James A. "Pete" McGarvey
's writing career started when he was 18 with Canadian High News
writing radio shows that played on CJBC, a CBC station in Toronto. He was earning $18.50 a week. He eventually distinguished himself as an announcer and programme director at CFOR in Orillia. He later became a town alderman. Pete was the main proponent in the establishment of the Stephen Leacock home on Brewery Bay preserving the history and career of the famed Canadian humorist. Pete wrote a book,"The Old Brewery Bay: A Leacockian Tale"
published by Dundurn Press, detailing the challenges of creating the lakeside memorial to Leacock. Pete left CFOR in 1965 to become the news director at CFCO in Chatham, Ontario, where he stayed for eight years. Pete won back-to-back RTNDA awards for documentaries in 1971 and 1972 prompting Toronto stations, CFRB and CKEY, to compete to recruit Pete to their news departments. CKEY won that battle and Pete established himself as the senior reporter at 'EY from 1973 to 1988. He embarked on a freelance project producing 2-3 minute syndicated travel series for radio and print. After 54 years as a broadcaster, he concluded his radio career and retired to Orillia where he had been writing a column for The Packet & Times
newspaper. On June 4, 2011, Lakehead University presented Pete with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Pete died at 86 on Monday March 10, 2014. Obituary
Click here for CFOR History
Marilyn Thompson (McDonald) was CFOR receptionist and secretary to owner Gord Smith. She and Jiggs married in October 1962.
Jack (J.P.) Finnigan
was one of the funniest announcers on or off the air. He came to CFOR from Chatham, Ontario. Jack hosted the afternoon shift in Orillia. In 1960, he left for Kitchener's CKKW. In 1962 he was located at CKEY in Toronto. Jack moved to CJAD Montreal in 1966 and took over the afternoon shift in 1972 where he remained for 33 years. He left radio because of poor health in 2005 and he died in December 2006. Jack was in the audience when his actress daughter Jennifer Finnigan
won her first of several day-time Emmy awards for her work on The Bold and the Beautiful
. More on Jack Finnigan
Click here for Finnigan on CKEY promotion flyerJack Finnigan Obituary
, was a very colourful announcer, especially on his Rolling North Friday night show. George was a Peterborough boy who became a CHEX operator. He moved on to Hamilton's CHML where he operated for Paul Reid, Gordie Tapp, Paul Hanover
and George Wilson.
In 1955 he became an announcer at Lindsay on CKLY. He then migrated to CFOR. George spent the summer of 1959 with C-HOW in Welland. Later, his first TV gig was CKCO TV in Kitchener but soon he was back at CHEX-TV where he created a comic character, "Elwood Cranston"
who made daily phone calls to fellow announcer Sean Eyes and became the most familiar celebrity in the Kawartha area. George even made an appearance on the popular Tommy Hunter TV show on Sept. 25, 1970. Later he returned to CFOR. Around this time, CKO, a leading station in the all news radio network, was underway in Toronto run by former colleague Taylor Parnaby
who hired him as a news announcer. George died in Toronto in July of 1989. See more pictures of George Franks Elwood Cranston in Peterborough
More on George Franks/Elwood Cranston
Tayler "Hap" Parnaby started as a 15-year-old operator but with a voice beyond his years, he was a natural in front of the mic. He eventually made his way to CHUM-AM in Toronto in the early 60s under director Bill Drylie. Hap eventually left CHUM and became president of the all-news Canadian network, Newsradio, based at CKO in Toronto. When financial difficulties in the mid 80s closed the 45-station network, he joined the news staff at CFRB. He retired in the summer of 2010.
CFOR Reunion (2007)
Back row: Pete McGarvey, Marilyn McDonald, Barry Norman, Bud Riley, Nancy Brandon (Women's Hour), Bob Bowland, Peter Rowe and Jiggs. Front row: Kay Foreman (Receptionist/Sec, Station owner Gord Smith and Marilyn Rumball (copywriter)
was the son of CFOR owner Gordon Smith. Paul's radio career started as an operator while still in high school. Today he operates a Vancouver multi-media production and corporate design company called Storysmithing Inc.
Click here for more on Paul Smith
Ken "Jiggs" McDonald,
sports announcer. He came to CFOR from Lindsay, Ontario, (CKLY 910) in May of 1958, had a six week stint in Peterborough (CKPT) and returned to CFOR. He stayed until May 1967 when he left to work for Jack Kent Cooke and the Los Angeles Kings
as their first play-by-play announcer. In 1972 he moved to Atlanta and in 1980 to the N.Y. Islanders. He did ABC Olympics from Calgary in 1988, TNT Olympics from Albertville, France, in 1992, CTV Olympic (Basketball) from Barcelona in 1992 (working with the great Jack Donahue) TNT Olympics 1994 from Lille Hammer, Norway. From 1995 to 1997 he called Toronto Maple Leafs mid-week TV games on CHCH and Global with Harry Neale. Jiggs did hockey for the USA Network, ESPN, FOX
and SportsChannel America
. In all, he was the voice for more than 3,000 NHL games, garnered many honors including the 1999 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award (see plaque far right) and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
More on Jiggs
Even more on JiggsYoung Jiggs in Packet & Times
Barry Norman was another classmate of Bud Riley in Ryerson's Radio and TV Arts programme in Toronto. He joined CFOR as a news reporter during summer vacations. He spent most of his career at the station, holding several positions including sales and station manager. He managed the station and the Orillia Sun newspaper when both were owned by Telemedia. Barry retired after 50 years and died suddenly in Sept. 2010 just a couple of weeks after an informal CFOR reunion at Jiggs MacDonald's summer home on Lake Simcoe. More on Barry
a former Bud Riley classmate, wrote local commercials and later become a noted Canadian novelist. Early in his writing career, this graduate of Trent University in Peterborough worked as an editor at Macmillan Publishing
in Toronto. His own first writing effort was a children's book. His early novels, Weekend Man
and In The Middle of a Life
, became CanLit favourites. He won the Governor General's Award plus two Giller prizes for literature and was awarded the Order of Canada and an Honorary Doctorate from Trent University
. He continues his production of fiction full-time since retiring fom teaching at Ridley College
in St. Catharines in 2001. His most recent work is Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard
More on Dick Wright
(Vernon Kenward Robertson) was a stringer for the Toronto Telegram
and Bud Riley's go-to guy for information about Orillia and of the town's denizens. After his shift, Bud would catch up to Ken shortly after 1 am and hang out with him at the police station or drive down to the Barrie TV station (CKVR) and sometimes visit the Tely's Toronto editorial room. Bud learned everything about being a reporter from Ken. Together they covered several car and train accidents and fires in the district. Eventually the Telegram brought Ken down to Toronto as a full-time reporter-photographer. He was often assigned as city editor. When the Tely closed in 1971, there was no question that he would be a necessary component of the Toronto Sun
, the new tabloid newspaper that rose from the Tely ashes. Ken Robertson earned a reputation as one of the top newspaper feature writers in the city. A sailor, he wrote for and edited a marine magazine. When he left the Sun, he became Communications director for the Ontario Government's Natural Resources Ministry. In retirement, he lived in a house he built himself in the woods south of Victoria Harbour, Ontario, and wrote a book about the house called Windcharm. While continuing to write his own projects, he edited other writer's books. Ken died at 88 on December 22, 2010.
started at CFOR-AM as a teenager but eventually became chief engineer. "When I was 13 (1946) I got a job with the new radio station as a transmitter operator for the summer. When I was 15 (1948) I had a job as remote operator. Thursday night at the Opera House there was a talent hunt. Sunday, church broadcasts: first, the Salvation Army, 10:30 to 10:50 then pack up and go like HELL on my bike to one of the Baptist Churches. Bethel Baptist a 7:00 pm every Sunday night. At 16 (1949) I left school and continued on as remote and studio operator and transmitter operator. When George Slinn
arrived from CHVC in Niagara Falls with their old 1KW transmitter around 1949/50 I had another job--assistant to George." In 1959 Peter replaced Slinn as chief engineer. Peter left CFOR in April 1964.
Hear Peter Rowe describe his career at CFOR
Video and Audio clips from www.rockradioscrapbook.com and private collections of Doug Thompson, CHUM Archives, Charlie Ritenberg, Bill Dulmage, Bud Riley, Tom Fulton, Bob Carr, Westlyn Mather, Dave Ross, Don Shuttleworth, Peter Rowe, Jiggs McDonald, Mike Cleaver and others.
CFOR Sales Manager was Bill Pratt, a dynamic personality who put many Ontario radio stations on solid financial footing. Some of his other stations were CKKW Kitchener and C-HOW Welland. Pratt's second in charge was Bill Gillis who had worked with Pratt at several radio station sales departments before arriving in Orillia.
At CFOR, Bud worked with the following people:
George Slinn was CFOR's chief engineer who designed many of the station's innovative pieces of equipment including a system for remote broadcasting at events such as the annual Orillia Fair. George designed a main board with colour coded knobs and switches. The on-off switches were operated vertically rather that the standard horizontal. It meant that an operator, with a quick scan of the board, could see immediately what function was hot and what was not. He left CFOR in 1959 to teach electronics at Orillia High School across the street from the radio station.
More on George Slinn
Nancy Brandon and Barry Norman in the CFOR music library cir. 1960 .
This ad for Pete and CKEY was familiar to Toronto drivers as it appeared for many years on the back of TTC buses and street cars
Additional 1958 support staff:
Peggy Smith (traffic manager)
John Lawson (copy chief)
Marg McFarland (music librarian)
Harry Smith (maintenance)
CFOR became an outlet for many independent local producers to contribute programmes. These programmes included an hour of military band music hosted by Bill Hume
, who was the executive director of Soldiers Memorial Hospital.
Another show featured Gilbert and Sullivan
musicals hosted by George Travis
. In the summer of 1958, a young concert pianist and music teacher from Toronto, Claire Snowlton
arrived in Orillia by bus to host an hour long Sunday night programme of classical music with Bud Riley Riley as her inept operator. Claire eventually made her way to N.Y. City where she met and married an up-and-coming photographer, Paul Hoeffler.
The couple moved to Toronto where Paul built an international reputation as a writer and photographer of jazz and classic musicians and composers. In 1984, Bud Riley met Paul who had been assigned to do a photo item about CJRT for Toronto Life Magazine
and during a discussion of classical music, Bud recounted meeting an attractive concert pianist in Orillia in 1958 and wondered what happened to her. In a surprising coincidence, Paul then informed him that he not only knew Claire, but was happily married to her. Paul Hoeffler died on July 30, 2005
. (See Paul's article in Toronto Life, March 1984.
CFOR RADIO Orillia, Ontario
During his time at CFOR, Jiggs was the co-host with George Franks of "Rolling North", one of the most successful radio shows on the station
This Magnacorder reel-to-reel tape machine was the workhorse of many radio stations in Canada during the 50s and 60s. CFOR had two of them perched above the main board in the control room. They were portable machines, but most stations used them almost exclusively at studio recorders. The announcer-operators loved them because they loaded and unwound very quickly, a requirement when drive-time was busy with commercials.
This is George Slinn's main console installed in the West St. Studios. Note the two Magnacorder tape machines stacked on top of the board. All the toggle switches and pots were colour coded and much easier to read than on standard boards. Toggle switches were operated up and down rather than left and right: ON AIR
was up, OFF AIR
was in the middle and CUE or Audition
was in the down position. The single VU metre was for outgoing audio only but there was a separate monitor for audition.
The Northern Electric console installed at CFOR on Mississauga St. E. Orillia in 1945. This board was relegated to the small recording booth when Slinn installed his new board in the West. St. studios.
CFOR Sign-on Jingle and promo (Ken McDonald)
Bob Douglas was a long time newsman and news director at CFOR. Bob came to Orillia from CHVC in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He was noted for his unflappability like the time he arrived late for his newscast and only had time to grab a stream of copy off the Broadcast News wire and start reading. With a long paper trail hanging out from under the newsroom door it was too much temptation for other on-air staff to ignore, they set it on fire. Douglas ignored the smoke and flames creeping up on him and managed to finish the newscast before it reached his desk.
Nancy Brandon was the only woman announcer on the CFOR staff in he 1950s. She hosted a mid-morning show, "The Women's Hour." Her show featured women's oriented news, interviews and features such as local births and birthdays. Musical themes for these features were performed by station founder and owner Gordon Smith. Hear these musical intros
Secretary Kay Foreman with women's editor Nancy Brandon
EARLY BROADCAST YEARS
CFOR-AM, ORILLIA, ONTARIO. Bud's first professional radio job came in May of 1958. Programme director Pete McGarvey assigned him to the night shift from 5 pm to midnight. As an announcer/operator, he hosted radio programmes, read news, weather and commercials. His day started with "The Mail Bag", a mix of recordings requested by listeners. A Friday night, half-hour feature was Bud's "C-FOR Ranch" with country favourites and on Sunday afternoons he hosted two programmes, one was an hour of Broadway selections and the other was "Waltz Time." Since 1940, Bud and his family spent summers at Fountains Beach on Lake Simcoe, just a few doors away from famed musician Glen Gould. Click here for a Packet and Times article dated April 28, 2007 containing Bud's recollection of an encounter with Gould in the Fall of 1958.
Through the 40s and 50s, CFOR was often visited by many country music stars. Country music was a major ingredient in the station's music mix so the country celebrities often offered their services for programme intros, promos and inserts. Here is a sample featuring Grandpa Jones, Wilf Carter and Doc Williams.