Year Born: 1914
Year Died: 2006
Boyling, Sid (1914-2006)
Sid Boyling had three careers in Canadian broadcasting. In each of them he was a pioneer.
Career Number One began in 1931 in his native city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when he signed-on as a volunteer with station 10-AB, a non-commercial community radio station licensed to the Moose Jaw Radio Association. 10-AB transmitted on the AM band at 1200 kHz, and was wholly-funded by donations from public-spirited citizens and appreciative listeners. Sid’s first assignment was to pick-up the microphone, amplifier and battery box following the Sunday morning church service broadcasts.
During the same year, the “studios” had been moved from the storage area of a furniture store to two converted bedrooms on the top floor of the Grant Hall Hotel where, in return for free rent, the hotel was mentioned with 10-AB station breaks. It was from these primitive and cramped quarters that Sid blossomed from an operator to announcer to Program Director to Station Manager.
Near-disaster occurred in 1933 when the station found itself in debt and even the one-dollar-per-year that some listeners contributed during the Depression failed to cover expenses. At midnight November 11, 1933, 10-AB signed-off “forever”. However, the station was rescued by two local businessmen who assumed the debts of the Association and who were able to obtain a commercial licence from the government. 10-AB was re-born December 17th as CHAB. Sid and two other volunteer announcers became “staff”.
While two of the three announcers left CHAB a few years later (one to join the CBC in Vancouver and the other, Louis Bourgeois, to begin an army career that climaxed as a Brigadier-General), Sid remained with CHAB and built it into a truly community station that was dedicated to serving the residents of Moose Jaw and southern Saskatchewan.
Sid’s programming was innovative and unsophisticated. CHAB reached-out as a friendly communications link serving city dwellers and small towns – and especially farmers often isolated by the severe storms of winter. Sid created an afternoon program called THE MAILBAG which became a “lifeline” for people deprived of entertainment, companionship, news, solace, inspiration and education.
Even before radio stations established newsrooms, Sid introduced a one-man news department which covered council meetings, reported the news and which regularly “scooped” the local newspaper. The “man” was Louis H. “Scoop” Lewry, who in later years became the Mayor of Moose Jaw and a Saskatchewan MLA.
Representative of many community endeavours, in the mid-30s Sid established the CHAB Christmas Party Fund for the children in the Moose Jaw Children’s Home – and the Party (later dedicated to the Orange Home at Indian Head) continued every year thereafter. (For the first party, CHAB asked listeners to send a penny to help pay for gifts for the children, and received over 5,000). For another event, hundreds of people came to Moose Jaw to attend a picnic of the Wilf Carter Fan Club. Carter, a “country singer”, was one of the first performers on the CRBC Network and went on to worldly fame.
Sid’s training of radio announcers for CHAB proved to be for many aspirants the stepping stone to greater opportunities in larger cities and to network jobs with the CBC. Among these was Elwood Glover, who, in the late 30s, was called by CBC Radio to Toronto, and later went on to television to host LUNCHEON DATE WITH ELWOOD GLOVER – and Earl Cameron, who for many years, was the voice of CBC’s NATIONAL NEWS – and Ralph Horley who joined the CBC as an announcer and was later appointed General Manager of CBW Winnipeg. Three CHAB staffers bought their own radio station in BC, and Allan Slaight went on to become the owner of Standard Broadcasting Corporation, including its flagship station CFRB Toronto and a group of radio stations in major cities from Montreal to Vancouver.
Sid Boyling’s second career took him to television (1956-58) as President and Station Manager of CHAB-TV Moose Jaw; back to radio (1960-65) as Station Manager of CKY-AM/FM Winnipeg; returning to TV in 1965 as General Manager CHAB-TV/CHRE-TV Moose Jaw/Regina.
In 1969, Sid’s third career placed him again in Winnipeg, this time as VP/General Manager of Winnipeg Videon Ltd., a position he held with distinction until 1979 when he retired.
In 1972, Sid had launched the cable company’s community channel and was the driving force behind the co-operation with which Winnipeg’s two CATV companies united to serve the community. During Sid’s tenure, it was estimated that 65,000 people used Videon’s public access TV arm, which was regarded as a leader, not only in the community, but among community cable channels in Canada.
Sid’s policy stressed the need to expose the creativity of local people – to allow them to express themselves to the public. While he respected professionalism in programming, he felt such standards should place second to permitting people to do their own thing in their own way. It worked in radio back at CHAB Moose Jaw in the 30s and 40s, and the same principles, Sid contended, could be successful in television – and proved it.
After retirement, Sid Boyling kept busy as a broadcast consultant, as a columnist for a Winnipeg publisher, serving as TV board member for the United Church of Canada and producing a column in Winnipeg Style Magazine.
During his years in radio and television broadcasting, Sid served as a president of the Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) and as a director of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Twice, he accepted for CHAB Radio/TV, the John Gillan Award for Community Service, and for CKY-FM, the French Broadcasting Association National Award for FM Broadcasting. Sid also served on the boards of an impressive number of community activities.
If awards for exemplary service were to be given to those who had made outstanding contributions in serving fellow Canadians during eighty-two years of broadcasting, a blue-ribbon recipient could well have gone to Sid Boyling.
Sid Boyling passed away Sunday November 5th, 2006 at age 92.
Written by J. Lyman Potts – November, 1998