Walter A. Dales (1908-1981)

Walter A. Dales
Walter A. Dales

Year Born: 1908

Year Died: 1981


Dales, Walter A. (1908-1981)

Walter Dales liked to write. As a twenty-year old, he found a niche with the Winnipeg Free Press, but one day decided to take a sabbatical to explore western Canada, choosing railroad freights as his means of transportation. It was a stop-over in Prince Albert that brought him to radio in 1933. His brother Pete was managing CKBI there and he took-up Pete’s offer of a job writing commercials. announcing, operating and selling air-time.

His next railroad trip was in a Pullman car to Edmonton – there to write advertising messages for CJCA clients and to do some announcing. His writing led to sales promotion where he initiated a radio column for weekly newspapers in CJCA’s coverage area. The papers were quite happy to use Walter’s column and within a few months he developed a close rapport with the editors and wrote editorials for a number of them. It was at CJCA that Walter met Jim Allard. Jim was head of CJCA’s formidable copy department, and their mutual interest developed into a lasting friendship that in a few years would play an important role in countering the nationalizing of radio broadcasting in Canada.

In 1940, Walter was named Assistant Manager of CJCA, then managed by Gordon Henry, who had succeeded Tiny Elphicke, who had gone to Winnipeg to manage CKRC. Then, in 1942, came his appointment as manager of CJAT Trail, the operation of which had been taken over by the Taylor, Pearson and Carson organization.

It was Walter’s intention to some day return to CJCA, but in 1945 his natural bent for writing and the experience that he had gained over 12 years, decided him to set-up a script-writing shop to provide feature syndicated programming for Canadian stations. This he did in Montreal under the banner of Walter A. Dales Radioscripts. From a one-man operation, it developed into a staff of writers, some of whom he coaxed to Montreal from Alberta. Using the pen name Ambrose Hills, he continued to write and supply to the weekly papers the radio column that he had started at CJCA.

Throughout this period, Walter had become increasingly concerned about the future of private radio in Canada under the control of the CBC. In his writing, he criticized the restrictive regulations imposed on private stations by the CBC and effectively supported the CAB in its appeals to members of Parliament for a separate regulatory body that would free private stations from the CBC’s grasp.

When the Board of Broadcast Governors was created in 1958 Walter looked upon it as “mission accomplished”. He backed-off criticizing the CBC and turned to consulting applicants for new TV stations and other licences.

Walter moved his business to Winnipeg in 1954, and 12 years later retired to Cloverdale, British Columbia where he became, as he coined it, a greenhorn farmer.

Walter Dales died in New Westminster at age 72 in 1981.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – October, 2002