A Little About Wilf Ray

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A Little About Wilf Ray

Postby cart_machine » Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:20 pm

It's a little saddening to not see any reference on this site to the passing of Wilf Ray. I don't know how much traffic RadioWest gets, but forums like this seem to be giving way to Facebook groups and newer venues of communication.
I had the pleasure of working with Wilf when CJOR changed format in 1988. He struck me as a kind, sincere man. At one time on the air, he competed against Jack Cullen, Vic Waters and Bill Ward, so he had to be on top of his promotional game to get listeners.
Here are a couple of pieces from the Vancouver News-Herald. It seems the little paper briefly had a radio column. It looks like Wilf or CKMO sent out a release (I wouldn't be surprised if Wilf didn't do it) as Dick Diespecker in the Province had a profile of Wilf a few weeks after this was printed. The column is from Nov. 4, 1949. The writer spent some time with an ad agency, ran for Richmond Council and eventually moved to Sacramento. The first paragraph is far more promising than the rest of the story.

. . . Your Radio Digest

After the appearance of Monday column telling of my Saturday night expedition with Jack Hughes, the telephone at home has been ringing constantly with people who had ideas on how to spend a fast hallowe'en or what to do when you're feeling blue. A call that really caught my attention was from CKMO. The invitation received was to spend a day with “Wilf Ray—in his model A.” Needless to say, the invitation was accepted.
Bright and early Tuesday (I wasn't very bright, but it sure was early) I was picked up and driven down to the station, where Wilf showed me how he prepares and produces his program.
Prior to the preparation of his program Wilf spends his time just counting his fan mail. He has a very fascinating way of opening the letter. His explanation for this is, “with a nose like this, I should use a letter opener?”
Wilf Ray was born in Vancouver 25 years ago. Since then lots of good things have happened. Shortly afterwards the Ray family moved to West Vancouver.
Wilf first became interested in radio while he was attending West Vancouver High School. They had quite a large radio club at that time. It consisted of four people. Three of them finally ended up in radio, the fourth member went through for an education.
He has spent the last five years in radio. To be more exact—in and out of radio. He did a little time at CKWX but the majority of it has been spent at CKMO in an operator's capacity although he shares a great interest in production and writing.
The DX Prowl, his present program, featured him I believe, in 1945.
It wasn't until Jack Cullen went callin’ on CKNW that CKMO decided to bring back the DX with Wilf Ray as the DJ.
The nicest way to end your day is with a chuckle . . . something that is almost guaranteed when you dial 1410 at 10.30 pm, and listen to that musical package which is wrapped around a very unpredictable disc jockey . . . namely Wilf Ray.
CJOR at 8:30 a m. . . . Billy Browne . . . KIRO at 2:45 p. m. . . . Arthur Godfrey . . . CBR at 8:00 p.m. . . . Toronto Symphony Pop Concert . . . KOMO at 8:30 p.m. . . . Henry Morgan Show . . . CKWX at 9:00 p.m. . . . Home Gas Hockey Broadcast . . . KJR at 9:00 p.m. . . . Ozzie and Harriet . . . CKNW at 10:05 . . . Prescription for Pleasure.

It's ironic a man who hosted a Christian radio show for so many years was treated by some of the mainstream clergy as being sacrilegious when he and Marion decided to marry in 1954. Wilf was known for publicity stunts, but this was no stunt considering the number of decades the two were wed. This appeared in the August 27, 1954 edition. All three Vancouver papers covered it, therefore giving the publicity the bluenoses didn't want.

‘Commercial Tinge’ Denied By Pair Getting Ready For Wedding At PNE
“We feel that we are very privileged to be the first PNE bride and groom and whether the actual wedding ceremony were to take place at the PNE or in a church, our marriage would be just as sacred.”
That is the answer of blue-eyed, blonde Marion MacDonald and her black-haired fiancé, Wilf Ray, to church criticism of their planned wedding Sept. 2 at the Pacific National Exhibition.
Marion and Ray, in business together in real estate since last May, having been “going with each other” 4½ years. They met in a radio station when Wilf was an announcer and Marion a continuity writer, and there they also met Rev. W. Arnold Bennett, minister of the South Granville Community Bible Church, who will marry them.
“It’s like a storybook romance,” said Wilf. “The minister has become our personal friend over the years since we met him at the station where I also met my future bride.”
“We’re not going into this blindly,” Marion said very recently. “People seem to have gotten the impression we’re just any Tom, Dick and Harry picked off the street.”
In answer to claims by clergymen that the service would be “cheap,” “disgusting” and “degrading,” Wilf had this to say:
“We feel on this occasion that not only are we like the bride and groom who get married and desire that the married life be long and happy, and whose inner circle of friends wish them the fulfilment of this desire, but Marion and I feel very humble that our inner circle has grown large enough to include those who will witness and know of our coming marriage.”
Marion and Wilf at first planned a big wedding in November, then decided on a quiet wedding on Sept. 3, with the saving going into a home, furniture and especially the real estate business. Marion, now office manager, will be selling real estate after she comes back from their honeymoon in Mexico.
They were delighted when they were selected as the PNE bride and groom. A jewelry store spokesman emphasized that an impartial judge, not connected with the store, picked them from a large number of couples nominated.
“We think church circles and other critics have been blinded by what they regard as a commercial tinge behind the wedding,” said Wilf, “without taking into consideration that at no time was there a definite policy on the actual ceremony to be performed.”
“My future bride and I were informed at the beginning that no definite plan would be carried out without the consent, not only of the officials concerned, but the key figures everyone seems to have forgotten—the bride and myself.
Marion, her eyes sometimes looking close to tears, summed it up in a sentence:
“Wilf and I are both very religious. And it’s what is in our hearts that counts with us.”

Some time in the late '40s Wilf was either offered a job or applied for one at a station in Seattle. He didn't get his visa in time and I gather someone else was hired.

Wilf was at 'WX from 1948 to spring of 1949. He died on the 11th of July at age 94.

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Re: A Little About Wilf Ray

Postby the-real-deal » Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:12 am

cart_machine wrote:It's a little saddening to not see any reference on this site to the passing of Wilf Ray. I don't know how much traffic RadioWest gets, but forums like this seem to be giving way to Facebook groups and newer venues of communication.


Sorry to hear about the passing of Wilf Ray and also, the apparent apathy on this forum?

I found your report on Mr. Ray to be interesting. Thanks for posting. I think the post has great historical value.

I, too, am concerned about the apathy (on this site) regarding broadcast journalism, the history of radio, and anything pertaining to radio news.

This forum has been in serious decline for quite a while and it's cause for concern.
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Re: A Little About Wilf Ray

Postby jon » Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:08 am

Broadcast Dialogue did a nice piece this morning on Wilf Ray:


Wilf Ray, 94, on July 11. Ray started his radio career as a disc jockey at CKMO 1410 Vancouver in 1944 where he hosted in various dayparts, including popular evening show, The DX Prowl, where he interviewed big band leaders and performers of the day, including Mel Torme and Stan Kenton. A natural born promoter, Ray’s wedding to station music librarian Marion McDonald, was planned as a promotional event to take place at the Pacific National Exhibition, but stirring up controversy with local clergy, the couple were married on the lawn of their home and escorted to the event by a 60-car police escort out to the P.N.E. The bride wore $1M dollars worth of loaned crown jewels, and Ray gave his wedding speech in front of a crowd of 10,000. Ray went on to found his own real estate company, returning to radio around 1965 with a Sunday night gospel program that ran on CJOR, and later CJJR-FM and CKBD. From the late 1960s through 1980, Ray served as Director of Corporate Communications for the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group before suffering a stress-induced heart attack. He served one term as an alderman in Maple Ridge, starting in 1981, before re-entering real estate, joined by his daughters Robin and Leeann.

ref. - broadcastdialogue.com
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Re: A Little About Wilf Ray

Postby the-real-deal » Sat Jul 24, 2021 10:27 am


"Sixty cop cars at their wedding and the bride wore one million dollars worth of crown jewels."

This sounds like complete bullsh*t to me ! What so-called celebrity, even a part time radio host, gets such a police escort.

What radio announcer turned real estate agent, living in Vancouver (or his bride) can ever get access to crown jewels?

I've never heard of that.

It all sounds like a newspaper writer's active imagination.
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Re: A Little About Wilf Ray

Postby Firedog » Sun Jul 25, 2021 9:20 am

Excerpts from the Vancouver newspapers of the day.

July 31, 1954 - Wedding of Wilfred Nicholas Ray and Marion Jane MacDonald to be held November 1, 1954, the bride's parents anniversary.

August 27, 1954 - They will now be married September 2, 1954. Hyman Miller, owner of Miller's Jewelers, arranged for Wilf and Marion to be married in the Miller's Jewelers P.N.E. booth, then appear before exhibition crowds wearing $1,000,000 worth of jewelry. Mr. Ray denied that the P.N.E. wedding was just a hastily arranged publicity stunt. Wilf and Marion were delighted when they were selected as the P.N.E. bride and groom. A jewelry store spokesman emphasized that an impartial judge, not connected with the store, had picked them from a large number of couples nominated.

August 28, 1954 - Wedding event called off - The marriage ceremony will now take place in a church and the couple will be presented later on the stage of the P.N.E. outdoor theatre. Earlier plans were to have Miss MacDonald adorned with $1,000,000 worth of diamonds, as an advertisement for a Vancouver jewelry firm. She now will probably wear them when she appears on stage after the wedding ceremony.

August 31, 1954 - P.N.E. bride to wed in own home - Marion Jane MacDonald will marry Wilf Ray in the "sanctity of her own home" with Rev. Arnold Bennett officiating. After the ceremony the bride, wearing $1,000,000 in diamonds, and her groom will have a police escort to the exhibition grounds, travelling in the car used by the Duke of Edinburgh during his recent visit here.

September 1, 1954 - Rehearsal held in furnace room of the P.N.E. B.C. building - As the "jewel rehearsal" was being held, the bride was undergoing a fitting for the wedding dress while standing on a furnace room bench. The wedding will be held Thursday, September 2, 1954 at 6:30 PM at the bride's home. When the wedding is over the couple will appear at the P.N.E. outdoor theatre at 8:30 PM with the jewels. Four city policemen will guard the wedding scene and 10 officers will be on hand at the P.N.E. outdoor theatre, with the jewels. A reception will be held, open to the public, at the Cave Supper Club. The jewels the bride will wear are from the Jagersfronstein collection, owned by Baumgold Incorporated, of New York, the largest diamond cutters in the world. The jewelry consists of a neckline, two bracelets and three brooches, all set in platinum.

September 3, 1954 - Controversial P.N.E. wedding performed on couple's lawn - The wedding was held without the $1,000,000 in jewels originally planned for the ceremony. That came later when they reached exhibition park where more than 7,000 people crowded in front of the open air stage to see the glittering display.
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