October 2006
Ted Rogers : Grab a Strap and Hang On
By: Dick Drew
It figures that Ted Rogers would own the Toronto Blue Jays, Canada's only major league baseball team. He's been hitting grand slam home runs since the early '60s.

Ed's Note:

This column marks the start of a new series of short profiles of "Canadian Achievers" in the Canadian broadcast TV and radio industry, written exclusively for Broadcaster Magazine by Dick Drew, a well-known achiever himself.

It figures also that his media empire would include "Canadian Business" magazine. Ted is Canadian business personified: broadcasting and business are in his genes.

In 1925 his father Ted Sr. invented the worlds first alternating current [AC] radio tube which enabled radios to be powered by household current. In 1931 he was awarded an experimental TV licence. Ted Sr. passed away in 1936 at the young age of 36; Ted Jr. was just six years old.

In 1961, Ted Jr. graduated from law school, but just a year later, he acquired CHFI-FM, Toronto. Back then FM radio was Canada's best kept secret. I know because I was a salesman at CHML, Hamilton when in 1964 we launched CKDS-FM [now Y108] .

It was easier to find teeth in a hen's mouth than it was to find people with FM receivers!

Ted force-fed FM penetration by selling FM radios at prices far below cost (similar to what Roy Thompson -- later Lord Thompson of Fleet -- did in the early '30s). Thompson owned a newspaper and a retail store in North Bay, and he started up an unlicensed radio station to boost the sale of radios from his store.

It worked for Thompson and it worked for Rogers.

It was in 1967, when Ted Rogers Jr. bought CHAM, Hamilton, that I joined with Ted - I say join, because you don't 'go to work' for Ted Rogers, you join him, you buy into his ideas, you grab a strap and hang on.

Although we parted company most amicably after a year, I had experienced first hand what one always hear about Ted Rogers: "His word is his bond."

Believe me, it is. Way back in 1967 his budding empire consisted of four radio stations, several pockets of cable TV around Toronto plus a brain and body that was bursting with creative ideas and boundless energy.

Today, Rogers is an empire - mind-boggling in its scope, yet still growing every year.

When I asked Ted recently if he felt there is still opportunity for young people to achieve as he has?

He replied, "Dick, there are always lots of opportunities if you persevere and aren't afraid to take chances. But the important thing is that you have to work very hard and take risks."

Just last month, both Ted and his father received a much deserved honour when, at a gala banquet in Toronto, they were both inducted into the Canadian Telecommunications Hall of Fame - an acknowledgement of their achievements that goes along with their earlier induction into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Broadcast Hall of Fame.

For myself, thinking about their achievements, and whether or not such accomplishments could be duplicated today, I regret just two things: that I did not buy Rogers shares earlier than I did, and I did not buy more than I have.

Ted Rogers...he's another "Canadian Achiever".

Dick Drew is a Canadian broadcaster and writer. His "Canadian Achievers" series ran in radio syndication from 1984 to 1999, and now appears as a week syndicated newspaper column. This column is exclusive to Broadcaster Magazine, and there is more about Ted Sr. and Ted Jr. at www.canadianachievers.com, including links to www.rogers.com and www.broadcastinghistory.ca.

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