CJRN-AM NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO. After a period of media burn-out in Thunder Bay, Bud Riley returned to Welland as morning announcer and programme director. Again, he became the commercial producer and leading announcer for the station. He was then noticed by Jim O'Brien, the new owner of the Niagara Falls radio station CHVC who revamped it with new call letters, CJRN, and moved from under the Rainbow Bridge to new studios on Clifton Hill overlooking the Niagara Parkway and the falls. O'Brien recruited Bud in 1966, to host the mid-morning show, "Coffee Club" featuring daily give-aways such as sponsor's products and gifts of jewelry. He occasionally filled in for the morning man John Michael. Another of his duties was to host a short phone-in show titled "Trading Post", an on-air classified service. Bud also voice-tracked a three hour Sunday afternoon show.
John Michael (Cackett) was the morning man, but eventually became a popular and sometimes controversial talk show host, bouncing between CJRN and CKTB in St. Catharines. Screen Gems featured John in a TV version of his show "Street Talk" in the 1970s. John's radio career started with English language pirate radio in 1960-1961 when he and Doug Stanley (from Ottawa) founded the short-lived CNBC service broadcasting from the Dutch-owned ship Radio Veronica. The call letters stood for Commercial Neutral Broadcasting Company. Shortly after, John migrated to London Ontario and CKSL and then to Niagara Falls and CJRN where he did the morning show and eventually took over the talk show from MP Judy Lamarsh. John retired from Canadian radio in 2003 and died five years later at the age of 72. As a teenage athlete, John was a member of the diving team that represented Britain at the Olympics.
Click here for John's obituary. Also Click here for John's involvement with Pirate Radio.... Radio Veronica.
News director Rick Smith ran a tight but creative news department. He also handled the talk show and his interviews were always productive. He also established a popular daily commentary, "One Man's Opinion." He migrated to CKPR in Thunder Bay where he distinguished himself as a talk show host/commentator and eventually retired on Sept. 29, 2006. Rick died at 77 in August 16, 2015.
Sports announcer Rick Jeanneret was affable and knowledgeable about all sports but he specialized in hockey. Before long, in 1972, he graduated from announcing Jr. "A" Niagara Falls Flyers games to the NHL Buffalo Sabre's organization. At this point, 2012 after 40 years, he's the longest tenured NHL play-by-play announcer in modern hockey history. In 2011, Rick was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. He now shares the play-by-play duties with Vin Scully, cutting back on his workload.
Click here for more on Rick. Latest news on Rick Jeanneret's health
Newsman Robert Payne helped make CJRN news an important community service. He was a thoughtful writer with a voice that exuded authority. He began his career in Quebec while he was studying at Laval University but found his way to Niagara Falls in 1966. He left Niagara for CJOE in London, Ontario, in 1967. CHUM News hired him in 1969. After a period as a freelancer doing occasional shifts at CKFH in the early 70s, he became an important news voice on CKEY in Toronto. For several years Bob wrote a column for the Toronto Sun newspaper. In 1989 he was appointed Chair of the Ontario Board of Censors, a post he held until 1992. Four years later he founded his own communications company, Citizen Payne Publishing which performs various services such as media monitoring and speech writing.
Click here for more on Robert Payne
Norman Fetterley started his news reporting career in 1967 at CJRN at Niagara Falls, his home town. In 1968 he was at CKTB in St. Catherines. In 1972, he was doing morning radio news at CKPR in Thunder Bay and began his CHFD TV (CTV) news career at the same time. In 1973, CTV moved him to CFCF Montreal. In 1974, he was re-assigned to CFTO as the stations Ottawa reporter. From 1983 to 1997 he was parliamentary reporter for CTV's Ottawa station CJOH TV. In 1997 Norm was the station's staff reporter until retirement in 2013.
CJRN owner Jim O'Brien and his brother Bob O'Brien, the operations manager, were considered by many to be the dynamic duo of broadcasting. Bob was a former art college student (OAC) in Toronto. He was always interested in creative solutions to programming problems. Jim had been a business student at Ryerson and had created a solid reputation as the sales manager of CFGM Richmond Hill. Jim bought CHVC from Howard Bedford in 1965 and changed the call letters to CJRN. The studios were located under the Rainbow Bridge which was a major problem because there was no way to monitor the radio signal through the bridge's tons of concrete. When the transmitter in Stevensville near Fort Erie would accidently trip off it could be several hours before the operators would know. Previous owner Bedford had an arrangement with a cab driver to drive down to the transmitter shack and re-set the transmitter. Jim quickly solved the problem by moving the studios to the Park Motor Hotel on Clifton Hill near the Niagara River Parkway. In 1971, the studios were moved to St. Clair Avenue. Jim was a charismatic leader. Because of his dynamic personality and drive he was considered one of the best salesmen in the broadcast industry. Read Bob's reflections on the Blizzard of '77, an excerpt from Erno Rossi's book, White Death
John Walter (aka Dick Mather), came to Niagara from western Canada. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, he started in radio at CKLN Fort St. John, B.C. in 1962. In 1963 he was at CKEK Cranbrook, B.C. before moving to CKYL Peace River. He joined CJRN in Niagara Falls in 1965. In 1969 Dick did a short news stint at WKBW in Buffalo but green card issues sent him back to Ontario. He left Niagara Falls to work in Hamilton. From there he went to Calgary and then to his home town of Edmonton to be news director of CFRN in 1970. Edmonton where won many awards for a series of documentaries on his "Eye To Eye" programme. Dick worked with CHQT in morning news and then QCTV until he opened his own radio station, CKST in St. Albert. Dick had a franchise for Texaco and owned Squeaky Clean Pressure Washing. Dick won an election in 1983 as public school trustee and was Chair of the Edmonton Public School Board for two terms. His wife Weslyn is a noted activist in education. In 1995 Dick won election as City Councilor. He died in office on Aug. 13,1997 at 56.
Mather Park in Edmonton is named in his honour.
Chuck McCoy was a bright young talent, fresh from Regina, Sask. His first CJRN assignment was to join Bud Riley for a remote at a local mall. He and Bud were required to climb onto a flat-bed truck to hand out free bottles of Mountain Dew to supermarket customers. In the late 60s he joined Bud at CHUM when his long time friend J. Robert Wood hired him. Today, after 23 years as an executive with Rogers Communications in Toronto Chuck is retired (as of the end of 2012. (see more on Chuck at CHUM)
Rusty Draper was not only a CJRN disc jockey but was also the station's on-staff musician/guitar player and the most popular guy at the staff Christmas parties. These days, Rusty has traded his guitar for a mandolin. Rusty started in radio in Hunstville at CKAR but in 1966, he joined CJRN. In 1968 he moved to CFOR to take over the morning show where he stayed for 20 years. He then moved up the highway to Bracebridge and CFBG-FM. He stayed there for a year. Today, Rusty, who still resides in Orillia and is a fill-in Baptist minister and retired pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church.
Joe Chrysdale (sometimes Crysdale) was a leading personality on the station. Self-described as "The voice of the Toronto Maple Leaf Ball Club", he hosted a music show at CJRN, "Niagara By Night". His show emanated from the Skylon Tower overlooking the Falls. In the early days when Jack Kent Cooke ran a publishing and radio operation, CKEY and Liberty Magazine, Joe voiced the Maple Leaf Baseball games but he did it from the CKEY studio, picking up progress of the game from a telegraph operator in the stadium with recorded crowd noise playing in the background. This was a system pioneered and perfected by CKEY owner Jack Kent Cook and Chrysdale and later adopted by American broadcasters. Joe also did Maple Leaf hockey away games, picking up details from Foster Hewitt's broadcasts until the night that Foster threw in a non-existent penalty and caught Joe repeating it on his broadcasts. (see more on simulated play-by-play games)
Joe began his broadcasting career in 1939 with CKOC in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1944 he joined CKEY (originally named CKCL) where he was director of sports until 1961. That year Chrysdale moved to CFTO to become the first broadcaster to announce televised baseball in Toronto. Joe eventually went into the furniture business opening a store in Oshawa and began a period as a freelancer. After his time in Niagara Falls, he continued freelance work as a sportscaster with several radio stations including CFRB and CJMR. In 1980, he donated his collection of sports broadcasts and interview programmes to the Canadian Archives in Ottawa which included Crysdale Sportslights and Crysdale and Company. Joe died at 65 in March 1982 in Toronto.
George Matheson, the owner of a Toronto graphic arts company, was hired by CJRN to create flip chart presentations for the station's national sales pitches. George was a former creative director for Hallmark Cards of Canada and later was the head of public relations for Westinghouse Canada in Hamilton, Ontario. He attributed his creative instincts to his upbringing as the son of Canadian missionaries in India where he was left alone to create his own diversions in a barren outpost. At Jim O'Brien's urging, he moved his business to Niagara Falls. In the 1970s he moved to Port Hope, Ontario, where he began a publishing business producing his first edition, "No Change Please" a collection of newspaper clippings from the 1800s in Ontario. Later he moved to Lumby, B .C., and then to a mountain cabin home in Vernon, B.C. he obtained ownership of Kettle Valley Publishing Inc. He continued his graphics projects business and wrote several books himself, including, "Cactus In Your Shorts" and a book about his life in Cabbage Town, Toronto, "Cabbages and Kings." His company produced an historical TV programme of the Kettle Valley Railway (see a short video sample on the right) George died at his computer in 2009.
Click to view samples of George's creative graphic art products.
Don Derry, another of Bud's Ryerson classmates, was the station production manager. He left CJRN after a couple of years to take up a post as an audio-visual manager at a leading Ontario university.
Cheryl French was a CJRN's sales secretary. This St. Catharines girl met Paul Smith when he joined CJRN as a writer. They eventually married and Paul set up his own design company in Toronto. They moved to Vancouver in the 1980s where Paul managed his company Storysmithing Inc. until his death on Dec. 29, 2017.
Lorraine Griffin (now Randall) was a listener to Bud Riley's mid-morning Coffee Club and won so many of his on-air music contests the station hired her as an assistant music librarian. She succeeded her boss, Herb Bubar in the late 60s. Her media career continued at CHSC and CKTB in St. Catharines and with the Niagara Falls Review newspaper. She married Gordon Randall and joined him in his successful real estate company.
Niagara Falls-born Maureen McCutcheon started as a receptionist but eventually was given responsibility for the daily commercial schedule (log) and was recruited to voice some local commercials. In 1969, two years after he left CJRN to work in Toronto, she and Bud Riley married. After signing with Toronto talent agent Jo Penny, she began a career as a model and started doing TV commercials and other media projects.
Click here for Maureen's print ads.
Video and Audio clips from www.rockradioscrapbook.com and private collections of Doug Thompson, CHUM Archives, Charlie Ritenberg,
Wayne Maclure came to CJRN from CKTB in St. Catharines. One of his assignments was to host a nightly show from the Skylon Tower overlooking the falls. On the weekend he hosted CJRN's "Saturday Night Dance Party." Wayne moved to CFCO Chatham, stayed for two years then returned to CKTB. In 1988 he moved over to CHRE-FM. Wayne was popular with Niagara Penninsula listeners because of his friendly, comforting voice. Commercial producers loved to work with him because of his smooth, expressive, professional reading style. He began doing freelance spots for all Pizza Pizza outlets on Toronto radio and TV. He was also the voice on radio for Marineland in the Falls and was the announcer for all live events at Marineland. Wayne retired in 2000 and lived in north St. Catharines with Pat, his wife of 56 years until his death on Christmas day, 2015, from effects of a massive heart attack. Click here for more on Wayne Maclure
CFOR Orillia 1957-1958 CKAR Huntsville 1959 C-HOW Welland 1959-67
CHOW #2 CKPR Thunder Bay 1962-63 CJRN Niagara Falls 1967-69
CHUM 1968-69 CKFH Toronto 1969-74 CJRT - FM Toronto 1974-85
CJRN - AM
CJRN Today: In the 1970s, the station abandoned AM and went to an FM frequency. CJRN then became a tourist information outlet.
NEXT: Go to CHUM RADIO
Jim O'Brien commissioned an artist to produce sketches of the on-air staff. He was not satisfied with the charcoal rendering of Bud so it was never framed and placed on the walls of the reception area with the others. Bud saved it for his own memorabilia collection.
Jim O'Brien ordered special sterling silver cuff links and tie pins for the on-air staff. For Bud, he made a special order of a tie pin in the figure of a coffee cup, saucer and spoon to represent Bud's mid-morning Coffee Club Show.
Judy LaMarsh (Julia Verlyn LaMarsh) - When Rev. Rolls left Niagara, Judy took over the 9 a.m. to 10. a.m. phone-in show. Morning man John Michael was her producer and when she left, John took over the talk show. Miss LaMarsh was a lawyer and politician, the Liberal MP for Niagara Falls from 1960 to 1968. She became the Minister of National Health and Welfare and Minister of Amateur Sport and was the only woman in cabinet of the Lester Pearson 1963-65. Between 1965 and 1968, she was Secretary of State and set up the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and in 1968, brought in the Broadcasting Act in which the CRTC replaced the Bureau of Broadcast Governors. Miss LaMarsh authored the autobiography, Memoirs of a Bird in a Gilded Cage. She was noted for her "Truth Squad" calling out opposition claims. Later, her challenge to P.M. Trudeau's party leadership signaled a change in her political fortunes. Judy's radio career continued with a Vancouver talk show at CKWX 1972-73 and she hosted This Country in the Morning on CBC Radio from Toronto from 1974 to 1976. Judy LaMarsh died at 55 in Toronto on October 27, 1980.
Reverend Robert Rolls, pastor of St. Martin's Anglican Parish (since closed), was CJRN's opinionated talk show host for many years. He was married to singer Barbara Alcorn. In the late 60s, Rolls lost a bid to become a Conservative member of Parliament and his marriage dissolved shortly after. While he was a pastor in Niagara, he gained notoriety for his annual "Blessing of the Boats" ceremony. News director Rick Smith was an occasional fill-in for Rolls when the minister was away. In 1967, Judy LaMarsh became a co-host with Rolls. Rolls then took a new church posting in the North West Territories. His wife, Barbara Acorn, a singer and musician returned to New Brunswick and continued performing for several decades before moving to Thunder Bay. She died on May 13, 2020. (Barbara Acorn Rolls obituary)
This Gazebo in Mather Park is the most popular spot in Edmonton for wedding photos.
In the 1960s, many radio stations outfitted on-air staff with jackets for remote broadcasts and personal appearances. CJRN provided a bright red jacket with a station logo over the breast pocket. This one (at left) was worn by Rusty Draper.
On the right: the official CJRN cigarette lighter >>>>>>>
Gary Hooper started his radio engineering career in 1959 at CFOR in Orillia, Ontario. Nine years later he arrived at CJRN Niagara Falls and did not leave until 14 years later. In 1980 he became head of engineering for Telemedia Ontario. In 1983, he formed his own company HP Services with a partner, Jim Profit and offers engineering services for clients in every Canadian province. Today he lives in Thornhill, north of Toronto.
Sales staff consisted of John Wood (who came from CKKW Kitchener and later went to CHUM), Walt Manjos, Dave Dixon and Art Blakely. Blakely was a former naval officer who had been CHVC's programme manager before Jim O'Brien bought the station and changed the call letters. Art died in June 2006. Walt Manjos is also deceased.
Other staff: Joey Hague who kept the books, Alma Miles did traffic logs and Nellie Carr was accounts receivable. The copy department consisted of Ruth Taylor, Verna Reid and Kerry Kane.
In 1966, John asked Bud Riley to conduct a photo shoot of him and his wife at his home in Chippewa. Click here to see some of the results.
Wayne Maclure Obituary in The Standard
Weslyn Mather died on November
22, 2015. See Obituary for Weslyn
George's son Kent Matheson has worked in Radio for several years (since 1999) and has held several positions as well as morning show host (2008 - present) on the Moose radio chain CKLP FM in Parry Sound, Ontario.
Angie Gudgin was the CJRN receptionist after Maureen McCutcheon. A few years later she joined The Niagara Falls Review newspaper in the advertising department. She later transferred to The St. Thomas Times Journal.
Angie Gudgin-Bertasson died in St. Thomas on November 6, 2020.
Comments and suggestions:
Don Gordon was known as "Trader Don" after establishing a feature titled "Trading Post" in which he invited listeners to buy and sell used items on the air. On the side, Don managed and taught radio at Career Academy in Niagara Falls. When he left CJRN, he hosted the afternoon show at CHSC in St. Catharines, Ontario. After several years there, Don moved down to L.A. and from there he went to Hawaii where he is presumed to be living in retirement.
Joe was the featured guest speaker at a Sports Dinner in Orillia.