CBC mourns passing of pioneer Bob Kerr

Bob Kerr, a longtime CBC Radio broadcaster considered a pioneer of classical music programming on the network, died in Vancouver Tuesday at the age of 84.

He hosted Off the Record for nearly 40 years, and became known for his love of music and dislike of poorly produced albums, especially incomplete liner notes.

Each program began with a warm "Good afternoon, friends," and ended with "A fond good afternoon" over his closing theme, the Pachelbel Canon.

"With his inimitable voice, distinct style and delightful character, Bob charmed listeners on a daily basis, sharing his erudite opinions and spinning songs from his formidable music collection," said CBC Vice-President of Radio Jane Chalmers on Thursday.

"His infectious enthusiasm for the music he played garnered a large and loyal audience, and inspired listeners to explore music they might never have otherwise discovered."

Chalmers called Kerr one of the corporation's "true broadcasting legends."

The program's music came from his own library, which filled two rooms and an entire hall of his home.

Born in Alberta, Kerr began his broadcasting career with CFCN in Calgary in 1947. He moved to the West Coast in 1960, launching Off the Record from the CBC's studios in the Hotel Vancouver. He remained a mainstay on the stereo network until his retirement in 1996.

He had a fondness for pipe organs, and dedicated each Thursday's program to recordings of the world's greatest pipe organs.

Neil Ritchie, who produced Off the Record for more than seven years, remembers Kerr's love of the instrument.

"Organs were his particular passion and I believe his passion first came about from the organs themselves, the pipes and the keyboards," said Ritchie.

"It was sort of a one-man crusade because there were always listeners who dreaded Thursdays," Ritchie added.