From Prince George to Smithers to Burns Lake to Vanderhoof, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100-Mile, Ron East has been integral to radio’s existence up north for most of his life. He died March 17 at the age of 86.
Born in Vernon Ron’s family moved to Prince George at the start of WWII. Ron co-founded and became president and managing director of a communications network of British Columbia radio and cablevision companies stretching across the top and center of the province.
Ron started his career in 1955 as an announcer at CKPG Radio in Prince George. By 1960 he was managing the station when television came to town. In 1963, he and partner Stan Davis founded CFBV radio in Smithers, and in 1955 added CFLD in Burns Lake and then re-broadcasters in many small surrounding communities. They were honoured with a citation for innovation that allowed different commercials to be broadcast simultaneously to each re-broadcaster. In 1970, Ron and Stan were awarded the license to open CJCI radio in Prince George. From there were added CIVH in Vanderhoof and again re-broadcasters in many small surrounding communities. These entities were all joined under the banner of Central Interior Radio Network. Ron was president and managing director of all of these entities until they were sold to Vista in 2005.
Ron led a three year effort in 1973 and was successful in bringing cablevision to Prince George, and then to Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House under the banner of Central Interior Cablevision. Ron was president and managing director of all of these entities as well until they were sold to Shaw in 1989.
Ron was an active member of the community with Toastmasters, the Rotary Club and a past president of the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters (BCAB). He was named Broadcaster of the Year in 1976 by the BCAB. He served a three year term as a director for the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance. He has been a director of the Prince George Symphony Society and the Prince George Community Foundation. Ron was very proud to be a founding member of the group who in obtained the Charter for the University of Northern BC. Ron was presented with a Queen’s 50th Jubilee medal for his many accomplishments.
Leisure time was spent panning for the mother-lode, travelling the world, and camping from coast to coast to coast (think about it) with family and friends. Happy memories. Ron and Helen retired to Vernon, B.C.
Survived by his wife Helen, son Ken (Lyn), daughters Kathryn and Jo-Anne (Neal) and sister Mary Lou Gardiner, 4 Grandchildren Jeremy (Susanna), Kati, Jana, and Ian (Sarah). 3 Great Grandchildren Warren, Claire, and Kaysen.
Donations can be made to any charity in his name or the food bank.
Arrangements entrusted with Vernon Funeral Home, Vernon, BC. 250-542-0155
Our thanks to DignityMemorial.com for the above obituary and picture.
Sad to hear about Ron’s passing. He gave me my start in radio when he hired me sight unseen and with no experience to be an announcer at CFBV Smithers in 1969. I remember him as a fair and decent man and a dedicated broadcaster.
A true gentlemen and a great broadcaster! My very first job was at the station he started in 1990 (CFBV-Smithers) and now 30 years later I’m the long time Program Director of the station he started his career (CKPG- Now The Drive) in 1955.
The Drive/The River
Ron was an outstanding person . He showed respect to everyone he came in contact with. His word was his bond. He truly was a “Canadian Achiever”