Celebrating a milestone: J. Lyman Potts turns 100

J. Lyman Potts, the founder of the Canadian Talent Library - the forerunner of FACTOR - is celebrating a milestone birthday today.

Born 100 years ago in Regina, Saskatchewan, on November 11, 1916, Potts is currently living in a Burlington, ON seniors centre and "his mind is sharp," according to Pip Wedge, executive director of The Canadian Communications Foundation.

Potts was a radio lifer: his first radio broadcast occurred at 16, and three years later he was an announcer for CHWC, which shared a frequency with CKCK at the time. The stations merged under the ownership of All-Canada Mutually Operated Stations, and in 1940, Potts was transferred to CKOC in Hamilton as production manager. Six years later he was promoted to assistant manager, jumping to station manager at CKSL London, ON., a decade later to help launch the station in 1956.

Potts moved to Montreal in '58 to CJAD, where owner Arthur Dupont enlisted him to help apply for a TV station licence.  After Standard Radio bought CJAD in 1961, Potts was commandeered as general manager of CJAD's sister station CJFM-FM, which he launched in 1962. 

Following a three-year stint as assistant to Standard President W.C. Thornton Cran, Potts was appointed president of Standard Broadcast Productions in 1966, birthplace of the Canadian Talent Library and which also included Standard Broadcast News, program syndication and music publishing. He jumped across the Atlantic in 1970, spending the next four years as Standard Broadcasting president in London, U.K., serving as a consultant for anyone desiring to apply for a commercial radio licence in the U.K.

After retiring in 1974, Potts waited seven year before founding J. Lyman Potts & Associates in Burlington, a broadcasting, recording, music services and copyright consulting firm.

However, Potts' crowning achievement may have been founding the Canadian Talent Library, an idea he put into motion in 1962.

Convincing the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG), which had taken over the regulation of programming from the CBC, that a station’s support of Canadian talent should be assessed on the amount used in its programs, with the money expended by a station to produce Canadian music programming credited by the BBG in analyzing a station’s performance. Since there were few records by Canadian artists at the time, Potts suggested that radio station owners themselves would have to fund their creation. With support from Standard Broadcasting Toronto and Montreal radio stations, Potts hired musicians in both citiies to produce the first 10 CTL albums in stereo. He set it up as a non-profit trust and invited any interested stations to join the Canadian Talent Library as an industry service. 

By the time the CRTC had announced its Canadian content regulations, over 200 stations had subscribed to CTL. When the organization merged with FACTOR in 1985, CTL had produced 265 albums featuring 3000 performances of Canadian musicians and singers.

CRTC Chairman Pierre Juneau praised Potts as one of the main inspirations behind Cancon. Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame in 1976, he was the first private broadcaster to be appointed to of the Order of Canada two years later. Potts was presented with an Award of Merit "for his outstanding contribution to the Canadian Recording Industry" in 1984 and inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall Of Fame in 1987.

Potts also received Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee medal in 2002, followed by Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

A recipient of a Ruth Hancock Award and an honourary Life Member of the Toronto Musicians Association (AFM #149), Potts also established Standard Broadcast News, inspired the formation of the Central Canada Broadcast Engineers Association, and - as Vice-President of the Canadian Communications Foundation, helped compile The History Of Canadian Broadcasting website, acting as co-editor from 1994 to 2004.




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