Keeble, Gordon Frederic (1917-2006)
Born in Toronto on July 23rd 1917, Gordon Keeble’s thoughts of becoming an accountant faded fast when his high school English teacher got him interested in acting and stagecraft. In 1940, after freelancing in Toronto as a radio actor and singer for some years, Gordon applied for a job as a radio announcer at Roy Thomson’s CFCH North Bay. He auditioned on a Tuesday, and was broadcasting two days later. At CFCH he was not only on the air for ten hours a day, but also found time to conduct classes on broadcasting technique for sons and daughters of local sponsors. He later moved from CFCH to CKGB Timmins at the invitation of Jack Cook; there later followed a brief stint at CHEX Peterborough, after which Gordon took a break in 1941 to resume his piano studies, and enjoy his hobbies of tennis and fencing.
It was not long before a CBC radio announcer friend, Midge Ellis (later to become Mrs. Keeble), suggested that Gordon should audition for the Corporation. He did so and was immediately accepted as a staff announcer, and later he became chief announcer for CJBC Toronto, the anchor station for the Dominion Network (and becoming, at that time, one of the founding members of ACTRA). From the CBC he moved in 1946 to head the newly-formed radio department of the F.H. Hayhurst advertising agency in Toronto; before long, at 30 years of age, he became the youngest radio department agency head in the country, responsible for over 40% of the agency’s billings, mostly spot radio.
In 1948, he left Hayhurst to become manager of CFCF Radio in Montreal, and there he was soon involved in getting the first independently-programmed FM radio station in Canada on the air. In 1950 he began what was to become a long association with then radio production and distribution pioneer Spence Caldwell, when he joined S.W. Caldwell Ltd. as Executive Vice-President. With the advent of television, the Caldwell organization expanded into this field, and when Spence formed the CTV Network in 1961, after failing to get the Toronto commercial television licence, Gordon became his Executive Vice-President yet again.
After four exciting and challenging years building the fledgling network to a respectable level of acceptance among the advertising community, Gordon succeeded to the Presidency of CTV in October 1965 on Spence Caldwell’s retirement from the Network, and in January 1968 he became Chairman and CEO. He resigned from the Network on September 17th 1969, but it was not long before he and Caldwell were once again in business together. This time it was in pursuit of one of the first cable television licences to be granted by the CRTC in Toronto, and their application on behalf of a company to be known as Clear Colour Cable was successful. Clear Colour later became Keeble Cable, and this company was in the mid-1970s sold to Premier Cable of B.C. Later Premier was absorbed by Rogers Cable, and in 1980 Gordon became Executive Director of PTN – Pay Television Network – which was an initiative by the cable industry to get some action going in the Pay-TV field. Gordon left Rogers in 1982, and pursued other business interests until taking final retirement in 1986.
During his distinguished career, Gordon served on the Boards of the CAB and CCBA, and was President of the CCBA in 1963-64. He became a member of the CAB Half-Century Club in 1985.
On July 1st 1967, Gordon Keeble was awarded the Centennial Medal “in recognition of his valuable service to the Nation”.
Gordon Keeble died in Ottawa on May 4th 2006.
Written by Pip Wedge – February, 2002