Gary Duguay

Gary Duguay - Visionary (Cambrian Broadcasting - CKSO/CIGM)Birthplace
Montreal, Quebec

February 1, 1947

First Media Job
CKGM, Montreal
1963, Office Boy

When a friend told a young Gary Duguay that there was an office boy job available at a local radio station in Montreal, Gary knew nothing about the radio business but like most young people was happy to find employment and earn some pocket money. Yet it was a job that set Gary on a life-long career path in which he would wear many hats and make what would seem countless moves from city to city and province to province. The Montreal office job meant running a variety of errands including the task of running off up to twenty-five thousand copies of the station’s hit parade and delivering them throughout the city. This job introduced Gary to the workings of a major market radio station and eventually lead him to CHUM Radio in Toronto where he worked as an operator. Gary recalls fondly his time at CHUM having been there during the days of influential, popular radio greats like Jay Nelson, Bob McAdorey and Larry Solway. In addition to operating Gary developed radio production skills.

Arc Sound Ltd - Gary Duguay - Visionary (Cambrian Broadcasting - CKSO/CIGM)From CHUM Radio, Gary took on a sales position at Toronto based ARC Records, an independent label launched in April 1958 and a subsidiary of Arc Sound Company Ltd. Initially, the company was a distributor for several American labels, but started pressing its own in 1959. It signed and distributed the likes of Anne Murray, Bill Amesbury, Catherine McKinnon and Ronnie Hawkins. The company moved Gary Duguay to New Brunswick for a time and it was there he met his wife Linda. Gary and Linda celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March of 2019!

It was back to Montreal in 1969 and then to Toronto later that year taking on the position of Music Director at CHFI Radio.

The radio business is emblematic if not the epitome of people on the move from job to job and town to town, contributing to a developing and extensive network of colleagues, friends and acquaintances. There’s something to the lyrics of television’s WKRP’s theme song that analogizes the transient nature of those in the business, never staying put, moving “up and down the dial”. Gary’s world was filling up with great people and contacts. Such was the case that set the stage for his next move. While at CHFI Vance Randolph, whom Gary got to know in Montreal and was now running CHSC Radio in St. Catharines, Ontario, called Gary offering him a production position. It was off to St. Catharines next.

Gary and Linda headed back to Montreal in 1971 where he returned to radio production at CKGM. This was another short-term stay as former Montreal’s CJAD Morning Show Host Bill Roberts who had since moved to Ottawa settling in at CKOY and its sister station CKBY FM as manager and morning show host encouraged Gary to join him in that city. Once again the Duguay’s were on the go, but this time the Ottawa stay was a bit longer, four years. Gary held the responsibilities of Program Director and Music Director.

A Montreal man, Eric Young, was working on a project for CKSO Radio when he learned that the station was in need of a Program Director. Young called CKSO and CKSO called Gary. Initially Gary knew nothing about Sudbury and just barely where it existed, but he made his way up to Sudbury for an interview. He was awarded the position of CKSO AM Program Director and started in 1976, just at a time when CHNO AM was beating CKSO AM badly in the ratings. Gary recalls his first conversation with Cambrian Broadcasting’s General Manager, George Lund, who said, “Welcome! Now fix this!” The Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, or BBM Canada, known today as Numeris, had just released its latest findings on the Sudbury market and CKSO management was resolute to bring back its numbers. Part of Gary’s strategy would be to have the station more engaged in the community by sponsoring and organizing events like “Summer Day” at Bell Park, a pancake breakfast, bathtub races on Lake Ramsay and a bikini contest. This front-line and centre presence in the community would help build station recognition and loyalty. Promotionally active, CKSO AM took on various projects no one else had been doing. Experimenting with some on-air programming included bringing Michael Hopkins over from CHNO to host a talk show. CKSO aired country music and disco in specified blocks of airtime. CKSO had a reputation as the home of talented on-air personalities providing for a professional and entertaining presentation. For the most part CKSO AM remained an ‘adult contemporary’ and ‘top 40’ radio station.

Gary stayed on at CKSO AM as Program Director until 1985. During his time at CKSO Gary would see corporate changes starting with the company’s move to divest itself of the television operation. CKSO TV and its competitor, CKNC, were battling for advertising revenue and the Sudbury market was proving it could no longer support two separate and independently owned television stations. In 1979 CKSO TV, CKNC TV and each company’s television holdings in the north merged and joined Mid-Canada Television. This left CKSO AM and CIGM FM which were then sold in a separate transaction, but it was a sale that transpired only on paper rendering a corporate name change to United Broadcasting. The same owners and management from Cambrian Broadcasting continued to be in control. Then in 1986 Telemedia Communications Inc. purchased United Broadcasting and all of its assets.

A variety of corporate changes in the northern Ontario broadcast scene led to management and talent on the move. Gary was asked to go to North Bay, Ontario to serve as General Manager of the new CHUR AM. Some three years later, CHUR management retained control of CKCY and Q104 FM in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Gary was assigned to manage these Sault interests and the Duguay’s found themselves booking, yet, another moving van!

After two years in the Sault another move was on the horizon and it was back to Sudbury to manage Q92 FM and CIGM AM. Then management moved Gary back to North Bay as manager of the newly acquired CFCH AM for about three years. In or around 1995 management moved Gary back to Sudbury and again to manage Q92 FM.

A couple of years later Gary received a phone call from Ron Smith who previously worked under Gary at CKSO and who was now Vice President of Pelmorex Communications. Pelmorex, the Weather Network people, had recently purchased Mid-Canada Radio and was looking to development their own Northern Ontario radio network. The company wanted Gary to manage that network from Sudbury. He took the position for a couple of years.

While every new job proved successful and progressive, this last assignment at Pelmorex didn’t work out so well and Gary came to the conclusion that it was time to try something entirely different. It just so happened that in 1998 a friend had purchased a golf course in Chelmsford, 20 kms northwest of Sudbury, and was looking for someone to manage the business. Gary thought this was the perfect exit opportunity from his life-long career. He relished the idea of managing something he had fallen in love with and anticipated availing himself to all the golf he wanted. He could have his cake and eat it too. This would be the dreamlife he’d live out on the way to his rocking chair retirement days. His anticipation and excitement were met with disillusion as he realized the job was not what he thought it would be.

He knew he would have to leave golf management behind. Coincidently the people at Q92 FM called wanting him to come back as Promotions Manager. He seized that opportunity. Although Gary never lost his love of golf, the realm of management in that business was gone for good. The Q92 FM appointment in 2000 was Gary’s final position in the business staying on until his retirement in 2007.

When asked about retirement and why now, Gary’s answer is not unlike that of many broadcast veterans of his generation. Gary witnessed day by day how conglomerate, corporate ownership fixated on running each station as a financial investment in favour of its shareholders, rather than programming each station with the immediacy of time, temperature, breaking news, live and local personalities and a reflection of the local people, culture, employment and lifestyle of each market. Local ownership was being swept up by corporations which were too huge and too few in number. Competition for advertising revenue dwindled to a minimal effect pushing local, and mom and pop businesses out of the market no longer able to afford the rates. Whether financially practical or not, Gary finds it disheartening that the concept of live, ’24-hour radio’ is a thing of the past. The fact that today’s technology can automate a station so intricately that no human needs to be on the premise from a Friday afternoon until early Monday morning is reprehensible to Gary. The writing was not only on the wall, it was indelible and it was time to leave.

For Gary though, his career was rewarding and he had a passion for the business. His wife Linda loved to be on the move and so each step along the way was something new and exciting to experience. The Duguay’s calculate that they probably spent an accumulation of 25 years in Sudbury. Linda was no stranger to media and they enjoyed a mutual connection with radio through the years. She worked in sales and in publishing including being part of the original Sudbury TV Guide team. The Duguay’s raised two daughters. In their retirement today, Linda loves to go for walks with ‘the girls’, while Gary and the ‘men’ golf. You can quote Gary who says, “Thank God I have golf!”. Gary and Linda reside in a beautiful development for people 55 and over, in Parksville, British Columbia. The escape from Northern Ontario winters makes for a longer walking and golfing season! Life is great for the Duguay’s.

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