Patrick “Pat” Burns (1921-1996)

Patrick Pat Burns
Patrick “Pat” Burns

Year Born: 1921

Year Died: 1996

Year of Induction: 1996

Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Burns, Patrick “Pat” (1921-1996)

Montreal-born Pat Burns broke into radio in England as a BBC broadcaster covering the world hockey championships in London in 1949. His Vancouver career started at CKLG – but, as recalled by Vancouver Sun columnist Denny Boyd, he was more prominent initiially in politics than in media. He became a North Vancouver alderman and ran unsuccessfully for the CCF in Vancouver-Burrard.

It was in 1962 that Pat Burns made his “Hot Line” debut on CJOR – the station founded by pioneer broadcaster George Chandler, who died the same year.

As an open-line-host, Pat virtually had Vancouver-area listeners ‘by the ear’ as he went on to achieve recognition as one of Canadian radio’s most fascinating and dynamic radio personalities. Within weeks, his outspoken, controversial style and his success at contacting high-profile and famous guests, made ‘Burns’ a household name.

Pat also had the ear and attention of the Board of Broadcast Governors, whose Chairman. Dr. Andrew Stewart remembered Pat in his memoirs as presenting the Board with its “outstanding case on ‘abusive content'”. Dr. Stewart recalled that “Burns became a sensation. The station’s ratings rocketed, and with them, the profits. The audience included those who were mesmerized by him and others looking for grounds of complaints”.

In 1965, Pat hosted a series of programs from Selma, Alabama, where Martin Luther King was helping to change the United States forever. He was fired a short while after those historic broadcasts. His dismissal was widely protested but the decision stood, and Pat returned briefly to newspaper reporting.

Later, he brought his controversial show to a radio station in Montreal, but eventually moved back to Vancouver where he hosted open-line programs into the 1990s.

Pat Burns has been described as a true reporter who understood the show business value of his job. Pat died in his 76th year on June 8, 1996

Posthumously, in 1996, Pat Burns was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – January, 1997