By Michael E. Easton (mee)
Sunday May the 15th, 2016
Mark Jan Vrem (MJV) once held the position of news anchor at CHEK TV during the late 70’s through until 1989, when he was then hired by ITV in Edmonton as VP of NEWS…..
(mee) Welcome to PSR Mark…. so, when and where did you start off on the road into the Broadcast Industry?
(MJV) I grew up in rural North Dakota listening to powerhouse radio stations like WLS out of Chicago (Dick Biondi was a fav) – there was also an Oklahoma City station that boomed across the prairies but can’t remember the call letters. Those late night listening sessions convinced me that I wanted a career in radio. So – off the the University of North Dakota (UND) for a degree in communications. My very first radio gig was on KFJM – the university station. I then worked my way through university as a disc jockey on several local radio stations. The formats ranged from country to classical music. Drive time to overnights.
(mee) and the Canadian connection?
(MJV) I met and fell in love with a Canadian girl at UND so after graduation we moved to Vernon (where her parents were living) and I got my first Canadian media job at CJIB – Vernon as their afternoon/early evening DJ …
a couple of years later television beckoned and it was off to CHBC – Kelowna as their anchor/news director. I spent the last half of the 70’s in Kelowna.
Then we moved to Victoria and spent the 1980’s at CHEK. 11 years on the anchor desk and I was ready for a move … along came the opportunity at ITV as VP News. So – the 90’s were spent in Edmonton and my responsibilities were expanded to include running the newsrooms in the (then) WIC stations in Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge as well as Edmonton.
(mee) Where did Rob TV come into the picture?
(MJV) In 1999 I was asked to move to Toronto and launch what was then called ROBTv (now BNN) – I served as the president and COO of the business channel until it was sold to CTV.
So we pulled up stakes and moved back to BC where I was the Managing Director of Global National for several years before leaving the business. Or at least I thought I was leaving the business but Global called shortly after I left Global National and asked to me run their newsroom in Calgary. I did that for 6-months (commuting between Vancouver and Calgary) while they searched for a full time news director. Once he was in place I retired from broadcasting.
So my broadcasting career started (as the expression goes) at a 5-thousand watt radio station in 1967 ….. and ended 40 years later in 2007.
(mee) So, what happened after leaving the Industry? I understand you went into the insurance business working for ICBC.
(MJV) I’m no longer with ICBC, where I was Media Relations and Strategic Communications, a position I held for four years.
(mee) While I was looking through your resume on your LinkedIN page, I noticed you were involved in the Pickton trial. Please tell us how that all came about
(MJV) Well….I’d planned to retire after leaving Global National but it turned out I wasn’t ready for retirement so I started looking for something to do that was related to media / news / broadcasting. At the time Marisa Adair had moved from CHEK into government communications as a Gov’t Communications Director – she called asking if I’d be interested in taking on the media facilitation duties for the Pickton trial. The rest, as they say, his history. It was a nice fit … I knew and had worked with many of the media covering the trial …. and my news background was very helpful in guiding Court Services as to how best to accommodate the needs of the media during the trial.
After the Pickton trial Global called after their News Director suddenly resigned – and asked me to step in and run their Calgary newsroom while they searched for another News Director. It was fun running a local newsroom again – but I wanted to stay in Vancouver. Once the Calgary gig ended I responded to a posting from ICBC … and was hired as their Media Relations manager. About a year later they added Strategic Communications to my responsibilities. I spent 4-years there before leaving to help my son with his graphic design business. He creates motion graphics for TV stations and networks and I’m helping with station liaison, sales and contract negotiations. The business is based in Florida but I can cover my end from here in Vancouver. Check it out … renderon.com I’m so proud of him.
Thanks Mark and great success to you and your son with Renderon!
Mark Jan Vrem can be reached by email: [email protected]
Mark’s Twitter profile sums it up using call letters: KFJM-KRAD-KKXL-CJIB-CHBC-CHEK-WIC-CHAN-CITV-CICT-RDTV-CISA-ROBTV-BNN-BCTV-CICT (again)-BCCS-ICBC–RRSP-CPP-OAS-RIP
as Mark wraps it saying, “Man – what a long strange trip it’s been!”
I remember Mark on CHEK. Hudson Mack came in from Kamloops was doing late night news, then I think he replaced Mark as news anchor after Mark left for ITV in Edmonton. Was ITV still owned by Dr. Allard or had the station been taken over by WIC during Marks tenure?
The station from Oklahoma was KOMA.
Hi Tom – ITV was still owned by Dr. Allard when I arrived. He sold it (along with RDTV) to WIC in the mid-90’s.
I so enjoyed reading this. Greetings to you and Bonny?
Thanks for sharing KOMA Oaklahoma City