by JJ. Jim Johnston
March 4, 2018
Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Randy Moffat.
Randy was the President and owner of Moffat Communications which owned a number of Canadian radio stations, and TV and Cable holdings across Canada and in the U.S.
One after another Moffat employee told about how much they absolutely loved working there, and I got interested. I would ask why? To which I got pretty much the same answer each time: the true and fun spirit and culture of the organization.
Randy is kind of quiet and unassuming, which contrasts with the larger than life real-life characters and leaders he surrounded himself with. Imagine Gerry Forbes Sr., Don Kay, Keith James, Roy Hennessy, Alden Diehl, Stan Ravndahl, Bill Symsyk, Chuck McCoy, Bill Davis, “The Cowboy” Vern Trail and the radio ring leader Jim McLaughlin, all in one room. It was a riot, and while it was fun, they also got it done. There’s a book or three to be written about the hijinks of all of these characters, and I’m sure they would sell heartily.
For instance, going on vacation for Winnipeg GM Roy Hennessy was always interesting. One-time Moffat was making some changes to the exterior of it’s Polo Park building, which featured a huge backlit red “M” on the roof. Think of the look on Roy‘s face when upon return, he rounded the corner to see this huge crimson “M” lit up in full splendour on his lawn, illuminating his house and pretty much the entire neighborhood.
Then then time when Roy returned from vacation time to see his car, compacted into a junk heap in the station parking lot, with his licence plate on it (the only thing not compacted), with the block heater plugged in. It was not his real car (same model and colour) but he didn’t know that for a bit.
How about “The Cowboy” Vern Trail, a major prankster who just passed recently. God bless the Cowboy.
Folklore has it that at one broadcasting convention he had a photo shoot location set up in the Moffat suite with the idea of taking people’s pictures when they visited the room. What everyone didn’t know coming in was that Vern had hooked up a cattle prod underneath the chair. He would say “cheese”, give the cattle prod a little shot and quickly take the picture. You can imagine the look on everybody’s faces in those pictures. Then you were in on the gag, waiting for the next victim and the ensuing laughter. Late one of those nights two security guards showed up to address the noise factor. Vern, always mischievous, told them that he was doing a magazine story on Canadian broadcasters (some think he said it was “Life” magazine) and would they mind if he took their pictures. The vainest of the two security types, immediately took off his hat, preened his hair, and nestled in. The Cowboy says cheese, hits the cattle prod and poof, the flashbulb goes off, and that’s not all that lit up. Let’s just say that fellow didn’t see the humour in it however his partner found it hilarious, then calmed him down and they both left thinking we’re not going to win with these maniacs.
Randy was the son of a larger than life character himself, Lloyd Moffat. Previously the CBC had bought the heritage Manitoba Government Telephones CKY radio station and changed it to CBW. Lloyd bought the station in 1948 and quickly reverted back to the CKY call letters.
Soon Moffat Communications had seven radio stations from Vancouver to Winnipeg, and the company’s cable TV investment, Winnipeg Videon Inc. continued to grow.
The organization won private TV licences in 1960 and in 1963. The first one was CHAB-TV which the CRTC forced Moffat to sell in order to win the CKY-TV licence in the hometown city of Winnipeg. This was about the time Randy left the University of Manitoba to join his dad. A year later he became President of the Company when Lloyd passed away.
Moving forward Randy continued to grow the organization, with the addition of CKNG-FM in Edmonton (now Fresh Radio), CHFM in Calgary, CJJD-AM (Now CHAM) in Hamilton and wisely expanded the cable TV operations, Videon Inc., into the United States.
Moffat had several unsuccessful runs to acquire new radio stations and with consolidation on the horizon, Randy decided to sell the radio group to various organizations. The Television and the Cable side continued to chug along including the launch of the Women’s Television Network in 1995 (now a CORUS asset), with Moffat as the majority shareholder.
In 1997, Moffat sold its 14.3 % of the CTV network as the network started to consolidate into one entity. CKY continued to be an affiliate.
The Moffat family’s community leadership in Winnipeg is legendary with Randy and the family giving their time and financial support to many assorted organizations. In 2000 Randy donated an incredible $100 million to the Winnipeg Foundation to establish the Moffat Family Fund.
Randy is a family man who is smart, relaxed, soft-spoken and always friendly and respectful to anyone he runs into. He empowered a culture that allowed for the free-spirited to excel. He was a powerful executive, but every time you saw him, no matter who you were, he made you feel comfortable in his presence.
The Moose Jaw Ball tourney’s, where all markets came in for the weekend, were legendary. They were great team building and fun activities that helped highlight the culture.
I would venture to say there are very few people who would oppose when I say it was a most fun, competitive, and safe environment. Laughter predominated in the organization, and we all know how healthy that is for the soul.
Thank you, Randy, for your support for the true characters in the business, and your respect of people’s differences. We so loved working there, and we worked hard because the last thing I wanted to do was let you down.
Congrats Randy Moffat, the legend, on being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Randy’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? Stay tuned!
Jim Jj Johnston is the CEO, President and Chief Talent Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent worldwide.
J.J.’s bio, courtesy of VancouverBroadcasters.com
J.J. Johnston – Board operator CKLC Kingston ON 1974-75; midday host CJET Smiths Falls ON 1975; morning hostCKOB Renfrew ON 1975-76; nights CFCH North Bay ON 1976-77; evenings CFGO Ottawa and part time CKLW Windsor ON 1977-79; swing CFTR Toronto 1979-81; p.m. drive/mornings/ssistant PD CITI-FM Winnipeg/Jet’s hockey broadcaster at CKY Winnipeg 1981-86; PD CHAM Hamilton ON 1986-88; national PD Moffat Communications/PDCFOX-FM/CKLG Vancouver 1988-93; national rock PD WIC Communications/CFMI-FM Vancouver 1993-94; VP programming Standard Radio/CKFM-FM Toronto 1994-2000; GM Corus Radio cluster Toronto 2000-05; GM Corus Radio (CFMI-FM/CFOX-FM/CHMJ/CKNW) Vancouver 2005-10; regional GM then contract consultant Corus Radio East – Barrie/Collingwood/Peterborough/Kingston/Cornwall ON 2013-current; President/CEO, JJ international Media and Management Solutions Ontario 2013-current; Interim GM CJPE-FM Prince Edward County ON 2013-current. LinkedIn profile