William “Bill” Rea(1908-1983)

William "Bill" Rea
Bill Rea

Year Born: 1908

Year Died: 1983

Year of Induction: 1985

Innovator and “human dynamo”, Bill Rea obtained a licence for CKNW New Westminster in 1944 and promoted it to become one of the most dynamic radio stations in Canada. Focusing on Vancouver from a suburban community, Rea churned out imaginative campaigns that not only brought CKNW to local prominence, but also set new standards for the promoting and selling of radio advertising in Canada. He soon became famous for his “Top Dog” promotion using a Top Dog character created for him by a former Walt Disney artist.

His broadcasting career started when he became a salesman in 1932 at CJCA Edmonton, moving to Trail B.C. in 1937 as commercial manager at CJAT.  But not for long, as later in the year he joined CJOR Vancouver in sales, but also on air hosted “Rangers Cabin”.  He then moved on to CKMO before taking the big jump, starting his own station with his famous feature “Roving Mike” where he interviewed people on the street.

In his Community work, Rea created The Orphans’ Fund for underprivileged and handicapped children, which became the largest fund of its kind in Canadian radio. He introduced to B.C. “open line” programming and radio news reporters covering assigned “beats”.

In failing health resulting from a heart attack in 1954, Rae sold CKNW in 1956 to Frank Griffiths. It became the foundation on which Western Broadcasting (later to become Western International Communications) was built.

In 1985, Bill Rea was inducted posthumously into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.