Jack Ruttle (1936-2021)

Jack Ruttle
Jack Ruttle

Year Born: 1936

Year Died: 2021

Over fifty years in the broadcasting business took John F. (Jack) Ruttle from a  staff announcer’s job in radio/TV in Barrie to the Vice-Chairmanship of Power Broadcasting Inc., and thence to his own consulting firm. In the process he made major contributions as an executive in many areas of the private broadcasting sector during its formative years.

Jack was born in 1936 in Windsor, Ontario, where access to both Canadian and US radio stations gave him an early interest in the medium. He  took music lessons in Windsor and Detroit, learning to play trumpet, and his early interests in jazz, and broadcasting, were fostered particularly by his enjoyment of Phil McKellar’s all-night jazz programs on CKLW. Phil became a good friend, and it was he who suggested that Jack should take the Radio/Television Arts course at Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic Institute.

He started there in the fall of 1955, having graduated from Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor in the spring. During his first year at Ryerson he met Al Hamel, a second year student who was working a weekend announcer job at Ralph Snelgrove’s CKBB Barrie (and who later became a popular television personality). Al had just got a full-time job with CBC Radio and suggested Jack apply to Program Director Bob McLean for a job at CKBB. His application was successful, and Jack began working for the station as a staff announcer at CKBB Radio.

The summer job became a fulltime job – goodbye Ryerson – and Jack stayed with the Snelgrove organization for five years, eventually becoming Program Manager of CKBB in 1957. He also did some on-air announcing, news reading and hosting for Snelgrove’s new CKVR-TV station. While in Barrie he met sales executive E.J. (Ted) Delaney, and when Ted joined the new Baton Toronto television station CFTO-TV, he suggested that Jack should apply for a job there. The then CFTO executive Al Bruner hired Jack, who started in the station’s Promotion Department on October 1st 1960, three months before the station went on the air.

Jack eventually became Promotion Manager and then Program Manager for the Bassett station, where he stayed for ten years. In 1970, CFTO-TV owners Baton Broadcasting Ltd & the CBC were jointly awarded a licence to buy CKLW-TV Windsor, and for his 75% ownership, Baton President John Bassett wanted someone he knew he could rely on to run the station. On the recommendation of Ted Delaney, now CFTO-TV Vice President Programming and Sales, it was Jack Ruttle who got the nod, and in 1970 he began a three-year stint as Vice-President, Programming for CKLW-TV.

 In 1973, with CKLW-TV only two years away from becoming a full CBC-owned affiliate station, Baton Broadcasting again offered Jack a promising upward move – this time to become President of Baton’s CFGO-Radio in Ottawa. Then in March 1975, Standard Broadcasting acquired ownership of CTV affiliate CJOH-TV Ottawa, and it was Jack Ruttle who Standard President Mac McCurdy invited to join them as Vice-President and General Manager of the station.

Jack stayed with CJOH-TV for two years, before being approached by Maclean Hunter in 1977 to replace his friend Herb Marshall as Vice-President of Calgary television station CFCN-TV. He stayed there from 1977 to 1979, when the doors opened again to another new opportunity.

 Over the years, Jack’s work with CTV affiliates CFTO-TV, CJOH-TV and CFCN-TV gained him many insights into the operational structure of the network, and in 1979, when CTV President Murray Chercover was looking for a new Executive Vice-President, he immediately thought of his former CFTO colleague. Jack joined the network in 1979, and was there for eight years, until an approach from the Power Corporation of Canada offered attractive and interesting new challenges.

 So, in 1987, the Ruttle family bags were packed again, and Jack moved to Peterborough to become President of Power’s Kawartha Broadcasting, which consisted of CFMP-FM and CHEX-AM radio and CHEX-TV. Within a year, Jack had become Vice Chairman of a new entity, Power Broadcasting Inc., into which had been folded Kawartha Broadcasting and other Power holdings.

 In 1993, Jack left Power to return to Toronto and form his own consultancy business, with Power as his first client. In addition, he and two former CTV colleagues, Keith Campbell and Don McPherson, got together to handle several consultancy assignments for both government agencies and the private sector. In 2000, Jack began what would prove to be a four-year assignment, teaching Management in the Media to students at Ryerson, his old alma mater.

 During his broadcasting career, Jack held directorships in many key industry groups, including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Television Bureau of Canada, the Children’s Broadcast Institute, the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement and the Canadian Advertising Foundation. His many involvements in local community activities included a directorship of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (Metro Toronto Chapter).

In November 2011, Jack Ruttle was elected to the Board of the Canadian Communications Foundation. On January 1st 2015 he was elected Vice-President of the Foundation.

Jack Ruttle died on April 29th 2021.