considerate and friendly, albeit in a quiet way.”
In his Sault This Week column from January 2020, Randy wrote about a 1978 hockey program in his files.
"At the time the venerable, quirky George Jonescu was the sports director for the Huron Broadcasting chain of stations. I was George’s full-time assistant back then and Peter Ruicci was a part-time assistant while attending school at Lake Superior State University.
“The department also included morning radio sportscaster Paul Leonard as well as Harry Wolfe, Matt Thorp and Andy Mantha, who handled the Soo Greyhounds, Ontario Hockey League play-by-play broadcasts on CKCY 920 AM.”
Bill Crawford, past sports editor at both the Sault Evening News and Sault Star, also worked in local radio for many years in broadcasting, sales and advertising later retired as VP University Relations/Marketing at Laker State University. He recalls, “Andy Mantha was a knowledgeable hockey man, a capable commentator and a genuinely nice guy who brought that personality to the Greyhounds' press room, press box and broadcasts.”
In addition to his sports and broadcasting contributions, Andy was very involved in his community on various civic committees as well as being a Sault Golf and Country Club board member.
(Issue # 84 December 1, 2020; previous issue dated August 9, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Bob Jenkins
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, November 29, 2020.
We pay respect to and add a legend to our list of honour, Bob Jenkins, renown for his artistic talents, his skills as a musician and performer, as well as his capacity to amuse with jokes, stories and, having the tightest change purse ever known.
By day over four decades, Bob worked in the Art Department at CJIC Radio and Television and by night was highly regarded on the music scene playing with various groups and having his own band.
Extraordinarily imaginative materials for various purposes came out of that Art Department but primarily it was art cards for client television commercials and for station promotional, identification and programming use. With Bob as a ‘social magnet’ type, the Art Department was also was a gathering place for great discussion by many about various topics.
Lloyd Walton, an Art Department alumnus who went on to a multi-award-winning career as a director, cinematographer, painter, and writer, tells us more. “The Art Department was a place of great debates about politics and music. Aficionados George Jonescu and George Frazer would come in the Art room in between station breaks with the latest jazz gossip. John Rhodes would come in and he just beamed. Don Ramsey always came in before his show with the latest Nashville news with a bundle of records under his arm. Bob endlessly kidded him about the titles of the latest country and western song.
“The Sales Department would come in with the latest salacious local political gossip. During elections, Bob would art direct visuals for all three parties. We would get invited to three victory parties on election night.
“Eventually Bob agreed with me that there was "something " to the Beatles. The last time we met, about twelve years ago, I played him a song that touched him deeply, so he asked me to make him a copy. To his SHOCK it was Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and the song was Losing My Touch.
“Looking back, that Art Room seemed the center of the universe as it was on the tour for out of town celebs and colourful locals and politicians. It was so because of Bob's wonderfully creative personality. I look back at the time when every morning on the way to work I wore a smile, and it would continue throughout the day.”
Bob had a reputation for being ‘frugal’, an image he enjoyed and perpetuated. Having a beer at the then Mid-City Hotel across the street from the radio-tv station, at the Windsor Hotel or most often at The Vic, Bob would bring out his change purse and say something like he wasn’t sure if he had enough to cover his round. He’d make a little production of fumbling with his money container, opening it and sometimes saying, “Creeeeeek.”
Fellow musician Jeff Holmes says, “Bob was a great musical mentor for me and the rest of the band. He would choose all the songs, making sure we had up tempo numbers, funk tunes, ballads and bossa, a practice I still use today with my group the Northern Jazz Ensemble. It was Bob’s idea to ask Judi to join the band in the early 1990’s. He was not afraid to share the stage with her, a mark of a truly, great entertainer. The original goal of the “Bob Jenkins Band” was to play once a month for fun, but as our reputation grew, we ended up playing once a week instead. We rehearsed every week and had a lot of laughs doing so which developed into deep friendships with Bob, Martin Virta, Judi and Ray MacDonald. He will be truly missed.”
Jeff’s wife Judi adds, “Bob was the one who told me which songs to learn to sing. He would play records of jazz vocalists from the 50’s and 60’s so I could learn “the feel” for singing jazz songs. From this we discovered Diana Krall and made it a point of learning many of her great songs. I will miss him.”
Barb Reid, Creative Services at CTV at 119 East Street, started there in 1980 following graduation from the graphic arts program at Sault College, and continues to work there. “I got a placement working with Bob and he was such a dear man. He always made me laugh, he had such a great sense of humour and was such a genuine person. We had a terrific connection and I learned a lot from him.”
Sitting beside Bob in the Art Department in earlier days for about 13 years was artist Ken MacDougall. “We grew up together on Kohler Street and ended up working together. There’s not one main thing one can say about Bob because he was such a holistic, talented, super nice guy. He had some strong opinions on some things but was always open minded, fair and had that great sense of humour. He was at the core, sincere and caring about people and life – working hard, doing his best all the time.”
To help preserve some artwork from the tv station, Ken spent days last year sorting through thousands of art cards that, “…. were filled with memories. I remembered the art cards of storefronts like Savoy’s, Man Store, Orpheum Theatre, that mostly I did – Bob didn’t like doing the detail involved. But I always admired his style drawing people. He had a defined, unique style, an identity that was rare that I could recognize whenever I saw anything he created. Whenever people drawing work was needed, I handed it over to Bob.
“We always talked about everything while we worked and sometimes the distraction caused mistakes that we’d share great laughs about. An art card that was supposed to say, ‘turkeys’ ended up ‘trukeys’ and one time we each took a side lettering a station van. About a week later as it drove by something caught my eye and I took a closer look. The word ‘Channel’ had three n’s! I brought Bob out to see it and we laughed and laughed.” Asked whose side of the van had the mistake, Ken says Bob initially disputed it but it tuned out to his error, but both laughed just as hard – maybe Ken a bit more.
Ken says Bob never went to art school but was self taught starting at the station when television came to the city in the mid 1950s. Ken joined Bob in 1961 and after leaving in the early 1970s, Ken returned from time to time from his fine art career to help Bob during busy times at the station.
“Another memory I have is that he whistled a lot as he walked. I can still hear you Bob, whistling a jazz tune as you’d be walking home.”
Bob is ‘home’ now in Sky Studio, taking pieces of many hearts with him while leaving behind fond memories, smiles, brushstrokes on our hearts, a tune in our head and a desire to buy him a beer and have one more fun chat.
What A Wonderful World
Excerpt from one of Bob’s signature songs, video from Joe Petrolo
Bob Jenkins Band at Rotary Community Days
Bob Jenkins, closing part of the film about Ken MacDougall,
The Enjoyment of Form
(See 11 min 15 sec mark)
Art Osborne with Bob Jenkins, photo from Joe Petrolo
Lloyd Walton with Bob Jenkins, photo from Lloyd
Photo from Sault Museum
Sample art cards
Issue # 83 August 9, 2020; previous issue dated March 28, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, August 2, 2020.
Well known and highly regarded journalist Peter Rakobowchuk (Peter Ray), who started his broadcast career at CKCY Radio in Sault Ste. Marie, joined Sky Studio colleagues August 2, 2020 at age 71. He’d been fighting cancer for many years.
I (Art Osborne) faced Peter as a competitor when I was at CJIC Radio and TV as a news reporter. We shared the Press Table at a lot of the same meetings and I remember him as enthusiastic, gregarious and humorous - someone you looked forward to being with and ‘doing battle’ against to get a story.
He was never shy about asking pointed questions of officials and was the kind of dedicated broadcaster you knew would be moving on to the national scene as he did, becoming a Broadcast News/ Canadian Press correspondent for over 40 years.
Veteran broadcaster Russ Hilderley saw Peter’s talent and brought him to Sault Ste. Marie giving him a start in broadcasting that would carry on for over 50 years on various stations and from many cities. Russ shares his recollections on Peter, gives us the ‘inside’ story and pays tribute to a former colleague/friend who advanced Canadian journalism and along the way made and became a part of its history.
By Russ Hilderley
Peter came to Sault Ste. Marie in 1970. CKCY was seeking to fill our evening news slot, covering city council meetings, and other municipal events. I was on city council in 1970 as an alderman for Ward 3 so this reporter couldn't report objectively on any city business and needed help in the newsroom.
An application arrived one day, from a guy by the name of Peter Rakobowchuk, who was looking to break in to radio broadcasting. His voice wasn't Lorne Green's (another Canadian) but he enunciated well in both languages, AND, had taken a course in BROADCASTING! A firm in Toronto offered "on air" experiences and solicited students through several Broadcast Magazines.
Peter instantly captured my interest when he opened the interview with the following statement (which I remember to this day), “I was voted by the class as being the LEAST likely to succeed in this business"!
I asked him why would he tell me such a thing. His reply: “I need to prove they were ALL wrong, and if you hire me,I'll prove it to you !" And....so he did...in spades.
Peter had introduced himself as an educated Quebecer from Montreal, and could do a newscast in both national languages flawlessly! "Sault Ste. Marie, being a "french name" could use a french speaking reporter,” he added.
When I told him my mother was born and raised in Perce', on the Gaspe' Peninsula, I shook his hand and said, "Welcome aboard....How soon can you start?"
Peter Ray became married to his "career" in broadcast news, and plunged in to the thick of city life and excelled in reporting the good, the bad, and the "just' ugly stuff....7 days a week.
I maintained an interest in his career after he joined CP/BN. It hadn't come as any surprise to me that he'd move on to BN, as he was a prolific contributor by expanding his local stories to appeal to a national audience.
We kept in touch throughout the years, and when he became rooted in Space News, I offered him my stepson's name, as a good source on "all-things" in the Canadian Space Industry. He interviewed Grant Bonin several times over the past several years, expanding his penchant for news on satellites, launches, who to contact etc.
Peter promised to visit the "SOO" when he retired.....but as we've learned, his "retirement" was only part time. I congratulated him last year, on his 40th anniversary with CP/CN.
I wish we had spent more time together in our younger days, but he'll stay connected to all who knew him as a true professional. His passion was nurtured initially by the staff at CKCY, who embraced him as a talented newshound, and a "helluva nice guy"!
Peter "Ray" Rakobowchuk certainly proved to his "Classmates" they had terribly misjudged him.
He has not retired but just joined other colleagues in SKY STUDIO! Saying "Peter, rest in peace"....would not be appropriate in this case. He'll just be too busy looking for an old fashioned typewriter and a new network in which to report Space News, from a whole new perspective!
I'm Russ Hilderley, reporting for CKCY News.
News stories by Peter- some highlights selected by CBC
(Look for a post by Peter’s colleague Nelson Wyatt who shares some wonderful inside stories.)
Issue # 82 March 28, 2020; previous issue dated March 4, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Larry Michael Mandziuk
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, March 21, 2020.
Larry Michael Mandziuk - known on-air as Larry Michaels - joined Sky Studio March 21 in Thunder Bay, age 76.
CJIC morning announcer, while Larry was doing afternoons in the 1970s, was Lou Turco who posted, “#RIP Larry Michaels I had the honour of working with Larry starting in the early 70’s at CJIC AM & FM studio at 119 East Street for many years. Larry had a great work ethic and truly loved radio. to hear of his passing. Condolences to his family from my wife Sandra Turco and me.”
When I (Art Osborne) was CJIC Program Director during Larry’s time at CJIC 1050, he was morning man and later, afternoon host with a reputation of being dependable, enthusiastic and a solid professional one could always count on.
Following a career in broadcasting that stretched over three provinces, Larry taught at Sault College and also launched the city’s first digital publication, Soozine. The leading edge computer produced, online distributed e-publication required his unique combination of technical and creative skills as well as experience gained from commercial broadcasting, shortwave radio and photography.
Another former CJIC announcer, Steve Smith notes, “Sincere condolences to Larry’s family and friends. We’ve lost another CJIC great.” Terry Leboeuf, former FM announcer posted, “RIP Larry! Worked with him at Q104 FM back in the day! Truly a dedicated and talented radio man!” Carmine Trecroce, Bill Trbovich and Scott Witty also noted his passing with Scott observing, “I worked for about a year with Larry at CKCY in the really early 80s. Was a patient kind man and he taught me many things. RIP Larry.”
And, a listener posted an RIP that says what every on-air person likes to hear and works hard to earn: “I loved listening to you. “
(Issue # 81 March 4, 2020; previous issue dated January 8, 2020)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Danny Gallivan
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, Feb 26, 2020.
Danny’s laugh is what comes to mind when many think of him - he always had a joke, a zinger, a perfectly timed comment, all part of his many attributes making him someone you wanted to be around.
Somewhere in the 70s Danny loaned his hockey knowledge to Hyland Radio & TV as colour commentator for the former Junior B league’s Wawa Travellers games broadcast on CJWA, the Hyland station in Wawa.
Play by play of those games was handled by Greg Stephens who kindly provides us with these reflections of a former colleague:
“When I think of Danny, it’s impossible not to smile.
“For several summers, we shared a cabin with Art Osborne and others on Upper Island Lake. We called ourselves the “Over the Hill Gang”. Danny dubbed our canoe the “SS Bottoms Up”, an appropriate name for a couple of reasons.
“Danny wasn’t an official employee of Hyland Radio and Television, but was on the air on CJWA, our affiliate in Wawa. For two seasons, I did play-by-play for the Wawa Travellers in the old NOHA Junior B league and Danny did the colour. It was great fun to go on the air and say "Good evening. Greg Stephens along with Danny Gallivan bringing you the ..." I’m sure there were some who were wondering how in heaven’s name I got the great Montreal Canadiens announcer to do Junior B games.
“Danny brought a superb knowledge of the game and a lightning-quick sense of humour. One story…the Travellers were in the Michigan Soo to play the Sault Indians at the Pullar Stadium. It was a small crowd and in one end, there were only two fans, seated directly behind the net just above the level of the glass (there was no protective netting in those days). A player took a slap shot. The puck deflected off a stick and screamed over the glass directly at the two. In a milli-second, they dove to the side just as the puck slammed into the seats precisely where they had been sitting. It was a very close call. Danny’s comment: “Yes, they’re lucky but it’s going to take a week to clean up the mess.” I broke up as did the Indians’ broadcast crew seated next to us.
“In Blind River for a game one weekend, we stayed in the Blind River Motel and asked for a room within crawling distance of the bar. It was a good call, as several Black Russians did their damage that night.
“There are so many other stories, but suffice it to say, Danny was a great guy who was fun to be around and made people laugh. What better legacy can there be.
(Issue # 80 January 8, 2020; previous issue dated November 26, 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Scott Alexander Darbishire
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, Dec 2019/Jan 2020.
For Sault and area radio listeners, Scott Alexander - as he was known on-air here - was one of the legends of broadcasting for impressionable young teenagers, like me, and many others of all ages.
I’d be awake later than I was supposed to be listening to CKCY on my transistor radio in an era of local radio voices and a world of 1960s music that helped propel me - and likely others - into the radio/TV business. Scott, Ron Robinson, Jay Lee Smith, ‘Night train’ Lane Cunningham, Dick Peplow, Harry Burkman and more kept the broadcasting tubes hot at 920 Radio and created a radio era that will never be again coexisting with CJIC 1050 Radio and its own roster of legends.
Scott Alexander Darbishire left us sometime on/after December 31, 2019 at his residence in London, ON. He was born in Alymer, ON November 7, 1946. At time of Sky Studio circulation an official obituary could not be found.
In 1965 he graduated from a broadcasting program at Midwestern College in Denison, Iowa and worked at these stations he listed on Facebook: CHLO, St Thomas, ON; K-102, Woodstock; CFPL and FM-96, London, ON; CKPT, Peterborough, ON (in 1968 followed his time at CKCY); CKGB, Timmins, ON; WMBS, Chicago, IL.
Tom Douglas, longtime award-winning freelance writer, copy editor and author living in Oakville, was a coworker of Scott’s at CKCY: “I'm still reeling from the news I got a few minutes ago when I fired up Facebook. Scottie was the rock jock at CKCY-Radio when I worked there. The teenyboppers loved him. He was a fun guy and we reconnected via Facebook a few years ago. He always promised to visit from his home in London, Ontario but he never got here. We weren't close friends but this one rattled me for some reason!”
Fellow DJ at CKCY, Jay Lee Smith, from St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba: “I recall he did evenings, worked closely with Pat Bestall and moved to CKPT Peterborough from CKCY. Jocks shared an apartment nicknamed, The House of Lords.” It was was an old house beside the then Peachy's on Bay Street. Lee adds, “Sad to see so many of us youngsters now "checking out."
There are numerous fond tributes to Scottie on his Facebook and reading through them clearly shows he touched many hearts. I was one of his many friends on Facebook and noticed in recent months he had a habit of posting a ‘Midnight Snack Photo’ most evenings and many would reply with fun comments on his newest food creation. His last ‘Midnight Snack Photo’ post was on December 31 at 12:37 AM
None available at time of issuing this Sky Studio
Brian Kelly, Sault Star reporter tells the city and area of the legend lost: https://www.saultstar.com/news/local-news/darbishire-played-hits-on-ckcy
(Issue # 79 November 26, 2019; previous issue dated August 22, 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Edward (Budd) Kent
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio, November 21, 2019.
Budd was in CJIC TV sales in the 70s followed by over 30 years in clothing sales and in all that time I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile. He was always welcoming, friendly and sincerely glad to see you.
He was with Wayne Turner, Jerry Nichols, Ruby Newell, Frank Gardi and others in television sales during what many of us called the golden days of broadcasting in Sault Ste. Marie. There were many big and even more medium to smaller account clients on television in those days. Then, there were many network programs that businesses and organizations wanted their commercials on and there was also all kinds of local programming that attracted sponsors.
Budd’s many connections, knowledge of product, excellent sales skills, gregarious nature along with his always stylish and immaculate appearance contributed to his success and continued to serve him well in broadcasting as well as the clothing business, the latter including to my recollection Tip Top Tailors and Jack Fraser.
(Issue # 78 August 22, 2019; previous issue dated May 30, 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to John Wishart
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio August 10, 2019.
John is remembered as amicable, warm-hearted and one of the best news and script readers/presenters ever. From his time at CJIC Radio and Television and on to CBC National network, all his colleagues would marvel as his voice talent and delivery. A broadcaster’s broadcaster.
Former news broadcaster Jim Cronin recalls, “I worked with John for a short period at Hyland Radio and TV and remember him as a soft spoken yet very accomplished news announcer with a great sense of humour and always a smile.”
Broadcaster and Gilder Broadcasting co-owner Russ Hilderley remembers John onair at CFYN and CHAS-FM from 1979 to 1982. “John Wishart had an abundance of natural talent. We all knew he had a very ‘smooth’ voice, perfect in his articulation, enunciation, pronunciation and elocution. He was a kind and gentle man.”
John Chambers says, “When I was made sales manager for YSS FM on the Canadian side, I already had Warren West selling, and then hired Marion Theriault and John Wishart to round out the sales team. All can attest, that nobody was as smooth as Johnny Wishart when it came to a cold read, except for maybe Lorne Greene.”
My (Art Osborne) recollections of John from CJIC Radio and TV in the 1970s include his gentle ways, sense of humour, soft laughter and a person that always made you feel better after spending time with him. As I commented for the Sault Star story done by reporter Brian Kelly, John was kind-hearted, genuine in his feelings and respect for others and had a good sense of humour. I remember John as a consummate on-air professional with an extraordinarily smooth delivery and voice.”
Broadcaster Lou Turco worked with John and, in an online tribute quoted in Brain’s story, said “John had a great voice for radio and TV and was very versatile hosting classical radio shows and jazz programs.”
Sault Star story
(Issue # 77 May 30, 2019; previous issue dated April 2, 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Sally Jones
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio May 23, 2019.
Fond recollections of a kind and thoughtful person and a great production team member in television come to mind as we remember Sally and add her name to our list of honour.
Sally Jones worked in many aspects of TV production at CJIC (and later CHBX) primarily in telecine, the assembly of slides and films in perfect order at the right time, under tight time constraints working in almost a choreography of movement with others.
She now joins many broadcasting friends who worked with her and what a reunion they must be having when one starts to think of the names of her former colleagues who are now embracing her.
Anyone working with Sally will recall her sense of humour that made a sometimes tough and pressuring job, easier to take. I remember Sally always smiling no matter what difficulty might come her way. In addition to successfully handling those with determination, she also shouldered the worries of many others by offering her time to listen, help, console and advise.
Co-worker and friend Karen MacDougall Johns recalls, “Sally was a wonderful person. When we worked at the TV station we had so many good times together. We were very close and went through a lot together. She was the type of person who you could call day or night and she would be there for you. She was always there with an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. I will never forget her. She is gone far too early but she will always be remembered.”
Those who worked with and knew Sally will remember her fondly, will think of her smile and her laugh, and will consider they were fortunate to have known her and are a better person as a result.
While Sally’s production of life fades out here, her glow remains and her new show begins.
(Issue # 76 April 2, 2019; previous issue dated March 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Dianne Rogers (Peplow),
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio March 30, 2019.
CFYN’s Russ Hilderley kindly provided these recollections of Dianne ….
“Dianne was a dedicated staff member....diligent in her responsibilities prepping our daily logs.
She and Liz tolerated Woody's (Bob Wood, morning man) "loitering" in the front lobby after his morning "work of magic radio show".
“Bob's major source of his humourous "ad-libs, were well arranged and indexed in his brief case. Every morning, he'd hold court with the ladies, for at least 20 minutes to a half hour, at their busiest times. Dianne masterminded the scheme to curb Bob's enthusiasm for continuing to disrupt their morning.
“His constant routine was to announce his departure, by swinging his precious briefcase over his shoulder, as he bid farewell 'til the morrow! Dianne secretly unlatched the clips on his briefcase he'd always parked by her desk....and ....you guessed it....when he flung it over his shoulder with his "so long" salute...his personality flew out all over the radio station reception area!
“We all had a great gut busting laugh...and Bob...being who he is...laughed the hardest!
RIP Di.....with fondest memories,”
(Issue # 75 April 2, 2019; previous issue dated March 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Helen Doris Hillstrom (Pavelich)
who joined former colleagues in Sky Studio March 19, 2019.
Helen worked in Traffic at CJIC radio on East Street
Mari Nichols (Eagle) tells us…. “Yes...many many fond memories of dear Helen. Helen was Lois Nylander's assistant in that teeny weeny tiny office that Lois had. Lois sat at the first desk logging in radio commercials in what was known as Traffic.”
The office was near Sales, Programming and Script… right in the line of fire of everyone who always wanted something done by Traffic. It was a demanding role and those handling it were extraordinarily skilful in accomplishing what was often ‘impossible’ in juggling conflicting needs, which were often submitted last minute.
Mari says she recalls her times at "girls lunches at the Vic" with Barb Griffin, Grace Pitt, Marg Janes, Lois and Helen. “Marg Nikkinen and Helen were sisters and Marg's best friend was Barb Griffin who recommended that Helen Hillstrom get the job when Lois Nylander was leaving the post.”
(Issue # 74 March 22, 2019; previous issue dated January 2019)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to William Robert ‘Bill” Cowling,
who joined his former colleagues in Sky Studio January 29, 2019.
Dear friends Jan and Ron Robinson advised us of this Sky Studio entry some weeks back and we’re just getting this circulated now. We acknowledge Bill Cowling who passed away January 29, 2019 with arrangements by a Beamsville, Ontario funeral home (special announcement noted below includes this reference “Broadcaster/Host at CKCY FM in the Soo.”)
Jan tell us, “Bill came into the station (CKCY) to promote the artists on the Warner Bros roster. He was famous for his thousands of albums and stories of all the superstar rockers with whom he was rubbing shoulders and hanging out.
“The promo visits resulted in friendships made and soon he was on the air at CKCY FM, being very, very MELLOW.
“Ron and I became friends with Bill and his wife. As a result, Ron became very, very mellow! Ha ha! Bill and his wife remained friends of ours for many, many years! Ron and Bill were like brothers for years.
“He was also particularly close with Steve Shiaman who lived with him and his wife for years on Pim Street. I believe he was a very close friend of Bob Stares who was a photographer in the Sault at the time.”
Bill worked evenings at first and then on to afternoons from 1972 to 1974.
(Issue # 73 December 2018; previous issue dated November 2018)
This edition of Sky Studio is dedicated to Bert Luciani, who joined his former colleagues in Sky Studio December 22, 2018.
Bert was truly a broadcast pioneer who witnessed many evolutions of technology over his decades in the business and helped those technologies get implemented which advanced broadcasting and its ability to better serve the community.
Bert met hundreds of national, international and local celebrities, politicians, entertainers and others who were interviewed in the East Street studios where he was the main studio camera operator. I’m sure they all left with a positive memory of meeting Bert.
He was instantly liked when anyone met him and subsequent interactions lead to deep and ongoing friendships. Even after years of not seeing him, bumping into him was always a heart warming and genuine pleasure.
Over the decades Bert was a key part of the local programming such as
Grace Pitt’s Ladies Day, Pitt Stop and other shows including the main supper hour news package Telerama, Lionel McAuley’s Personalities in the News interviews followed in later years by my Public
Affairs interview segment, and he was often on the front line with first time, live, community broadcasts of events, parades and telethons over the years when we had local television
One of the many great stories about Bert I remember was when Prime Minister Trudeau told
him not to be late for supper!
Bert’s wife Lena had called and left a message for him ‘not to be late,’ that was written down and the note left on the studio interview desk.
PM Pierre Trudeau was in the city and, in those days, a TV interview
was part of his itinerary. In the studio the PM saw a paper on the desk, read it and asked, “Who’s Bert?” Surprised of course, Bert put his hand up and Trudeau read the message to
Not often a guy goes home and is able to say to his wife, “The Prime Minister told me not to be late for supper!”
I was with Bert and others from CJIC TV on a Department of National Defence media military tour in the 1970s that included Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. In 1936 it was the site of the Winter Olympics, the first to feature alpine skiing. Bert was quite the skier but we didn’t have time for him to take a run at the Bavarian Alps but I remember that sparkle in his eye as he thought about it.
Later in his career as Operations Manager at the then new Lake Superior Cablevision, Bert played a pioneering role again when community television programming was important and a priority.
He mentored many aspiring broadcast camera operators, directors and
other studio and creative staff. Bert provided the benefit of his varied and extensive experience to many who worked behind and in front of the camera, along with giving encouraging, supportive
guidance, always provided with that magical, warm smile he had, a hearty laugh of good cheer and a pat on the back.
Often with new technology and ongoing old equipment, of which television was a mixture, things needed fixing. Bert was one of the Mr Fixit’s who could get something that was impossible to repair, working again.
Through the camera lens Bert Luciani saw it all and we’re a better community for his efforts. Bert was a key figure in making local television as important as it was years ago to the viewers it served.
Bert was extraordinarily kind and offered a generous sharing of his skills and knowledge. At this seasonal giving time of year he’ll be particularly well remembered.
The Sault Ste Marie Oral History Library included an interview with Bert which is catalogued under “Umberto Luciani”. https://youtu.be/SyTpfSfMtH4
Sault Star story
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.
(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)
Additional backgrounds of those on the Sky Studio list will be added here.
Also, those who have been missed - a list of about 50 from past years - will be added as well as others who are brought to the attention of Sky Studio.