Joe Chrysdale (1917-1982)

Joe Chrysdale

Year Born: 1917

Year Died: 1982


Chrysdale, Joe (1917-1982)

In broadcasting, Joe Chrysdale, was known as Joe Crysdale without the h after he simplified his name. He was born and raised in Toronto and got into broadcasting by way of an announcer contest. It was 1940 and he was working for a Simpson’s department store when he entered a CKOC Hamilton competition offering a prize of either $100 or a three-month job for $60 a month. When he won, Joe quit his steady job and was given the morning drive shift, which then was a starter position, not the prime spot it later became. He returned to the station at 4.30 p.m. and, assisted by his morning operator Ray “Butch” Harrison, did a 30-minute program called Swing Session. This was during the Big Band era.

He was a real find, said Lyman Potts, who arrived at the station at about the same time from CKCK Regina as program director. It wasn’t common for Toronto residents to tune into Hamilton stations, but CKOC got bags of mail each day, especially from young Toronto listeners who ran home after school to hear Joe.

Joe always wanted to do baseball. While at CKOC he would tune in any baseball broadcasts he could find to study the style of seasoned announcers. In 1944 he was hired by CKCL Toronto, newly bought by Jack Kent Cooke who changed the call letters to CKEY. Joe attained his dream of doing sports, but he also became a star disc jockey known as Jo-Jo as a result of the enormously successful live-audience show Club 580 which he started in August, 1944. When new songs started to become popular, he would go to Buffalo to pick up discs. That would be several days before music companies got them to Canadian stations.

In 1947, Radio World awarded Joe a plaque naming him Ontario’s most popular announcer and, at the height of his career, he was known as the Dick Clark of Toronto. Dick Clark was the pop DJ in the U.S. at the time. 

Joe Chrysdale and Jack Kent Cooke pioneered recreated baseball and hockey broadcasting, said Joe’s son Joseph, although the Americans were given credit for it. A recreation or reconstruction radio commentator used play-by-play coverage provided by a telegraph operator on the scene who keyed short codes that enabled a commentator at the studio to simulate a live broadcast.

During the war years, Joe had an acting role in a weekly military drama L For Lanky on CBC radio. The show revolved around the lives of a Canadian crew of a Lancaster bomber.

In 1961, Joe was the first sports anchor when CFTO-TV Toronto debuted. He also covered Junior A hockey and wrestling for CHCH-TV Hamilton. He moved to radio station CJRN Niagara Falls where he hosted an evening show, Niagara by Night, from the lounge of the Skylon Tower, often interviewing such stars as Jack Benny, Mel Torme and Henny Youngman whom he lured from gigs in Buffalo. He took ill there and died in Mississauga of congestive heart failure in 1982, leaving a wife, Laurie, two sons and two daughters. His son Joseph followed him into broadcasting and also wrote news for United Press International and The Associated Press.

Written by Jerry Fairbridge – December, 2002