CBC broadcaster Russ Germain dies at 62
By Jessica Wong, CBC News
Posted: Feb 3, 2009 11:38 AM ET
Last Updated: Feb 3, 2009 3:12 PM ET
Longtime CBC broadcaster Russ Germain, former host of flagship radio news programs World Report and The World at Six, has died at the age of 62.
Germain died in Toronto Monday night after a lengthy battle with cancer, diagnosed after his retirement in 2002.
"One of his values was to do the best job he could and to tell the truth," Germain's former colleague and current World Report host Judy Maddren said Tuesday afternoon.
"That's a difficult quality to find these days.… You could trust Russ Germain [and] you sensed he really worked hard at that trust."
Maddren described Germain as a man of many talents: a considerate friend, a sailor and woodworker who loved his dogs, had a sense of humour and was among the "best readers of A Christmas Carol" ever.
"He was the real thing," Maddren recalled. "He was a very handsome man, had kind of a nice little quirk to him. He, of course, had this amazing voice. That was part of his attraction."
Alannah Campbell, who worked with Germain during the 1990s, said she learned from him the importance of connecting with audiences.
"He was a great dancer. He led often," Campbell said.
"He was my anchorman, and he was a teacher to me. What Russ taught me was if you don't engage the listener, no one pays attention. So he could read the interest rate and make it sound like something I should care about."
Joined CBC in 1973
Born in New Liskeard, Ont., Germain attended high school in Toronto and started out in broadcasting while studying at the University of Manitoba, where he worked as an announcer at the school's radio station.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in fine arts, he worked for private broadcasters in Winnipeg and Edmonton for several years before joining the CBC in 1973, as a TV and radio evening news announcer in Saskatoon.
Over the years, he served as host and announcer for a variety of programming. Though best known as the smooth, authoritative voice of World Report and The World at Six, his many other jobs included delivering CBC Toronto's supper hour radio news, newsreader and announcer for CBC Television, and host of CBC Radio's Ideas during the mid-'70s and early '80s.
On the Kids Network News, he was the self-proclaimed "announcer-saurus," and he was also the announcer on CBC Radio's science-fiction fantasy show Johnny Chase: Secret Agent of Space in the late '70s.
Retired CBC Radio host Barbara Smith said when she thinks of Germain, she immediately recalls his strength and dependability.
"This was live radio. News stories broke. You just really have to think fast on your feet," she said, remembering editors yelling and scripts flying around in the rush of things.
"But Russ was solid. You would never know [of the commotion] on air," Smith said.
"Out of the studio and in the studio, he was a man of integrity."
In 1990, on top of his other responsibilities, Germain was named CBC Radio's broadcast language adviser, eventually developing a reputation as a stickler for proper pronunciation.
He was firm with his language decisions "because he really cared that the words [used] expressed the ideas and the information so that the listener would get it," said Maddren, who eventually inherited Germain's role as CBC's language guru.
"He loved language so much. He cared deeply about using the right words."
She added that she and Germain shared a love of radio because of its dependence on words to conjure images that bring stories to life.
"People have to take part. They have to listen. They have to pay attention," she said. That partnership between radio announcer and listener, "that's why Russ loved it."
After a 29-year career at the CBC, Germain retired in 2002.
Germain is survived by his wife, daughter and son-in-law. Funeral plans are pending, according to CBC officials.
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