Weyburn, Sask., 1974: a nervous 19-year-old settles into the sound booth at CFSL radio.
A lightbulb spray painted red signifies On Air status and the beginning of an epic career in Canadian radio.
A fresh-faced Ed Bain, with a newly-minted certificate in broadcasting, finally has the chance to show a broader audience he’s more than just the comedian of his peers.
The light glows. The pressure mounts. Bain completes the inspired moment and sends out Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come” across the airwaves.
“I always thought that was somewhat symbolic, but maybe I shouldn’t have,” says Bain, longtime morning show host at 100.3 The Q and this year’s best local radio personality in our Best of the City survey.
The native of smalltown Alberta had just taken what he describes as a fly-by-night broadcasting course in Edmonton that was appealing primarily on a sole promise: “They guaranteed you a job if you were willing to go anywhere.”
Bain attributes the decision to enter the industry to a post-high school epiphany.
“I’d always been a class clown, a loudmouth with an affinity for making people laugh.”
Though his first years in Weyburn were fun, they weren’t exactly opulent. “I wasn’t making much money, living in a one-room basement suite and then moved to a two-room basement suite in a cabin. It was pretty lean in the early days.”
Bain moved to the morning show position in Regina in the mid-70s, where he stayed for five years before moving to Saskatoon. He eventually landed a gig starting a station just outside of Vancouver in ’85, until The Q opened up shop in Victoria two years later.
He was the first voice on the air in ’87 and has been in the same time slot ever since.
“I wouldn’t willingly go to any other time,” says Bain, who calls Victoria home with his wife of 28 years and 22-year-old son.
Despite a changing landscape in broadcasting – one of declining 24-hour live programming – Bain is hopeful for those extroverts still willing to enter the industry.
“It’s definitely tougher and there are less opportunities,” he says. “If somebody wants to get into it and is willing to go wherever it takes to find work, it’s still a wonderful career.”
Bain topped our readers’ favourites list for his antics on the radio from 5:30 to 9 a.m. and his weather reports on CHEK’s evening newscast also landed him a spot among our top three best TV personalities. All that love from Victoria audiences isn’t exactly driving the 57-year-old to pack in his 14-hour days.
“People always say: ‘When are you going to retire?’ and I always say the station or the audience will tell us when that’s going to happen. As long as the audience shows up and as long as my card key keeps working, I’ll be on.”
Best of the TV news desk
After nearly 35 years on the air, Hudson Mack is a favourite personality in Victoria and beyond.
Voted best TV personality, the senior news anchor and news director of CTV Vancouver Island continues to lead the industry and educate the next generation of broadcasters. He also continues to pick up industry awards – including the 2011 Jack Webster Award for Best TV News Reporting in B.C. – and sit on broadcast standards and curriculum advisory panels for broadcast journalism and communications.