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Vintage Toronto Ads: Wally’s World

Cow herds and invalids were among the radio listeners that spent over 10,000 mornings waking up with Wally Crouter. His run as CFRB’s morning man from 1946 to 1996 saw his comforting style stay afloat in the ratings against competitors like top 40 radio and shock jocks.
Crouter felt that one of the keys to his long run was creating a comfort zone for listeners to ease themselves into the new day, without bringing up divisive subjects like sex, politics, and religion. In an interview with The Globe and Mail upon his retirement in 1996, he noted that:

I always tried to put myself in the place of the listener…it’s the most personal time of the day. The radio is on while you’re doing your morning ablutions, getting dressed, having breakfast with the kids coming to the table…I’ve had a surgeon write me to tell me that, when he had three serious operations to do in a day, he started off by listening to my show so he could achieve the right relaxation and focus he needed.

Crouter’s sidekicks in 1974 included reporters Jack Dennett and Bob Hesketh, sportscaster Bill Stephenson, and Henry Shannon with traffic reports from “the CFRB Twin Comanche.”
Source: Toronto Life, September 1974. Additional material from The Globe and Mail, November 1, 1996.


  • David Toronto

    Those were the days when CFRB was the top rated station in Toronto and southern Ontario.
    Even as far north as Huntsville, it was readily heard. It’s influence was enormous.
    Jack Dennett’s newscasts had three times the listenership of CBC’s newscast of the same time.
    There were others like Gordon Sinclair, Pierre Berton and Charles Templeton for commentary.
    Commentary is not the same as the rant that you hear nowadays on CFRB from the likes of Bill Carroll and Jim Richards and their likes.
    Radio was intelligent then and it still can be but CFRB has gone downmarket and become nothing than conservative hack radio.
    Time was that people would crowd around the CFRB stand at an exhibition or public event.. Now, nobody goes by the CFRB van at public events like
    Word on the Street.
    If there were no traffic problems and no cellular phones, there would be no present-day CFRB.

  • PickleToes

    Oh I see David, as media moves to the right it becomes more “downmarket”. I’ll just interpret that as one of the repercussions of liberal elitism. Its a mental disease that is often quick to characterize and demean contending viewpoints instead of actually attempting to counter them.
    I listen to talk radio a great deal (mostly 640 and 1010). While CFRB is by no means as “progressive” as you would expect the CBC to be, the majority of its personalities definitely don’t come off to me as being conservative (Dave Trafford and Stephen LeDrew for example).
    Luckily we have a radio station in the city that’s actually predominantly right of centre (AM640) to counter and challenge the media’s liberal bias and the dogma it so often spews.

  • David Toronto

    Pickle Toes:
    A person is known by the company they keep.
    That being the case, check out the advertisers
    on CFRB. Most of it is pretty marginal at best.
    And what about on-air staff shilling for
    advertisers? Shouldn’t they be above that sort
    of thing?
    Earl Cameron of CBC once did a series of
    commercials for Crest toothpaste. From then
    on, he was known as the Crest commercial man
    and nobody took him seriously even when he
    read the National News at 11 pm.

  • Robert Lubinski

    Even though he was a bit old-fashioned by the time I listened to him in the 1990s (you could tell that he and Bill Stephenson were old guys), he still ran an intelligent show – he never treated the listeners like morons and was exactly as desribed above: he had a friendly style and never spouted off his opinions. He and Bill Stephenson took shots at one another, but I’d guess that came from working together for so long. He actually seemed to enjoy his job and the strong line-up around him made the show a powerhouse of news/sports/traffic and informed commentary.

  • apetimberlake

    The only host that is good is John Moore, Jim Richards is alright aswell.
    Bill Caroll is the worst in the Morning…
    I can’t deal with arseholes like that in the AM

  • tripper

    The Motts have been hosting the morning show while Bill Carroll is on vacation. God, those two are idiots.
    Think I’ll stick to CBC.

  • rek

    As I recall a neurological study has shown conservatives are physically less adept at dealing with conflict and changing conditions, causing kneejerk reactions to ambiguous stimuli. If this is the case is it any surprise then to say when a radio station and its demographic move rightward the conversation becomes less engaging because there’s less tolerance for differing opinions and subtlety?

  • Svend

    People who aren’t open to hearing different opinions come from the left and right, young and old.
    I think education is a factor but it’s mostly personality and psychological healthiness that determine your response.

  • rek

    Don’t want to, versus aren’t capable of.

  • PickleToes

    rek: Wasn’t that study about political inclination in general, not just conservatives?
    someone else: ‘Bill Caroll is the worst in the Morning…
    I can’t deal with arseholes like that in the AM

    Stephen Harper isn’t all that great, but I’d rather listen to one of his supporters than some hippy obsessed with the NDP with no grasp of the realities of life outside the city.

  • rek

    Participants self-identified on a spectrum from “very liberal” to “very conservative”, but I don’t know if the test was conducted specifically to uncover some sort of connection. It found the liberals had nearly 5 times as much activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, and were more than twice as likely to score in the top 50%, compared to the conservatives. The Wikipedia article shows there isn’t exactly consensus on what the ACC does, but leading theories link it to error detection and resolving conflict between control centres in the brain. The test in question was to see how often participants would override a habitual response the test was conditioning them for in order to respond correctly.


    I could not agree with you more. Bill Carrol makes me want to puke and as the next post says, the Motts are a joke, dont even know why they on the air and who puts them there.
    Check out, someone else who has a good commentary about CFRB