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"CKO" 2006 Obituary


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CKOC o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-05-06 published
MacDONALD, Robert K. " Bob"
'The world has lost a tremendous human being, a loving friend and humanitarian' (S. Jukes, 2 May 2006.) Robert K. (Bob) MacDONALD died May 1 at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington at the age of 78. A veteran Canadian broadcaster, 'Mr. Mac' was a retired Vice-President of Armadale Communications. An elementary school teacher by training, he began his broadcasting career in 1950 as an announcer at CFAR in Flin Flon, and later went on to work at CJGX Yorkton and CKCK Regina. At CKRC Winnipeg, he became General Manager, a position he subsequently held at CKOC Hamilton before being named as Vice-President at Armadale in 1988. During the course of his career, he discovered and trained many young men and women who achieved success in prominent positions across Canada. Bob was a member of the Canadian Association of Broadcaster's Half Century Club and a former president of the Central Canada Broadcaster's Association. He supported and held positions with several charitable organizations including the Arts Council and the United Way of Hamilton. He was a devoted husband to Margaret, cherished father to Sandra and Sara, and beloved 'Grampa' to Christopher. Bob was the 'little' brother of Max MacDONALD of Edmonton and of Glenn MacDONALD and Doreen MORISON, now deceased. He was a unique and special uncle to an extended network of nieces and nephews. Years ago, Bob had the opportunity to speak at length with Pierre Trudeau following a small gathering of broadcasters. Upon leaving Trudeau remarked, 'you are a very interesting man.' For family and Friends, this comment is so indicative of Bob's character and the fact that he never stopped learning, exploring, and helping others. His special humour, gentle nature and unique style will always be remembered with love by family and Friends. We wish to extend our deepest thanks to Gus and Anja SONDERMEYER, to a very caring and compassionate physician, Doctor Kathy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON, and to 'Auntie Helen' (MacDONALD.) Bob so appreciated the visits of his many Friends who traveled from near and far to spend time with him during his recent hospitalization. We also want express our sincere thanks to the nursing staff of 5 South and special caregivers, Gabrielle, Uta, Lydia, and Marie. Family, Friends, and former colleagues are invited to a very informal open house in celebration of Bob's life at the family home in Burlington on Saturday, May 27th from 2-5 p.m. If desired, donations in Bob's name may be made to the 'Rebuilding Health in Rwanda Project' at the University of Western Ontario in London (c/o Foundation Western, Alumni Hall, London, Ontario N6A 5B9).

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CKOY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-04-28 published
Pat MARSDEN, Broadcaster: (1936-2006)
Canadian Football League play-by-play specialist and radio host lived life large. He stiffed a Nevada casino over a gambling debt, took a swing at his boss and was bailed out of jail by Brian MULRONEY
By James CHRISTIE with files from William HOUSTON, Page S9
It was part of Pat MARSDEN's profession, as a caller of football play-by-plays and a radio host, to be a storyteller. But the Ottawa-born broadcast star didn't just tell entertaining tales he often starred in them.
Citing his Irish heritage, Mr. MARSDEN was alternately provocative, funny, obstinate, sentimental, pugnacious and -- until he stopped imbibing in recent years -- always willing to buy an adversary a drink while he hammered away with his opinions. "He had to get out of here because he couldn't get a rum and coke," his wife, T.A. MARSDEN, told radio station The Fan 590 yesterday morning from Sunnybrook Hospital, minutes after his death.
An eight-year stint as co-host of The Fan morning show was the last stop in a career of more than four decades behind the microphone or in front of the camera. Mr. MARSDEN even parodied sports broadcasters as a television actor, sporting a slicked-down comb-over, a loud plaid jacket and talking in exaggerated tones as he interviewed calamity-prone stuntman Super Dave Osborne (a.k.a. Bob Einstein) in a 1992 series.
He is best known for his play-by-play coverage of the Canadian Football League telecasts and Grey Cup championships in the 1970s and 1980s. He also worked as host of the 1972 Canada-Soviet Union hockey summit series telecasts. His longest stint was 19 years with CTV's Toronto flagship station CFTO, where he had a reputation for marching to his own beat. In a 1986 Globe and Mail interview, Mr. MARSDEN said bluntly, "Nobody tells me what to do and nobody tells me what to say, on or off the air. I developed a thick skin a long time ago and I don't care how people would like me to act. I won't be dull and I'll always have self respect." He declared that he would always be himself.
"He did it his own way," said long-time colleague Fergie Olver, who knew Mr. MARSDEN could make connections at the high and low ends of the social scale. "He was the only guy who was thrown in jail in Regina on a Friday night, and then he went to Montreal where he was thrown in jail again, and [former prime minister] Brian MULRONEY bailed him out."
Indeed, when Mr. MARSDEN signed off for the last time in May of 2004, Mr. MULRONEY phoned the station from Europe to congratulate him on his career.
Pat MARSDEN was an Ottawa native who started a career in radio as director of CKOY. He went on to become the long-time sports director of CFTO, returning to radio at CFRB after a stormy exchange with CFTO news and public-affairs vice-president Ted STEUBING over a technical problem. Mr. MARSDEN reportedly lunged across Mr. STEUBING's desk to scuffle with the boss.
He also worked with Bill Watters on TSN's The Sports Page. "Whenever I was with him, it would be 30 seconds and I'd either be laughing at me or laughing at him, or with him," said Mr. Watters, who had seen the lighter side of the broadcaster.
After Mr. MARSDEN retired and moved to Florida, Fan 590 executives sought him out in 1994 to fight a desperate ratings battle for Toronto listeners. He'd been out of the market some eight years, but The Fan program director Nelson MILLMAN said the station had pursued him to gain credibility for a new format.
"We'd come through two seasons of labour stoppages in sports&hellip we were floundering. We had Bob McCOWN in the afternoons and we needed to fix the morning show. Pat gave us some stability in 1994 and 1995. He was the right guy in the right place at the right time. He was a character like no other and he represented sport in this town."
At The Fan, Mr. MARSDEN at first paired with the hip and younger John DERRINGER. Both men were from the right side of the political spectrum, both had ties to the United States and an antipathy for prime minister Jean Chrétien.
Yet their chemistry was not great. Mr. MARSDEN had come from an era of radio crooners and crop reports, while Mr. DERRINGER from a culture of rock radio. There was more dissonance than charm in their old-young mix and Mr. DERRINGER ultimately departed. He was replaced by Don LANDRY, another young foil for Mr. MARSDEN.
"Pat and Don were much more opposites politically and in outlook toward life," said Mr. MILLMAN. " That made for better chemistry than someone who often agreed with Pat's political outlook. When sparks fly, that's entertainment."
Mr. LANDRY's comedic aptitude lightened the mood and ratings began to climb for an odd couple that could laugh at each other and at themselves. "Half the people loved it, half asked me 'why do you pick on Pat so much, '? Mr. LANDRY said. "Good chemistry or bad chemistry is a question of taste, but he was loved. By now, he's probably found Pierre Trudeau and is bawling him out for what he did as prime minister."
That scenario would be a stretch of the imagination. Mr. MARSDEN and Mr. Trudeau wouldn't fit in each other's version of heaven. Hell, possibly.
"Nobody's perfect, but nobody wore his imperfection as well as Pat MARSDEN," Mr. DERRINGER said. "The smile, the laugh, the ability to keep things on an even keel was always an inspiration."
Mr. MARSDEN commuted from his Florida home for the first few years of his Fan 590 job, rooming in Toronto weekdays and flying home weekends to the United States, always returning with gripes about Canadian gasoline prices, the non-functioning escalators at Pearson Airport and former Mr. Chretien's lack of support for U. S foreign policy. Later, Mr. MARSDEN and his family eventually moved back to Toronto.
The station opted not to renew his contract in May 2004. Rogers Communications, which owns the station, had the option of picking up three more years on a five-year pact that has been paying him $300,000 annually, but declined. They paid him off with six months remaining in his 2004 contract and Pat MARSDEN didn't complain.
"Getting up at 4 o'clock is so tiring, you can't function properly. I'm not at all disappointed.
"If they don't want you, they don't want you. I'm finished with the business. It's like you don't matter any more. That's fine. No use worrying about it. You take what comes along in life.'"
Mr. MARSDEN lived life large, enjoyed a party, loved his rum and his outings to casinos. In 1981, he managed to borrow $30,000 (U.S.) from the owners of the casino at The Dunes Las Vegas hotel in Nevada and signed a series of markers when his money ran out. He then left three cheques, two of them postdated. Back in Toronto, he stopped payment on the latter pair. The casino owners took him to an Ontario District Court -- and lost. Judge James TROTTER said that Nevada's gambling laws and demand for payment were "unenforceable in Ontario," and that Mr. MARSDEN's cheques were an "illegal consideration" under Ontario's Gaming Act.
Gambler though he was, Mr. MARSDEN knew he had no chance of beating cancer. He was diagnosed after visiting his doctor about a pain in his lower back. Lung cancer was found and it had spread into his bones. He had been a smoker since a young child "but I have no regrets. I'm 69 and I've had a good life with lots of laughs and lots of Friends. Lots of great memories."
"I started smoking when I was four years old," he once said in an interview with The Globe and Mail's William HOUSON. " Somebody said to me, 'Christ, where the hell did you grow up, in Mississippi?' No, but I had an old uncle who thought it was hilarious, as he and his pals sat around the kitchen table having a beer, if I would come in and have a smoke with them. That's when I started. I never quit."
While in hospital, he received phone calls from generations of broadcast colleagues and sports reporters. He was visited by Leo Cahill (former Toronto Argonauts coach), and Scotty Bowman (retired National Hockey League coach) and by Brian KILREA, the long-time coach of the major-junior 67's hockey team in Ottawa, where Mr. MARSDEN grew up.
"The only thing I can say is, don't feel sorry for me," he said. "I've had a terrific life and a terrific wife and great children, and I'm delighted with the way my life has gone.
"I would have liked for it to have been a little longer, but, you know, you reap what you sow."
Pat MARSDEN was born in Ottawa, November 8, 1936, and died of lung cancer in Toronto yesterday. He leaves his wife, T.A., daughter Taylor, son Connor, and three grown children from his first marriage: Mike, Patti-Lee, and Ruth Mary.

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