Keith S. Rogers (1892-1954)

Keith S. Rogers
Keith S. Rogers

Year Born: 1892

Year Died: 1954

Year of Induction: 1982

As a boy, Keith Sinclair Rogers was destined to be in the communications field. As a Scout, he quickly learned the rudiments of semaphore. When he joined the Army during World War l, he naturally went into the Signals, where he gained a great deal of experience that would help him over the years. In the early 20s, he was already sending wireless Morse Code to a friend down the street. 

Then came the crystal set and that started the experiments with a small transmitter. Soon the house was cluttered with wires going from his “transmitter” to the makeshift antennae on the roof.  Rogers  was selling radio receivers out of Rogers Hardware (run by distant cousins) part time and still working in his father’s insurance office. He was making day-time broadcasts from the Hardware store to encourage people to buy receivers. This was now getting in the way of the hardware business in the view of management. 

Just down the street from the Rogers’ home, Walter Burke was broadcasting Church Services mostly on week-ends and they shared time on the same frequency and for a time the same transmitter. In a way they were partners but had some disagreements from time to time. Burke found himself in trouble when he made a verbal agreement to allow James Gesner, Rogers’ competitor in the retail radio receiver business, to program his station and after 3 years of confusion, Burke sold his interest to Rogers. Gesner was in financial difficulty and left P.E.I. Thus ended the competition. 

On August 10, 1925 – 10AS became CFCY and the owner was listed as Island Radio Broadcasting. Rogers changed frequency to 960 Kcs and increased power several times in the ensuing years with the result that they had many listeners in four Provinces, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec as well as Newfoundland and even the New England states. 

While basically an engineer, he knew the value of the listening audience and always encouraged his staff to try new “talent” with the result that many nationally known celebrities got their start at CFCY, Don Messer and the Islanders with Marg Osborne and Charlie Chamberlain were regulars on CFCY long before they were “discovered” by CBC, national political broadcaster Mike Duffy also started his career there as did Keith Morrow who latter became a CBC executive, having married one of the boss’s daughters. Keith Rogers was typical of the small town broadcasters across Canada who had a dream and pursued it. 

He died in 1954 – before his staff could fulfill his dream of putting CFCY-TV on the air, which they accomplished in 1956. His daughter, Betty Large was co-author of the story of CFCY – “Out Of Thin Air.” Her husband, Bob Large was Chief Engineer and moved up to manage the station. 

He was a staunch supporter of the CAB and his engineering skills were recognized by Canadian General Electric when they established an engineering award in his honour.

Keith Rogers was posthumously inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1982.