One of the least recognized and recorded areas of substantial consequence in the Private Broadcasting Industry has been the contribution made by the National Sales Rep.
For over 80 years now this unique group of firms has operated virtually without public notice developing major revenues that have financed the development of radio, television and allied broadcasting in Canada.
Beginning in the early ’30’s salesmen located in major centers like Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver recognized an opportunity to capitalize on the new media – radio.
As private radio stations came on stream across Canada it became obvious that they would need someone to contact national advertisers and their agencies that were located in these major eastern centers.
Every man for himself…
So enterprising young individuals began to make the rounds of the agencies to drum up radio business and “sell” time on the new media. If and when they got an order they would contact the station and negotiate their commission.
Some national ads in those early days were embedded in programming delivered by the CRBC (the forerunner of the CBC). It became obvious that these new stations would need additional shows to air in their own region or market. These shows would not only fill the airtime but might also attract additional national and some local advertiser revenue.
Local sales were slow to materialize for many of the pioneer broadcasters. Newspapers were extremely well entrenched and retail advertisers were unconvinced that the spoken word could match an ad in the local press.
National revenue an important initial source…
National advertiser spending in broadcast was developing somewhat more quickly and several, particularly the Patent medicine companies, felt they could promote their products widely and economically through sponsorship of specific programs.
Most of these syndicated shows were produced in the U.S. and were offered to Canadian stations with full sponsor credit and advertisements already carried in the program.
As time passed, more U.S. advertising agencies decided to open Canadian branches, usually in Toronto. At the same time a burgeoning Canadian radio production capacity was emerging driven primarily by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (which also served as the industry regulator).
As the advertising marketplace developed in Central Canada, private operators across the country, particularly in the Maritimes and the West became concerned about the problems of selling time on their individual stations to potential advertisers located half a nation away.
While those energetic sales types described earlier provided the initial solution to this dilemma it became less attractive as competition became licensed in many markets.
Because none of these early “reps” actually “officially” acted on behalf of any particular station(s) they could negotiate the placement of a program on the station that offered them the best “deal”. Further, station rate cards were not in wide circulation and the business was very much a “first with the order wins” situation and there was little price stability.
Audience data not yet developed…
Of course audience research was non-existent then. Success of an advertising campaign was measured primarily by listener mail and product sales in a market.
Over time, men like Harold Carson in Lethbridge felt his interests and those of his friends/associates in the Sifton and Southam groups in Western Canada would be better served by having their “own man” negotiate on their behalf with ad agencies.
The founding of an office to represent these people and their stations was opened in Toronto in 1934 under the banner ‘United Broadcast Sales’ and was the beginning of exclusive representation and generally speaking the rep industry that exists to this day.
Originally, CBC regulations limited the sales of spot announcements to before 6 PM or after 11 PM but in time this regulation was lifted and the new “rep firms” truly began to appear.
There were many pioneers in those days, including Paul L’Anglais, who along with his top salesman, Jack Tietolman created, developed and sold French as well as English language programming throughout Quebec and Canada. This firm was the forerunner for the extremely successful French language independent production facilities that exist in the province of Quebec today in both radio and television.
Need for dedicated rep grows…
The granting of more private radio licenses and the move toward the sale of spot announcements rather than programs prompted the formation of national advertising sales firms designed to represent radio properties exclusively.
Among the first of these in addition to United were names like National Broadcast Sales, the previously mentioned Paul L’Anglais Limited. United was the first generation of a number of companies that became All Canada Radio Facilities, then All Canada Radio and Television and still later Canadian Broadcast Sales when merged with a later edition of United Broadcast Sales then owned by Standard Broadcasting.
The first radio licenses were granted to private, local entrepreneurs few of who had any previous experience in broadcast. Several were in the business of selling radios and needed stations to create the “need”.
One of the rep industry pioneers was Harold Carson, who was trying to market Rogers Majestic Radios in his Automotive and Electrical business in Lethbridge. When the fellow who had been granted a license to operate a station in this market was no longer able to pay his bills, Carson and his associates took over the station and became broadcasters.
And it was Carson and his partners, Taylor and Pearson who later aligned with Southam in Calgary and Edmonton and (Sir) Clifford Sifton in Regina and Winnipeg to establish a critical mass sufficient to open a national rep shop in Toronto.
Branches were later established in both Winnipeg and Calgary (where Jack Cavanaugh went in 1935). Johnny Baldwin operated a rep firm in Vancouver under the All Canada name. In Toronto, people like Jack Slatter started Radio Representatives Ltd with stations owned by Gordon Love in Calgary and Dick Rice in Edmonton. People like Bob Munroe, who started in Montreal and Bob Quinn, were briefly associated with All Canada until moving on with Major Market (CHUM) and Radio Reps and many of the smaller firms were owned and operated by individuals like Andy McDermott and Joseph Hardy.
In time many corporate station operators such as Selkirk, CHUM and Standard determined that they should own and control their own national rep firms. Many previously privately owned operators with the notable exception of Dick Sienko at Target Broadcast Sales were eventually absorbed.
Private television arrived in the early 50’s and while a couple of existing rep firms expanded their operation to include TV Sales (like All Canada) there were also several new boys appearing on the block.
Names like Horace Stovin and Bill Byles surfaced to sell this fantastic new medium. And Paul Mulvihill wasn’t far behind. Paul started his firm with one station – Conrad Lavigne’s CFCL-TV in Timmins and later added CFCH-TV in North Bay.
As strange as it may sound today, TV had a tough time selling against radio in the local markets much as radio had suffered at the hands of newspapers years before. So national dollars and the support of national advertisers was critical to the success of many of the early private operators.
At the start of Canadian TV in 1952, there were only some 300,000 homes with TV sets, and most of those were along the U. S. Border – watching the only signals available. As the early TV stations started, the Reps – like All-Canada‘s Ross McCreath – in co-operation with the set-maufacturer’s association – kept the Ad Agencies advised by monthly set sales in various markets across Canada. It was no until later in the decade that any audience measurement figures were available.
Following the pattern of radio, TV also depended on shares of network revenues to keep things afloat and the CBC handled sales to national advertisers.
With the advent of second stations in major markets, like CFTO-TV in Toronto and the setting up of a the first private TV network (CTV) the marketplace became rapidly more competitive and selling by rep firms much more aggressive and imaginative. Like radio, TV rep firms are now primarily owned and operated by broadcast conglomerates and corporations who have entered strategic alliances. The ability to compete for the acquisition of programming necessitated the capacity to amortize the cost over networks and groups. This goes hand in hand with the capacity to creatively market critical mass in a convenient and relative fashion to national advertisers and agencies.
Latterly, convergence has created bedfellows of a variety of media with organizations such as Bell Globemedia, Rogers Communications and CanWest Global developing and marketing across powerful print, broadcast and telecommunications platforms.
Business has evolved dramatically…
The rep industry has certainly come a long way from the days when non-affiliated salesmen would entertain newly minted media buyers in order to sell a promotion or a program on a little know radio voice in a remote community.
Along the way, the rep industry has featured many colourful characters and witnessed the development of many of Canada leading and most innovative broadcasters and marketers.
From the architects like Stu Mackay and Reo Thompson of All Canada through people like Alan Slaight of Standard Radio who took over Stevens and Towndrow when those two legendary radio reps sold their business to CBS and Tony Viner of Rogers who entered the business at the urging of his brother Peter (National Post) to join him selling national TV at Paul Mulvihill.
To learn more about each of the firms mentioned all too briefly in this summary report just click on the names of each listed following this piece.
The accomplishments of those who laboured in relative anonymity for many years are clearly too numerous to mention. However it should be noted in passing that the rep industry has been extremely influential and active in many of the developments and innovations that are accepted standards in Canadian broadcasting today.
Rep firms and their owners and management have been tremendously important in the ongoing development and expansion of broadcast audience research.
They have long served on the board of the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement and several in fact have chaired that Board. And of course they have been a constant and persuasive presence at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and its predecessors.
Reps have been founders, directors and chairs of national industry marketing groups like the Television Bureau of Canada and The Radio Marketing Bureau.
Clearly, the contribution made to the development, growth and expansion of broadcasting at all levels is worthy of considerable note.
So as reps have had to move into the age of digital, the 700 plus channel universe, strategic marketing packages, internet audio and video broadcasting, virtual advertising etc they continue to provide innovative and energetic leadership consistent with their significant history.
Sales Companies – past and some present…
Members of Canadian Association of Broadcast Representatives – 2004
- Airtime Television Sales Inc.
- Canadian Broadcast Sales
- CanWest Media Sales Ltd.
- CBC National TV Sales
- CHUM Radio Sales
- Corus TV
- CTV Sales & Marketing
- Integrated Media Sales
- Rogers Television
- Target Broadcast Sales Inc.
- TVA Sales & Marketing
Other current companies – 2004
- Broadcast Representatives Canada Ltd. (Winnipeg)
- Golden West Media
- Alexander, Pearson & Dawon Inc.
- All-Canada Radio & Television Ltd.
- Andy McDermott Ltd.
- Glen-Warren Broadcast Sales
- Horace N. Stovin & Co.
- Joseph Hardy Ltd.
- Major Market Broadcasters
- Metro Marketing West – Vancouver
- Paul L’Anglais Inc.
- Paul Mulvihill Ltd.
- Radio House
- Radio & Television Representatives
- Standard Broadcast Sales
- The Rep Shoppe
- Telemedia Radio Sales
- Western Broadcast Sales
People make things happen – here are some of those people in Representation Companies prior to 1964
1934 United Broadcast Sales
- Perc Gaynor
1934 Northern Broadcast Sales
- William Wright Mgr. (Roy Thompson stations)
1937 All-Canada Radio Facilities
- Guy Herbert, Toronto
- Perc Gaynor, Winnipeg
- Burt Hall MTL (1938)
- Ken Baker MTL (1951)
- John Baldwin (1946)
- Stuart MacKay (1949)
- John Tregale (TO Mgr.1946)
- Bruce Alloway (1947)
- Ross McCreath (1949)
- Bob Quinn (1949)
- Jack Cavanaugh Cal. (1948)
1937 All-Canada Program Sales
- Fred Cannon (Transcription Sales)
1940 Radio Representatives
- Jack Slatter Pres.
- Wally Slatter
- Bob Quinn (1959)
- Gordon Ferris Pres. (1955)
- Billie Cox (1961)
- Stew Green MTL Mgr. (1960)
- Rick Guest (1962)
- Frank Jobes (1961 Vancouver)
- Bob Munro (1956–1959)
- Dick Sienko (1955-1957)
- Bill Smith (1957–1960)
- John Tyrrell (1959)
- Stu Waldo (1961)
- Don Wall (1956)
- Arnold Stinson (1955)
- Dick Ring (1955)
- Wilf Dippie (1955 Montreal)
1941 Stovin & Wright
- Horace Stovin
- William Wright
1941-Andy McDermott (1942 Mtl Mgr)
1945 Horace N Stovin & Co.
- Horace Stovin
- Art Harrison (1953)
- George Hellman (1953–1962)
- Bill Stephens (1948–1950)
- Alex Stewart VP & GM (1961)
- Jim Stovin Mtl. (1948 Vancouver – 1962 VP)
- Frank Strange (1959)
- Bob Amstrong (1947–1949)
- Lee Raeburn (1954)
- Tony Messner & Murray Messner – Winnipeg
1946 National Broadcast Sales
- Ed Kavanagh (1946 VP Gen Mgr Mtl)
- Paul Mulvihill (1946–1950)
- Bob Munro (1951–1955)
- Jack Weatherwax (1962)
- Weldon Wilson (1956-1961)
1950 Paul Mulvihill & Co.
- Paul Mulvihill (1950)
- Ken Billings (Mtl)
- Norm Bonnell (1955)
- Bus Sadler (1960)
- Bill Wallace
1951 Joseph A. Hardy & Co. Ltd.
- Mgr.Bruce Butler (1951–1958)
- Art Harrison (1958)
- Dick Sienko (1961)
- Alex Stewart (1954-1957)
- Bill Wallace
- Weldon Wilson (1962)
1951 Stephens & Towndrow
- Bill Stephens (1951)
- Ernie Towndrow (1951)
- Bart Gibb (1957)
- Charlie Fenton (1958-61) (1962 VP)
- Ed Kavanagh VP Mtl Mgr. (1961)
- Len Kennedy VP
- Emery Richmond (1959)
- Bob Munro (1960)
- Guy Royal VP Montreal (1961)
- Len Bramson (1961) Mtl.
1952 Andy Mcdermot Ltd.
- Andy Mcdermott
1953 All-Canada Radio & Television
- Reo Thompson, Ross McCreath – Toronto
- John Cameron (Mtl)
- Don Smith (1954)
- Bob Tait TO. (1951)
- Clare Copland MTL. (1951)
- Bob Quinn TO. (1951)
- Bill Brennan TO. (1951)
- Bill Mitchell TO. (1951)
- Harold Abernathy (1956)
- Bob Armstrong (1956)
- Bob Alexander (1958)
- Brian Scharf Van (1950)
1953 Radio & Television Sales
- Emery Richmond (1953–1958)
1955 Lorrie Potts
- Dennis O’Neill (1960)
1957 Stovin-Byles Ltd.
- Bill Byles Pres.
- VP Hugh Clarke (1961)
- Jack Brooks MTL (1961)
- Alex Stuart (1961)
- Stu Waldo (1961)
- Dick Cutler (1962)
- Roger Desloges (1962)
- John German (1961)
- Stuart MacDonald (1960)
- Ron Rains (1961)
- Bill Smith (1961)
- Pat Swift (1961)
- Bill Todd (1962)
- Bart Gibb (1957)
1958 Scharf Broadcast Sales Vancouver
- Brian Scharf (1958)
1958 Trans Ocean Radio & TV Representatives
- Alex Stewart (1958 – 1960)
1960 Tyrrelll & Nadon Broadcast Reps
- Jean Nadon (1960)
- John Tyrrell (1960)
1952 Paul L’Anglais Inc.
- Paul L’Anglais
- Guy Daviault (Mgr. 1962)
- Gaston Belanger
- Al D’Eon (Toronto) (1960)
- Dave Dickie (Toronto)
- Eric Vicary (1958)
- Skip Young (1961)
- Herb Marshall
”Directory of Broadcast Executives”
Published by Ralph C. Ellis – 1963
All-Canada Year Book 1951