Cullen, John Francis “Jack” (1922-2002)
written by Gord Lansdell
June 26, 2021
Jack Cullen enrolled in the Sprott-Shaw School of Commerce and Radio in Vancouver in 1945 after a tour of duty as a radio operator in the Canadian Navy. He started his lengthy broadcasting career first as a news announcer and then deejay at CJAV in Port Alberni, B.C. in November 1946.
In April 1947 he moved to the engineering department at CKMO Vancouver. Shortly thereafter, he was on the air with an all-night show called “Pacific Patrol”. Later that year he took over a program called “DX Prowl” from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., selling his own commercial advertising time. He changed the name of the show to “Owl Prowl” and both he and the program became a huge success with Cullen reportedly making a whopping $1000 a month in 1948. “Owl Prowl” continued on CKMO for two years, with Cullen visiting community centres and doing deejay hops.
Cullen was approached by Bill Rea, owner of CKNW in New Westminster, to move over to that station. He was reluctant at first to move from a 1000-watt Vancouver station to a smaller and newer 250-watter located in the suburbs. However, on August 15, 1949 he made the move taking his “Owl Prowl” program with him. It was aired from 10:05 p.m. to midnight. Initially he also hosted the “1320 Club” (CKNW’s frequency at the time) daily at 3:10 p.m.
One of his early radio stunts was taping his first show for CKNW to be run at the same time as he was airing his last live show on CKMO. He constantly took a wire recorder around to local nightclubs to capture acts by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland for quasi-legal use on his shows.
In 1954, Cullen moved back to CKMO, which became CFUN in early 1955. In 1957 he returned to CKNW. His “Owl Prowl” show continued with an enormous following on ‘NW until May 18, 1999, when the station discontinued it in favour of moving full-time to a news/talk format. Content of his programs, mostly jazz, big band and old-time radio shows was considered mainstream during the early years but became nostalgia in later years. In the late nineties he was named to the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame in the radio category at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. His final radio shows were aired for a few months in 2000 on adult standards station CKST Vancouver.
Written by Gord Lansdell – May, 2002
Read More, Courtesy of Broadcasting-History.ca