The fifth of our series about the 75th anniversary of the CBC. Michael Enright is joined by long time CBC sports journalist Robin Brown. So fittingly, it's all about sports.
Covering sports has always been popular on CBC Radio as sportscasts, as play-by-play and as programming. You'll hear from hockey announcer Foster Hewitt and athlete Bobbie Rosenfeld, from programs like Sports College and The Inside Track and from events like the Ben Johnson doping scandal and the Olympic Games.
Clip 1 When radio was in its infancy, some people worried that radio reporting would hurt attendance at live games. Why pay for a ticket and go to the game when you could listen to it for free in the comfort of your own home? But Foster Hewitt's dramatic broadcasts attracted new fans and made sports more popular than ever. For more than half a century, Hewitt was the voice of hockey in Canada. From his inauspicious first broadcast- shouting into a telephone from a foggy glass booth in 1923- to the momentous Canada/Russia series of 1972, he called it all. The first clip of this program took us to Maple Leaf Gardens in 1942 with Foster Hewitt perched high above the ice in his broadcasting gondola. It's the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.
Clip 2 As well as calling games, Foster had his own show called Foster Hewitt Reporting. In 1950 he interviewed Bobbie Rosenfeld after she was chosen Canadian woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century. She played many sports over her career- including hockey.
Clip 3 Maurice Richard is another name synonymous with hockey. The Montreal Canadiens star set numerous records - in 1945, for example, Rocket Richard became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a single season. Richard became a cultural icon for French Canada. His influence went beyond hockey, to the core of Quebec culture, which is why what happened in March 1955 was so significant. Richard was suspended by NHL president Clarence Campbell for deliberately injuring an opponent and then punching a linesman. Montreal fans felt Campbell was showing favouritism to the English players. It came just before the playoffs - and it led to a riot in Montreal.
Clip 4 On September 28, 1972, a lot of people took the day off work for the 8th and final game of the historic Summit Series. The fast and skilled Soviets had been showing up Team Canada, who had skated onto the ice in Game One full of swagger and bravado, only to be knocked down hard by the Soviets. After game 5, the Soviet Union led the series with three wins, one tie and one loss. Critics worried that 100 years of Canadian hockey heritage was on the line. But Team Canada came back to win games 6 and 7. The series was all tied up, going into the final game in Moscow. With only seconds remaining, and a 5-5 tie, Canadians were on the edge of their seats, and Bob Cole was calling the game on CBC Radio.
Clip 5 Is it even possible to do a show about sports and not mention Wayne Gretzky? It's safe to call him a hockey legend- he started playing the game on the backyard rink built by his dad at age two, made his mark in local rinks early and went on to break just about every record around. The year was 1981 and Gretzky, playing for the Oilers, scored on an empty net in the remaining seconds of a game against Philadelphia. It was his fifth goal of the game and, more astoundingly, his 50th goal of the season. Gretzky had done the impossible- he had eclipsed Rocket Richard's 36-year record of 50 goals in 50 games. And Gretzky had done it in 39 games.
Clip 6 Hockey may be king in Canada, but at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics, the nation crowned a queen, of figure skating. Her name was Barbara Ann Scott and she was one of Canada's most accomplished athletes. When she was eleven, in 1940, she won her first Canadian national junior title. Two years later she became the first female ever to land a double lutz in competition. She would win titles in North America, Europe and even world figure skating championships. But her crowning achievement was gold in the 1948 Olympics in Switzerland. We played a charming interview shortly after her win.
Clip 7 1976 was the first time that a Canadian city hosted the Olympic Games. We had a taste of the opening.
Clip 8 It's one thing to play the clips of the winners- and losers- but of course CBC has always done more than that. With programs like Sports College, Rebound, The Sound of Sports and The Inside Track, producers tried to find the stories that went beyond the stats. From Olympic Magazine in 1988, they asked an important question about bobsledders.
Clip 9 Later that year, at the summer games in Seoul, things weren't quite so festive. It all started with an astounding race in track and field.
Clip 10 Throughout history, women were often discouraged from participating in team sports because it was thought that competition would lead to manly behaviour. But In 1924, a golfer called Ada Mackenzie decided to found a women's only golf club. Mackenzie was a powerhouse of an athlete- she won the Canadian Ladies Open title five times over the course of her career. In spite of this success, she was frustrated by the fact that at just about every golf course, women had restricted tee-times. In the 1920s, the Edmonton Grads basketball team were the hottest ticket in town. In 1947 the Grads came together in Edmonton for a 25-year reunion. Our clip was from 1949 where she was asked about her golf club.
Clip 11 In 1956 a girl who wanted to play hockey in a boys league made history. Abby Hoffman was the star defence player in the Toronto boy's Junior A hockey league. Her secret was discovered after officials took a closer look at her birth certificate.
Clip 12 Although it took time to get Major League Baseball to this country, Canadians have always been infatuated with the sport. The raging success of Expo '67 established Montreal as a world-class city and in 1969 the Montreal Expos were born. Ten years later there was pennant fever as the Expos fought their way toward the National League East title.
Clip 13 Where the Expos failed in their bid for a championship, the Toronto Blue Jays had better luck. Although on that first day, on April 7, 1977, it might not have seemed that way.
Clip 14 Weather can create havoc for sportscasters trying to cover events. And in football in particular there's a penchant for creating names for those weather events. In 1939 there was the Snow Bowl when snow fell so thickly in Ottawa that fans parked cars on the sidelines and turned on their headlights to see the field. 1950 saw the Mud Bowl between the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And in 1962, it was fog that turned the gridiron into an obstacle course. It was nearly impossible for fans to see the players, or even for the players to see each other.
Clip 15 CBC Radio has aired various sports programs over the years, as well as regular sportscasts and special events. One of the early ones was called Sports College, hosted by Lloyd Percival, an advocate of fitness and healthy living. As well as conducting interviews with athletes and covering events, the program answered questions from listeners such as "what does Sports College think about the harmfulness of eating cakes and pastries?" and "How can you learn to accept the unpleasantness of training?" In 1961, Percival warned about the dangers of inactivity.
Clip 16 For twenty-four years there was The Inside Track- CBC Radio's sports program. Our last clip was from their last edition in 2009 which highlighted some of their top stories.