Kenneth D. Soble (1911-1966)

Kenneth Snoble

Year Born: 1911

Year Died: 1966

Year of Induction: 1985

Pioneer – Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Soble, Kenneth D. (1911-1966)

At the age of 16, in 1927, Ken Soble found work in a Toronto radio station, following a chance meeting with one of Canada’s most illustrious female broadcasters – Jane Gray. Four years later, he conceived and produced Canada’s first amateur show ‘The Ken Soble Amateur Hour,” which was carried over a network of Montreal and Southern Ontario stations. Forming his own production company in Toronto, Ken went on to produce a number of radio shows – among them, a ten-minute man-on-the-street feature – DID I SAY THAT?.

In 1936, still based in Toronto, he took on the management of CHML Hamilton, which had been bought by Senator Hardy of Brockville. Eight years later, he out-bid Roy Thomson and partner Jack Kent Cooke and became the owner of CHML.

When TV came to Canada in 1953, Soble’s Maple Leaf Broadcasting Company (CHML) formed a partnership with Wentworth Broadcasting (CKOC) and Southam’s Hamilton Spectator, and successfully applied for a TV station in Hamilton (CHCH-TV). Ken was named General Manager. At the time, all stations had to be affiliated with the CBC’s television network. However, Soble was subsequently able to withdraw from the network, and CHCH became Canada’s first independent TV station.

A few years before his death, Soble proposed to the Board of Broadcast Governors the establishment of a country-wide network of 97 TV stations, to be fed from an all-Canadian space satellite. However, his untimely passing at 55 precluded a formal application and the idea was not carried forward. Soble died suddenly on December 16, 1966.

In his 20 years as a citizen of Hamilton, Ken Soble became deeply involved in community service. He was asked by Mayor Lloyd Jackson to take on the chairmanship of the first Urban Redevelopment Committee, and the York Street entrance to downtown Hamilton stands as a memorial to his dedication and initiative. Soble served on many boards, and was a Governor of McMaster University and the Tiger Cats Football Club. For several years, he also served the broadcasting industry as a director of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

In 1985, Kenneth D. Soble was inducted posthumously into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Written by J. Lyman Potts – February, 1996