Biography

Pioneer

Reade, John Collingwood

(1904-1963)

John Collingwood Reade belonged to a new breed of newscaster. He was a journalist who had the experience to personalize, background and analyze the news. He was a broadcast commentator.

He was British and immensely proud of it. The Collingwood in his name came from a relationship on his mother's side to Admiral Collingwood who was second in command to Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.

John traveled in Europe, South America and the United States before the Second World War. In 1936 he covered for CBS the abdication of King Edward VIII as King of England to marry Wallis Simpson.

His Canadian radio career began in 1939 with newscasts for CFRB Toronto from a studio at The Globe and Mail.

During the war he broadcast on CFRB and wrote a war column for The Globe. Long-time CFRB employee Bill Baker noted in The Birth of Radio in Canada by Bill McNeil and Morris Wolfe: "We always had star personalities at CFRB…and during the war there was an announcer called John Collingwood Reade, who was English. When news from the front seemed to indicate that Britain was finished, John would come on with his Churchillian voice and would say: 'We're going to come through.' Everyone could go to bed with an easy mind because we believed him."

In 1941, John went briefly to Britain as a war correspondent for CFRB and The Globe. From Canada, he contributed to the BBC's overseas broadcasts, Britain Speaks. About that time, he also wrote a booklet Man of Valour: Winston Spencer Churchill.

John was  a skilled writer who well understood radio as theatre of the mind. Jack Dawson, former CFRB vice-president and station manager, remembered April 12, 1945, the day that U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. "I think the word came out he was dead in the early afternoon or evening. John Collingwood Reade led off his 11 o'clock news for the T. Eaton Company and said, 'Somewhere, tonight, there sits a little black dog, Falla. His master died today.'" It was well known that Falla was the name of the little black Scotch terrier to which President Roosevelt was devoted.

In later 1945, John was sent by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to cover the San Francisco International Conference, convened to set up a successor organization to the League of Nations.

In 1946 or 1947 he produced a series of broadcasts for CFRB, sponsored by The Globe and titled Our Royal Heritage, leading up to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, later the Queen. In 1947 The Globe sponsored I See by the Paper in which John returned to his broadcast studio at the newspaper to comment on the day's news as it appeared in the paper.

On the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, CFRB Newscaster Jack Dennett narrated a 30-minute tribute to the statesman, pre-written for the occasion by John Collingwood Reade. So impressed was a prominent Toronto industrialist with the tribute that he underwrote the cost of making an LP recording of the broadcast and gave copies to all the schools in the City of Toronto.

John Collingwood Reade died in 1963.

Written by Jerry Fairbridge - November, 2002

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