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.
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.)
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.
SCOTT ALEXANDER (DARBISHIRE)
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
HELEN DORIS HILLSTROM (PAVELICH)
EDWARD (BUDD) KENT
MR. JUSTICE PAUL H. MEGGINSON
LARRY MICHAELS (LARRY MICHAEL MANDZIUK)
STEVE PINE (RAY)
PETER RAKOBOWCHUK (RAY)
DIANE ROGERS (PEPLOW)
Any additions, errors, omissions are regretted.... send information to email@example.com
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.
Art Osborne & Associates
65 Lansdowne Ave.
Sault Ste. Marie, ON Canada