Long time radio man Gary Russell dies


Sad news to pass along from Marty Forbes this Sunday morning.

Gary Russell (Norm Vidler)

Gary Russell has passed away of lung cancer in White Rock.

Thoughts are with his family Jeff Vidler and Chuck McCoy.

One of the business’ great people…and wonderful to have worked with him in both the Moffat and Standard days.

Loved and respected by all…a toast with a glass of red wine would be highly appropriate.

Marty Forbes

A very special shot of the three “Vidler” brothers. Gary, Chuck, Jeff all together one more time on his 67th birthday just two weeks before his passing on Saturday

Gary Russell – Operator/announcer CKY Winnipeg 1967 and later Program Director CKY; as Fast Eddie Russell CKLW Windsor early 1970s; CKLG Vancouver circa 1972; GM CISL/CKZZ-FM Vancouver to 2008; served on boards of BBM, BCAB, NABS West and Music BC –VancouverBroadcasters.com



  1. A message from Jeff Vidler and Chuck McCoy; Following a courageous battle with cancer, our dear brother, Gary Russell (Norm Vidler) passed away peacefully in White Rock on January 2nd with his devoted wife Joan and family by his side. Gary’s contributions as a broadcaster spanned more than four decades. Starting with on-air work he then carved out a successful career in programming and management with Moffat Communications and Standard Broadcasting. Gary was a champion and supporter of his on-air talent and managers inspiring them with confidence and the opportunity to excel. Gary served on the Boards of such distinguished Industry associations as BBM, BCAB and NABS West. In 2007, Gary retired from his role as General Manager of Standard Broadcasting’s CISL/Z-95 in Vancouver. In 2008 he was inducted into the CAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Gary was 67.

  2. I am very sad to see this, and I can only imagine what the Vidler Family is going through, and I particularly feel very sad for my friend/mentor, Chuck McCoy.
    This is very upsetting. I send best wishes to all Gary’s friends, and the many incredible broadcasters he helped along the way.

  3. This is a sad sad day in hearing of this news.
    Huge Loss. Gar was one of the very few people that believed in me and gave women
    a chance for better shifts on the air, by helping them to believe in themselves. He made us better people. This is a crying shame. Tears…he will be missed by all of us!

  4. Very sad to hear this. Gary saw potential in me at the age of 26 and promoted me to “Assistant Zookeeper” with the LG Morning Zoo. He told me I’d have a long, successful radio career. That was just about 30 years ago. Thanks for the big break Gary. All the best to his family.

  5. Gary along with Kim Wooder, Gerry O Day and Red Robinson helped me pick up the pieces of the Ottawa Rawlco debacle and helped me come back home to the West Coast to re-start the career at 650CISL/Z95.
    \m/ .. rock on Gary ……

  6. Very shocked to hear this news. Gary was my first major market GM and had plenty of advice to pass on. My condolences to the Vidler family.

  7. Such sad news. Gary gave me my big break in the Vancouver market, hiring me to do traffic until a news job opened up (even though I had just moved here and didn’t know Langley from Ladner). Every morning he came into work with the biggest smile on his face and something positive to say about that morning’s show. He was a talented broadcaster, a phenomenal boss and a lovely man.

  8. Gary was one of my best friends for as long as I knew him. We first met in the early 70s, working at CKSO in Sudbury. He had just left CKLW, and we found we had a lot in common. We both applied for a job in Hamilton. I got the job. Gary went out west, first to Victoria, and then to Vancouver at CKLG. It was there that we met up again, with the dubious result of my getting the LG morning show. Gar was the best man at my wedding, as well. Later on, he hired me twice at CISL. The first time, we had an agreement that if the morning show number went up, I would receive at 10k bonus. Unfortunately I was fired just before Christmas due to budget cutbacks at Standard. One week later, the book came out, and the morning show had gone up by 58%. Now, he didn’t have to do it, but Gary paid me the 10 grand anyway, despite my no longer being an employee. That’s the kind of guy he was. Sure gonna miss ya, Norm.

  9. Deeply saddened by the news. Gary was the one who hired me at LG Vancouver in 1986 after only 14 months in the business. He believed in me enough to work for him and be on the air with legendary talent. Gary was an awesome program director. I don’t ever remember him yelling at me ?. He had a calm and cool way about him. One of the greats from one of the greatest families in the business. My condolences to Gary’s family.

  10. Gar was instrumental in helping start my radio career too when he and Doc Harris persuaded George Johns to give me a chance on CKSO in Sudbury in November, 1970. We worked together again a few years later in Vancouver and made some radio magic. As we grew older together in White Rock, my daughter ended up babysitting his kids. Gar made you feel that being in his world mattered and he never minced words either. I have been a better radio guy since day one because of Gar’s influence. I am lucky to have been his friend.

  11. Gary was the first GM for me that made a point of reaching out and meeting with every member of the staff in his “Fireside Chats”. Instead of being the dark overlord that some folks in that position chose to be, he was real, available and on your side.
    My heart goes out to his family with hope for quick healing on their part. Godspeed Mr. Vidler, see you on the other side.
    Thanks Doc, for sharing that story. More telling of the goodness of a man and the value of his word.

  12. Like so many, I am shocked to hear the news. Gary was a great man, a terrific programmer and visionary, and one smart dude. He respected the people around him, and valued their opinions. Sometimes a rarity in the business these days. Thanks for the laughs, Gary. Thoughts and prayers go to his family.

  13. I was so stunned when I saw this news as I hadn’t had contact with Gar for awhile so was unaware of any health concerns. Where do I begin? I was working at CKLG in 1977 and Gar inherited me after coming onboard as PD. I have never had a greater deal of respect for anyone in that capacity than I had for Gary. He was the first person to suggest I dump my fake handle of ‘Scott Jensen’ and use my real name on the air. Years after having left his employ, I came to value his judgment and sage advice even more as he was among the wisest radio types you could ever meet and we spent many a lunch of beers talking shop. On top of all of his wisdom, he was a hell of a good guy and left an indelible mark on me and a great many others along the way. I will forever hold him in the highest of regard and wills always look back fondly on the impression he left on me. Godspeed Gary!

  14. Sorry to hear about the passing of one of radio’s good guys. Gary gave me my first break in radio and always took the time to help me. My condolences to the Vidler family.

  15. I had the pleasure of working with Gar at LG in the early years and was a “team mate”
    on what was undoubtedly the worst curling “rink” ever to step on the ice. Gary always treated his staff and colleagues with respect and was there to help, never hinder the development of young broadcast talent. He was the kind of guy who lit up a room when he walked in and leaves a lasting legacy in the people he helped along the way. He will be missed by many.

  16. So sorry to hear of Gary’s passing….I worked with him in the late 60’s when he was at CJME Regina…just before he went to Windsor…..great guy….so talented.

  17. Gar is one of my dearest friends which began when we worked together in 1968 at CKOM in Saskatoon. Without Gary’s help in those days I doubt very much that my radio career would have gone very far. We have been together many times since then but three of them stand out the most. When he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Ottawa, his retirement party in Toronto and last October when I was a guest of Joan and him which was a great time. We sat around drinking wine, laughing and telling war stories. Our last time together will last as long as I do. RIP Gar, I miss you. xogeoxo

  18. Still numb from the news. Gary was easily the best GM I ever worked under. I will remember fondly: our years together @ CISL and numerous rounds of golf. It was just Gary & I on the 184 yard par 3 #4th hole @ Mayfair Lakes when I carded a Fred Couples after hitting my first ball into the lake. We had a good laugh over that. Thoughts are with the entire Vidler family. Thanx for everything Gar!! jt

  19. So sorry to hear of Gary’s passing. My thoughts are with his family.
    I got to know Gary during our time together on the BCAB Board and always enjoyed time spent with him then and at many industry social events.
    A class guy, who will be missed by many.

  20. I was at Moffat when Gary was involved with the company. Always remember that Gary was this quiet great guy that everyone loved. I remember he was one of those rare people who passed on contributing to the conversation until he had something to say–a rare but welcome commodity.
    Sadness for all in the Vidler family

  21. Gary provided me with a great job and mentored me through a critical period in my career by teaching me (among other things) the values of patience and persistence. He was a tremendous positive influence in my life and was generous with his knowledge, his strategic programming skills, and his marketing ideas. He quickly became one of my heroes who over a period of many years, supported all my dreams and efforts.

    The pictures posted here of Gary including the great shot with Chuck and Jeff will figure prominently in my personal collection. His warm smile in the ‘three brothers’ pic speaks of his great appreciation of life and his limitless wisdom and courage.

  22. Gary Russell was the man who made me believe I could be a true
    Performer . His support was monumental to a young aspiring DJ
    through the years at CKLG,
    even when he fired for my “own good ” . He was a brilliant programmer,
    Manager and an incredible chef as the kitchen at CISL and Z 95 can attest to.
    Always fair and friendly , I was ever so pleased to be back on air at CISL
    Working in the same building again many years later .Wish I could have
    golfed with you Gary.
    I am sure the fairways are wide and the greens
    are flat in heaven . Sympathy to all your beautiful family.
    We will miss you
    Fore !

  23. We lost a giant in Gary!
    The sadness at his passing is soothed by my memories of his mentorship and friendship.
    As an upstart News anchor at the Big 58, it was Gary, along with Ted Farr and J. Paul Huddleston of KHJ Los Angeles who taught me the value of creative writing, delivery, and at the end of the day, when you’re reading a Newscast, it’s your name on the marquee so you better be great, or be gone. Every detail of every Newscast was scrutinized for potential impact on the audience. Nothing was left to chance. Skills sets were always refined to perfection. It was ‘the craft’ that was everything.
    At a time when the Big 58 had THE best anchors in the country, it was Gary who captained the ship and brought out the best we could muster. He also fostered a quiet competition with other great Moffat stations like CHED Edmonton which boasted two great anchors in Bob Layton and CR Nichols, but it was the Big 58 at the centre of the Moffat universe.
    Gary’s brand of leadership, to instill confidence, mold talent, provide the resources, and guide you through a career strategy, is not lost on those who worked with him.
    I hope that legacy will, in some way, comfort the Vidler family as it has to the hundreds like me, who crossed paths with Gary Russell, a good and talented guy, who just happened to be in the radio biz.

  24. So sorry to hear of Gary’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He was one of my mentors. I was just a kid when he brought me to Winnipeg in 1989 to work with Ron Able at 58 CKY, the start of a great 25 year run. Thanks Gary for taking a chance on me.

  25. I only met Gary once for lunch when we talked about moving me over to CKY 58. He turned me down cold and I went on to Ottawa (Maybe he lucked out?) Whatever. It was still a wonderful chance to meet the guy who worked at CKLW the Big Eight for less than two hours before being canned. Gary was a legend even then!
    All the best to the family! We’re lucky we had him as long as we did…


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