Biography

Pioneer

DeNardis, Frank

(1932-2007)

Frank DeNardis was a true Canadian broadcasting pioneer, having started as a cameraman with CHCH-TV Hamilton, Ontario, when it first went on the air in 1954 ("I helped uncrate the cameras," he recalled), and eventually becoming its President and  Station Manager.

Frank was born in Hamilton in 1932, where he attended the Cathedral Boys’ School.  It was his high school football coach, Larry Sullivan, who encouraged him to consider broadcasting as a career. After attending the School of Radio and Television in New York, he returned to Canada and as one of the first cameramen to be hired was part of the small but enthusiastic staff that put CHCH-TV on the air in 1954 as a CBC affiliate. He later became a technical director, and after the station disaffiliated from the CBC in 1961 he continued to rise through the ranks to become Vice-President and Station Manager, the position from which he retired in 1987.

Frank and his colleague, CHCH President Doug Gale, were a ‘dynamic duo’ whose efforts made  the Hamilton station a major force to be reckoned with, and formidable competition for the CBC and CTV affiliates in the Toronto-Hamilton-Kitchener marketplace.  Though lacking the buying power of the Canadian networks, CHCH was able to acquire a strong line-up of US programs, and blended it with unique Canadian series which made their own mark, as well as being successful in syndication. Such shows included Party Game, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Under Attack, the Ken Soble Amateur Hour,  Pete’s Place and Smith and Smith, which later became the Red Green Show.

When a group of private stations got together in 1973 to launch CANPRO, the Canadian Television Program Festival, Frank quickly got involved, and did much to help drive the success of this worthy vehicle for locally-produced programming, for the 26 years of its life.  He was chairman of the event when it was hosted by CHCH in 1979.

Frank was responsible for hiring many promising broadcasters who became star performers for CHCH, including news anchors Connie Smith and Dan McLean. Connie Smith told the Hamilton Spectator that Frank was a man with “an enormous passion” for local television and for Hamilton. And Frank was a man who thought attitude was the key to success. "You need a good attitude to get along in the world," he would say.  "I rank attitude first, intelligence second and education third. If you've got the attitude and you're intelligent, you can learn anything."

The passion that Frank brought to television was also clearly demonstrated in his dedication and commitment to the community in which he lived.  He served as Chairman of Hamilton’s Festitalia, as well as on many boards, including Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc., Guaranty Trust, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, The Sons of Italy, Mohawk College (where he established the TV Arts program), the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Junior Achievement. He was a director of the Ontario Film and Development Board, the Villa Italia Retirement Residence and SEN Community Health Care (St. Elizabeth Nurses), and was a member of McMaster University’s Business Advisory Council for the Michael DeGroote School of Business. He served as Corporate Liaison for Hamilton’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations in 1996.

Frank’s business and community activities made him hundreds of good friends, and earned him a great many accolades and awards. He was Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year in 1985, was inducted into Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction in 2001, and received an Award of Merit from Mohawk College in recognition of Distinguished Service.

Frank DeNardis died in Hamilton, Ontario, on January 8th 2007, at the age of 74.

 


Sources include:  Hamilton Spectator

Written by Pip Wedge - January, 2007

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