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Barbara Frum: Canada's favourite BROAD-caster

Broadcaster Barbara Frum pioneered a tough interview style on CBC Radio's As it Happens and later on CBC Television's The Journal. Whether she was talking to Nelson Mandela, Harold Ballard or the grower of the world's biggest cabbage, Frum's unrelenting curiosity, her fearless search for the truth, and her empathy and humour made her one of Canada's most important broadcasters.

It's one of Barbara Frum's most famous interviews. It's March 1979 and she is on the phone with Harold Ballard, the controversial and outrageous owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and with Globe and Mail columnist Dick Beddoes.
A fiery Ballard enrages Canadians when says women on the radio are a joke and implies that the best position for them is on their backs.

Ballard eventually hangs up on Frum but not before he tells her to keep quiet and berates her for interrupting him. Frum remains pleasant and good-natured throughout the abusive interview.
The next night, Frum reads a letter to Ballard forgiving him for his sexist outbursts. She signs the "Dear Harold" letter from "Your favourite BROAD-caster."
• As a response to Barbara Frum's on-air letter, Harold Ballard told the media that "ugly women" give him headaches.

• In August 1972, Harold Ballard was found guilty of 48 of 50 charges of theft and fraud. Ballard was sentenced to three consecutive three-year terms in Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont. He was released after serving one year.

• Frum never thought of herself as a pioneering female broadcaster but her fearlessness and intelligence was a source of inspiration for other women entering the field. Frum proved that women could be uncompromising and tough and still succeed.

• Barbara Frum was delighted when she learned that Sesame Street created a Muppet character called Barbara Plum in her honour.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: March 5, 1979
Guest(s): Harold Ballard, Dick Beddoes
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 3:31

Last updated: March 20, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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