Year Born: 1901
Year Died: 1954
Year of Induction: 1993
Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Butler, Joseph L. (1901-1954)
Joseph Butler was only 18 when, in 1918, he became a Marconi Communications Operator, stationed in Makkovik, Labrador and Sable Island. In 1930, he worked as an instructor in wireless operations with RCA in Boston. 1932 found him back in Newfoundland building a transmitter for station VONF (acquired by the CBC when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949). In 1936, Mr. Butler Became involved with Walter B. Williams at VOCM – using a 100-watt transmitter he had built, was broadcasting 4 1/2 hours a day. This 1936 picture shows him reading the Terra Nova News which he did three times daily, from the old VOCM studios on Parade street. Lacking a source of international news, he would listen to the BBC, and type out the stories he would then read on VOCM. Beides newsJoe did many jobs at he station – sold the advertising – wrote the commercials and made the collections.
His attempts, beginning in 1946, to increase station power or to obtain an experimental FM licence and a TV licence were met with denials. It was not until after Confederation with Canada that Butler’s persistence enabled him to get a one-thousand watt transmitter on 590.
Joe Butler was also a pilot and owned a light plane which he often used to fulfil his quest for news gathering. Unfortunately, in 1954, while searching for a four-year-old boy, his plane crashed near St. John and he was killed.
Joseph Butler’s son and grandsons have carried on and have expanded VOCM’s radio service to Labrador and Newfoundland with nine stations and satellite delivery to all of North America.
In 1992, Mr. Butler became the first person to be inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame.
In 1993, Joseph Lacey Butler was named to the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.
Written by J. Lyman Potts – November, 1996