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Former CBC Yukon host Peter Novak has died

Peter Novak, a long-time radio host in Yukon, is being remembered as a great broadcaster who was 'born to be behind a microphone.' Novak died on Sunday at the age of 62.

'Peter Novak had more natural broadcasting ability than anybody I met,' says former colleague

An undated photo of long-time CBC Yukon broadcaster Peter Novak, who died Sunday in Whitehorse. (Tim Kinvig)

Peter Novak, a long-time radio host in Yukon, is being remembered as a great broadcaster who was "born to be behind a microphone."

Novak died on Sunday in Whitehorse at age 62.

For a generation of Yukoners, Novak was the voice of CBC Yukon. He was a regular on-air host at CBC from the 1980s until his retirement in 2005. After CBC, he went to work as a host at CHON-FM in Whitehorse for more than a decade, until his health issues finally forced him off the air.

"Peter Novak had more natural broadcasting ability than anybody I met in the 30-plus years that I've been in the business," said former CBC Yukon host Russ Knutson.

"He was just one of those guys who was born to be behind a microphone ... He could make anything sound exciting and draw you into the radio."

Novak at Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks festival in 1980. 'Being able to tell stories, and inform and entertain listeners was what made Peter the happiest,' a statement from his family reads. (Tim Kinvig)

Novak was born in Montreal, and also got his start in broadcasting there. He moved north to work for CBC in Iqaluit (then Frobisher Bay), Yellowknife and ultimately Whitehorse.

"Being able to tell stories, and inform and entertain listeners was what made Peter the happiest. He believed the better information his listeners had, the better decisions they could make… all while entertaining them with music and stories," reads a statement from Novak's family, on the CHON-FM website.

Novak's deep, resonant voice belied his slight size. According to Knutson, people who knew only Novak's voice were often surprised to meet the man himself.

"He had this great big, booming voice and a lot of times they just had trouble making the association between his physique and this wonderful voice he had," Knutson said.

A CBC Yukon publicity photo with Russ Knutson, Novak, and Becky Striegler. (CBC)

Novak also has a real thing for the weather, Knutson recalled. Novak was never content to just read off Environment Canada's prepared forecast — he'd do his own meteorological research.

"He would go on websites and look at radar images and satellite images, and go into these chat rooms from the U.S. Weather Service and that sort of thing. And then he would digest all of this and mix it into his own forecasts ... He loved it," Knutson said. 

Morris Prokop, general manager at CHON-FM/Northern Native Broadcasting, remembers Novak as a skilled interviewer and "a great guy to work with."

"I really enjoyed talking to him about weather, and airplanes, and life in general ... He had this sneaky sense of humour where he would shoot over a one-liner and you'd find yourself laughing out loud in an instant," Prokop said.

"He was a good friend, a great on-air host ... and we'll all really miss him here."

'He had this sneaky sense of humour,' recalled one former colleague. (Tim Kinvig)

Written by Paul Tukker, with files from Mike Rudyk

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