Bill Stephenson (1929-2014)
Pioneer - Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Stephenson, Bill (1929-2014)
Bon in Elrose, Saskatchewan, January 8th, 1929 William “Bill” Stephenson started his 53 year career at CJAV Port Alberni in 1948 quickly followed by announcing jobs at CJOR Vancouver and CKDA Victoria, but his love of sports brought him to CKWX in Vancouver where he was Sports Director for ten years. During that time, he experienced what was to be one of the biggest thrills of his life – covering the British Empire Games during which Roger Bannister and John Landry ran the first sub-four-minute mile – the “Miracle Mile”. He was also the play-by-play voice of the B. C. Lions, the Canucks and the Vancouver Mounties.
In 1960, Wes McKnight, who had just relinquished his own sportscasting chores when he became General Manager of CFRB on the death of Harry Sedgwick, enticed Bill to Toronto to be Sports Director at the station, where he founded the first radio sports department in Canada. One of his first assignments was in Switzerland where he covered the 1961 World Hockey tournament which the Trail Smoke Eaters won. Another great event which Bill covered was the Soviet Union – Team Canada series when Paul Henderson scored in the last minute of the eighth and deciding game, still remembered by sports fans as the most exciting moment in Canadian hockey history.
In football, he worked for years with Pat Marsden and Mike Wadsworth which was usually more fun than work. He recalls that once, during a commercial, someone told a joke and Marsden started to laugh and was rolling on the floor. Soon Wadsworth had to join him, and Bill had to fill 15 minutes of airtime on National TV. That was one of the hardest jobs of his career.
Bill was the voice of the Argonauts during the 60s and 70s. He also served as sideline reporter for CTV’s CFL broadcasts for 15 years. In 1988, he was inducted by the Football Reporters of Canada to the CFL Hall of Fame in Hamilton. He also served a term as President of the CFL Football Broadcasters, and was mentor to many Canadian sportscasters, including Jim Robson, Brian Williams and Dave Hodge.
Outside of broadcasting he supported many charitable organizations: Variety Club, Variety Village,The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Association for Community Living.
Bill Stephenson was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bill Stephenson died on July 22nd 2014.