Pioneer - Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Johnny Esaw - Canada's best-known ambassador of amateur sport - was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
Johnny began his long and distinguished career in radio and television broadcasting when, in 1947, he became a sportscaster at CJNB, which was launched the same year in North Battleford.
Like many at a lot of early radio stations, Johnny was more than a sportscaster, he took on any job that was available, and even hauled fragile equipment for remote broadcasts. With some bulky equipment and a lot of pre-game preparation, Johnny focused on a play-by-play career in Regina. At CJNB, Johnny developed and honed his sports reporting skills, which went beyond reading off the wires, and created an interest in amateur sports that lasts to this day. From 1949 to 1956, he was a sportscaster with CKRM Regina, and then moved to Winnipeg when he accepted an offer to become Sports Director for CKRC replacing "Cactus" Jack Wells.
In 1960, Johnny made the transition from radio to television when he was appointed Sports Director of CFTO-TV, Toronto with a sudden introduction to management. As with his radio career, Johnny took on television broadcasts with the same studious approach. As the Sports Director, he worked closely with the CTV Television Network, soon becoming involved in the production of the CFL eastern teams' football broadcasts, Grey Cup games in 1961 and 1962, and serving as kingpin in securing broadcasting rights for such outstanding attractions as CFL Football, Wide World of Sports, Sports Hotseat, International Hockey and Figure Skating, as well as CTV's first Winter Olympics venture in 1964. The change from radio to television also introduced a different broadcast style that encouraged opinions in reporting sports, but Johnny continued to forge a special camaraderie with all of the athletes.
The continuing relationship with CTV eventually led to the creation in 1966 of the CTV Sports Department. Johnny continued his work as Sports Director at CFTO and liaised with the CTV Network until 1974 when he became Vice-President, CTV Sports. - a position he held until his retirement from the network on September 1, 1990.
Full retirement was not in the books. Within the month, Johnny signed a 5-year contract with the Houston Group as Vice-President, Broadcast Operations, and retained the position when Edelman World Wide, reputably the largest public relations firm in the world, bought the Houston Group.
Under the Edelman banner, Johnny was particularly involved in events such as motor racing, tennis, du Maurier golf, the Canadian Open, and the du Maurier International at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. At the same time, he was an on-camera spokesman for the Royal Bank at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.
In 1996, Johnny really did retire to reflect on a truly unique and colourful half-century career involving virtually every Canadian sports activity.
Just some of those achievements:
For his dedication to amateur sport and humanitarian work, Johnny Esaw earned many honours - among them:
Johnny Esaw died on April 6th 2013.
Written by Pip Wedge - October, 1997
« Previous Personality Bio | Next Personality Bio »
Skip to the Personalities whose last names start with:
« ALL A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z »