Jack Schoone (1938-2021)
Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Schoone, Jack (1938- )
Jack Schoone, a man who learned to love radio, had a penchant for buying radio stations. His appetite to be an owner was kindled when Hamlton’s Irving Zucker hired him in 1959 to be the controller for two Kitchener radio stations that he had just bought. While, following his discharge from the Canadian Army, Jack had studied to become an accountant, he soon found his way to a microphone. Two years later, at 23, he was the manager of CKCR-AM and FM. And so began a long and profitable relationship with Irving that lasted until the respected Hamilton neo-philanthropist and art collector died in 2002.
In no time at all, Jack’s authority in Kitchener was extended to include Irving’s fledgling but struggling CHIQ in Hamilton. While Irving Zucker was well on his way to becoming a self-made millionaire, he did not at that time enrich his fortune from radio. The stations were sold and Jack was out of the broadcasting business. But not for long. Determined to be an owner, in 1969 Jack found just what he was looking for. In a small northern New Brunswick town, CKNB Campbellton was for sale. With some input from Irving, Jack bought it. Eastern Broadcasting was born. Then another small station in Miramichi.
Acquisitions became the name of the game. Eastern bought venerable CFCY in Charlottetown, PEI. In 1972, it was CKCW-radio. CFCY launched an FM station. So did CKCW. Jack was elected to the Board of the Atlantic Association of Broadcasters, and later became president and a CAB board member.
Eastern then moved in on northern Ontario and bought Roy Thomson’s four stations in Timmins, North Bay, Kirkland Lake and New Liskeard. Then it was a jump to southern Ontario and the acquisition of the holdings of Countryside Broadcasting in Orillia, Midland, Huntsville, Parry Sound, Woodstock and Stratford. The year was now 1977. The score -- 23 stations.
Then, in 1980, Telemedia made a successful offer to buy Countryside. Jack returned to his roots in Moncton and re-equipped CKCW with state-of-the-art facilities. But, MacLean-Hunter made a bid for 18-year-old Eastern Broadcasting. Jack agreed to the sale and stayed on with M-H until 1988 when he announced his retirement. However, he became restless with inactivity. Appraising the southern Ontario scene, by 1992 he had bought CJBX and CJBK, London and CKLH and CKOC, Hamilton. The company was called Radiocorp. The Ontario stations did well by any measure and in 1999 Telemedia was back at Jack’s door. For the 3rd time, Jack was out-of broadcasting.
Reflecting on Jack Schoone’s career, one could not fail to be impressed with his remarkable performance. Every station that he touched was more successful for it. Jack had an uncanny eye for struggling stations that could be turned around. He built or re-built stations that were well equipped and spent to keep them that way. The communities his stations served got full attention. He invested in people and brought them along. He was tough and demanding.
The results of Jack’s involvement in Canadian broadcasting are obvious in the strong stations he left behind -- the scores of successful broadcasters who owe much of their success to the chance that Jack gave them, and the new ideas that today are commonplace.
In 2003, Jack Schoone was rewarded with something that money can’t buy -- a well-earned place of honour in the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame.
Jack Schoone died in 2021.