Vancouver's First Announcer

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Vancouver's First Announcer

Postby cart_machine » Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:26 pm

Who was Vancouver’s first radio announcer?

It was a question I wasn’t expect to find answered, but stumbled on a name while researching something else. It turns out to be someone with a far bigger history outside radio.

When you cut through the propaganda of the newspapers in the city in 1922, it would appear the Province’s CKCD (originally CFCB) was the first to broadcast regular programming. Yet while the paper’s stories talk about news bulletins and announcements for weeks after, there is no revelation of who is giving them.

We finally get a clue in the October 13, 1923 edition. CKCD had returned to the air after being off for two weeks to have a 2,500-watt Marconi transmitter installed. The paper has some fine pictures of the radio station, one with some men standing around and the caption partly reading “Mr. John Graham, announcer; Mr. Stuart Armour, station manager and announcer.”

By then the paper was generally revealing who was announcing its news bulletins and weather forecast. On November 7, 9 and 10, it was Mr. Graham; Nov. 8th was handled by Douglas Fowler. Both were reporters at the Province. The issue of November 10th, however, also reveals who the station’s first announcer was as he was leaving the employ of the newspaper.

LISTENERS-in of The Province radio broadcast will in future miss the resonant voice of Stuart Armour, seen above, who has been station manager since the inception of The Province service. Mr. Armour has been appointed publicity director for the Canadian Marconi Company with headquarters at Montreal. He was associated with The Province before the war and rejoined the staff soon after his return from overseas. When The Province decided to give its readers the benefit of an up-to-date radio station Mr. Armour was selected for the duties of organizing the work. Mr. Armour has been brigade major of the 23rd Infantry Brigade for the past three years and a member of the Vancouver Little Theatre Association since its inception. He leaves for Montreal on Sunday.

The identity is confirmed in a Province story of August 11, 1934, gushing about CKCD’s latest new transmitter.

OPENING of the new studio of CKCD recalls the humble beginning of the station on March 13, 1922. It was situated in the Merchants’ Exchange Building at first but in June of the same year was removed to the old Province Building at 138 West Hastings. Major Stuart Armour was the first official announcer. Call letters of the station were CFCB and opening words of the broadcast were “Hello, hello all ships and stations.”

Armour’s obituary in the Toronto Star stated he was born in Toronto (March 22, 1893) and moved to Vancouver in 1911. It was here he joined the military, being awarded the DSO and the Croix de Guerre of Belgium for his overseas service.

In 1940, while working as an assistant treasurer for a trust company in Philadelphia, the federal government called him to Ottawa where he set up Canada’s gas rationing programme during the war. Afterward, he was an economist for Stelco in Hamilton and, when he left that job in 1963, became president of the Great Lakes Waterways Development Association until 1978. He died on June 13, 1980.

None of his obituaries mention his return to Vancouver and the Province in 1920, let alone his role as the city’s first radio announcer, or the fact he wrote a couple of one-act plays.

I’m sorry I don’t have access to the pictures accompanying the Province stories to include in this post.

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Re: Vancouver's First Announcer

Postby cart_machine » Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:22 am

When we last left CKCD in November 1923, their first announcer had quit to move across the country. But the Province-owned station found a replacement with reasonable haste, someone who became better known for provincial politics.

Stuart Armour’s departure left John Graham as the station’s sole regular announcer. He read news and weather bulletins (and presumably performed the other on-air duties) on Nov. 9th and 10th. No announcer is listed for Nov. 12th and 13th (the newspaper for the 14th is unavailable). But then a new name appears and seems to have assumed the duties of CKCD’s sole regular announcer. His name was William Wilfred Rose, born January 31, 1898 in Vancouver.

When Rose arrived at the paper, I do not know. But he was on the air on November 15, 1923.

CKCD, at the time, was broadcasting only an hour. Some nights there would be live music in studio, other nights the station would just play records. Here’s what the paper had to say on the 15th. Publishing lists of songs and records was not all that unusual in this era. I believe the names are typo-free. It took a few years before “radions” were called “listeners.”

Lena Peace Scores Hit In Concert Over Radio
A programme of merit was broadcasted from station CKCD on Wednesday night, when Miss Lena Peace, popular Vancouver pianist, delighted the radions with seven selections.
Her rendition of the "Trots Eccossaises" (Chopin) and the "Polonaise in E Major" (Liszt) was exceptionally pleasing, several listeners-in communicating their approval to the radio department.

Radio Programme Tonight
The Province radio station CKCD will broadcast a programme tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 on a 410 metres wave length, featuring Vocalion records. The programme is as follows:
Dance of the Hours, Ponchielli, Aeolian Symphony Orchestra, 55016.
News bulletins and weather forecast, broadcasted by W. Rose.
The Palms, Faure, baritone solo, John Charles Thomas, 62046.
Silent Night, Holy Night, Gruber, contralto solo. Marguerite D'Alvarez, 61020.
Che Gelida Manina, Puccini, tenor solo, Giullo Crimi, 62046.
El Capitan, Sousa, Lieut. Sutherland and his Seventh Regt. Band, 14666.
Since When, foxtrot, The Broadway Syncopators, 14668.
Hoot Mon, foxtrot, Selvin’s Orchestra, 14664.
Other Lips, foxtrot, Selvin's Orchestra, 14660.
Slow Poke, foxtrot, Albert Short and His Tivoli Syncopators, 14658.
Three Thousand Years Ago, comedy song, Billy Murray, 14666.
Hl-Lee, Hi-Lo, comedy song, Irving Kaufman, 14665.
Every Night I Cry Myself to Sleep, tenor solo, Irving Kaufman, 14655.
Bugle Call Rag, blues foxtrot, Albert Short and His Tivoli Syncopators, 14661.
Just a Girl That Men Forget, waltz, Selvin's Orchestra, 14664.
Vocalion records used exclusively in this programme.

Rose’s career as programme director carried on for a few years, though some of the Province editions of August 1925 note Graham’s temporary return. Rose’s name appears for the last time in the June 1, 1926 edition. There’s no announcer specified on the news and weather bulletins on June 3rd, but on June 7th, they are given by someone new, Aubrey F. Roberts as the station “director.” By October, Roberts had been replaced by Uncle Billy Hassell, who had a lengthy career on CKCD/CHLS, as mentioned in other stories on this web site.

What happened with Rose? He switched papers eventually. It appears he was editor of the Hastings News in 1932. The 1935 and 1940 City Directories list his occupation as “writer.” Then he found work at another Vancouver daily. Here is his obituary in the Sun, April 18, 1963:

William Rose, Newspaper Man Dies
Veteran newspaper man William W. Rose, former farm editor for The Sun, died Wednesday (April 17) in Vancouver General Hospital.
Mr. Rose, of 2285 West Fortieth, joined The Sun in 1943. He retired last year because of ill health.
During his newspaper career, he covered all reporting fields but he was best known for his writing on British Columbia's agriculture. Mr. Rose became farm editor shortly after he joined the newspaper.
He was one of the founders of the B.C. Social Credit League and one of the original members of the B.C. Social Credit Study Group, but quit the movement in protest against the expropriation of the B.C. Electric.
In 1958 he was an unsuccessful Social Credit candidate for the legislature in Vancouver-Burrard riding.
He was an ardent sportsman, who played golf regularly and once coached the University of B.C. football team.
Mr. Rose was born in Vancouver and attended schools in Vancouver, Richmond and Spokane, Wash. He was a graduate of UBC.

His obituary in the Province mentions he had been a radio broadcaster.

And since we mentioned announcer John Graham, his Province obit of May 11, 1955 skips any reference to radio or CKCD, likely long-forgotten by many at that point. He was Assistant Managing Editor of the paper.

Veteran newspaperman John Graham dies
John Graham, veteran Vancouver newspaperman, died this morning in St. Paul's Hospital. He was 52 (born in Sunderland, England, Oct. 22, 1902). He entered hospital last Thursday for lung surgery.
Mr. Graham served on The Vancouver Province for 32 years. He was police reporter, general reporter, City Hall reporter, city editor, executive editor, columnist and, finally, editorial writer. His gently humorous tales of the trials and tribulations of Police Court habitues appeared for several years under the heading "Street Corners."
During part of World War Two he served as Pacific coast censor.
He was a newspaperman of the old school, bred in the business and living and breathing news. His first question as he came out of the anaesthetic Friday was, "Did Semenick talk on the stand today?"
He was particularly interested in bringing along promising young men in the newspaper business, and many fine newspapermen owe much of their success to his steady and sometimes caustic coaching.

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